Liturgical Texts Introduction - 316 

composed by Gregory IX and may have been among the "new songs" sung by the people at Francis's canonization.29 The other two formulas were traditionally used for celebrations of Confessors-non-Pontiffs, Os justi [The mouth of the just], and for celebrations of great solemnities Gaudeamus [Let us rejoice].

The thirteenth century, however, was a time when liturgical Sequences were popular for major celebrations. These were rhymed poetry with paired lines generally set to music and sung after the Alleluia and before the Gospel.30 There were four Sequences sung in the celebration of Francis's feast.31 Cardinal Thomas of Capua, an expert in the art of poetry, is the author of Laetabundus, a clever re-wording of a Sequence of the same name sung on the Nativity. In his Chronicle, Salimbene of Parma maintains that Gregory IX is the author of the second Sequence, Caput draconis.32 And Luke Wadding attributes the final two Sequences, Sanctitatis Nova Signa and Fregit Victor, to Thomas of Celano.33 Beyond their presence in early manuscripts, there is no clear indication of when these Sequences were introduced.

While the Mass formulas reflect the more traditional approach of the Church in honoring the male saints who were not bishops, the Sequences reveal the creativity of those who knew Francis more intimately, Gregory IX and Thomas of Celano; or of members of the papal court, who realized his importance. Gregory clearly describes Francis as a militant agent or legate of Christ sent to crush the seven-headed dragon and to convert the people. Thomas of Celano continues Gregory's theme in Fregit Victor [Valiant Victor] as he describes Francis in the same bellicose imagery, but in twelve rhetorical questions repeatedly draws attention to the Cross, the sign of victory, with which Francis was armed. As his Sanctitatis Nova Signa [Sanctity's New Signs] clearly suggests, Thomas of Celano saw Francis in the same terms as Gregory: as a strong force of renewal and reform in the Church. This may also be said of Cardinal Thomas of Capua. Although avoiding the militaristic vocabulary of both Gregory IX and Thomas of Celano, the very motif of Thomas of Capua's Sequence, that of Christmas, suggests Thomas of Capua's sensitivity to the role of Francis in renewing the signs of Christ's presence on earth. The repetition of novus [new], the accentuation of miracles reflecting those of Christ, and, in conclusion, the striking reference to the stigmata, "Gifts of a newer kind/Bestowed by that Son/The Virgin bore:" underscore Francis's unique role in the Church's mission.

The liturgical texts composed within a short time of Francis's canonization clearly reveal the depth of the impression the new saint had made on his contemporaries. The images, figures and symbols used by Thomas of Celano, Julian of Speyer and by those of the papal court, Gregory IX, Cardinal Thomas of Capua and Cardinal Ranieri Capocci, entered deeply into the consciousness of Francis's early followers. As they celebrated his feasts, the literature they produced often echos these early liturgical prayers.




Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 316