|Thomas of Celano - A Saint for
THOMAS OF CELANO, Franciscan friar, disciple
and biographer of St Francis of Assisi.
||I have deluded myself.
Without doubt, it was necessary to free the oppressed masses. However, our methods
resulted in other oppressions and gruesome massacres. You know I am deathly ill; I feel
lost in an ocean of blood formed by countless victims. This was necessary to save our
Russia, but it is too late to turn back. We would need ten Francis of Assisi.
at the end of his life, 1924
THOMAS OF CELANO,
Franciscan friar and disciple and biographer of St Francis of Assisi. Born at Celano in
the Abruzzi, he joined St Francis probably about 1214, and he appears to have been one of
the first band of friars who went into Germany. He was commissioned by Gregory IX. to
write the Life of St Francis, and in 1229 he completed the First Legend; in 1247 at the
command of the minister general he composed the Second Legend, and a few years later the
Tract on the Miracles of St Francis. He also composed in 1255 the Legend of St Clare; and
he is one of those to whom the sequence Dies irae is attributed.
of Celano, his first biographer testifies
Celano 83 )
0 how beautiful, how splendid, how glorious did he appear in the innocence of his life, in
the simplicity of his words, in the purity of his heart, in his love for God, in his
fraternal charity, in his ardent obedience, in his peaceful submission, in his angelic
countenance! He was charming in his manners, serene by nature, affable in his
conversation, most opportune in his exhortations, most faithful in what was entrusted to
him, cautious in counsel, effective in business, gracious in all things. He was serene of
mind, sweet of disposition, sober in spirit, raised up in contemplation, zealous in
prayer, and in all things fervent. He was constant in purpose, stable in virtue,
persevering in grace, and unchanging in all things. He was quick to pardon, slow to become
angry, ready of wit, tenacious of memory, subtle in discussion, circumspect in choosing,
and in all things simple. He was unbending with himself, understanding toward others, and
discreet in all things.
He was a most eloquent
man, a man of cheerful countenance, of kindly aspect; he was immune to cowardice, free of
insolence. He was of medium height, closer to shortness; his head was moderate in size and
round, his face a bit long and prominent, his forehead smooth and low; his eyes were of
moderate size, black and sound; his hair was black, his eyebrows straight, his nose
symmetrical, thin and straight; his ears were upright, but small; his temples smooth. His
speech was peaceable, fiery and sharp; his voice was strong, sweet, clear, and sonorous.
His teeth were set close together, even, and white; his lips were small and thin; his
beard black, but not bushy. His neck was slender, his shoulders straight, his arms short,
his hands slender, his fingers long, his nails extended; his legs were thin, his feet
small. His skin was delicate, his flesh very spare. He wore rough garments, he slept but
very briefly, he gave most generously. And because he was very humble, he showed all
mildness to all persons, adapting himself usefully to the behavior of all. The more holy
amongst the holy, among sinners he was as one of them. Therefore, most holy father, help
the sinners, you who loved sinners, and deign, we beg of you, most kindly to raise up by
your most glorious intercession those whom you see lying in the mire of their sins.
(1 Cel 83)
From Thomas of Celano...
--The First Life of St. Francis
"For who could
ever give expression to the very great affection he bore for all things that are God's?
Who would be able to narrate the sweetness he enjoyed while contemplating in
creatures the wisdom of their Creator, his power and his goodness? Indeed, he was
very often filled with a wonderful and ineffable joy from this consideration while he
looked upon the sun, while he beheld the moon, and while he gazed upon the stars and the
firmament. O simple piety and pious simplicity! Toward little worms even he
glowed with a very great love, for he had read this saying about the Savior: I am a worm,
not a man. Therefore he picked them up from the road and placed them in a safe
place, lest they be crushed by the feet of the passersby. What shall I say of the
lower creatures, when he would see to it that the bees would be provided with honey in the
winter, or the best wine, lest they should die from the cold? He used to praise in
public the perfection of their works and the excellence of their skill, for the glory of
God, with such encomiums that would often spend a whole day in praising them and the rest
of creatures....This man, filled with the spirit of God, never ceased to glorify, praise,
and bless the Creator and Ruler of all things in all the elements and creatures."
"How great a
gladness do you think the beauty of the flowers brought to his mind when he saw the shape
of their beauty and perceived the odor of their sweetness? ...When he found an abundance
of flowers, he preached to them and invited them to praise the Lord as though they were
endowed with reason. In the same way he exhorted with the sincerest purity
cornfields and vineyards, stones and forests and all the beautiful things of the fields,
fountains of water and the green things of the gardens, earth and fire, air and wind, to
love God and serve him willingly. Finally, he called all creatures brother, and in a
most extraordinary manner never experienced by others, he discerned the hidden things of
nature with his sensitive heart, as one who had already escaped into the freedom of the
glory of the sons of God. "