9. Brief “Cum vos” of Sixtus V



Translation and notes by

I FRATI CAPPUCCINI. Documenti e Testimonianze del Primo Secolo. A cura di COSTANZO CARGNONI. Roma 1982, 98-112.


Rome, 27 June 1587. – The three missionaries, assigned with the obedience of the vicar general to Constantinople, are granted very broad faculties for the disengagement of their apostolic ministry among the faithful, schismatics, heretics and infidels, with an exhortation to duplicate talents in the service of God.

Source: Edited in BC VII, 282-284; AM XXII, 439-441 (410-413). Cf. supra, note 86.

63 Sixtus V, pope. [To the beloved sons Pietro della Croce, Egidio da S. Maria and Dionisio Romano, professed of the congregation of the Order of minors known as the Capuchins].[1]

Beloved children, health and apostolic blessing.

1. You have let us know that for some time, inflamed with fervour and piety, to the praise and glory of the Name of God, in order to procure the conversion of the infidels, to preserve the light of the true faith and of the Christian religion and to help spiritually the souls of the faithful in the city of Constantinople and in other regions of infidels, you desire to go to those parts, and that you have humbly requested and obtained permission from the beloved Vicar General of your congregation,[2] according to the Rule of your Order professed by you, transmitted in his time by Blessed Francis, in which it is established that those among the friars who by divine inspiration wish to go among the Saracens and other infidels ask the due permission of their provincial ministers; then the ministers are not to grant permission of leave except to those whom they deem fit to be sent.

64 We, aware of your exemplary life, of the integrity of morals, of the constant and commendable observance of regular discipline, of mature age, of recognized prudence, of firmness in faith and in doctrine, in praising in the highest degree such your pious purpose and zeal for the salvation of souls, we impart to you first of all our apostolic blessing; we then insert you, with our same blessing, in this evangelical activity, for the increase of the faith itself, and for the progress of souls in the way of salvation and peace.

65 3. In order that you may accomplish this with greater fruit, we have also thought of granting you some faculties, in support of you, so that you may use them, as is fitting, with the right criterion, according to the prudence suggested to you by God, whenever it seems to you opportune for the honour of God, the salvation and edification of souls. Well-disposed therefore to your supplications in this matter, we grant and grant to each one of you, as long as you dwell in those regions or happen to pass through them:

the authorization to associate, where and when it seems most appropriate to you, without any scruple of conscience or incurring penalties or censures, with any heretic and schismatic of any sect, and infidel, so that you can lead them more easily to the Catholic and Christian faith and to the unity of the Church;

to propose the Word of God both to the faithful and to the unfaithful, and to preach both in public and in private, if it seems opportune to you; to bring the portable altar with you and celebrate Masses and other divine offices on it, in the morning hours but after dawn, both in churches, chapels, oratories, even if not consecrated, and in private homes as long as it is in an honest place and convenient, when it will seem appropriate to you either for reasons of danger or for other reasons of necessity or reasonable; to bless each and every priestly garment and insignia, other sacred vestments, ecclesiastical objects and vessels, palls and corporals, except chalices, patens, bells and all that requires sacred anointing;

66 moreover, when it is not possible to have one’s own parish priest, to baptise all the infidels who will embrace the truth of the Catholic faith, that is, who will convert; the children of these and of the faithful, adolescences and children, using, in the administration of baptism, the sacred chrism and the oil of the old catechumens, that is, not blessed in that year, if you cannot easily obtain the new ones;

to hear the confessions of any faithful, of both sexes, not excluding penitent clerics and priests who, in those regions, will have recourse to you, and to absolve them, in the forum of conscience only, if they repent in their hearts of the faults committed by humbly asking forgiveness for them, and for all the sins, crimes, transgressions and offences committed by them, assign to them, on account of the fault, a salutary penance and whatever it will be deemed necessary to prescribe; as well as by sentences of excommunication, even greater, of suspension and interdict and by any other ecclesiastical sentence; from the censures

and penalties, if they are affected in any way, both a iure and ab homine, inflicted at any time and for any cause, if they find themselves bound by them in any way, in any case also reserved in any way to the Ordinaries of the places or at the Apostolic See, as well as those contained in the letters usually read on the day of the «Coena Domini»; except those of the murder of a bishop or the mutilation of a member of his body, of a prelate, or of a priest and of any other ecclesiastical person invested with Holy Orders; and to absolve, welcome and reconcile, only in the forum of conscience, any heretic, schismatic and apostate from the Christian and Catholic faith and misled penitents who have returned to their senses, from the censures and penalties of excommunication, suspension and interdict and other ecclesiastical sentences that they have contracted in any way because of heresies, schism, errors and apostasy from the faith, provided that they detest, with a sincere heart and unfeigned faith, heresies, schism, apostasy, and ask to be admitted and received, into the customary form, in the womb of the holy mother Church, then enjoining them, according to their fault, a salutary penance and other prescriptions that will seem necessary to you for their salvation, and what results from the letters concerning the faculty granted to you through our venerable brother cardinals general inquisitors regarding heretical perversity;[3]

67 by virtue of these letters we finally grant and confirm, by apostolic authority, full, free and perfect license and faculty to administer the sacrament of the Eucharist and every other sacrament at any time of the year, even at Easter, if the place lacks the bishop and parish priest; to celebrate and bless legally contracted marriages between the faithful, intervening as their own parish priests, bestowing on them the nuptial blessing in those places where there is no proper parish priest and bishop.

4. Apostolic constitutions and ordinations or any other contrary provision do not constitute an impediment.

5. We also decide, we desire and we declare that such faculties, contained in our present letters, are granted in solidum to each of you, and that they support you only when you live in those regions or will cross them, unless you expressly receive different instructions from us.

68 6. Therefore, in the exercise of this pious ministry entrusted to you, make every effort to use the talents that God has bestowed on you, in such a way as to give them back doubled with great fruit, and you deserve to be praised by God as good and faithful servants, and to enter into his heavenly joys,[4] and happily receive, as eternal recompense, the rewards deserved by your labours.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on 27 June 1587, in the third year of our pontificate.


Dilecti fili, salutem et apostolicam benedictionem.

1. Cum vos, sicut nobis exponi fecistis, ad laudem et gloriam divini nominis, ad procurandam infidelium conversionem, ad lumen verae fidei et christianae religionis conservationem et ad animas christifidelium in Constantinopolitana civitate e aliis infidelium regionibus commorantium, spiritualibus solaciis adiuvandas, iamdiu cupieritis, pietatis fervore accensi, ad dictas partes infidelium proficisci et iuxta vestri Ordinis, quam professi estis, Regulam a b. Francisco olim traditam, qua disponitur ut quicumque fratrum divina inspiratione voluerit ire inter saracenos et alios infideles, petat licentiam a suis ministris provincialibus; ministri vero nullis eundi licentiam tribuant nisi eis quos viderint esse idoneos ad mittendum, licentiam huiusmodi a dilecto vicario generali vestrae congregationis humiliter petieritis eamque obtinueritis,

2. Nos informati de vestris exemplaris vitae ac morum integritate, diuturna et laudabili regularis disciplinae observantia ac aetatis maturitate, comprobata prudentia, fidei constantia atque doctrina, ac vestrum huiusmodi pium propositum et erga salutem animarum zelum plurimum in Domino commendantes, in primis nostram vobis benedictionem impartimur atque vos in hoc opus Evangeli ad eiusdem fidei incrementum et animarum profectum in viam salutis et pacis cum eadem nostra benedictione dimittimus.

3. Deinde ut id ipsum maiori cum fructu efficere possitis, certas vobis facultates duximus concedendas, quibus suffulti, iuxta datam vobis a Domino prudentiam, tunc demum illis moderate, ut par est, utamini, cum ad Dei honorem et animarum salute et aedificationem videritis expedire. Quare, vestris in hac parte supplicationibus inclinati, vobis et vestrum cuilibet, quam-diu vos in eisdem partibus commorari vel per illas transire contigerit, ut cum quibusvis haereticis, schismaticis cuiuscumque sectae ac infidelibus, ut facilius eos ad catholicam et christianam fidem atque Ecclesiae unitatem reducere possitis, ubi et quando vobis expedire videbitur, sine aliquo conscientiae scrupulo aut poenarum vel censurarum incursu, conversari; ac tam christifidelibus quam infidelibus verbum Dei proponere et tam privatim quam publice, si videbitur, praedicare; necnon ut altare portatile vobiscum deferre et super eo tam in ecclesis, cappellis, oratoris, etiam non consacratis, quam in privatis aedibus, in loco tamen honesto et decenti, ubi vobis propter periculum aut aliam necessariam vel rationabilem causam expedire visum fuerit, etiam ante diem, sub luce tamen, missas et alia divina officia celebrare;

utque omnia et quaecumque sacerdotalia indumenta et ornamenta et alias sacras vestes, instrumenta et vasa ecclesiastica ac pallas et corporalia, non tamen calices, patenas aut campanas neque alia in quibus sacra unctio adhibe tur, benedicere;

praeterea üt quoscumque infideles qui ad veritatem fidei christianae venerint seu conversi fuerint, ac eorum et fidelium natos, pueros et infantes, ubi proprius parochus haberi non potest, baptizare atque in ipso baptismo ministrando sacro chrismate et oleo catechumenorum veteribus seu, eo anno non benedictis, si nova commode habere non poteritis, libere uti;

ad haec ut quorumlibet utriusque sexus christifidelium, etiam clericorum et presbyterorum paenitentium, quos ad vos in illis partibus recurrere contigerit, confessiones audire eosque singulos, si de commissis delictis ab intimis doleant eorumque veniam humiliter petant, ab omnibus peccatis, criminibus, excessibus et delictis per eos commissis necnon a quibusvis excommunicationis, etiam maioris, suspensionis et interdicti, aliisque ecclesiasticis sententis, censuris et poenis, a iure vel ab homine quavis occasione vel causa latis, si quibus quomodolibet innodati exsistunt, in quibusvis casibus, etiam locorum ordinariis Apostolice Sedi quomodolibet reservatis, etiam in litteris die Conae Domini legi solitis, contentis, praeterquam homicidi vel mutilationis membrorum personae episcopi aut praelati vel presbyteri et cuiusvis alterius personae ecclesiasticae in sacris ordinibus constitutae, iniuncta inde eis pro modo culpae panitentia salutari et aliis quae duxerit iniungenda, in foro conscientiae tantum absolvere;

et quoscumque insuper haereticos, schismaticos et a fide christiana et catholica apostatas et aberrantes penitentes ac ad cor redeuntes, ab excommunicationis, suspensions et interdicti aliisque ecclesiasticis sententiis, censuris et poenis quas propter haereses, schisma, errores et a fide apostasiam huiusmodi quomodolibet incurrerint, dummodo corde sincero et fide non ficta sponte haereses, schisma, apostasiam et errores suos detestati fuerint, anathematizaverint et abiuraverint, ac in gremium sanctae matris Ecclesiae recipi et admitti humiliter petierint, in forma Ecclesiae consueta, iniuncta inde eis pro modo culpae paenitentia salutari et alis iniungendis, prout eorum saluti expedire cognoveritis, in foro conscientiae dumtaxat, absolvere, recipere et reconciliare, et alias luxta formam litterarum facultatis vobis concessae per venerabiles fratres nostros sanctae romanae Ecclesiae cardinales adversus haereticam pravitatem generales inquisitores; ac demum, ut christifidelibus praedictis sacrae Eucharistiae et alia quaecumque sacramenta quocumque anni tempore, etiam in Paschate, si tamen ibi episcopus aut proprius parochus non existat, ministrare et nuptiis per ipsos fideles invicem legitime contrahendis in locis in quibus proprius parochus et episcopus desit, tamquam proprii parochi interesse ac illis sacerdotalem benedictionem impendere, libere et licite possitis et valeatis, plenam,

liberam et omnimodam licentiam et facultatem, autoritate apostolica, tenore presentium concedimus et indulgemus.

4. Non osbtantibus constitutionibus et ordinationibus apostolicis ceterisque contrariis quibuscumque.

5. Decernimus autem, volumus et declaramus huiusmodi facultates, in praesentibus nostris litteris contentas, vois et cuilibet vestrum in solidum esse concessas, ac vois in dictis dumtaxat partibus commorantibus vel per illas transeuntibus suffragari, nisi a nobis aliud vois expresse mandari contingat.

6. Sic igitur in obeundo hoc pio ministerio vobis commisso, talenta vobis a Domino credita exercere studeatis, ut eadem magno cum fructu duplicata reportantes, ab ipso Domino tamquam servi boni et fideles laudari et in caelestia eius gaudia intrare ac praemia digna laboribus vestris in aeterna retributione feliciter consequi mereamini.

Datum Romae apud Sanctum Petrum, die XXVII uni MDLXXXVII, pontificatus nostri anno tertio.

[A tergo:] Dilectis filiis Petro de Cruce, Aegidio de S. Maria et Dionysio Romano, Ordinis minorum congregationis capuccinorum professoribus.

  1. In the Latin original, the header is placed on the cover. – About these religious cf. further on, section. IV, among the Obediences for preaching, doc. 35, note 14 (cf. n. 1654).
  2. At the time, Girolamo da Polizzi was vicar general: the obedience issued by him is the one mentioned in the previous note.
  3. For this last argument, in general, cf. Marco Cardinale, Profili sostanziali dell’«haeretica pravitas» nella canonistica inquisitoria del sec. XVI, in Monitor Eccl. 110 (1985) 532-549.
  4. Allusion to Mt 25:14-23.