The Legend of the Three Companions was written by Friars Leo, Angelo and Rufino, some of the first companions of St. Francis of Assisi. The Legend tells us how the Poverello opened the missal on the altar of the Church of San Nicolò to find out what the Lord wanted him to do. Did you know that this same missal has survived to the present day?

On December 7, 2021, Friar Carlos TROVARELLI, the Minister General of the Order, visited the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. This is one of the largest art museums in the United States with a collection of more than 22,000 works of art, mostly ancient. The museum was truly thrilled to host Friar Carlos, today’s successor of St. Francis, along with his companions, Friar Marian GOŁĄB, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Anthony and Bl. James of Strepar in Poland (Cracow); Friar Jakub CZAJKA; and Friar Piotr SARNICKI. In fact, Friar Carlos was the third Minister General brought to Walters Museum by Friar James McCURRY, the Minister Provincial of the Province of Our Lady of the Angels (OLA), in order to see the missal. The previous Ministers General were Friar Joachim GIERMEK in 2004 and Friar Marco TASCA in 2018.
This exceptional missal was shown to the friars by Dr. Lynley HERBERT, Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, and Abigail QUANDT, Head of Book and Paper Conservation. The two experts told the story of the missal, presented information confirming its authenticity and origin, and described the story of its purchase in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century by Henry WALTERS. They then talked about the restoration work that began in 2017 and lasted two years. Finally, they also helped to point out the actual passages that St. Francis read, according to Legend of the Three Companions:

Mark 10:21:
“Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’”

Luke 9, 3:
“He said to them, ‘Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.’”

Matthew 16:24:
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’”

Not only did these words changed the lives of St. Francis and his early companions, they changed the lives of thousands of people around the world who, attracted to the Poverello, decided to follow him. Moreover, the missal at the Walters Art Museum has become a relic—after all, it was touched by St. Francis himself.
Since the museum was not yet completely open due to the pandemic, the Minister General and the other visitors were able to see the missal under unusual conditions, without the usual protections, such as the display case in which it is normally displayed for visitors. The visit lasted more than an hour and ended with a short prayer and a blessing given by the Minister General.

Friar Jakub CZAJKA / Katarzyna GORGOŃ
Photo: Friar Jakub CZAJKA