THE RULE OF 1223
Chapter 1. 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
property, and in chastity. Brother Francis promises obedience and
reverence to his holiness Pope Honorius and his lawfully elected
successors and to the Church of Rome. The other friars are bound to
obey Brother Francis and his successors.
Chapter 2. Of those who wish to take up this life and how they are to be
If anyone wants to profess our Rule and comes to the friars, they must
send him to their provincial minister, because he alone, to the
exclusion of others, has permission to receive friars into the Order.
The ministers must carefully examine all candidates on the Catholic
faith and the sacraments of the Church. If they believe all that the
Catholic faith teaches and are prepared to profess it loyally, holding
by it steadfastly to the end of their lives, and if they are not
married; or if they are married and their wives have already entered a
convent or after taking a vow of chastity have by the authority of the
bishop of the diocese been granted this permission; and the wives are of
such an age that no suspicion can arise concerning them: let the
ministers tell them what the holy Gospel says (Mt. 19:21), that they
should go and sell all that belongs to them and endeavour to give it to
the poor. If they cannot do this, their good will is sufficient.
The friars and their ministers must be careful not to become involved in
the temporal affairs of newcomers to the Order, so that they may dispose
of their goods freely, as God inspires them. If they ask for advice,
the ministers may refer them to some God- fearing persons who can advise
them how to distribute their property to the poor.
When this has been done, the ministers should clothe the candidates with
the habit of probation, namely, two tunics without a hood, a cord and
trousers, and a caperon reaching to the cord, unless the ministers
themselves at any time decide that something else is more suitable.
After the year of the novitiate, they should be received to obedience,
promising to live always according to this life and Rule. It is
absolutely forbidden to leave the Order, as his holiness the Pope has
laid down. For the Gospel tells us, No one, having put his hand to the
plough and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Lk. 9:62).
The friars who have already vowed obedience may have one tunic with a
hood and those who wish may have another without a hood. Those who are
forced by necessity may wear shoes. All the friars are to wear poor
clothes and they can use pieces of sackcloth and other material to mend.
them, with God's blessing.
I warn all the friars and exhort them not to condemn or look down on
people whom they see wearing soft or gaudy clothes and enjoying luxuries
in food or drink; each one should rather condemn and despise himself.
Chapter 3. Of the Divine Office and fasting, and how the friars are to
travel about the world
The clerics are to recite the Divine Office according to the rite of the
Roman Curia, except the psalter; and so they may have breviaries. The
lay brothers are to say twenty-four Our Fathers for Matins and five for
Lauds; for Prime, Terce, Sext, and None, for each of these, they are to
say seven; for Vespers twelve and for Compline seven. They should also
say some prayers for the dead.
All the friars are to fast from the feast of All Saints until Christmas.
Those who voluntarily fast for forty days after Epiphany have God's
blessing, because this is the period our Lord sanctified by his holy
fast (cf. Mt. 4:2). However, those who do not wish to do so, should
not be forced to it. All the friars are bound to keep the Lenten fast
before Easter, but they are not bound to fast at other times, except on
Fridays. However, in case of manifest necessity, they are not obliged
to corporal fasting.
And this is my advice, my counsel, and my earnest plea to my friars in
our Lord Jesus Christ that, when they travel about the world, the should
not be quarrelsome or take part in disputes with words (cf. 2 Tim. 2:14)
or criticize others; but they should be gentle, peaceful, and
unassuming, courteous and humble, speaking respectfully to everyone, as
is expected of them. They are forbidden to ride on horseback, unless
they are forced to it by manifest necessity or sickness. Whatever house
they enter, they should first say, "Peace to this house" (Lk. 10:5), and
in the words of the Gospel they may eat what is set before them (Lk.
Chapter 4. The friars are forbidden to accept money
I strictly forbid all the friars to accept money in any form, either
personally or through an intermediary. The ministers and superiors,
however, are bound to provide carefully for the needs of the sick and
the clothing of the other friars, by having recourse to spiritual
friends, while taking into account dif- ferences of place, season, or
severe climate, as seems best to them in the circumstances. This does
not dispense them from the prohibition of receiving money in any form.
Chapter 5. The manner of working
The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a
spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of
the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and
devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate. As
wages for their labour they may accept anything necessary for their
temporal needs, for themselves or their brethren, except money in any
form. And they should accept it humbly as is expected of those who
serve God and strive after the highest poverty.
Chapter 6. That the friars are to appropriate nothing for themselves; on
seeking alms; and on the sick friars
The friars are to appropriate nothing for themselves, neither a house,
nor a place, nor anything else. As strangers and pilgrims (I Pet. 2:11)
in this world, who serve God in poverty and humility, they should beg
alms trustingly. And there is no reason why they should be ashamed,
because God made himself poor for us in this world. This is the
pinnacle of the most exalted poverty, and it is this, my dearest
brothers, that has made you heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven,
poor in temporal things, but rich in virtue. This should be your
portion, because it leads to the land of the living. And to this
poverty, my beloved brothers, you must cling with all your heart, and
wish never to have anything else under heaven, for the sake of our Lord
Wherever the friars meet one another, they should show that they are
members of the same family. And they should have no hesitation in
making known their needs to one another. For if a mother loves and
cares for her child in the flesh, a friar should certainly love and care
for his spiritual brother all the more tenderly. If a friar falls ill,
the others are bound to look after him as they would like to be looked.
Chapter 7. Of the penance to be imposed on friars who fall into sin
If any of the friars, at the instigation of the enemy, fall into mortal
sin, they must have recourse as soon as possible, without delay, to
their provincial ministers, if it is a sin for which recourse to them
has been prescribed for the friars. If the ministers are priests, they
should impose a moderate penance on such friars; if they are not
priests, they should see that a penance is imposed by some priest of the
Older, as seems best to them before God. They must be careful not to be
angry or upset because a friar has fallen into sin, because anger or
annoyance in themselves or in others makes it difficult to be
Chapter 8. The election of the Minister General of the Order and the
The friars are always bound to have a member of the Order as Minister
General, who is the servant of the whole fraternity, and they are
strictly bound to obey him. At his death the provincial ministers and
the custodes are to elect a successor at the Pentecost Chapter, at which
the provincial ministers are bound to assemble in the place designated
by the Minister General. This chapter should be held once every three
years, or at a longer or shorter interval, if the Minister General has
If at any time it becomes clear to all the provincial ministers and
custodes that the Minister General is incapable of serving the friars
and can be of no benefit to them, they who have the power to elect must
elect someone else as Minister General.
After the Pentecost Chapter, the provincial ministers and custodes may
summon their subjects to a chapter in their own territory once in the
same year, if they wish and it seems worthwhile.
Chapter 9. Of preachers
The friars are forbidden to preach in any diocese if the bishop objects
to it. No friar should dare to preach to the people unless he has been
examined and approved by the Minister General of the Order and has
received from him the commission to preach.
Moreover, I advise and admonish the friars that in their preaching,
their words should be examined and chaste. They should aim only at the
advantage and spiritual good of their listeners, telling them briefly
about vice and virtue, punishment and glory, because our Lord himself
kept his words short on earth.
Chapter 10. On admonishing and correcting the friars
The ministers, who are the servants of the other friars, must visit
their subjects and admonish them, correcting them humbly and charitably,
without commanding them anything that is against their conscience or our
Rule. The subjects, however, should remember that they have renounced
their own wills for God's sake. And so I strictly command them to obey
their ministers in everything that they have promised God and is not
against their conscience and our Rule. The friars who are convinced
that they cannot observe the Rule spiritually, wherever they may be, can
and must have recourse to their ministers. The ministers, for their
part, are bound to receive them kindly and charitably, and be so
sympathetic towards them that the friars can speak and deal with them as
employers with their servants. That is the way it ought to be; the
ministers should be the servants of all the friars.
With all my heart, I beg the friars in our Lord Jesus Christ to be on
their guard against pride, boasting, envy, and greed, against the cares
and anxieties of this world, against detraction and complaining. Those
who are illiterate should not be anxious to study. They should realize
instead that the only thing they should desire is to have the spirit of
God at work within them, while they pray to him unceasingly with a heart
free from self-interest. They must be humble, too, and patient in
persecution or illness, loving those who persecute us by blaming us or
bringing charges against us, as our Lord tells us, Love. your enemies,
pray for those who persecute and calumniate you (Mt. 5:44). Blessed are
those who suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven (Mt. 5:10). He who has persevered to the end will be
saved (Mt. 10:22).
Chapter 11. The friars are forbidden to enter the monasteries of nuns
I strictly forbid all the friars to have suspicious relationships or
conversations with women. No one may enter the monasteries of nuns,
except those who have received special permission from the Apostolic
See. They are forbidden to be sponsors of men or women lest scandal
arise amongst or concerning the friars.
Chapter 12. Of those who wish to go among the Saracens and other
If any of the friars is inspired by God to go among the Saracens or
other unbelievers, he must ask permission from his provincial minister.
The ministers, for their part, are to give permission only to those whom
they see are fit to be sent.
The Ministers, too, are bound to ask the Pope for one of the cardinals
of the holy Roman Church to be governor, protector, and corrector of
this fraternity, so that we may be utterly subject and submissive to the
Church. And so, firmly established in the Catholic faith, we may live
always according to the poverty, and the humility, and the Gospel of our
Lord Jesus Christ, as we have solemnly promised.
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