Pope Innocent III

Francis, They Hardly Know Ye

Hattip to Elliot Bougis in regard to the above video.  Strong content advisory for the video for anyone who occasionally suffers from Kumbaya flashbacks to the Seventies.

For the benefit of those who believe that Saint Francis was some sort of medieval precursor to hippies/ecologists/ occupy wall street/new agers:

Like most very great men and women, legends began to cluster about Saint Francis even while he lived.  One of these involved his meeting with Pope Innocent III.

While the Vicar of Christ listened attentively to a parable told by Francis and its interpretation, he was quite amazed and recognised without a doubt that Christ had spoken in this man.  But he also confirmed a vision he had recently received from heaven, that, as the Divine Spirit indicated, would be fulfilled in this man.  He saw in a dream, as he recounted, the Lateran basilica almost ready to fall down.  A little poor man, small and scorned, was propping it up with his own back bent so that it would not fall.  “I’m sure,” he said, “he is the one who will hold up Christ’s Church by what he does and what he teaches.”  Because of this, filled with exceptional devotion, he bowed to the request in everything and always loved Christ’s servant with special love.  Then he granted what was asked and promised even more.  He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach penance, and had small tonsures given to all the lay brothers, who were accompanying the servant of God, so that they could freely preach the word of God. 

 

Cf. St. Bonaventure’s Major Legend of St. Francis, III:10

Saint Francis is probably the most popular Catholic saint among non-Catholics.  It is always pleasing of course for Catholics when non-Catholics recognize the heroic sanctity of one of their champions, but in the case of Saint Francis, I fear this popularity among non-Catholics is largely due to a fundamental misunderstanding about Saint Francis.  Saint Francis is often portrayed as a precursor of the modern environmental movement, a pantheist and a pacifist, someone, in short, who was preaching a message in the thirteenth century that accords nicely with twenty-first century liberal secular sensibilities.

Of course none of this is true.   Saint Francis never preached any doctrines in accord with the modern ecological movement and simply was not concerned with those types of issues that were absolutely foreign to his time.  Saint Francis was a completely orthodox Catholic who worshiped God with such intensity that he was the first to receive the stigmata.  Saint Francis never breathed a word against the Crusades and participated in the Fifth Crusade to Egypt.

As popular as Saint Francis is with non-Catholics, Innocent III would likely be equally unpopular if historical ignorance were not so wide-spread today.  He was the most powerful pope in secular matters in the history of the Church.  He made and unmade kings and emperors;  in his pontificate Constantinople fell to western crusaders, although he opposed this;  he began the Albigensian Crusade;  he dominated his age as no pope before or since.  To many moderns Innocent III would be the anti-Saint Francis. Continue reading

Saint Francis of Assisi and Pope Innocent III

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi.  Like most very great men and women, legends began to cluster about him even while he lived.  One of these involved his meeting with Pope Innocent III.

While the Vicar of Christ listened attentively to a parable told by Francis and its interpretation, he was quite amazed and recognised without a doubt that Christ had spoken in this man.  But he also confirmed a vision he had recently received from heaven, that, as the Divine Spirit indicated, would be fulfilled in this man.  He saw in a dream, as he recounted, the Lateran basilica almost ready to fall down.  A little poor man, small and scorned, was propping it up with his own back bent so that it would not fall.  “I’m sure,” he said, “he is the one who will hold up Christ’s Church by what he does and what he teaches.”  Because of this, filled with exceptional devotion, he bowed to the request in everything and always loved Christ’s servant with special love.  Then he granted what was asked and promised even more.  He approved the rule, gave them a mandate to preach penance, and had small tonsures given to all the lay brothers, who were accompanying the servant of God, so that they could freely preach the word of God. 

 

Cf. St. Bonaventure’s Major Legend of St. Francis, III:10 Continue reading

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