Week 13 - St. Francis of Assisi

Week 13 - St. Francis of Assisi - Week 13: St. Francis of...

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Week 13: St. Francis of Assisi Here is some material on St. Francis of Assisi. You may need this for our second paper, and this material will be covered on our final exam. The Lives of St. Francis by several Franciscan writers are in our XP, and there are primary sources in Tierney as well, so make sure to read them! St. Francis of Assisi founded 3 religious orders: 1. Franciscan Friars—A religious order of men living in the world and strictly following the example of Christ and the apostles, especially in cities. They beg and depend for support on alms, and they preach, especially to the poor. 2. The Poor Clares—A religious order exclusively for women, headed and named after his friend Clare. 3. Lay People—Those who want a serious & personal religious commitment without having to sacrifice their families and everyday lives. They organized through confraternities. This shows an effort to accommodate a variety of people, with different goals, different needs, and different environments such as cities. St. Francis in many ways represents a variety of major developments in the High Middle Ages and effective responses to them. Here are some of the most important things to look for: 1. Reform: an effort to recover the original New Testament ideals of Christ and the apostles. St. Francis’ society—with prosperous cities, cultural and intellectual vitality, and much more stability and security than in the Early Middle Ages—was much more like the Roman Empire's society at the time of Jesus. Traditional Benedictine monasticism was not always effective for people in cities and the needs of the city population. 2. Reform meant recovering a Christianity particularly aimed at cities & towns, the poor & social outcasts, the unlearned (those without elaborate scholastic theology, which was becoming the norm in preaching), and ordinary city people. There were many people in this period who felt alienated from the teaching and practices of the Church. St. Francis hoped to provide comfort and meaningful, evangelical religion for them. But he carefully avoided posing any challenge to religious authority by neither rebelling nor separating from the Church and its authorities. He received permission from the Pope to found his orders, and he received the support of the Pope, Innocent III—the Pope was also aware of the growing need for this type of reform in order to accommodate Christians with more diverse and complex needs than in earlier periods. This was one of the causes of outbreaks of heresy in this period. St. Francis avoided heresy by insisting on obedience to the clergy and Church authorities. 3. Reform meant striving to reject the constraints of wealth and property. (Think of Cathedrals! They cost a fortune to build, and that alone is good evidence of the wealth of the Church in this period.) This is why Franciscan poverty was so significant. Poverty had formed a close bond between Christ and his followers, as well as expressing Christian otherworldliness. This was important again in a society which
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Week 13 - St. Francis of Assisi - Week 13: St. Francis of...

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