Thomas of Celano

c.1190-1260. Best known for his two biographies of Francis of Assisi,* he was founder of the Order of Friars Minor. Thomas joined the order c.1215 and was later sent to Germany. In 1228 the order's protector, Gregory IX,* appointed Thomas as the saint's biographer. The Vita Prima of 1229 remains the best single source for the life of Francis. At the 1244 general chapter, the then minister-general, Crescentius, asked all who knew stories about Francis to send them to Assisi. Thomas decided to incorporate these reminiscences of the saint's companions into a new life of Francis-the Vita Secunda (c.1246). In 1266 the order's general chapter directed that all previous lives of Francis be destroyed and that a recent biography by Bonaventure-the Legenda Maior-should become the official life. Fortunately copies of Thomas's two biographies escaped the destruction. He also wrote the Tractatus de miraculis de Sancti Francisci and the Legend of St. Clare.