Bull of the Lord Pope Honorius III
on the Rule of the Friars Minor
November 29, 1223 A. D.
Servant of the servants of God,
to our beloved sons, Friar Francis and the other friars of the Order of the
Friars Minor, greetings and apostolic Benediction:
The Apostolic See is accustomed to deign to grant Her benevolent favor according
to the pious wishes and the upright desires of those petitioning to share
in it. On which account, beloved sons in the Lord, having yielded to your
pious entreaties, We confirm by Our apostolic authority the Rule of your
Order, approved by Our precedessor, Pope Innocent, of good memory, quoted
herein, and We thoroughly fortify with the partronage of this present writing
that, which is as follows:
In the name of the Lord begins the life of the Friars Minor.
The Rule and life
of the Friars Minor is this, namely, to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord
Jesus Christ, by living in obedience, without anything of one's own, and
Friar Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope Honorius
and his canonically elected successors, and to the Roman Church; and the
other friars are bound to obey Friar Francis and his successors.
Concerning those who wish to adopt this life,
and how they should be received.
If any would desire
to adopt this life and would come to our brothers, let them send them to
their Ministers provincial, to whom alone, and not to others, is the permission
to receive friars conceded. Let the ministers indeed examine them diligently
concerning the Catholic Faith and the sacraments of the Church.
And if they believe these things and want to observe them faithfully and
firmly unto the end, and they have no wives or, if they do, their wives have
already entered a monastery, or having taken a vow of continence, permission
[to enter one] has been granted to them by authority of the bishop of the
diocese, and the wives are of such an age that suspicion cannot arise concerning
them, let them say unto these the word of the Holy Gospel (Matthew 19:21),
that they should go and sell all that is their own and strive to give it
to the poor. But if they cannot do this, a good will suffices for them.
And let the friars and their ministers beware, lest they be sollicitous concering
their temporal things, so that they may freely do with their own things,
whatever the Lord will have inspired them. If however counsel is required,
let the ministers have permission to send them to other God fearing men,
by whose counsel their goods may be spent [erogentur] on the poor. Afterwards
let them grant them the clothes of probation, that is, two tunics without
a capuche, a cord [cingulum] , breeches, and a caparone [extending] to the
cord, unless it seems to the same ministers [that it should be] otherwise
according to God. Having truly finished the year of probation, let them be
received to obedience, promising to observe always this life and Rule.
And in no manner will it be licit for them to go forth from this religious
institute [de ista religione exire], according to the command of the Lord
Pope, because according to the Holy Gospel "No one putting hand to the plow
and turning back is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62)
And let those who have already promised obedience have a tunic with a capuche,
and if they wish to have it, another without a capuche. And let those who
are driven by necessity be able to wear footwear. And let all the friars
wear cheap clothing and be able to patch these with sack-cloth and other
pieces with the blessing of God. I warn and exhort them, not to despise nor
judge men, whom they see clothed with soft and colored clothes, using dainty
food and drink, but rather let each one judge and despise his very self.
Concerning the divine office and fasting; and in what manner the brothers
ought to go through the world.
Clerics are to
perform [faciant] the divine office according to the Ordo of the Holy Roman
Church, except for the psalter, for which they can have beviaries.
Let the laymen indeed say twenty-four "Our Fathers" for matins; for lauds
five ; for prime, terce, sext and none, for each of these seven, for vespers,
however, twelve; for compline seven; and let them pray for the dead.
And let them fast from the Feast of All saints until Christmas. Indeed may
those who voluntaritly fast the holy lent, which begins at Ephiphany and
for the forty days that follow, which the Lord consecrated with His own holy
fast, be blessed by the Lord, and let those who do not wish [to do so] not
be constrained. But let them fast the other [Lent] until the [day of the]
Resurrection of the Lord.
At other times however they are not bound to fast, except on fridays. Indeed
in time of manifest necessity the friars are not bound to the corporal fast.
Indeed, I counsel, warn and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that
when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend
in words (2 Timothy 2:14), nor are they to judge others, but they are to
be meek, peacible and modest, meek and humble, speaking uprightly to all,
as is fitting. And they should not ride horseback, unless they are driven
[to do so] by manifest necessity or infirmity.
Into whatever house they may enter, first let them say: "Peace to this house."
(Luke 10:5) And according to the Holy Gospel it is lawful to eat of any of
the foods, which are placed before them. (Luke 10:8)
That the brothers should not receive money.
I firmly command
all the friars, that in no manner are they to receive coins or money through
themselves or through an interposed person. However for the necessities of
the infirm and for the clothing of the other friars, only the ministers and
the custodes are to conduct a sollicitous care, by means of spiritual friends,
according to places and seasons and cold regions, as they see expedites
necessity; with this always preserved, that, as has been said, they do not
receive coins nor money.
On the manner of working.
Let those friars,
to whom the Lord gives the grace to work, work faithfully and devotedly,
in such a way that, having excluded idleness, the enemy of the soul, they
do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion, which all other
temporal things should serve zealously [deservire]. Indeed concerning the
wages of labor, let them receive for themselves and for their friars what
is for the necessity of the body, except coins or money, and this [they should
do] humbly, as befits the servants of God and the followers of most holy
That the Friars are to appropriate nothing for themselves, and concerning
the begging of alms and sick friars.
Let the Friars
appropriate nothing for themselves, neither house nor place, nor any thing.
And as pilgrims and exiles (1 Peter 2:11) in this age let them go about for
alms confidently, as ones serving the Lord in poverty and humility, nor is
it proper that they be ashamed [to do so], since the Lord made Himself poor
in this world (2 Corinthians 8:9) for us. This is that loftiness of most
high poverty, which has established you, my most dear Friars, as heirs and
kings of the Kingdom of Heaven, making you poor in things, it has raised
you high in virtues (James 2:5). Let this be your "portion", which leads
you "into the land of the living" (Psalm 141:6). Cleaving totally to this,
most beloved Friars, may you want to have nothing other under heaven in
perpetuity, for the [sake of] the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And, wherever the friars are and find themselves, let them mutually show
themselves to be among their family members. And let them without fear manifest
to one another their own need, since, if a mother nourishes and loves her
own son (1 Thessalonians 2:7) according to the flesh, how much more diligently
should he love and nourish his own spiritual brother?
And, if any of them should fall into infirmity, the other friars should care
for him, as they would want to be cared for themselves.
On the penance to be imposed on Friars who are sinning.
If any of the friars,
at the instigation of the enemy, should sin mortally, for those sins, concerning
which it has be ordained among the friars, that one have recourse to the
Ministers provincial alone, the aforesaid friars are bound to have recourse
to them as soon as they can, without delay. Indeed let the Ministers themselves,
if they are priests, with mercy enjoin upon them a penance; if indeed they
are not priests, let them have it enjoined by other priests of the order,
as it will seem to them to better expedite [the matter] according to God.
And they should beware, not to grow angry and be distressed on account of
the sin of another, since anger and distress impede charity in themselves
and in others.
On the election of the Minister general of this fraternity; and on the Chapter
All the friars
are bound to have always one of the friars of this very same religion as
Minister general and servant of the whole fraternity and they are bound firmly
to obey him. When he dies, let an election of a successor be made by the
Ministers provincials and the custodes in the Pentecost Chapter, in which
the ministers provincial are bound to convene at once [or at the same time],
wherever it will have been determined by the minister general; and this once
every three years or at another interval greater or less, as it will have
been ordained by the aforesaid minister.
And if at any time it may appear to all the Ministers provincial and to the
custodes, that the aforesaid minister is not sufficient for the service and
common utility of the friars, the aforesaid friars, to whom the electing
has been given, are bound in the Name of the Lord to choose another another
as their guard [in custodem]. Indeed, after the Pentecost Chapter, let the
ministers and custodes each be able, if they want and if it will seem to
be expedient for them, once in the same year to call their friars together
in chapter in their own custodies.
Le the friars not
preach in the diocese of any bishop, when he has spoken against their
[preaching]. And let no friar at all [penitus] dare preach to the people,
unless he will have been examined by the minister general of this fraternity
and approved, and there be conceded to him by the same the office of preaching.
I also warn and exhort these same friars, that in preaching, that they do,
their expressions be considered and chaste (Psalms 11:7; 17:21), for [sake
of] the utility and edification of the people, by announcing to them vices
and virtues, punishment and glory with brevity of speech; since a brief word
did the Lord speak upon the earth. (Romans 9:28)
On the admonition and correction of the friars.
Let the friars,
who are ministers and servants of the other friars, visit and warn their
friars and humbly and charitably correct them, not commanding them anything
which is contrary to their soul and our Rule. Indeed let the friars, who
are subjects, remember, that for the sake of God they have renounced their
own wills. Whence I firmly command them, to obey thier ministers in all things
which they have promised the Lord to observe and which are not contrary to
their soul or to our Rule. And wherever the friars are, who know and understand,
that they themselves are not able to observe the rule spiritually, they should
and can have recourse to their ministers. Indeed let the ministers receive
them charitably and kindly and be so familiar with them, that they can speak
to them and act as lords with their servants; for so it should be, because
the ministers are the servants of all the friars.
Indeed I warn and exhort the friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they beware
of all pride, vain glory, envy, avarice (Luke 12:15), care and sollicitude
for this age, detraction and murmuring, and that those who are ignorant of
letters not care to learn letters; but let them strive, so that above all
things they should desire to have the Spirit of the Lord and His holy operation,
to pray always to Him with a pure heart and to have humility, [and] patience
in persecution and in infirmity, and to love those who persecute and correct
and accuse us, because the Lord says, "Love your enemies, pray for those
who persecute and calumniate you" (Matthew 5:44). "Blessed are those who
suffer persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
(Matthew 5:10). "He who has persevered until the end, however, will be saved"
That the brothers should not enter the monasteries of nuns.
I frimly command
all the brothers not to have suspicious company or conversation with women,
and not to enter the monasteries of nuns, except those [friars] to whom special
permission has been conceded by the Apostolic See; neither are they to be
godfathers of men or women [so that] scandal may not arise on this account
among the friars nor concerning them.
Concerning those going among the Saracens and other infidels.
Let whoever of
the friars who by divine inspiration wants to go among the saracens and other
infidels seek permission for that reason from their minister provincial.
Indeed the ministers are to grant permission to go to none, except those
whom seems to be fit to be sent.
For which sake I enjoin the ministers by obedience, to seek from the Lord
Pope one of the cardinals of the Roman Church, who is to be the govenor,
protector, and corrector of this fraternity, so that always subject and prostrate
at the feet of this same Holy Church, stable in the Catholic Faith (Colossians
1:23) we may observe, what we have firmly promised: the poverty and humility
and the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Confirmation of the Rule
Let it not be in
any way licit to anyone among men to infringe this page of our confirmation,
or to contravene it with rash daring. If anyone however would presume to
attempt this, let him know himself to have incurred the indignation of the
Omnipotent God and of Blessed Peter and Paul, His Apostles.
Given at the Lateran, on the third day of the Kalens of December, in the
eight year of Our Pontificate.