Franciscan history, apocalypticism, and reform: The Arbor vitae crucifixae Jesu of Ubertino da Casale

Gregory Scott Beirich, Fordham University


This dissertation seeks to explore the presence and significance of reform and renewal ideology, as well the apocalyptic content, found in the Spiritual Franciscan Ubertino da Casale's Arbor vitae crucifixae Jesu (1305). To accomplish these goals, this dissertation examines the historical and ideological background of the Franciscan Order and Ubertino's place in it. It also discusses the structure of the Arbor, the creation, subversion, and poverty of the Franciscan Rule, and ends with an examination of reform and renewal in the Arbor and the place of its apocalypticisrn in the context of the Spiritual Franciscan party. It comes to the conclusion that the Arbor is in fact a part of the Franciscan tradition of renewal and reform ideology. The Arbor exhibits a continuation of the Franciscan renewal and reform tradition in that it gives a special significance to the coming of Francis, especially the marks of the stigmata which were impressed on Francis's body, and it sees in his life and Rule the possibility of the reform of the Franciscan practice of poverty. It says that the practice of the Franciscan Rule has become compromised over time and therefore is in need of reform, and that once reformed, the Rule can serve as a guide in the reform of the Church. Furthermore, the Arbor holds that it is the mechanism of strict voluntary poverty, characterized by the usus pauper or poor use, which can facilitate the reform of the Rule. The practice of strict voluntary poverty is all the more necessary because of the apocalyptic role played by its practitioners in Ubertino's times, the Spiritual Franciscans. They will be the viri spirituales or spiritual men who will serve as the example for the elect who will come to live in the New Jerusalem foretold by Revelation.

Subject Area

Middle Ages|Religious congregations|Religious history|European history

Recommended Citation

Beirich, Gregory Scott, "Franciscan history, apocalypticism, and reform: The Arbor vitae crucifixae Jesu of Ubertino da Casale" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9926899.