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1910 New Catholic Dictionary

Elias of Cortona

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Minister general of the Friars Minor, born probably Bevilia, near Assisi, Italy, c.1180;died Cortona, Italy, 1253. He became a Franciscan, and in 1221 was chosen by Saint Francis vicar general of tbe order, although he was never ordained. At the death of Saint Francis the provisional government of the Friars devolved upon him and he at once began preparations for the erection of a magnificent basilica to enshrine the remains of the saint. This action alienated those members of the order who agreed with Saint Francis on the subject of poverty and Elias was rejected at the chapter held for the election of the second general. He was elected, however, at the chapter of 1232 and his conduct after his election helped to widen the breach between the two parties in the order advocating respectively relaxation and strict observance of the rule. The result was his deposition by the pope in 1239, whereupon he entered the service of the excommunicated Frederick II and on his failure to appear before the chapter of 1244 was himself excommunicated. In his last illness he received absolution from Bencius, archpriest of Cortona. He is perhaps the most difficult character to estimate in all Franciscan history, owing to the excess of praise and blame that he has received. He was a good religious during the lifetime of Saint Francis but their religious ideals were poles apart.

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Entry for 'Elias of Cortona'. 1910 New Catholic Dictionary. 1910.

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