April 15, 2010

Feast of the Profession of St. Francis

As I mention from time, one of the brothers here set up a 1954 Missale Romano-Seraphicum in one of our hallways as a museum piece. Partly for my own amusement and edification, and partly out of rebellion, I set it up as if for Mass each day whenever I go by. It is an interesting practice, because there are many observances that do not appear in the 1962 Seraphic missal or breviary. It's like a little trip into the 'extra-extraordinary form.'

Today I notice that tomorrow is one such Franciscan feast that I had never heard of:

"The solemn commemoration of our holy father Francis, confessor." What gives? An extra feast of St. Francis apart from the celebration of his birth into eternal life in October?

A little Googling reveals that this is supposed to be the feast of the "profession of St. Francis," but to what event in his life does it refer?

A look at the classic chronology of the life of St. Francis compiled by Omer Englebert and Raphael Brown (one of the real treasures of the older, Franciscan Omnibus of Sources edited by Marion Habig*) suggests that it was on April 16, 1208 that Bernard of Quintavalle and Peter Catanii joined Francis and became his first brothers.

Anonymous of Perugia 2:11 takes up the story this way. The three brothers had a priest open the gospels for them. Upon hearing the passages, If you wish to be perfect, Whoever wishes to come after me, and Take nothing for the journey, they exclaimed, "This is what we we want, this is what we were seeking." Francis goes on to say, "This will be our Rule." So I guess that amounts to a profession, and hence the feast day.

*If you want one, good luck. Try the bookstore at St. Francis of Assisi on 31st St. in Manhattan, where I recently noticed copies of the 1991, 2-volume reprint.


Ad Abolendam said...

I happened upon a used copy of the red, hardbound, one-volume omnibus at the gift shop of the St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell, MA. I grabbed it for something like $5. It was the most random and lucky book find ever.

Brother Charles said...

That's the way to go; one may presume that there are many rolling around, by this reasoning: After publication in the 70s, perhaps most Franciscans had one. There are lot fewer Franciscan religious in the English-speaking world 35 years later, so there must be books without homes.

Kevin F said...

What an amazing discovery. I am wondering now, is it permissible for someone to observe this feast as part of their own private devotions? For example, if I want to share it with my friends and family.

I can't imagine there are any rules against it, but I am curious.

Greg said...

Thanks for the heads up - I will be celebrating!

ben in denver said...

What a great day fro a Franciscan Feast.

It is nice to have a reminder on income tax day that we are all better off without our money anyway.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing this, Father! That's so exciting!

Jennifer said...

LOL at Ben's comment about income taxes and the reminder that we're better off without money.

If anyone does have the money to spend $95 for one, Alibris has one... not sure which date, but one could probably call and ask.

You can search for it on dealoz.com... Amazon has one too.

Fr. JMM said...

If I'm not mistaken, this Feast (or "Solemn Commemoration") refers to the oral approval of the Rule by Pope Innocent III, which took place on April 16, 1209. That date is traditionally regarded as the "birthday" of the Seraphic Order. The feast is still celebrated in the proper calendar of the Franciscans of the Immaculate. You can check out two homilies for the feast on www.airmaria.com. Pax et bonum et Ave Maria!