INSPIRATION AND INSTITUTION
WAY OF LIFE
CUSTOMS OF THE PROVINCE
(1536 – 1641)
DEFENCE AND ENDORSEMENT OF THE CAPUCHIN WAY OF LIFE
from I Frati Cappuccini, a work of Costanzo Cargnoni, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, 1991, volume I, pages 1206-1208.
Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap
6. In defence of the Capuchin habit as that worn by St Francis
Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap
With great zeal and tenacity, the Capuchins have always defended the distinctive features of their habit which is an exterior sign of their external identity as well as an unambiguous indication of their inner reform. The author of our Bullarium says that, following what Innocent IV said when he wrote that “confusion about the habit often leads to confusion about the identity of the Orders and creates confusion amongst people,” and to establish charity between different religious institutes, they always opposed those who foolishly misused the Capuchin habit. Therefore, faced with what certain Bishops were trying to do, Father Girolamo da Castelferrelti who was General Procurator in 1622, sought and obtained a Brief from Gregory XV which guaranteed and defended the habit. This Brief, together with a personal letter, was sent to all the Provincial Ministers.
[Rome 22nd February 1622]
1110 Concerning the hood, the habit, the mantle, the cord and the footwear or sandals that we Capuchins use that are precious gems and relics of the poverty of our Father St Francis which we have used continually from the beginning of our reform until today.
Since, as I have said, we have always thought that we possessed these precious gems and relics there is no reason for a Bishop to allow another Order, whichever that may be, to do so. Indeed, it is impossible.
Since in some parts of Italy, Portugal, Spain, France and of Germany various members of Religious Orders have gone ahead and appropriated these precious relics and made them their own, they have seriously damaged the reputation of the Capuchins by being thought to be the Reformed Capuchins.
To provide a remedy for this, I have often contacted the Pope and the Cardinals who take care of Religious Orders. Recently, I obtained a Brief, a copy of which I am sending to you and also to all the Provinces in the Order.
I ask Your Reverence to hold on to this, and show it to the Bishops I have named or who are named in the Brief.
Rome, 22nd February 1622
Your servant in Christ
Br. Girolamo da Castelferretti
- He Brief is dated 9th December 1621 and bears the title Ex intuncto nobis. Cf. above sec. 1: Documenti pontifici, note 112 in the intoductoy studyp. ↑