Of sermons and friars
ANECDOTES such as this appeared in collections of sermon illustrations: A certain knight loved most ardently the martyr St. Thomas of Canterbury, and sought everywhere to obtain some relic of him. When a certain wily priest, in whose house he was staying, heard of this he said to him, “I have by me a bridle which St. Thomas used for a long time, and I have often experienced its virtues.” When the knight heard this, and believed it, he joyfully paid the priest the money which the latter demanded and received the bridle with great devotion.
God truly, to whom nothing is impossible, wishing to reward the faith of the knight and for the honor of his martyr, deigned to work many miracles through the same bridle. The knight seeing this founded a church in honor of the martyr and in it he placed as a relic the bridle of that most wicked priest. (Caesar of Heisterbach, Dist. VIII, Cap. LXX. [Vol. 2, p. 140], in Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European History)
This excerpt is from the Franciscan Rule of 1223, which still governs the Franciscan order. It lays down some guidelines for the friars’ preaching: The friars must not preach in the diocese of any bishop if they have been forbidden to do so by him. And no brother should dare preach to the people unless he has been examined and approved by the minister general of his brotherhood and the office of preaching has been conceded to him. I also admonish and exhort the brothers that in their preaching their words be studied and chaste, useful and edifying to the people, telling them about vices and virtues, punishment and glory; and they ought to be brief, because the Lord kept his words brief when he was on earth. CH
By The editors
[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #102+ in 2012]
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