Hugh of Digne

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Franciscan Provincial Minister in Provence and commentator on the Franciscan Rule; date of birth unknown; d. between 1254 and 1257. He was a native of Provence, the son of Berengar of Digne, a merchant, and Huguette of Barjols; St. douceline was his sister. Hugh was of dark complexion, and medium height; he had a powerful voice. He was an eccentric but influential figure among the Franciscans of southern France and was regarded by the franciscan spirituals as one of their forerunners. In his later years he lived at Hyères, where he preached to St. louis ix, and where he was visited by the chronicler salimbene, who gives a vivid account of his austerity, his freedom of speech in denouncing the inadequacies even of the papal Curia, and his devotion to poverty and to the doctrines of joachim of fiore. Hugh inspired the formation of the Order of Friars of the Sack, and also of his sister's Order of Beguines, of which he was the spiritual director (see beguines and beghards). He wrote two treatises on poverty, De finibus paupertatis and Tractatus de paupertate inter zelatorem paupertatis et inimicum domesticum, and an elaborate exposition of the Rule (probably 124143), which was the first fully systematic commentary. In his zeal for poverty, his learning, and Joachism he resembled the later leaders of the Spirituals. His interpretation of poverty was strict, but by no means rigid or inflexible; and he took pains to defend by scholastic argument a fairly extensive use of books without which his own range of learning would have been impossible.

Bibliography: hugh of digne, Expositio regulae, in Firmamenta trium ordinum (Paris 1512; 2d ed. 1513) pt. 4: fol. 34 va-54 rb; also in 1st ed. Monumenta ordinis minorum (Salamanca 150611); Tractatus de paupertate, in Firmamenta (1512) fol. 105 ra-108 vb. n. morin, Speculum minorum (Rouen 1509). c. florovsky, "De finibus paupertatis auctore Hugone de Digna, O.F.M.," Archivum Franciscanum historicum 5 (1912) 277290. salimbene, Cronica fratris Salimbene de Adam, ed. o. holderegger in Monumenta Germanica Scriptores 32 (190513). j. poulenc, Catholicisme 5:102022. r. b. brooke, Early Franciscan Government: Elias to Bonaventure (Cambridge, Eng. 1959).

[r. b. brooke]