Brother Elia was born between 1170 and 1180, either in Cortona or Assisi. In 1211 he became a follower of St Francis, took vows and became one of the saint’s most trusted and closest friends.
1217: thanks to the efforts of Brother Elia the order was organised into Province, Custodie, Conventi and Romitori, while Elia himself was entrusted to carry out the mission in Syria and the Holy Land.
1219: Francis also arrived in Syria and was amazed at the work carried out by Brother Elia, who had managed to earn the respect of Christians and Muslims alike.
1220: Francis and Brother Elia return to Italy. Francis abandons the administration of the order and appoints Brother Pietro Cattaneo as Vicar, who dies only five months later.
1221 – 1227: Brother Elia is appointed Vicar, first for Francis and then of the Franciscan Order after the saint’s death. The order organises large-scale missions in Germany (1221) and England (1224), promoting the so-called Regola Bollata (1223).
1226: is present at the death of Francis, who blesses him. Elia will be the person to announce the miracle of the stigmata to the entire order.
1228: begins work on the construction of the basilica of St Francis in Assisi and arranges for the saint’s remains to be moved there in 1230.
1232(?) – 1239: acts as General Minister for the Franciscan Order and carries out a number of activities, although little historical documentation exists of this period.
1239: for reasons that are not clear, Brother Elia is not reconfirmed General Minister of the order. He returns to Assisi for a time, where he acts as ‘custodian’ for the basilica, prior to retiring to Cortona. Towards the end of 1239 he is entrusted to mediate with the Pope on behalf of Frederick II, who has been excommunicated. Without papal authorisation Brother Elia travels to Pisa to see the emperor, thereby incurring the risk of excommunication in defiance of the Pope’s decree that no one go near Frederick. He writes a letter of justification on behalf of the emperor to the Pope, who never receives it.
1242(?)- 1244: mission of reconciliation between Emperor Bauduin II of Constantinople and Nicea. In return he receives a relic from the Holy Cross, which he donates to the church of San Francesco and Cortona.
1245: begins work on the construction of the monumental church and convent of St Francis in Cortona, where his remains are still kept.
April 22nd 1253: dies at Cortona, in peace with the Church and freed of all his ecclesiastical censorships.
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