Jacques de Vitry (over Franciscus en de sultan)

Slot van de brief van Jacques de Vitry, februari/maart 1220 (kritische editie: brief VI). Eerst het Latijn, daaronder de Engelse vertaling uit V. Tolan, Saint Francis and the Sultan (h. 1) met iets meer context, die de negatieve appreciatie wat kleur geeft. Er is competitie tussen Jaques en Francesco en er zijn ‘overlopers’…

“Magister vero illorum, qui ordinem illum instituit, cum venisset in exercitum nostrum, zelo fidei accensus ad exercitum hostium nostrorum pertransire, non timuit et cum aliquot diebus Sarracenis verbum dei predicasset, modicum profecit (proficuit?). Soldanus autem, rex Egypti, ab eo secreto peti it ut pro se domino supplicaret quatinus religioni, que magis deo placeret, divinitus inspiratus adhereret”

De vertaling van bovenstaande in italics hier beneden:

Reconstructie van het gezicht van Jacques (overleden 1240, nauw verbonden met Oignies (B) – zie het artikel op cathobel

“Lord Rayner, Prior of St Michael, has entered the Order of Lesser Brothers. This Order is multiplying rapidly throughout the world, because it expressly imitates the pattern of the primitive church and the life of the apostles in everything. Nevertheless, this Order seems very dangerous to us, because it sends out two by two throughout the world, not only formed religious, but also immature young men who should first be tested and subjected to conventual discipline for a time. The head of these brothers, who also founded the Order, came into our camp. He was so inflamed with zeal for the faith that he did not fear to cross the lines to the army of our enemy. For several days he preached the Word of God to the Saracens and made little progress. The Sultan, king of Egypt, privately asked him to pray to the Lord for him, so that he might be inspired by God to adhere to that religion which most pleased God. Colin, the Englishman, our clerk, also has joined this Order, as well as two more of our company, namely Master Michael and Lord Matthew, to whom I had committed the care of the Church of the Holy Cross. I am having a difficult time holding on to the cantor and Henry and several others.

Voor de allerechtste liefhebbers ook nog de uitgebreide versie van zijn brief, die Jacques als postscript toevoegde aan zijn Historia Occidentalis (kritische editie, p. 161-162). Een franse vertaling uit 1824 (tamelijk vrij) kunt u lezen als u op deze link klikt.

‘Vidimus primum huius ordinis fundatorem et magistrum virum simplicem et illiteratum, dilectum Deo et hominibus, fratrem Franciscum nominatum, ad tantum ebrietatis excessum et fervorem spiritus raptum fuisse, quod, cum ad exercitum christianorum ante Damiatam in terra Egypti devenisset, ad soldani Egypti castra intrepid us et fidei clypeo communitus accessit. Quem cum in via captum sarraceni tenuissent, “Ego”, inquit, “christianus sum. Ducite me ad dominum vestrum”. Quem cum ante ipsum pertraxissent, videns eum bestia crudelis, in aspectu viri dei in mansuetudine conversa, per dies aliquot ipsum sibi et suis Christi fidem predicantem attendissime audivit. Tandem vero, metuens ne aliqui de exercitu suo, verborum eius efficacia ad dominum conversi, ad christianorum exercitum pertransirent, cum omni reverentia et securitate ad nostrorum castra reduci precepit, dicens ei in fine: “Ora pro me, ut deus legem illam et fidem que magis sibi placet mihi dignetur revelare.”‘

Not only Christ’s faithful but even the Saracens and people in the darkness of unbelief admire their humility and virtue, and when the brothers fearlessly approach them to preach, they willingly receive them and, with a grateful spirit, provide them with what they need. We have seen the founder and master of this Order, Brother Francis, a simple, uneducated man beloved by God and man, whom all the others obey as their highest superior. He was so moved by spiritual fervor and exhilaration that, after he reached the army of Christians before Damietta in Egypt, he boldly set out for the camp of the Sultan of Egypt, fortified only with the shield of faith. When the Saracens captured him on the road, he said: ‘I am a Christian. Take me to your master.’ They dragged him before the Sultan. When that cruel beast saw Francis, he recognized him as a man of God and changed his attitude into one of gentleness, and for some days he listened very attentively to Francis as he preached the faith of Christ to him and his followers. But ultimately, fearing that some of his soldiers would be converted to the Lord by the efficacy of his words and pass over to the Christian army, he ordered that Francis be returned to our camp with all reverence and security. At the end he said to Francis: ‘Pray for me, that God may deign to reveal to me the law and the faith which is more pleasing to Him.’
In fact, the Saracens willingly listen to all these Lesser Brothers when they preach about faith in Christ and the Gospel teaching, but only as long as in their preaching they do not speak against Muhammad as a liar and an evil man. When they do speak in such a manner, the Saracens irreverently put them to the lash and savagely expel them from their cities; they would kill them, if God did not miraculously protect them.