2. Brief “Pastoralis officii cura” by Clement VII



Translation and notes by

I FRATI CAPPUCCINI. Documenti e Testimonianze del Primo Secolo. A cura di COSTANZO CARGNONI. Roma 1982, 70-74.


Rome, 15 April 1534. The Capuchins, according to the informers, by observing the Rule perfectly and not according to the pontifical declarations, lead a life so rich, almost inhuman, as to create grave doubts among the Observants about their way of observing the Rule. To remove any cause for scandal, it is ordered, under penalty of excommunication, that the Observants who have passed over to the Capuchins return to their friaries of origin within fifteen days.

Source: AGO, BA 220, no. 349a, copy; published in Eduardus Alenc., De primordis, 116s and in AM XVI, Addenda, 794-796.

10 To our venerable brother Andrea della Valle, cardinal bishop of Palestrina.

Our venerable brother, greetings.

11 1. The pastoral solicitude of our office impels us to pay diligent attention to those matters by which individual religious, and in a particular way professed mendicant Orders, who serve the Lord in the capacity of voluntary poverty, remove all sorts of scandal and disturbance, so that they are able to offer the Most High a diligent and welcome service.

12 2. We have learned, in fact, that some professed of the Order of Friars Minor called of the Observant regulars, with the claim to observe the Rule of Blessed Francis to perfection, not according to the declarations issued so far by the Roman pontiffs our predecessors, but according to its literal sense,[1] have moved away from their own houses of the aforesaid Order and Observants, moving to other houses and places, sometimes of the same Order, where, calling themselves hooded friars, they lead such an austere and rigid life, almost inhuman, as to cause a very serious disturbance and scandal to the other professed of the same Order, who fear, for this reason, that they too will not satisfy the Rule.[2]

13 3. We desiring to remedy, as much as possible with the Lord, to what is premised and to rescind every matter of scandal, you by our authority seek that we admonish in the Lord all and individually professed of the said Order of Friars Minor of Regular Observance, presently living with the clothing, customs and behaviour of the same hooded [cappucciati] friars; to each and every one of them is resolutely commanded, nevertheless, by virtue of holy obedience and under pain of excommunication latae sententiae, which we want and establish that they will incur immediately if they do not really and effectively obey, returning each of them, within fifteen days to their houses of the said Order, which they abandoned when they left. You will assign to them and to each of them three terms for each canonical admonition: five days for the first, five for the second and, in peremptory term, five for the third. We establish that they may freely return under the obedience of those superiors, without suffering harassment of any kind from their own superiors; and with their true and effective return, and having conformed in habit, way of life and observance to others

professed of the same Order, known as that of the Observants, cease all exemption.

14 4. Nevertheless you will make known, personally or through others,[3] all and individually, included in the present letters of ours and who do not comply with the admonitions and your relative commands, who will happen to incur the aforementioned sentence of excommunication at the present, as for the future; you will then publicly denounce the excommunicated, and you will have them denounced by others, until such excommunicated deserve to obtain the benefit of absolution from the aforesaid sentence of excommunication.

And nevertheless you will try to tighten the aforesaid sentence of excommunication, respecting the terms established in the matter, renewing, through processes, the aforesaid sentence of excommunication, also invoking, if necessary, the intervention of the secular arm.

15 5. Apostolic constitutions and dispositions, nor clauses and customs of the aforementioned Order are not an obstacle, even if strengthened by oath, apostolic confirmation or bond of any kind; nor privileges, indults, apostolic letters, even in the form of briefs, granted to said hooded friars, in any form and verbal expression and with any kind of derogation from derogations and invalidities; nor other contrary decrees of any kind, granted confirmed renewed in any way; even if it has been granted by the Apostolic See to such friars, called hooded [cappucciati], or to any other, separately or in common, that they cannot be interdicted, suspended or excommunicated by means of apostolic letters which do not contain express mention of this indult, word for word.

Given in Rome, 15 April 1534, the first tenth year of his pontificate.


Venerabili fratri nostro Andreae episcopo Praenestinensi, cardinali de

Valle nuncupato.

Venerabilis frater noster, salutem.

1. Pastoralis offici cura nos admonet, ut ad ea diligenter intendamus per quae singuli religiosi, et praesertim Ordinum mendicantium professores, qui sub voluntariae paupertatis habitu Domino militant, semotis perturbationibus et scandalis universis, gratum et sedulum impendere valeant Altissimo famulatum.

2. Accepimus siquidem quod nonnulli Ordinis fratrum minorum regularis Observantiae nuncupatorum professores, pretendentes se velle Regulam beati

Francisci ad unguem, iuxta eius litteralem sensum, et non declarationes super

illa hactenus per romanos pontifices praedecessores nostros editas, observare,

a propriis Ordinis et Observantiae huiusmodi domibus recedentes, ad diversas

alias domos et loca, etiam eiusdem Ordinis, se transtulerunt, et inibi se fratres

capuciatos nuncupantes, vitam admodum austeram et rigidam ac fere non humanam ducunt, in maximam aliorum ipsius Ordinis professorum, qui propterea dubitant se Regulae pariter non satisfacere, perturbationem et grave scandalum plurimorum.

3. Nos igitur volentes, praemissis, quantum cum Domino possumus, occurrere et materiam scandalorum amputare, omnes et singulos dicti Ordinis fratrum minorum regularis Observantiae professores, sub habitu et moribus ac observantia eorumdem fratrum capuciatorum ad praesens viventes, auctoritate nostra requiras et moneas in Domino: eis et eorumdem singulis, nihilominus, in virtute sanctae obedientiae, et sub excommunicationis latae sententiae poena, quam eos, nisi realiter et cum effectu paruerint, eo ipso incurrere volumus et declaramus, districte precipiendo mandans, quatenus infra XV dies post monitionem tuam praedictam, eis et eorum cuilibet personaliter faciendam, immediate sequentes, quorum quinque pro primo, quinque pro secundo, et reliquos pro tertio et peremptorio termino a monitione canonica, eis et eorum cuilibet assignes, debeant et quilibet eorum debeat ad domos dicti Ordinis, quas in eorum recessu reliquerunt et ad quas eos, absque e quod per superiors suos praemissorum occasione quovis modo molestari possint, libere redire posse decernimus, sub illorum superiorum obedientia, omni exemptione cessante, realiter et cum effectu redisse, et se habitui et moribus ac observantiae aliorum ipsius Ordinis professorum de Observantia nuncupatorum omnino conformasse.

4. Et nihilominus per te vel alium seu alios, omnes et singulos, sub praesentibus nostris comprehensos, monitione et mandatis tuis huiusmodi non parentes, et quos excommunicationis sententiam praedictam incurrere continget, ex nunc prout ex tunc, et contra excommunicatos tamdiu publice nunties et facias ab alis nuntiari, donec ipsi sic excommunicati ab huiusmodi excommunicationis sententia absolutionis beneficium meruerint obtinere. Et nihilominus terminis super lis habendis servatis, processibus sententiam excommunicationis praedictam iteratis vicibus aggravare procures, invocato etiam ad hoc, si opus fuerit, auxilio brachii saecularis.

5. Non obstantibus constitutionibus et ordinationibus apostolicis ac dicti Ordinis etiam iuramenti confirmatione apostolica vel quavis firmitate alia roboratis clausulis et consuetudinibus, privilegiis quoque indultis et litteris apostolicis etiam in forma brevis eisdem fratribus capuciatis sub quibuscumque verborum formis et expressionibus et cum quibuscumque etiam derogatoriarum derosatorits irritantibusque et alits decretis quomodolibet concessis confirmatis et innovatis, contrariis quibuscumque etiam si eisdem fratribus caputiatis nuncupatis, vel quibusvis aliis communiter vel divisim a Apostolica Sede sit indultum quod interdici, suspendi vel excommunicari non possint, per litteras apostolicas non facientes plenam et expressam ac de verbo ad verbum de indultu huiusmodi mentionem.

Datum Romae, die XV aprilis MDXXXIV, anno pontificatus undecimo.

  1. This is how the Capuchins were generally described by the Observants, thus casting doubt on their direct dependence on the Spirituals and Giovanni della Valle, whose followers were also reproached for disturbing consciences with their chosen way of life. Cf. BF VI, 139, no. 245. – See also the judgements of some Observants in section I of part II, especially the definition given of the Capuchins by Francesco Gonzaga (doc. 12, nn. 1997-98). For the true meaning of the literal observance of the Rule as understood by the Capuchins cf. further on, section III which deals with the Capuchin commentaries on the Rule.
  2. This really was the reason that had prompted Giovanni da Fano to write against the Capuchins and appease the “stimulated” Observants by publishing his first Dialogue in Ancona in 1527 (cf. Part II, sect. I, doc. 1).
  3. It appears from the minutes that this task was first entrusted to the bishop of Bisignano Fabio Arcella and his vicar. But the bishop was then in Naples as nuncio. Cf. Eduar. Alenconiensis, De primordis, 117 note 1. – The card. protector A. della Valle is then known to have done nothing (cf. supra, in correspondence to note 30), although he did not fail to write in his own hand at the end of the brief: “Videtur concedendum. A. cardinalis de Valle, protector”.