Caesar of Speyer

Last updated

Caesar of Speyer (d. 1239) was an early Franciscan who was a companion of Saint Francis of Assisi, and the first Provincial Minister of the Franciscans in Germany. After the death of Francis, he was a leader of the zelanti faction, opposed to what they considered a relaxation of the Rule as promulgated by the founder.


Caesar of Speyer was born towards the close of the twelfth century. He became renowned as a preacher, and the number of women who responded, so enraged their husbands against him that he was obliged to leave his native city. In 1212 he went to Paris, where he studied theology under the famous crusade-preacher Conrad of Speyer. While in the Holy Land in 1217, Caesar was received into the Franciscan Order by Brother Elias of Cortona, the first provincial of Syria. Early in 1221 he returned to Italy with St. Francis and Peter of Catania. [1]

At the chapter of Pentecost Chapter held at Assisi in 1221, Caesar, together with twenty-five companions, was chosen to go to Germany, and after three months' preparation in the valley of Spoleto, the missionaries set out on their journey northward. They were welcomed by both clergy and people at Trent, Brixen, and other cities. The first Franciscan monastery north of the Alps was founded with the support of Otto I von Lobdeburg, Prince-Bishop of Würzburg. In October of the same year the first provincial chapter of the order in Germany was convoked by Caesar at Worms. [2] The famous missionary, John of Piancarpino, and the chronicler, Jordan of Giano were both present at this chapter; on its conclusion the friars dispersed throughout the different provinces of Germany, according to Caesar's instructions, to meet again the following year. [1]

In 1223 Caesar, accompanied by Thomas of Celano, returned to Assisi to be present at the general chapter of Pentecost, and at his own request was relieved of the office of provincial minister. The Rule of 1223 was probably written by Caesar of Speyer at the dictation of St. Francis. [1]

Of the remaining fifteen years of Caesar's life little is known. He was probably in Italy, with Bernard of Quintavalle, Giles of Assisi, and the other companions of St. Francis, encouraging the friars by word and work to remain faithful to their rule and life, and warning them against the innovations of the Relaxati. Jordan of Giano says of Caesar at this time: "He was a man wholly given to contemplation, most zealous for evangelica poverty and so commended by the other friars that he was esteemed the most saintly after St. Francis."

Owing to his opposition towards the Relaxati Caesar was imprisoned by order of the minister general, Brother Elias, and in 1239 met a violent death at the hands of the lay brother who had been appointed to guard him. There seems, however, no warrant for the opinion expressed by some that he was murdered by order of Elias, and the slight colouring which Angelo da Clareno and Ubertino of Casale give to their accounts of his tragic end is due to the bias and bitterness against Elias's party which characterize all the writings of the "Spirituals".

Related Research Articles

Francis of Assisi Catholic saint and founder of the Franciscan Order

Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco, was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

Franciscans Group of religious orders within the Catholic Church

The Franciscans are a group of related mendicant religious orders within the Catholic Church, founded in 1209 by Saint Francis of Assisi. These orders include the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Saint Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. They adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others.

Thomas of Celano was an Italian friar of the Franciscans as well as a poet and the author of three hagiographies about Saint Francis of Assisi.

Friar member of a mendicant religious order in Catholic Christianity

A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.

Brother Leo Disciple of Francis of Assisi

Brother Leo was the favorite disciple, secretary and confessor of St Francis of Assisi. The dates of his birth and of his becoming a Franciscan are not known; a native of Assisi, he was one of the small group of most trusted companions of the saint during his last years.

As known, Saint Francis founded three orders and gave each of them a special rule. Here, only the rule of the first order is to be considered, i.e., that of the Order of Friars Minor.

Richard of Ingworth was a Franciscan preacher who was influential in introducing the order to England.

Berard of Carbio Franciscan martyr and saint

Berard of Carbio, O.F.M., was a thirteenth-century Franciscan friar who was executed in Morocco for attempting to promote Christianity. Expelled from the kingdom twice, they returned each time and continued to preach against Islam. In anger and frustration, the king finally beheaded them. He and his companions, Peter, Otho, Accursius, and Adjutus, are venerated as saints and considered the Franciscan Protomartyrs.

Julian of Speyer, also known as Julian of Spires, was a German Franciscan composer, poet and historian of the thirteenth century.

Jordan of Giano was an Italian Minorite from Giano in the Valley of Spoleto.

Haymo of Faversham, O.F.M. was an English Franciscan scholar. His scholastic epithet was Inter Aristotelicos Aristotelicissimus, referring to his stature among the Scholastics during the Recovery of Aristotle amid the 12th- and 13th-century Renaissance. He acquired fame as a lecturer at the University of Paris and also as a preacher when he entered the Order of Friars Minor, probably in 1224 or 1225. He served as the Minister Provincial for England (1239–1240) and as the Minister General of the Order .

The Third Order of Saint Francis, is a third order in the Franciscan order. The preaching of Francis of Assisi, as well as his example, exercised such an attraction on people that many married men and women wanted to join the First Order (friars) or the Second Order (nuns), but this being incompatible with their state of life, Francis found a middle way and in 1221 gave them a rule according to the Franciscan charism. Those following this rule became members of the Franciscan Third Order, sometimes called tertiaries. It includes religious congregations of men and women, known as Third Order Regulars; and fraternities of men and women, Third Order Seculars. The latter do not wear a religious habit, take vows, or live in community. However, they do gather together in community on a regular basis. "They make profession to live out the Gospel life and commit themselves to that living out the Gospel according to the example of Francis."

The Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance is a mendicant order rooted in the Third Order of St. Francis which was founded in 1447.

Elias of Cortona was born, it is said, at Bevilia near Assisi, ca. 1180; he died at Cortona, 22 April 1253. He was among the first to join St. Francis of Assisi in his newly founded Order of Friars Minor. In 1221, Francis appointed Elias Vicar General.

Daniel and companions Friars Minor and martyrs

Saint Daniel and Companions are venerated as martyrs by the Catholic Church. They were Friars Minor killed at Ceuta.

Bernard of Quintavalle Follower of St. Francis of Assisi

Bernard of Quintavalle, son of Berardello, was the first disciple of St. Francis of Assisi. Bernard was declared as the Minorum Ordinis prima plantula, the "First fruits of the Minor Orders". He accompanied Francis on a number of missionary journeys and served as Minister Provincial in Spain.

Giovanni Parenti, O.F.M. was an Italian Friar Minor and successor of St. Francis of Assisi as head of the Order. Parenti had a legal background. He served as Minister Provincial in Spain before being chosen Minister General in 1227. Parenti held a literal interpretation of poverty as it applied to the Order; a view that was not shared by everyone. He stepped down in 1232 and was succeeded by Elias of Cortona.

Albert of Pisa, O.Min., was an Italian Franciscan friar. He served as minister provincial for Germany, Hungary, and England.

Order of Friars Minor male order in the Catholic Church

The Order of Friars Minor is a mendicant Catholic religious order, founded in 1209 by Francis of Assisi. The order adheres to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others. The Order of Friars Minor is the largest of the contemporary First Orders within the Franciscan movement.

Blessed Andrea Caccioli was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member from the Order of Friars Minor. He became the first priest to enter the Franciscans and served as one of the disciples of Saint Francis of Assisi himself - the priest was at his deathbed and attended his canonization. The friar preached across Italian cities such as Rome and Padua as well as in France and he became noted for miracles performed during his lifetime.


  1. 1 2 3 Donovan, Stephen. "Caesar of Speyer (or Spires)." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. 7 January 2020PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. Forster OFM, Wilhelm, "Caesarius von Speyer", Neue Deutsche Biographie 3 (1957), p. 89

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Caesar of Speyer (or Spires)"  . Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.