Jacques Maritain Center : Greatest of Centuries


The Renaissance is often thought of as a movement which originated about the middle of the Fifteenth Century. Careful students sometimes trace its origin back somewhat further. In recent years it has come to be realized, however, that the great intellectual development which came during the century after the fall of Constantinople in Italy, and gradually spread to all the civilized countries of Europe, had been preparing for at least two centuries and a half. While the period from the middle of the Fifteenth to the end of the Sixteenth Centuries well deserves the name of Renaissance, because one of the most important fructifying principles of the movement was the rebirth of Greek ideas into the modern world after the dispersion of Greek scholars by the Turkish advance into the Byzantine Empire, the term must not be allowed to carry with it the mistaken notion which only too often has been plausibly accepted, that there was a new birth of poetic, literary and esthetic ideas at this time, just as if there had been nothing worth considering in these lines before. Any such notion as this would be the height of absurdity in the light of the history of the previous centuries in Italy. It was a cherished notion of the people of the Renaissance themselves that they were the first to do artistic and literary work, hence they invented the term Gothic, meaning thereby barbarous, for the art of the preceding time, but in this they were only exercising that amusing self-complacency which each generation deems its right. Succeeding generations adopting their depreciative term have turned it into one of glory so that Gothic art is now in highest honor.

Fortunately in recent years there has come, as we have said, a growing recognition of the fact that the real beginning of modern art lies much farther back in history, and that the real father of the Italian Renaissance is a man whom very few people in the last three centuries have appreciated at his true worth. Undoubtedly the leader in that great return to nature, which constitutes the true basis of modern poetic and artistic ideas of all kinds, was St. Francis of Assisi. "The poor little man of God," as in his humility he loved to call himself, would surely be the last one to suspect that he should ever come to be thought of as the initiator of a great movement in literature and art. Such he was, however, in the highest sense of the term and because of the modern appreciation of him in this regard, publications concerning him have been more frequent during the last ten years than with regard to almost any other single individual. We have under our hand at the present moment what by no means claims to be a complete bibliography of St. Francis' life and work, yet we can count no less than thirty different works in various languages (not reckoning translations separate from the originals) which have issued from the press during the last ten years alone. This gives some idea of present day interest in St. Francis.

It must not be thought, however, that it is only in our time that these significant tributes have been paid him. Much of his influence in literature and art, as well as in life, was recognized by the southern nations all during the centuries since his death. That it is only during the last century that other nations have come to appreciate him better, and especially have realized his literary significance, has been their loss and that of their literatures. At the beginning of the Nineteenth Century Görres, the German historian who was so sympathetic towards the Middle Ages, wrote of St. Francis as one of the Troubadours, and even did not hesitate to add that without St. Francis at the beginning of the Thirteenth Century there would have been no Dante at the end. Renan, the well-known French rationalist historian and literateur, did not hesitate to proclaim St. Francis one of the great religious poets of all time and his famous Canticle of the Sun as the greatest religious poem since the Hebrew Psalms were written. It was from Renan that Matthew Arnold received his introduction to St. Francis as a literary man, and his own studies led him to write the famous passages in the Essays in Criticism, which are usually so much a source of surprise to those who think of Mr. Arnold as the rationalizing critic, rather than the sympathetic admirer of a medieval saint.

"In the beginning of the Thirteenth Century, when the clouds and storms had come, when the gay sensuous pagan life was gone, when men were not living by the senses and understanding, when they were looking for the speedy coming of Antichrist, there appeared in Italy, to the north of Rome, in the beautiful Umbrian country at the foot of the Appennines, a figure of the most magical power and charm, St. Francis. His century is, I think, the most interesting in the history of Christianity after its primitive age; more interesting than even the century of the Reformation; and one of the chief figures, perhaps the very chief, to which this interest attaches itself, is St. Francis. And why? Because of the profound popular instinct which enabled him, more than any man since the primitive age, to fit religion for popular use. He brought religion to the people. He founded the most popular body of ministers of religion that has ever existed in the Church. He transformed monachism by uprooting the stationary monk, delivering him from the bondage of property, and sending him, as a mendicant friar, to be a stranger and sojourner, not in the wilderness, but in the most crowded haunts of men, to console them and to do them good. This popular instinct of his is at the bottom of his famous marriage with poverty. Poverty and suffering are the condition of the people, the multitude, the immense majority of mankind; and it was towards this people that his soul yearned. "He listens," it was said of him, "to those to whom God himself will not listen."

Matthew Arnold has thus surprisingly summed up Francis' age and his work. With a sympathy that could scarcely be expected from the man for whom the Deity had become merely "a stream of tendency that makes for righteousness," he realized the influence that this supreme lover of a personal God had over his generation, and his brother poet soul flew to its affinity in spite of the apparently insurmountable obstacle of extreme aloofness of spiritual temperament.

Matthew Arnold proceeds:

"So in return, as no other man, St. Francis was listened to. When an Umbrian town or village heard of his approach, the whole population went out in joyful procession to meet him, with green boughs, flags, music, and songs of gladness. The master, who began with two disciples, could in his own lifetime (and he died at forty-five) collect to keep Whitsuntide with him, in presence of an immense multitude, five thousand of his Minorites. He found fulfilment to his prophetic cry: "I hear in my ears the sound of the tongues of all the nations who shall come unto us; Frenchmen, Spaniards, Germans, Englishmen. The Lord will make of us a great people, even unto the ends of the earth."

When we reach the next paragraph the secret of this surprising paradoxical sympathy is out. It is the literary and esthetic side of St. Francis that has appealed to him, and like Renan he does not hesitate to give "the poor little man of God" a place among the great original geniuses of all time, associating his name with that of Dante.

"Prose could not satisfy this ardent soul, and he made poetry. Latin was too learned for this simple, popular nature, and he composed in his mother tongue, in Italian. The beginnings of the mundane poetry of the Italians are in Sicily, at the court of kings; the beginnings of their religious poetry are in Umbria, with St. Francis. His are the humble upper waters of a mighty stream: at the beginning of the Thirteenth Century, it is St. Francis, at the end, Dante. Now it happens that St. Francis, too, like the Alexandrian songstress, has his hymn for the sun, for Adonis; Canticle of the Sun, Canticle of the Creatures, the poem goes by both names. Like the Alexandrian hymn, it is designed for popular use, but not for use by King Ptolemy's people; artless in language, irregular in rhythm, it matches with the childlike genius that produced it, and the simple natures that loved and repeated it."

Probably the most satisfactory translation for those who may not be able to appreciate the original of this sublime hymn that has evoked so many tributes, is the following literal rendering into English in which a quite successful attempt to give the naif rhythm of the original Italian, which necessarily disappears in any formal rhymed translation, has been made by Father Paschal Robinson of the Order of St. Francis for his recent edition of the writings of St. Francis.{1}

"Here begin the praises of the Creatures which the Blessed Francis made to the praise and honor of God while he was ill at St. Damian's:

Most high, omnipotent, good Lord,
Praise, glory and honor and benediction all, are Thine.
To Thee alone do they belong, most High,
And there is no man fit to mention Thee.
Praise be to Thee, my Lord, with all Thy creatures,
Especially to my worshipful brother sun,
The which lights up the day, and through him dost
Thou brightness give;
And beautiful is he and radiant with splendor great;
Of Thee, Most High, signification gives.
Praised be my Lord, for sister moon and for the stars,
In heaven Thou hast formed them clear and precious and fair.
Praised be my Lord for brother wind
And for the air and clouds and fair and every kind of weather,
By the which Thou givest to Thy creatures nourishment.
Praised be my Lord for sister water,
The which is greatly helpful and humble and precious and pure.
Praised be my Lord for brother fire,
By the which Thou lightest up the dark.
And fair is he and gay and mighty and strong.
Praised be my Lord for our sister, mother earth,
The which sustains and keeps us
And brings forth diverse fruits with grass and flowers bright.
Praised be my Lord for those who for Thy love forgive
And weakness bear and tribulation.
Blessed those who shall in peace endure,
For by Thee, Most High, shall they be crowned.
Praised be my Lord for our sister, the bodily death,
From the which no living man can flee.
Woe to them who die in mortal sin;
Blessed those who shall find themselves in Thy most holy will,
For the second death shall do them no ill.
Praise ye and bless ye my Lord, and give Him thanks,
And be subject unto Him with great humility."

Except for his place in literature and art, the lives of few men would seem to be of so little interest to the modern time as that of St. Francis of Assisi, yet it is for the man himself that so many now turn to him. His spirit is entirely opposed to the sordid principles that have been accepted as the basis of success in modern life. His idea was that happiness consisted in being free from unsatisfied desires rather than seeking to secure the satisfaction of his wishes. Duty was self-denial, not self-seeking under any pretext. He stripped himself literally of everything and his mystic marriage to the Lady Poverty was, so far as he was concerned, as absolute a reality, as if the union had been actual instead of imaginary. The commonplace details of his early years seem all the more interesting from these later developments, and have been the subject of much sympathetic study in recent years.

St. Francis' father was a cloth merchant and St. Francis had been brought up and educated as became the son of a man whose commercial journeys often took him to France. It was indeed while his father was absent on one of these business expeditions that Francis was born and on his father's return received from him the name of Francisco -- the Frenchman -- in joyful commemoration of his birth.

As he grew up he did not differ from the ordinary young man of his time, but seems to have taken the world and its pleasures quite as he found them and after the fashion of those around him. At the age of twenty-five he fell seriously ill and then, for the first time, there came to him the realization of the true significance of life. As Dean Stanley said shortly before his death, "life seemed different when viewed from the horizontal position." Life lived for its own sake was not worth while. To Francis there came the realization that when God Himself became man he lived his life for others. Francis set about literally imitating him. Enthusiastic students of his life consider him the great type of genuine Christian, the most real disciple of Christ who ever lived. Some money and goods that came into his hands having been disposed of for the poor, Francis' father made serious objection and Francis was brought before the ecclesiastical authorities. It was at this moment that he stripped himself of everything that he had, the Bishop even having to provide a cloak to cover his nakedness, and became the wonderful apostle to the poor that he remained during all the rest of his life. Curious as it must ever seem, it was not long before he had many who wished to imitate him and who insisted on becoming his disciples and followers. St. Francis had had no idea how infectious his example was to prove. Before his death his disciples could be numbered by the thousands and the great order of the Franciscans, that for centuries was to do so much work, had come into existence not by any conscious planning, but by the mere force of the great Christian principles that were the guiding factors in St. Francis' own life.

Ruskin in his Mornings in Florence in discussing Giotto's famous picture of St. Francis' renunciation of his inheritance, and his incurrence thereby of his father's anger, has a characteristic passage that sounds the very keynote of the Saint's life and goes to the heart of things. In it he explains the meaning of this apparently contradictory incident in St. Francis' life, since Francis' great virtue was obedience, yet here, apparently as a beginning of his more perfect Christian life, is an act of disobedience. After Ruskin's explanation, however, it is all the more difficult to understand the present generation's revival of interest in Francis unless it be attributed to a liking for contrast.

"That is the meaning of St. Francis' renouncing his inheritance; and it is the beginning of Giotto's gospel of Works. Unless this hardest of deeds be done first -- this inheritance of mammon and the world cast away, -- all other deeds are useless. You cannot serve, cannot obey, God and mammon. No charities, no obedience, no self-denials, are of any use while you are still at heart in conformity with the world. You go to church, because the world goes. You keep Sunday, because your neighbor keeps it. But you dress ridiculously because your neighbors ask it; and you dare not do a rough piece of work, because your neighbors despise it. You must renounce your neighbor, in his riches and pride, and remember him in his distress. That is St. Francis' 'disobedience.'"

In spite of Ruskin's charming explanation of St. Francis' place in history, and his elucidation of the hard passages in his life, most people will only find it more difficult, after these explanations, to understand the modern acute reawakening of interest in St. Francis. Our generation in its ardent devotion to the things of this world does not seem a promising field for the evangel, "Give up all thou hast and follow me." The mystery of St. Francis' attraction only deepens the more we know of him. An American Franciscan has tried to solve the problem and his words are worth quoting. Father Paschal Robinson, O.F.M., in his "The True St. Francis" says

"What is the cause of the present widespread homage to St. Francis? It is, of course, far too wide a question to allow the present writer to do more than make a few suggestions. First and foremost, we must ever reckon with the perennial charm of the Saint's personality, which seems to wield an ineffable influence over the hearts of men -- drawing and holding those of the most different habits of mind, with a sense of personal sympathy. Perhaps no other man, unless it be St. Paul, ever had such wide reaching, all-embracing sympathy: and it may have been wider than St. Paul's, for we find no evidence in the great apostle of a love for nature and of animals. This exquisite Franciscan spirit, as it is called, which is the very perfume of religion -- this spirit at once so humble, so tender, so devout, so akin to 'the good odor of Christ' -- passed out into the whole world and has become a permanent source of inspiration. A character at once so exhalted and so purified as St. Francis was sure to keep alive an ideal; and so he does. From this one can easily understand St. Francis' dominance among a small but earnest band of enthusiasts now pointing the world back to the reign of the spirit. It was this same gentle idealism of St. Francis which inspired the art of the Umbrian people; it was this which was translated into the paintings of the greatest artists. No school of painting has ever been penetrated with such pure idealism as the Umbrian; and this inspiration, at once religious and artistic, came from the tomb of the poverello above which Giotto had painted his mystical frescoes. The earnest quasi-religious study of the medieval beginnings of western art has therefore rightly been set down as another cause for some of the latter-day pilgrimages to Assisi. In like manner, the scientific treatment of the Romance literature leads naturally to St. Francis as to the humble upper waters of a mighty stream; at the beginning of the Thirteenth Century is St. Francis, at the end is Dante. It was Matthew Arnold, we believe, who first held up the poor man of Assisi as a literary type -- a type as distinct and formal as the author of the Divine Comedy. 'Prose,' he says, 'could not easily satisfy the saint's ardent soul, and so he made poetry.' 'It was,' writes Ozanam, 'the first cry of a nascent poetry which has grown and made itself heard through the world.'"

Considering how thoroughly impractical Francis seemed to be in his life, it can scarcely help but be a source of ever increasing wonder that he succeeded in influencing his generation so widely and so thoroughly. It is evident that there were many men of the time tired of the more or less strenuous life, which chained them either to the cares of business or tempted them for the sake of the bubble reputation into a military career. To these St. Francis' method of life came with an especially strong appeal. The example of his neglect of worldly things and of his so thoroughly maintained resolve not to be harassed by the ordinary cares of life, and especially not to take too much thought of the future, penetrated into all classes. While it made the rich realize how much of their lives they were living merely for the sake of others, it helped the poor to be satisfied, since here was a sublime and complete recognition of the fact that an existence without cares was better than one with many cares, such as were sure to come to those who wrought ever and anon increase of the goods of this world. Such ideas may seen to be essentially modern, but anyone who will turn to the chapter on The Three Most Read Books of the Century and read the passages from the "Romance of the Rose" on wealth and poverty, will know better than to think them anything but perennial. Men gathered around St. Francis then and pleaded to be allowed to follow his mode of life. Some of the men who thus came to him were the choice spirits of the times. Thomas of Celano, who was to be one of the Master's favorite disciples and subsequently to be his most authoritative biographer, was one of the great literary geniuses of all times, the author of the sublime Dies Irae. While most of his first companions were men of such extreme simplicity of mind that the world has been rather in an amused than admiring attitude with regard to them, there can be no doubt that this simplicity was of itself an index not only of their genuine sincerity of heart, but of a greatness of mind that set them above the ordinary run of mankind and made them live poetry when they did not write it. The institute established by St. Francis was destined, in the course of the century, to attract to it some of the great men of every country. Besides Thomas of Celano there was, in Italy, Anthony of Padua, almost as famous as his master for the beauty of his saintly life; Jacopone Da Todi, the well-known author of the Stabat Mater, a hymn that rivals in poetic genius, the Dies Irae; Bonaventure, the great teacher of philosophy and theology at the University of Paris, and the writer of some of the sublimest treatises of mystical theology that were to be text books for the members of the Franciscan order, and of many other religious bodies for centuries after his death, indeed down to even our own times. There was Roger Bacon, in England, the famous teacher of science at Paris and at Oxford; and that Subtle Doctor, Duns Scotus, whose influence in philosophical speculation was destined never quite to disappear, and many others, the pick of the generations in which they lived, all proud to look up to Francis of Assisi as their father; all glad of the opportunity that the order gave them, to pass their lives in peace, far from the madding crowd with its strifes and competition, providing them constantly with opportunities to live their own lives, to find their own souls, to cultivate their own individualities untrammelled by worldly cares.

Francis' success in this matter and the propaganda of his influence will not be so surprising to Americans of this generation, if they will only recall what is still a precious memory in the minds of men who are yet alive, that efforts to found a community not unlike that of the Franciscans in certain ways, attracted widespread attention even in our own country half a century ago. After all, the men who gathered at Brook Farm had ideas and ideals not so distant from those cherished by St. Francis and the early members of the Franciscan Order. Their main effort was also to get away from worldly cares and have the opportunity to work out their philosophy of life far from the disturbing influence of city life, in the peaceful pursuit of only such agricultural efforts as might be necessary to ensure them simple sustenance, yet at the same time enforce from them such exercise in the open air as would guarantee the preservation of health. The men of Brook Farm were, in the eyes of their generation, quite as far from practical ideas as were the early Franciscans. It must not be forgotten, however, that these men who thus attempted in the Nineteenth Century what St. Francis succeeded in accomplishing in the Thirteenth, in their subsequent careers succeeded in impressing themselves very strongly upon the life of the American people. Much of what is best in our Nineteenth Century life would be lost if the Brook farmers and what they accomplished were to be removed from it. Men of ideals are usually also men of working ideas, as these two experiences in history would seem to show.

It was not alone for the men of his generation, however, that Francis was destined to furnish a refuge from worldly care and a place of peace and thoughtful life. We have already said that it was by chance, certainly without any conscious intention on Francis' part that the Franciscan order for men which is usually spoken of as the First Order came into existence. The last thing in the world very probably that would ever have entered into the mind of Francis when he began to lead the simple life of a poor little man of God, was the founding of a religious order for women. We tell elsewhere the story, of St. Clare's interest in St. Francis' mode of life and of the trials that she underwent in order to obtain permission and opportunity to fashion her own life in the same way. The problem was even more serious for women than for men. St. Francis considered that they should not be allowed to follow the Franciscan custom of going out to seek alms and yet required that they should live in absolute poverty, possessing nothing and supporting themselves only by the contributions of the faithful and the work of their hands. St. Clare attempted the apparently impossible and solved the problem of a new career for the women of her time.

It was not very long before St. Clare's example proved as infective as that of St. Francis himself. While in the beginning the members of her family had been the most strenuous objectors against her taking up such an unwonted mode of existence it was not long before she was joined in the monastery of St. Damian where her little community was living, by her sister who was to become almost as famous as herself under the name of St. Agnes, and by her mother and other near relatives, from Assisi and the neighborhood. This Second Order of St. Francis to which only women were admitted proved to have in it the germ of as active life as that of the first order. Before the end of the Thirteenth Century there were women Franciscans in every country in Europe. These convents furnished for women a refuge from the worried, hurried, overbusy life around them that proved quite as attractive as the similar opportunity for the men. For many hundreds of years down even to our own time, women were to find in the quiet obscurity of such Franciscan convents a peaceful, happy life in which they occupied themselves with simple conventual duties, with manual labor in their monastery gardens, with the making of needle work in which they became the most expert in the world, with the illuminating of missals and office books of such artistic beauty that they 'have become the most precious treasures of our great libraries, and with the long hours of prayer by which they hoped to accomplish as much in making the world better as if they devoted themselves to ardent efforts of reform which, of course, the circumstances of the time would not have permitted.

Finally there was the Third Order of St. Francis, which was to gather to itself so many of the distinguished people of the century whose occupations and obligations would not permit them to live the conventual life, but who yet felt that they must be attached by some bond to this beautiful sanctity that was entering into all the better life of the century. The Third Order was established so as to permit all the world to become Franciscans to whatever degree it considered possible, and to share in the sublime Christianity of the founder whom they all admired so much, even if they were not able to imitate his sublimer virtues. Into this Third Order of St. Francis most of the finer spirits of the time entered with enthusiasm. We need only recall that Louis IX. of France, the greatest Monarch of the century, considered it a special privilege to be a follower of the humble Francis, and that St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the daughter of a king, the wife and mother of a ruling prince, gave another example of the far-reachingness of Francis' work. Dante was another of the great members of the Third Order and was buried in the habit of St. Francis, glorying in the thought of the brotherhood this gave him with the saint he loved so much.

All down the centuries since, other distinguished men in many countries of Europe were proud to claim the same distinction. Modern science is supposed to be unorthodox in its tendencies and electricity is the most recent of the sciences in development. Three of the great founders in electricity, Volta, Galvani and Ampere, were members of the Third Order of St. Francis and at least one of them, Galvani, insisted on being buried in the habit of the order six centuries after the death of his father Francis in order to show how much he appreciated the privilege. There is no man who lived in the Thirteenth Century who influenced the better side of men more in all the succeeding ages down to and including our own time, than the poor little man of God of Assisi. He is just coming into a further precious heritage of uplift for the men of our time, that is surprising for those who are so buried in the merely material that they fail to realize how much the ideal still rules the minds of thinking men, but that seems only natural and inevitable to those who appreciate all the attractiveness there is in a simple life lived without the bootless hurry, the unattaining bustle and the over-strained excitement of the strenuous existence.

What St. Francis and his order accomplished in Italy another great Saint, Dominic, was achieving in the West. The fact that another order similar to that of St. Francis in many respects, yet differing from it in a number of essential particulars, should have arisen almost at the same time shows how profoundly the spirit of organization of effort had penetrated into the minds of these generations of the Thirteenth Century. While poverty was to be the badge of St. Dominic's followers as well as those of St. Francis, learning was to replace the simplicity which St. Francis desired for his sons. The order of preachers began at once to give many eminent scholars to the Church, and for three centuries there was not a single generation that did not see as Dominicans some of the most intellectual men of Europe. Leaders they were in philosophy, in the development of thought, in education, and in every phase of ecclesiastical life. The watch dogs of the Lord, (Domini Canes) they were called, punning on their name because everywhere, they were in the van of defense against the enemies of Christianity. That the Thirteenth Century should have given rise to two such great religious orders stamps it as a wonderfully fruitful period for religion as well as for every other phrase of human development.

In order to understand what these great founders tried to do, the work of these two orders must be considered together. They have never ceased, during all the intervening seven centuries, to be the source of great influence in the religious world. They have proven refuges for many gentle spirits at all times and have been the homes of learning, as well as of piety. While occasionally their privileges have been abused, and men have taken advantage of the opportunities to be idle and luxurious, this has happened much seldomer than the world imagines. Not a single century has failed to show men among them whom the world honors as Saints, and whose lives have been examples of what can be accomplished by human nature at its best. They have been literally schools of unselfishness, and men have learned to think less of themselves and more of their labor by the contemplation of the lives of these begging friars. What they did for England, the Rev. Augustus Jessop, a non-conformist clergyman in England, has recently told very well, and the more one studies their history, the higher the estimation of them; and the more one knows of them, the less does one talk of their vices. Green in his "History of the English People" has paid them a tribute that it is well to remember: --

"To bring the world back again within the pale of the Church was the aim of two religious orders which sprang suddenly to life at the opening of the Thirteenth Century. The zeal of the Spaniard Dominic was aroused at the sight of the lordly prelates who sought by fire and sword to win the Albigensian heretics to the faith. 'Zeal,' he cried, must be met by zeal, lowliness by lowliness, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching lies by preaching truth.' His fiery ardor and rigid orthodoxy were seconded by the mystical piety, the imaginative enthusiasm of Francis of Assisi. The life of Francis falls like a stream of tender light across the darkness of the time. In the frescoes of Giotto or the verse of Dante we see him take Poverty for his bride. He strips himself of all: he flings his very clothes at his father's feet, that he may be one with Nature and God. His passionate verse claims the moon for his sister and the sun for his brother; he calls on his brother the Wind, and his sister the Water. His last faint cry was a 'Welcome, Sister Death.' Strangely as the two men differed from each other, their aim was the same, to convert the heathen, to extirpate heresy, to reconcile knowledge with orthodoxy, to carry the Gospel to the poor. The work was to be done by the entire reversal of the older monasticism, by seeking personal salvation in effort for the salvation of their fellow-men, by exchanging the solitary of the cloister for the preacher, the monk for a friar. To force the new 'brethren' into entire dependence on those among whom they labored the vow of Poverty was turned into a stern reality; the 'Begging Friars' were to subsist on the alms of the poor, they might possess neither money nor lands, the very houses in which they lived were to be held in trust for them by others. The tide of popular enthusiasm which welcomed their appearance swept before it the reluctance of Rome, the jealousy of the older orders, the opposition of the parochial priesthood. Thousands of brethren gathered in a few years around Francis and Dominic, and the begging preachers, clad in their coarse frock of serge, with the girdle of rope around their waist, wandered barefooted as missionaries over Asia, battled with heresy in Italy and Gaul, lectured in the Universities, and preached and toiled among the poor."

{1} Philadelphia, The Dolphin Press, 1906.

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