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 1133-1197.
Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap
2. Another Memoir of Bernardino d’Asti
Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap
No one took much notice of the Memoir that Bernardino d’Asti wrote in 1536. So, following the death of Paul III, which took place on 10th November 1549, so in the hope of gaining the support of the new Pope, Julian III, he asked that the Capuchins be allowed to receive Observant friars into their ranks.
In this petition he briefly recalls what led up to request and how the Superiors of the Observants were acting despite the Brief Offici nostri debitum which had been issued on 28th August 1550. He concludes very courageously by observing that in view of the principle stated by Paul III preventing someone moving to a more austere way of life is the same as resisting the Holy Spirit and going against both Divine Law and Canon Law. This was the last mournful plea that is made by the humble “helmsman of the new congregation” Bernardino d’Asti. In response to this Julian III issued the Brief In eminenti on 15th February 1551 in which he confirmed the prohibition for Capuchins to return to the ranks of the Observants without the written permission of their superiors. Bernardino died a few years later.
In support of the Capuchins
[End of 1550 – beginning of 1551]
1100 Most Holy Father [we turn to you] after kissing your feet as your little children and supplicants. The Vicar General and all the Friars Minor who are known as the Capuchins most humbly and solemnly promise you obedience.
In a special decree, your predecessor of Your Holiness, Paul III, of happy memory, issued a Brief which prohibited his petitioners and members of the Order known as the Observants to receive members from the two Orders mentioned below without the written consent of their Superiors, so that a contrary decision would not be made in the General Chapter of the Observants which was about to be celebrated in the city [Rome].
Furthermore, in the same letter, he commanded that the Observants, in the Provincial Chapters which would be celebrated immediately after the degree had been promulgated, should nominate specific places to which friars could be assigned and live with Observants who wanted to live a stricter way of life in accord with the Rule. If this were not done, he warned that they would have lost the opportunity of taking care of such friars.
1101 Following the proclamation of the Brief which was issued on 4th January 1537 the Observants were determined not to celebrate their General Chapter in Rome. In addition to this, in their Provincial Chapters, they did not set up the friaries mentioned above. Indeed, in many of the provinces where such friaries had been set up, and much reform has taken place, they were reduced to nothing.
Only recently some of the Observant friars asked and obtained a letter, that is a Brief from Your Holiness. In this letter there was no mention of what had been already decided, except that it stated that the petitioners could presume what they already assumed that their friars could be received in contrast to what was contained in that letter and the attached censures and penalties against the Superiors of the Order, the creation of scandal and the spread of rumours against the petitioners.
In this letter, at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Your Holiness annulled the possibility for the petitioners to receive [Observant friars] in contrast to what was stated in the letter of your predecessor.
1102 Therefore, following the advice of certain very prudent Catholic Prelates, they do not believe that they have gone against what was in that letter by accepting Observant friars after the death of Paul III, or to continue do so now. The same Pontiff, Your Predecessor, used the following words: finché da noi etc. Since his death circumstances have changed and the Brief that he wrote does not apply.
In any case, even Your Holiness, will recall, that moved by the Holy Spirit, (as we firmly believe), you told one of the petitioners, who was the Vicar General of this Province, that to prevent an Observant friar from undertaking the stricter way of life lived by the Capuchins not only contradicted Church Law but also Divine Law. This could be proved easily and only false reasoning could contradict it.
1103 In any case, even setting aside what has been said, the same petitioners place themselves at the feet of Your Holiness in humble obedience, and once again beg for what they want. We ask you not to allow resistance to the Holy Spirit. This is what would happen to those friars who were zealous for the better gifts, and who aspired to observe what they professed and who, In the same way as some of your petitioners, are being blocked and prevented from leading a stricter way of life and are being deprived of the gifts granted them by Church Law and by Divine Law.
- This is the Brief Regiminis universalis Ecclesiae issued on 4th January 1537. Cf. above sec I Documenti pontifici, note 46 in the introductory study. This Brief was published more completely by Ed. Alincon, Tribulationes, 49-51. ↑
- This Brief, Officii nostri which was issued on 28th August 1550 has already been cited. ↑
- The full passage is: Donec per noi in generali concilio, vel in dicti Ordinis generali capitulo in hac alma Urbe, nostro speciali mandato celebrando, aliud determinatum fuerit. These words were cancelled later from the original which appears in AGO, QA 221, n. 262. Cf. Ed. Alincon, Tribulationes, 50. ↑
- Francesco da Soriano ruled the Roman Province from 1549 to 1552. Cf. Teodoro di Luca, Cronistoria, 7. ↑
- A reference to Acts 7: 31. ↑
- Cf. 1 Cor. 12: 31. ↑