Fama fraternitatis Roseae Crucis oder Die Bruderschaft des Ordens der Rosenkreuzer, usually listed as Fama Fraternitatis Rosae Crucis, is an anonymous Rosicrucian manifesto published in 1614 in Kassel, Hesse-Kassel (in present-day Germany). In 1652, Thomas Vaughan translated the work into English. An Italian edition was published as an appendix of the 77th Advertisement (part), under the title Generale Riforma dell' Universo (Universal Reformation of Mankind), from a German translation of Bocallini's Ragguagli di Parnasso (Advertisements from Parnassus). The Fama was soon published in separate form.
The Fama tells the story of the "Father C.R." (later referred to in the text as "C.R.C.") and his ill-fated pilgrimage to Jerusalem; his subsequent tutelage by the secret sages of the east, the wise men of Damcar (Dhamar) in Arabia, from whom he learned the ancient esoteric knowledge which included the study of physics, mathematics, magic and kabbalah; his return through Egypt and Fes, and his presence among the alumbrados in Spain. It is thought in occultism that Rosenkreuz's pilgrimage seems to refer to transmutation steps of the Great Work.
After his arrival to Germany, Father C.R. and other Brothers established an esoteric Christian Fraternity: "The Fraternity of the Rose Cross". The Brothers of the Fraternity were sent in mission throughout the world, having as their first priority to use their esoteric knowledge to cure the sick free of charge ("gratis"), not wearing any special clothing, and met once each year in the mysterious "House of the Holy Spirit".
The Legend shows an agreement with six articles that they drew up prior to their separation, bounding themselves one to another to keep:
Although Father C.R.C. is often identified as the allegorical character of Christian Rosenkreuz from the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, the Fama Fraternitatis does not identify him as such in the text.
The Legend presented in the Manifestos has been interpreted through centuries as texts full of symbolism. Rosicrucians clearly adopted through the Manifestos the Pythagorean tradition of envisioning objects and ideas in terms of their numeric aspects, and, on the other hand, they directly state in the Confessio Fraternitatis: "We speak unto you by parables, but would willingly bring you to the right, simple, easy and ingenuous exposition, understanding, declaration, and knowledge of all secrets."
The sentence "C.R.C.'s deceased father's brother's son" has always been a deeply enigmatic one. There is the possibility that it may refer to the rebirth process, a central tenet teaching of groups having, or claiming to have, a Rosicrucian philosophy. This would imply that "Father C.R.", possibly of the 13th and 14th centuries, would have been reborn to "R.C.", becoming the 14th and 15th century C.R.C. in the Manifestos. This appears to confirm what several later sources wrote about the Rosicrucian movement:
The enigmatic "Fra. F.R.C." in the vault (the "R.C." in the narrative, see above) is mentioned as "heir"; this statement "younger heir of the house of the holy spirit" seems to provide evidence of the intimate relation to "Father C.R.", possibly meaning "Father R.C." [forming the C.R.C. initials]:
In his book The True Story of the Rosicrucians historian Tobias Churton brought to light new documents that prove the Fama was written by a group of Lutheran scholars at Tübingen in which Andreae took an active part. After one manuscript written in 1612, which was intended to be circulated privately escaped their control, the movement took a life in itself, prompting new theories and pure speculations such as those brought forward by Émile Dantinne (1884-1969) who theorised that the origins of the Rosicrucians might have had an Islamic connection. Rosenkreuz started his pilgrimage at the age of sixteen. This led him to Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, where he came into contact with sages of the East who revealed to him the "universal harmonic science". After learning Arabic philosophy in Jerusalem, he was led to Damcar. This place remains a mystery -- it did not become Damascus, but is somewhere not too far from Jerusalem. Then he stopped briefly in Egypt. Soon afterwards, he embarked to Fes, a center of philosophical and occult studies, such as the alchemy of Abu-Abdallah, Gabir ben Hayan and Imam Jafar al Sadiq, the astrology and magic of Ali-ash-Shabramallishi, and the esoteric science of Abdarrahman ben Abdallah al Iskari. However, Dantinne states that Rosenkreuz may have found his secrets amongst the Brethren of Purity, a society of philosophers that had formed in Basra (Iraq) in the 10th century. Their doctrine had its source in the study of the ancient Greek philosophers, but it became more neo-Pythagorean. They adopted the Pythagorean tradition of envisioning objects and ideas in terms of their numeric aspects. Their theurgy and esoteric knowledge is expounded in an epistolary style in the Encyclopedia of the Brethren of Purity.
The Brethren of Purity and the Sufis were united in many points of doctrine. They both were mystical orders deriving from Quranic theology but supplanting dogma with a faith in the Divine Reality. There were many similarities between the Rosicrucian way as expressed in the manifestos and the way of life of the Brethren of Purity. Neither group wore special clothing, both practiced abstinence, they healed the sick, and they offered their teachings free of charge. Similarities also were evident in the doctrinal elements of their theurgy and the story of creation in terms of emanationism. However, if one studies the Fama which was written by Lutherans, the main idea of Islamic connection is easily disproved. What was intended with the Fama was a novel in which the idea of reformation of Sciences and Arts in which a Hermetic tradition of European origin is well established.