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Thomas of Celano



Friar Minor, poet, and hagiographical writer, born at Celano in the Province of the Abruzzi, about 1200; died about 1255. He was one of the first disciples of St. Francis of Assisi and joined the order probably in 1215. In 1221 Thomas accompanied Caesar of Speyer on his mission to Germany. The following year he became custos of the convents at Mayence, Worms, Speyer, and Cologne, and soon after Caesar of Speyer, on his return to Italy, made him his vicar in the government of the German province. Before September, 1223, Thomas returned to Italy, and lived there in familiar intercourse with St. Francis. Soon after the canonization of St. Francis (16 July, 1228) he wrote his "Vita primâ", or "First Lifé" of St. Francis of Assisi, by order of Gregory IX. Between 1244 and 1247, he compiled his "Vita secundâ", or "Second Life" of St. Francis, which is in the nature of a supplement to the first one, by commission of Crescentius of Jessi, then minister general of the order. About ten years later Thomas wrote a treatise on the miracles of St. Francis at the bidding of Blessed John of Parma, the successor of Crescentius as minister general. In addition to these works, around which a large controversial literature has grown up in recent years, Thomas of Celano wrote two beautiful sequences in honour of St. Francis: "Fregit victor virtualis" and "Sanctitatis nova signâ", and, in all probability, he is also the author of the "Dies Irae" and of the "Life of St. Clare of Assisi", written between 1255 and 1262 (cf. Robinson, "Life of St. Clare", Introduction, pp. xxii sq.). The best critical edition of the works of Thomas of Celano is that of Pere Edouard d'Alençon.

HOWELL, The Lives of St. Francis of Assisi, by Brother Thomas of Celano, I (London, 1908), 24; ROBINSON, Life of St. Clare, ascribed to Thomas of Celano (Philadelphia, 1910), 22 sq.; IDEM, A Short Introduction to Franciscan Literature (New York, 1907), 7-9; DUBOIS, Thomas of Celano, The Historian of St. Francis, in Cath. Univ. Bulletin, XIII,, no. 2 (April, 1907), 250-268; D'ALENCON, S. Francisci Assisensis: vita et miracula, additis opusculis liturgicis, auctore Fr. Thoma de Celano, IX (Rome, 1906), 22: BARLATI, Tommaso da Celano e le sue opere (Casalbordino, 1894); Analecta Boll., XVIII, 81-176; WADDING, Script. Min., 323; SHARALEA, Supplem. ad script. min., 672-74.

Ferdinand Heckmann.








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