Thomas of Celano

Thomas of Celano was a native of Celano, in Abruzzo Ultra II. He is noted as having written the earliest biography of Francis of Assisi, and the hymn Dies Irce (q.v.). Neither the date of his birth nor of his death is known. It would appear from the preface to the biography that he was early associated with. Francis, as many of the statements are given as based on personal observation or the authority of Francis himself. Caesar of Spires, the first provincial of the Order of Franciscans in Germany, appointed him to the office of custos over the Minorite convents of Cologne, Mayence, Worms, and Spires, as early at least as 1221. This statement is questioned by some, because the chronicle of the order compiled by Mark of Lisbon does not mention him among the twenty-five earlier and more important disciples of the saint, though more obscure names are found in that list. The biography ascribed to him is given, with notes, in the Acta Sanctorum, October, tom. 2. There is no proof either for or against his claim to the authorship, which is nowhere asserted by himself. Nor is the honor of having composed theDies Irce secured to him by any better evidence. The Franciscans attribute its composition to him, the Dominicans to one of their own order, a Jesuit to an Augustinian monk, a Benedictine to Gregory the Great or to St. Bernard. Each of these statements is arbitrary, and some of them cannot be true. Bartholomew Albizzi of Pisa was the first to credit the hymn to Celano, in his. Liber Conformitatuim (1385); and his statement warrants the conclusions that the hymn was already at that date incorporated with the Missal, and therefore well known, and that Celano was generally held to be its author Wadding, in Scriptores Ordinis Minorum, states that Celano composed two additional sequences, the Freyit Victor Virtualis in honor of St. Francis, and the Sanctitatis Nova Signa. See Mohnike, Kirchen u. literan hist. Studien (1825), 1, 31; Hüber, Dreifache Chronik d. dreifachen Franzisk. —Ordens (Munich, 1686), p. 16; Wadding, A nnales Minor. tom. 2, ad ann. 1222; Hase, Frans.v. Assisi, etc. (Leips. 1856), p. 17, note 17; Tholuck, Verm. Schriften, 1, 110; Daniel, Thesaur. Hymnol. 1, 103-131. —Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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