Question regarding Franciscan Saints and Blesseds that were "Cordbearers"


#1

OK so a discussion came up at my Fraternity - mainly regarding my own patron Saint who is an SFO “cordbearer.” The woman who pointed me to that title has been an educator on National Council and is VERY knowledgeable - so we were talking but she was not really sure how it came about either. So I am trying to find information on how St Joan got the status she did but I keep hitting dead ends. Does anyone here have a direction they can send me in?
I know there are other Saints that were made Cordbearers in Franciscan high schools but St Joan got the calling at 13 to go fight the English and was dead at 19 and before that had been working in her father’s fields as far as I know. There just seemed to be many oddities on that list. I am sure many other Orders may also have some people attributed to them that are a bit questionable - but I am not sure.
God bless.


#2

In St Joan’s day, there really weren’t ANY High Schools as such, most people received no formal education at all and for those who did, the pre-University levels were usually private and unstructured rather than formally within a school system. The ‘cordbearers’ you refer to must’ve been chosen some other way. Perhaps there was a local community of Franciscans near her home village of Domremy?

Secondly - she ‘received the call’, meaning she heard voices telling her to go and fight, at a young age. It took her a few years to convince first her family and then the commander of the local castle (de Baudricourt) that she was serious and not crazy, and so to be allowed to go to the Dauphin.

She spent some time at the royal court, too, at least after the crowning of the Dauphin at Rheims. Maybe she fell in with the Franciscans while there? Certainly there were lots of chaplains attached to any royal court, some of them might’ve been Franciscan.

Those are the two obvious possibilities.


#3

[quote="LilyM, post:2, topic:217267"]
In St Joan's day, there really weren't ANY High Schools as such, most people received no formal education at all and for those who did, the pre-University levels were usually private and unstructured rather than formally within a school system. The 'cordbearers' you refer to must've been chosen some other way. Perhaps there was a local community of Franciscans near her home village of Domremy?

Secondly - she 'received the call', meaning she heard voices telling her to go and fight, at a young age. It took her a few years to convince first her family and then the commander of the local castle (de Baudricourt) that she was serious and not crazy, and so to be allowed to go to the Dauphin.

She spent some time at the royal court, too, at least after the crowning of the Dauphin at Rheims. Maybe she fell in with the Franciscans while there? Certainly there were lots of chaplains attached to any royal court, some of them might've been Franciscan.

Those are the two obvious possibilities.

[/quote]

Right but in those possibilities why only a cordbearer and not fully professed?


#4

We need "JReducation" for this one. Perhaps a PM to him would be of help. I'm more of a Dominican and prefer St. Thomas Aquinas so I have no dog in this hunt. :yawn:


#5

[quote="Earnest_Bunbury, post:4, topic:217267"]
We need "JReducation" for this one. Perhaps a PM to him would be of help. I'm more of a Dominican and prefer St. Thomas Aquinas so I have no dog in this hunt. :yawn:

[/quote]

I was hoping he would see this and jump in when he got the chance but I am not going to bother him with a PM as he has many lifesaving issues going on - history isn't going anywhere.


#6

[quote="joandarc2008, post:3, topic:217267"]
Right but in those possibilities why only a cordbearer and not fully professed?

[/quote]

Because she was too young or too busy or both.


#7

[quote="LilyM, post:2, topic:217267"]
In St Joan's day, there really weren't ANY High Schools as such, most people received no formal education at all and for those who did, the pre-University levels were usually private and unstructured rather than formally within a school system. The 'cordbearers' you refer to must've been chosen some other way. Perhaps there was a local community of Franciscans near her home village of Domremy?

Secondly - she 'received the call', meaning she heard voices telling her to go and fight, at a young age. It took her a few years to convince first her family and then the commander of the local castle (de Baudricourt) that she was serious and not crazy, and so to be allowed to go to the Dauphin.

She spent some time at the royal court, too, at least after the crowning of the Dauphin at Rheims. Maybe she fell in with the Franciscans while there? Certainly there were lots of chaplains attached to any royal court, some of them might've been Franciscan.

Those are the two obvious possibilities.

[/quote]

Lily-yes, there was a community of Franciscan friars near Domremy. The town's name is Neufchateau, and St. Joan would often go for confession to the friars if her own parish priest was not available. I think the church they used is still there, though the friars of course are not. (I have a book on Domremy and the surrounding area that I bought when I visited there in 1985....wonderful place! I'd go back in a trice!)

She may have received the Franciscan cord then.

She was also a contemporary of St. Bernardine of Siena [Italy], who was instrumental in spreading devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. Remember that she wore a ring with the Names of Jesus and Mary, and her battle standard had 'Jhesus-Maria' prominently displayed on it.

There was one Franciscan whom she met during her short military career. His name was 'Brother Richard'. He was a little strange, though.....:rolleyes:


#8

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:7, topic:217267"]
Lily-yes, there was a community of Franciscan friars near Domremy. The town's name is Neufchateau, and St. Joan would often go there for confession to the friars if her own parish priest was not available. I think the church they used is still there, though the friars of course are not. (I have a book on Domremy and the surrounding area that I bought when I visited there in 1985....wonderful place! I'd go back in a trice!)

She may have received the Franciscan cord then.

There was one Franciscan whom she met during her short military career. His name was 'Brother Richard'.

[/quote]

This is the kind of information we were looking for - the more in depth stuff - do you happen to remember the name of the Fraternity?


#9

[quote="joandarc2008, post:8, topic:217267"]
This is the kind of information we were looking for - the more in depth stuff - do you happen to remember the name of the Fraternity?

[/quote]

Do you mean, 'what was the name of the Fraternity in Neufchateau'? Have no idea about that. All I know is that there were Franciscan friars living in the area that St. Joan came from. I think the name of the church is 'St. Nicholas' [Nicolas in French].

Everything I know about St. Joan's 'Franciscan connection' I found out on my own. I got my information from the book I bought in Domremy. It's called, 'Joan the Good Lorrainer-Memory and Worship * of The Heroine in Domremy.' The author's name was Pierre Marot; obviously, the one I bought was an English translation. The text is a little 'clunky' in places, but I still have and often read it after all these years!

I don't even know if the book is still in print-my visit was 25 years ago this past May. I just happened to find it in the shop belonging to the museum next to St. Joan's house.

The info about the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary on her ring and her banner are in [most] biographies of St. Joan.

Hey, I like your name! :thumbsup: I've done presentations on St. Joan, either for local libraries and/or religious ed programs. I even have a replica of her banner! And I loved my visits to Domremy, Orleans and Rouen! I was so overjoyed to be at her childhood home in Domremy!*


#10

[quote="LilyM, post:6, topic:217267"]
Because she was too young or too busy or both.

[/quote]

This may be a bit off-topic, but St. Bernadette of Lourdes was also a Cordbearer of St. Francis. In her case, the Rule of her community, the Sisters of Charity and Christian Instruction of Nevers, did not allow her to be a Third Order member.

I think the Cordbearers were a 'substitute' [not the best descriptive word, I grant] if there was no Third Order in existence.


#11

[quote="barb_finnegan, post:9, topic:217267"]
Do you mean, 'what was the name of the Fraternity in Neufchateau'? Have no idea about that. All I know is that there were Franciscan friars living in the area that St. Joan came from. I think the name of the church is 'St. Nicholas' [Nicolas in French].

Everything I know about St. Joan's 'Franciscan connection' I found out on my own. I got my information from the book I bought in Domremy. It's called, 'Joan the Good Lorrainer-Memory and Worship * of The Heroine in Domremy.' The author's name was Pierre Marot; obviously, the one I bought was an English translation. The text is a little 'clunky' in places, but I still have and often read it after all these years!

I don't even know if the book is still in print-my visit was 25 years ago this past May. I just happened to find it in the shop belonging to the museum next to St. Joan's house.

The info about the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary on her ring and her banner are in [most] biographies of St. Joan.

Hey, I like your name! :thumbsup: I've done presentations on St. Joan, either for local libraries and/or religious ed programs. I even have a replica of her banner! And I loved my visits to Domremy, Orleans and Rouen! I was so overjoyed to be at her childhood home in Domremy!*

I will see if I can find the book as that would be a good starting point. What I mean by the Fraternity is the smallest unit of Organization in the Franciscan Order is the Fraternity not the individual so if the Brothers were there than there had to be a Fraternity they were associated with.

I see what you were saying below about the cordbearers being a "substitute" per se but it would not be a full profession as without community it would not be a full profession. This is all of course hypothetical without documentation but one could see where St Joan's life would have made it difficult if not impossible to be in Fraternity albeit Secular. Just some thoughts.

[/quote]


#12

[quote="joandarc2008, post:11, topic:217267"]
I will see if I can find the book as that would be a good starting point. What I mean by the Fraternity is the smallest unit of Organization in the Franciscan Order is the Fraternity not the individual so if the Brothers were there than there had to be a Fraternity they were associated with.

I see what you were saying below about the cordbearers being a "substitute" per se but it would not be a full profession as without community it would not be a full profession. This is all of course hypothetical without documentation but one could see where St Joan's life would have made it difficult if not impossible to be in Fraternity albeit Secular. Just some thoughts.

[/quote]

Before I got 'timed out' editing-wise, I was going to say that St. Joan mentioned the Franciscans of Neufchateau in her trial testimony. It was in response to her frequency of receiving the Sacrament of Penance.

In the 15th century the structures of Third Order fraternities-not just the Franciscans-were not like the ones of the present day. There was only a very simple Rule the members followed, if they could read at all. Not every member had a community [frankly, I think there's an 'over-emphasis' on community today, IMHO]. Some had to live the life on their own-that's how things were.

I could be wrong on this-maybe our friend JR can come into the discussion.

The Cordbearers were a Confraternity anyway, like the Scapular Confraternity for the Carmelites.


#13

More facts, but not the answer to the question.

The Secular Franciscan Companion (Franciscan Press, 1987) lists in the "Franciscan Litany of all Saints" (p.266), Cordbearers as:

St Frances de Sales
St Joseph Calasanctius
St Benedict Joseph Labre
St Bernadette Soubirous

I was under the impression the title comes from the 'old' Archconfraternity of the Cord of St Francis. (En Supernae Dispositionis of 19 Nov 1585, Sixtus V.) Not sure if this is right or not.


#14

I will disagree on the over-emphasis on community as many in past centuries were also living in Community as Secular Franciscans - I would have to look up the actual names but there were weaver's guilds etc, that had SFO join them that developed the Rule of Order. This was a part of what prompted St Francis to give the Rule of Order for the Seculars. This is certainly not to say that all lived in guilds you had married living at home and monarchs such as Queen Blanche and St Elizabeth of Hungary. That was one example. Here is another example:

The works of charity (apostolate) prescribed by the rule were ,.,almsgiving, especially to the poor brothers and sisters of the fraternity, to the infirm, to those who would not have funeral services, to"other poor" and to the church in which the penitents gathered (20). Visiting and nursing sick members (22) and assisting at the funeral of deceased tertiaries (23) were other important ministries of the early Franciscan penitents. From the earliest days, Franciscan tertiaries provided lodging for pilgrims, but were especially involved with caring for the poor, the lepers, all those living on the margins of society. St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-31), patroness of the order is an outstanding example of the early penitent's dedication to the poor and lepers.

This early rule also prescribed concrete, practical directives in accord with St. Francis's desire that his followers be peacemakers, or reconcilers, in a conflict-ridden world. People could not be admitted to the fraternity until they were reconciled with their neighbors (15), and only if they could live in harmony with other members of the fraternity. If anyone within the fraternity caused dissension, the rule directed that the matter be resolved among themselves through recourse to the minister (lay leader), or through the visitor (priest), without giving scandal (26). The rule also specified that if the local mayor caused trouble by not respecting the brothers' and sisters' rights and privileges, recourse should be sought from the local bishop. Any matter should be resolved without going to civil court.

You can find it at this link Franciscans are community people. There is no getting around. Even St Francis himself once said that he did not receive the Rule until he had Brothers.


#15

Hi, I found this link that explains that cordbearers form a ``preparatory school" for the third order:

ecclesiamilitans.com/archconfraternity_indulgences.pdf

Hope this helps.


#16

Thank you. God bless.


#17

Because the Secular Franciscan Order is a true order, with all of the canonical rights and duties that apply to an order, it is also bound by canon law, as well as the rule and the constitutions, which fill-in the blanks where St. Francis leaves off.

Very often, there were men and women who heard the call to live the Gospel in the manner of St. Francis of Assisi, but they could not join the order. Confraternities of Chord Bearers were founded. These confraternities no longer exist in the Catholic Church. They still exist in the Anglican Communion.

They were allowed to live their lives according to the Rule of St. Francis without making profession to obey the rule until death, as do other Franciscans. Their observance of the Rule was voluntary. They were allowed to wear the chord, usually under their street clothes or religious habit as a reminder of their call to follow Francis’ path to perfection.

There were many reasons why people during Joan’s time were unable to join the order. The more common reasons were:

[LIST]
*]They belonged to an order or congregation. You cannot belong to two religious communities at the same time.

*]They were too young to make profession. The minimum age is 16. Joan was 13 when she heard the call to follow Christ according to the manner of St. Francis.

*]They were in the military or had pledged allegiance to a nation. Until the 19th century, Franciscans were not allowed to bear arms. St. Francis wanted to avoid war. Joan was a soldier.

*]If a married woman wanted to enter the order, she needed the permission of her husband.

*]If a secular priest or deacon wanted to enter the Secular Franciscan Order he needed the permission of his bishop. If a bishop wanted to enter the Order, he needed the permission of the pope.
[/LIST]
The chord bearers were eventually suppressed. The Confraternity had been created by the friars. In 1963, Vatican II ruled that all orders and congregations return to their roots. The Secular Franciscans had to return to being an autonomous order with its own superiors and the friars were not to exercise any authority over them, since this was contrary to the mind of Francis. They were not to be affiliated with the friars or the nuns, but were to return to the original state, where they existed as an eqaul branch of the Franciscan family, with the same rights and duties as the friars and the nuns. Their government was to be completely independent of the friars and nuns.

When the controls were turned over to the new General Minister, everything that the friars had created or imposed on the Secular Franciscans was abrogated by the new superior. The friars and nuns were put in our place again. :D

We (friars or brothers, whatever you want to call us) have learned to mind our own business and do what we are told by the Secular Franciscans. We may serve as their spiritual assistants, but we may not create confraternities, erect fraternities, govern them in any way, control their property or regulate their ministry. They respond directly to the pope and no one else, not even the local bishop. The confraternities answered to the friars. This was a violation of the vision that St. Francis had for his Order of Penance, which is the name of the Secular Franciscan Order. It was also a violation of what Francis had in mind for the Order of Minors, the name for the friars. Francis had explicitly told the Secular Franciscans and the Poor Clare nuns that the friars had no moral or material obligation to support them in any way. They were to be self-supporting, materially and spiritually. The only thing that the men can do is to provide sacraments, only if the Secular Franciscan Minister (superior) allows it and spiritual guidance, if it is allowed by the Secular Minister.

However, we do have a wonderful fraternal relationship, but we keep our distance to preserve our autonomy. The Franciscan orders must preserve their autonomy, of they run the risk of contaminating each other. This was a problem with the Chord Bearers, because they crossed and combined different spiritualities. This has never been allowed in the Franciscan family. Other religious families may borrow from the Franciscans, but Franciscans may not borrow from other religious families or from the laity. Francis forbade this to protect his sons and daughters from heresy and from scandal through too much familiarity with each other.

Fratenally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#18

Brother JR - I think your answer probably sums it up the best - with your permission- I would like to share it with the woman in particular who was mutual scratching her head with me. God bless.


#19

[quote="joandarc2008, post:18, topic:217267"]
Brother JR - I think your answer probably sums it up the best - with your permission- I would like to share it with the woman in particular who was mutual scratching her head with me. God bless.

[/quote]

That's fine. I don't know this for sure, because I was not there in 1978 when the Secular Franciscan Rule was rewritten, though I did help with the translation into Spanish from the Latin, but my feeling is that the General Council was trying to unify the Secular Franciscans. That's how the new name came into existence. They were often divided into different groups: Capuching Third Order, Franciscan Third Order, Conventual Third Order, Third Order of St. Francis. All of these divisions were nonsensical, because it was one order, with one founder, one rule and one patrimony. The divisions were manipulations to give the friar-priests control over the seculars.

Unfortunately, many Secular Franciscans have not outgrown this. They still promote an un-Franciscan veneration of the friar-priests and often subordinate themselves to them, when no one asks them to do so. On the other hand, there is also a weakness that is taking root among many Secular Franciscan fraternities. It's called secularism. The Order is to be an oder of secular men and women, lay and ordained. But it is supposed to be visibly Franciscan. The visbility is not always there. Many fraternities have reduced Franciscan life to a monthly meeting. This is not the way that the Secular Franciscan saints lived their vocation.

You have women like St. Elizabeth of Hungary who ran a hospital for the poor. There were other Secular Franciscan ministries such as hospices, schools for the poor, orphanages, missions. Among the five Franciscan martyrs there were Secular Franciscan missionaries. Martyrd with St. Paul Miki of Japan were Jesuits and Secular Franciscans.

St. Thomas More wrote his great work, Utopia, based on Franciscan spirituality. The Franciscan ideal of peace and justice is very clear through his writing. St. Louis King of France guided himself by the Gospel. He died defending the Catholic faith. Secular Franciscans were often leaders in culture. Among them are great men and women such as Dante, Columbus, Pasteur, Pius X, John XXIII, Giotto, Rafael, Michelangelo, Ampere and Palestrina.

Today, the Secular Franciscans seem to shy away from taking on leadership roles in government, art, science, and other positions of social and cultural leadership. They tend to have become part of the crowd. It was not St. Francis' idea that the Secular Brothers and Sisters be anonymous. His idea was that they be holy, but remain involved in the secular sphere, without becoming secularized. Secular Franciscans need to become more vocal and more present in the affairs of the world around them, to bring the Gospel to the places that religious Franciscans cannot go.

Here we are, on the eve of an election, one has to ask, why has the largest secular order in the Church not made a statemet about resposible citizenship and responsible voting. Did they even discuss it? They should be at the forefront of the Gospel of Life. There are many Secular Franciscans involved in the fight for life, but there is lacking a Franciscan presence. They should be present at abortuaries as fraternities. They should be guiding their secular brothers and sisters in the service of the poor, the sick, the dying and so forth. This is what the great Secular Franciscan saints did. Everyone knew they were Franciscan.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)


#20

quote="JReducation, post:19, topic:217267"
On the other hand, there is also a weakness that is taking root among many Secular Franciscan fraternities. It's called secularism. The Order is to be an oder of secular men and women, lay and ordained. But it is supposed to be visibly Franciscan. The visbility is not always there. Many fraternities have reduced Franciscan life to a monthly meeting. This is not the way that the Secular Franciscan saints lived their vocation.
(snip)
Today, the Secular Franciscans seem to shy away from taking on leadership roles in government, art, science, and other positions of social and cultural leadership. They tend to have become part of the crowd. It was not St. Francis' idea that the Secular Brothers and Sisters be anonymous. His idea was that they be holy, but remain involved in the secular sphere, without becoming secularized. Secular Franciscans need to become more vocal and more present in the affairs of the world around them, to bring the Gospel to the places that religious Franciscans cannot go.

Here we are, on the eve of an election, one has to ask, why has the largest secular order in the Church not made a statemet about resposible citizenship and responsible voting. Did they even discuss it? They should be at the forefront of the Gospel of Life. There are many Secular Franciscans involved in the fight for life, but there is lacking a Franciscan presence. They should be present at abortuaries as fraternities. They should be guiding their secular brothers and sisters in the service of the poor, the sick, the dying and so forth. This is what the great Secular Franciscan saints did. Everyone knew they were Franciscan.

Fraternally,

Br. JR, OSF :)

[/quote]

I am well on my way to becoming a Secular Franciscan. A bit of the above seems to apply to my fraternity and ones like it in this region... and also applies to myself of course. You don't hear about any of us in the news relating to issues listed above or any of us being heavily involved in service to the poor, the sick, the dying etc. Perhaps part of it is due to that most of us really are very ordinary people and the fraternities are ageing.... a lot.

About half of our local fraternity is a year off or less to making the final decision to become Secular Franciscans (if accepted) - so that does show recent growth. We do meet once per month and that''s about it except for the 'homework' and finding our way to becoming a Franciscan in our personal and working lives. I feel it's not enough to leave it just at that but I really don't know how to develop things a little in the direction of what our Br JR is suggesting above.

Personally I believe I have a calling to help the aged, those with dementia and the dying but this would not be something that my fraternity would be suited towards (considering age and training). We did send off a letter, as a group, to a leading politician protesting about abortion at election times. A few in the group are involved in general parish activites, and one in general charities. We are a loving and I think devout group but is that enough these days?


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