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The Incredible Study of a Franciscan Manuscript – Sciences et Avenir

This article comes from the journal Sciences et Avenir – La Recherche n ° 895 of September 2021.

It all starts with an email. In September 2014, the French historian Jacques Dalarun, a specialist in Saint Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) and his religious doctrine, Franciscanism, received a message from his American colleague, Sean Field. “It contains a link to the website of American dealers of ancient manuscripts, the Galerie Les Enluminures,” recalls Jacques Dalarun. Director Sandra Hindman, a co-psychologist at the University of Chicago, sells a manuscript; is accompanied by a very good description. written by an excellent scholar, Laura Light. “A passage in the notice calls the historian:” Laura Light wonders if the manuscript does not contain an exceptional text: a Life, that is, an unknown biography of Saint Francis of Assisi, written in the years after his death. . “Any of the oldest accounts of the existence of Francisco, among the dozens written in medieval times, and although it is assumed that these first texts were destroyed as a result of a decree of 1266 that imposed a new official version of the life of him Italian saint (that of San Buenaventura, dating from 1263).

San Francisco’s first hagiographer

Neither one nor two, the specialist launches to read the prologue of this text available on the gallery’s website. “Confirmation falls from the first lines. The author is Tomás de Celano, St. Francis’ first hagiographer, and he writes to Brother Elías, one of the founder’s first successors at the head of the Franciscan order, the Friars Minor (1232 -1239) , in these terms: “You are a general minister and, at your command, I am writing this new Life of Francis, which is the summarized version of my previous Life,” explains Jacques Dalarun. You can imagine my happiness! The historian immediately translates the text from Latin to French His work finds a lot of echo.

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