Concerning the duties of young Capuchin clerics








(1536 – 1641)



from I Frati Cappuccini, a work of Costanzo Cargnoni, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, 1991, volume I, pages 1202-1203.

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

4. A letter from the General Procurator concerning the duties of young clerics

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

This letter by the Procurator might be useful in understanding the practices within the Order. In this letter Fr Anselmo da MonopoIi, the future Cardinal Marzati, who was General Procurator, responds to a memoir sent to the Congregation of Bishops and religious by a young Capuchin cleric in 1604. The young man was making a complaint about his father Guardian giving him too much manual work. He notes the indiscretion as a sign of a lack of mortification, and in the meantime explains to the Roman congregation, to whom the reply is directed, how and in what exercises clerics are normally employed as opposed to lay brothers.

To the Congregation of Bishops and Religious.

The response to a memoir sent by Br Giovanni a cleric.

1108 I do not know Br Giovanni because he did not say where he came from or where he is living. However, I can see from his letter that he shows himself to be a friar who is very little mortified, because our Order has the clerics, being young and new to the Order, sometimes sent to do manual work in the garden so that they may experience humility, and not become lazy. However, they are not so busy that they cannot attend to carrying out the Office which falls to them to attend as part of divine worship.[1] However, all aspects of manual work are done by the lay brothers, who by means of the concession bonae memoriare that was granted by Pio V, also enjoy active and passive voice, the same as the clerics who are not in sacris. However, this does not give them more privileges than the clerics.[2] Perhaps his Guardian had asked him to do more than usual because he needed to be made humble and mortified. In any case I notified the Father Provincial and told him that this was not right and that he should make sure that the clerics could attend the recitation of the Office.

  1. Cf. the ceremonial by Bertolomeo Vecchi for the novices.
  2. This was a debatable point among the Capuchins who, basing themselves on the concession granted by Pio V, allowed the lay brothers the same privileges as the clerics when it came to elections. In this regard some of the points mad in the Capuchin commentaries on the Rule are interesting. In his Dichiaratione (p. 361) Silvestro d’Assisi wrote: “In our Order, all professed can elect, according to the custom of our Order, be they priests and clerics or lay brothers.”. In his Regola unica (cap. IV p. 231) Gregorio di Napoli said: “St. Francis, the institutor, did not wish to restrict the election of priests to men of letters only, but wanted them to be the most virtuous and zealous observers of his Rule, whether clerics or laymen; and for this reason, in the said Order, not only simple priests are often elected as superiors, but also virtuous lay brothers, more quickly than undeserving men of letters..” Boverio speaks about this privilege. Cf. AC L, 636, n. 2.