A Letter to the Rulers of the Peoples - 58 

A Letter to the Rulers of the Peoples

This text exemplifies Francis’s practice of encouraging civil authorities to be mindful of Gospel truths, a practice described by Thomas of Celano in The Life of Saint Francis 43 in which Emperor Otto IV was reminded of the brevity of his glory and in The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul 200 in which emperors were encouraged to enact laws for the feeding of animals on Christmas Day. The introduction of seemingly Islamic practices suggests the composition of this text after Francis’s return from the Middle East.

1Brother Francis, your little and looked-down-upon servant in the Lord God, wishes health and peace to all mayors and consuls, magistrates and governors throughout the world and to all others to whom these words may come.b

2Reflect and see that the day of death is approaching. Gn 47:29 3With all possible respect, therefore, I beg you not to forget the Lord because of this world’s cares and preoccupations and not to turn away from His commandments, for all those who leave Him in oblivion and turn away from His commandments are cursed Ps 119:21 [Vulgate, Ps 118:21] and will be left in oblivion Ez 33:13 by Him.

4When the day of death does come, everything they think they have shall be taken from them. Mt 13:12 c 5The wiser and more powerful they may have been in this world, the greater will be the punishment they will endure in hell. Wis 6:7

6Therefore I strongly advise you, my Lords, to put aside all care and preoccupation and receive the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with fervor in holy remembrance of Him.7May you foster such honor to the Lord among the people entrusted to you that every evening an announcement may be made by a messenger or some other sign that praise and thanksgiving may be given by all people to the all-powerful Lord God.




Epistola ad populorum rectores, Fontes Franciscani, p. 107-108

Epistola ad populorum rectores

1Universis potestatibus et consulibus, iudicibus atque rectoribus ubique terrarum et omnibus aliis, ad quos litterae istae pervenerint, frater Franciscus, vester in Domino Deo servus parvulus ac despectus, salutem et pacem omnibus vobis optans.

2Considerate et videte, quoniam dies mortis appropinquat. 3Rogo ergo vos cum reverentia, sicut possum, ne propter curas et sollicitudines huius saeculi, quas habetis, Dominum oblivioni tradatis et a mandatis eius declinetis, quia omnes illi, qui eum oblivioni tradunt et a mandatis eius declinant, maledicti sunt et ab eo oblivioni tradentur.

4Et, cum venerit dies mortis, omnia, quae putabant habere, auferentur ab eis. 5Et, quanto sapientiores et potentiores fuerint in hoc saeculo, tanto maiora tormenta sustinebunt in inferno.

6Unde firmiter consulo vobis, dominis meis, ut omni cura et sol- licitudine posthabitis et sanctissimum corpus et sanctissimum sanguinem Domini nostri Jesu Christi in eius sancta commemoratione benigne recipiatis. 7Et tantum honorem in populo vobis commisso Domino conferatis, ut quolibet sero annuntietur per nuntium vel per aliud signum, quo omnipotenti Domino Deo ab universo populo laudes et gratiae referantur.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 58