The Bull of the
Lord Pope Honorius III
on the Rule of the Friars Minor
November 29, 1223 A. D.
Honorius Bishop, Servant of the servants of God,
to our beloved sons, Friar Francis and the other friars of the Order of
the Friars Minor, greetings and apostolic Benediction:
The Apostolic See is accustomed to deign to grant Her benevolent favor
according to the pious wishes and the upright desires of those
petitioning to share in it. On which account, beloved sons in the Lord,
having yielded to your pious entreaties, We confirm by Our apostolic
authority the Rule of your Order, approved by Our precedessor, Pope
Innocent, of good memory, quoted herein, and We thoroughly fortify with
the partronage of this present writing that, which is as follows:
In the name of the Lord begins the life of the Friars
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 anything of
one's own, and in chastity.
Friar Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope
Honorius and his canonically elected successors, and to the Roman
Church; and the other friars are bound to obey Friar Francis and his
Concerning those who wish to adopt this life, and how they
should be received.
If any would
desire to adopt this life and would come to our brothers, let them send
them to their Ministers provincial, to whom alone, and not to others,
is the permission to receive friars conceded. Let the ministers indeed
examine them diligently concerning the Catholic Faith and the
sacraments of the Church.
And if they believe these things and want to observe them faithfully
and firmly unto the end, and they have no wives or, if they do, their
wives have already entered a monastery, or having taken a vow of
continence, permission [to enter one] has been granted to them by
authority of the bishop of the diocese, and the wives are of such an
age that suspicion cannot arise concerning them, let them say unto
these the word of the Holy Gospel (Matthew 19:21), that they should go
and sell all that is their own and strive to give it to the poor. But
if they cannot do this, a good will suffices for them.
And let the friars and their ministers beware, lest they be sollicitous
concering their temporal things, so that they may freely do with their
own things, whatever the Lord will have inspired them. If however
counsel is required, let the ministers have permission to send them to
other God fearing men, by whose counsel their goods may be spent
[erogentur] on the poor. Afterwards let them grant them the clothes of
probation, that is, two tunics without a capuche, a cord [cingulum] ,
breeches, and a caparone [extending] to the cord, unless it seems to
the same ministers [that it should be] otherwise according to God.
Having truly finished the year of probation, let them be received to
obedience, promising to observe always this life and Rule.
And in no manner will it be licit for them to go forth from this
religious institute [de ista religione exire], according to the command
of the Lord Pope, because according to the Holy Gospel "No one putting
hand to the plow and turning back is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke
And let those who have already promised obedience have a tunic with a
capuche, and if they wish to have it, another without a capuche. And
let those who are driven by necessity be able to wear footwear. And let
all the friars wear cheap clothing and be able to patch these with
sack-cloth and other pieces with the blessing of God. I warn and exhort
them, not to despise nor judge men, whom they see clothed with soft and
colored clothes, using dainty food and drink, but rather let each one
judge and despise his very self.
Concerning the divine office and fasting; and in what
manner the brothers ought to go through the world.
Clerics are to
perform [faciant] the divine office according to the Ordo of the Holy
Roman Church, except for the psalter, for which they can have
Let the laymen indeed say twenty-four "Our Fathers" for matins; for
lauds five ; for prime, terce, sext and none, for each of these seven,
for vespers, however, twelve; for compline seven; and let them pray for
And let them fast from the Feast of All saints until Christmas. Indeed
may those who voluntaritly fast the holy lent, which begins at
Ephiphany and for the forty days that follow, which the Lord
consecrated with His own holy fast, be blessed by the Lord, and let
those who do not wish [to do so] not be constrained. But let them fast
the other [Lent] until the [day of the] Resurrection of the Lord.
At other times however they are not bound to fast, except on fridays.
Indeed in time of manifest necessity the friars are not bound to the
Indeed, I counsel, warn and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ,
that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor
contend in words (2 Timothy 2:14), nor are they to judge others, but
they are to be meek, peacible and modest, meek and humble, speaking
uprightly to all, as is fitting. And they should not ride horseback,
unless they are driven [to do so] by manifest necessity or infirmity.
Into whatever house they may enter, first let them say: "Peace to this
house." (Luke 10:5) And according to the Holy Gospel it is lawful to
eat of any of the foods, which are placed before them. (Luke 10:8)
That the brothers should not receive money.
I firmly command
all the friars, that in no manner are they to receive coins or money
through themselves or through an interposed person. However for the
necessities of the infirm and for the clothing of the other friars,
only the ministers and the custodes are to conduct a sollicitous care,
by means of spiritual friends, according to places and seasons and cold
regions, as they see expedites necessity; with this always preserved,
that, as has been said, they do not receive coins nor money.
friars, to whom the Lord gives the grace to work, work faithfully and
devotedly, in such a way that, having excluded idleness, the enemy of
the soul, they do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and
devotion, which all other temporal things should serve zealously
[deservire]. Indeed concerning the wages of labor, let them receive for
themselves and for their friars what is for the necessity of the body,
except coins or money, and this [they should do] humbly, as befits the
servants of God and the followers of most holy poverty.
That the Friars are to appropriate nothing for
themselves, and concerning the begging of alms and sick friars.
Let the Friars
appropriate nothing for themselves, neither house nor place, nor any
thing. And as pilgrims and exiles (1 Peter 2:11) in this age let them
go about for alms confidently, as ones serving the Lord in poverty and
humility, nor is it proper that they be ashamed [to do so], since the
Lord made Himself poor in this world (2 Corinthians 8:9) for us. This
is that loftiness of most high poverty, which has established you, my
most dear Friars, as heirs and kings of the Kingdom of Heaven, making
you poor in things, it has raised you high in virtues (James 2:5). Let
this be your "portion", which leads you "into the land of the living"
(Psalm 141:6). Cleaving totally to this, most beloved Friars, may you
want to have nothing other under heaven in perpetuity, for the [sake
of] the Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And, wherever the friars are and find themselves, let them mutually
show themselves to be among their family members. And let them without
fear manifest to one another their own need, since, if a mother
nourishes and loves her own son (1 Thessalonians 2:7) according to the
flesh, how much more diligently should he love and nourish his own
And, if any of them should fall into infirmity, the other friars should
care for him, as they would want to be cared for themselves.
On the penance to be imposed on Friars who are sinning.
If any of the
friars, at the instigation of the enemy, should sin mortally, for those
sins, concerning which it has be ordained among the friars, that one
have recourse to the Ministers provincial alone, the aforesaid friars
are bound to have recourse to them as soon as they can, without delay.
Indeed let the Ministers themselves, if they are priests, with mercy
enjoin upon them a penance; if indeed they are not priests, let them
have it enjoined by other priests of the order, as it will seem to them
to better expedite [the matter] according to God. And they should
beware, not to grow angry and be distressed on account of the sin of
another, since anger and distress impede charity in themselves and in
On the election of the Minister general of this
fraternity; and on the Chapter at Pentecost.
All the friars
are bound to have always one of the friars of this very same religion
as Minister general and servant of the whole fraternity and they are
bound firmly to obey him. When he dies, let an election of a successor
be made by the Ministers provincials and the custodes in the Pentecost
Chapter, in which the ministers provincial are bound to convene at once
[or at the same time], wherever it will have been determined by the
minister general; and this once every three years or at another
interval greater or less, as it will have been ordained by the
And if at any time it may appear to all the Ministers provincial and to
the custodes, that the aforesaid minister is not sufficient for the
service and common utility of the friars, the aforesaid friars, to whom
the electing has been given, are bound in the Name of the Lord to
choose another another as their guard [in custodem]. Indeed, after the
Pentecost Chapter, let the ministers and custodes each be able, if they
want and if it will seem to be expedient for them, once in the same
year to call their friars together in chapter in their own custodies.
Le the friars
not preach in the diocese of any bishop, when he has spoken against
their [preaching]. And let no friar at all [penitus] dare preach to the
people, unless he will have been examined by the minister general of
this fraternity and approved, and there be conceded to him by the same
the office of preaching.
I also warn and exhort these same friars, that in preaching, that they
do, their expressions be considered and chaste (Psalms 11:7; 17:21),
for [sake of] the utility and edification of the people, by announcing
to them vices and virtues, punishment and glory with brevity of speech;
since a brief word did the Lord speak upon the earth. (Romans 9:28)
On the admonition and correction of the friars.
Let the friars,
who are ministers and servants of the other friars, visit and warn
their friars and humbly and charitably correct them, not commanding
them anything which is contrary to their soul and our Rule. Indeed let
the friars, who are subjects, remember, that for the sake of God they
have renounced their own wills. Whence I firmly command them, to obey
thier ministers in all things which they have promised the Lord to
observe and which are not contrary to their soul or to our Rule. And
wherever the friars are, who know and understand, that they themselves
are not able to observe the rule spiritually, they should and can have
recourse to their ministers. Indeed let the ministers receive them
charitably and kindly and be so familiar with them, that they can speak
to them and act as lords with their servants; for so it should be,
because the ministers are the servants of all the friars.
Indeed I warn and exhort the friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they
beware of all pride, vain glory, envy, avarice (Luke 12:15), care and
sollicitude for this age, detraction and murmuring, and that those who
are ignorant of letters not care to learn letters; but let them strive,
so that above all things they should desire to have the Spirit of the
Lord and His holy operation, to pray always to Him with a pure heart
and to have humility, [and] patience in persecution and in infirmity,
and to love those who persecute and correct and accuse us, because the
Lord says, "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute and
calumniate you" (Matthew 5:44). "Blessed are those who suffer
persecution for justice's sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven"
(Matthew 5:10). "He who has persevered until the end, however, will be
saved" (Matthew 10:22).
That the brothers should not enter the monasteries of
I frimly command
all the brothers not to have suspicious company or conversation with
women, and not to enter the monasteries of nuns, except those [friars]
to whom special permission has been conceded by the Apostolic See;
neither are they to be godfathers of men or women [so that] scandal may
not arise on this account among the friars nor concerning them.
Concerning those going among the Saracens and other
Let whoever of
the friars who by divine inspiration wants to go among the saracens and
other infidels seek permission for that reason from their minister
provincial. Indeed the ministers are to grant permission to go to none,
except those whom seems to be fit to be sent.
For which sake I enjoin the ministers by obedience, to seek from the
Lord Pope one of the cardinals of the Roman Church, who is to be the
govenor, protector, and corrector of this fraternity, so that always
subject and prostrate at the feet of this same Holy Church, stable in
the Catholic Faith (Colossians 1:23) we may observe, what we have
firmly promised: the poverty and humility and the Holy Gospel of Our
Lord Jesus Christ.
Let it not be in
any way licit to anyone among men to infringe this page of our
confirmation, or to contravene it with rash daring. If anyone however
would presume to attempt this, let him know himself to have incurred
the indignation of the Omnipotent God and of Blessed Peter and Paul,
Given at the Lateran, on the third day of the Kalens of December, in
the eight year of Our Pontificate.