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Francis Of Assisi, Deacon? An Examination Of The Claims Of The Earliest Franciscan Sources 1229-1235

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses the more narrow question of whether Francis of Assisi was - or was not - a deacon, a member of the clerical hierarchy, as the early hagiographical sources would seem to claim he was. There are three primary testimonies that Francis was a deacon. The first and most important source is the famous narrative found in the Vita prima of Thomas of Celano. If one would wish to read this account differently and thereby put into doubt this traditional if seemingly enigmatic assertion, two items from the Celanese account would need further exploration: (1) Celano's choice and use of the Latin term levita; and (2) the connection between the assertion that Francis was a Levite and his proclamation of the Gospel. The chapter examines the first issue. The second issue may well be the strongest argument for the claims in favor of the diaconate of Francis.

Keywords: early hagiographical sources; Francis of Assisi; Gospel; levita; Thomas of Celano



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