Material culture of the Capuchins

From the Constitutions of 1536 to the formulation of a material culture of the Capuchin Order

Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Translated by Gary Devery OFM Cap

Table of Contents

[Translator: Description of material culture

The following is by Sophie Woodward (last reviewed 2015) from Oxford Bibliographies: The study of material culture centers upon objects, their properties, and the materials that they are made of, and the ways in which these material facets are central to an understanding of culture and social relations. It challenges the historical division between the natural sciences as being the place for the study of the material world and the social sciences as being where society and social relations can be understood. Instead, culture and society are seen as being created and reproduced by the ways in which people make, design, and interact with objects. It also challenges the assumption, perpetuated by disciplinary divisions and also philosophical trajectories, that the object and subject are separate, wherein the latter is assumed to be immaterial, and the former is assumed to be inert and passive. In seeing the material properties of things as central to the meanings an object might have, much work within material culture studies is critical of the idea that objects merely symbolize or represent aspects of a pre-existing culture or identity. A key area of contestation in the literature on material culture is the question of agency and the ways in which objects can produce particular effects or allow and permit certain behaviors or cultural practices.]

Principal abbreviations used:

APCL (= Archivio Provinciale Cappuccini Lombardi, Milano);

AGC (= Archivio Generale dei Cappuccini, Roma);

FC (= I frati cappucini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo. A cura di C. Cargnoni. Vol. I: Ispirazione e istituzione. Vol. II: Storia e cronaca.vol. III/1-2: Santità e apostolato. vol. IV: Espansione e inculturazione. vol. V: Indici. Perugia-Roma 1988-1993.

Material culture of the Capuchin Order

The study of material culture could seem forced when applied to an Order such as that of the Capuchins which has a very high ideal of poverty and seeks to use material things very frugally, almost only by necessity, rendering the friars “poor in the goods of the world” and accustomed “to suffer the lack of worldly things”.[1] The general history of the Capuchins, in its flight from the world, option toward the solitude of the hermitage, lack of concern for higher learning, radical poverty, a “wretched life” as someone has said,[2] could give the impression that it began as a anticultural project, from a rejection of learning and culture. However, this is not the case, because it is strongly impregnated with a culture inspired by the Gospel, which represents the patrimony of values and content of Catholic tradition, in the sense of the Christian cultivation of the human person, to use an expression of Cardinal Biffi. It is an “extraordinary meditated interiority”, as writes a modern historian,[3] of immersion into the life of the people, of popular animation, of dynamic apostolate, in a word, a true humanism.

Capuchin material culture and its sources

The term “culture” can immediately have one thinking of written, editorial, and scholarly culture and to the studies which produce written texts and puts one in relationship with the intellectual class of the different schools of thought. The characteristic and the role of the Capuchins in this context are manifested in the choice of the means to animate, cultivate and develop this culture in that particular collective system of the valuation of the ideas, acts, events, and, therefore, also in a specific complexity of behaviour “models”, by which nature and history are humanised, thereby determining an elevation and a promotion of the human person, a true humanism.

More closely observing the meaning of culture specified by the adjective “material” does not mean only the organisation of the visible and tangible aspects, such as the objects of everyday use, utensils of various activities and the materials, products and artefacts of social life, that is, an examination from the anthropological point of view of the material aspects, but must also include the study of the motives for which these materials were adopted, while other materials were excluded, what was their use, the exchanges they give rise to and what was their distribution. They are elements of nature that by means of motivated human actions suffer transformation in the production of food, utensils, habitation, clothing and every other type of handcraft. Therefore, the material culture may bring a fundamental contribution to the question of the nature of everyday life, of ordinary life, with its relative stability of things and objects, and their continuance. In a recent article I read this clarification that can be perfectly adapted to our following analysis:

In the tradition of anthropology and of the social sciences there are two modes of studying culture. One consists in observing (as much as it is possible to the “participant”) the social behaviour, actions and discourses of persons and of institutions that regulate them. The other is the analysis of the objects in which the immaterial aspects of the culture (values, knowledge, codes, structures) are incorporated and assume visible and enduring form. This is precisely the “material culture”.[4]

With these explanatory premises we can begin our theme. In this regard, we have the help of two Capuchin scholars of great relevance who have studied the arguments of these themes with great intelligence. One is Fr Cassiano Carpaneto da Langasco († 1998) who, with his most useful Libretti del Museo of the Capuchin life, confronted with notable historical-literary clarity the problem of the material culture in the friary;[5] the other is Fr Servus Gieben († 2014), who was for many years the director of the Museo Francescano of Rome and has left important studies on the “arte povera” of the Capuchins, on Franciscan and Capuchin iconography in ancient prints and on the daily life of the friars.[6]

Taking advantage of their contributions I can more securely attempt this limited analysis by retracing the first Constitutions and the structures of the Order.

The “formulation” of material culture starting from the Constitutions of 1536 finds its complex and multifaceted expressions in multiple series of sources listed here:

    • General ordinances made at General Chapters, joined by those of the provinces, made in the Provincial Chapters;[7]
    • The first ceremonials (written in Belgium in 1595, that of Boverio De sacris ritubus of 1626, the description of the everyday Capuchin life of Francesco Gagnant di Chambéry of 1627;[8]
    • Regulations for novices by Bartolomeo Vecchi da Bologna at the beginning of the seventeenth century;[9]
    • The first Capuchin commentaries on the Franciscan Rule;[10]
    • Then the chronicles of the Order, those more general, and those more particular and provincial, because they transmit and record the initial growth and development of the Order and thereby the first hints and records of an accepted Capuchin “material culture”.[11]

The Statutes of Albacina of 1529 naturally remain what could be called the prehistory of this “material culture”,[12] while Boverio, with practically a century of distance, is witness to the beginnings of the formulation of the Capuchin material culture which if in the first decades of the eighteenth century it already appears rigid in its expression of the spirit of poverty and fidelity to the Rule and the Constitutions, this will subsequently wan. Also from reading the chronicles of the various friaries, which started to be written towards the beginning of the second decade of the seventeenth century, it can be noted that by the eighteenth century there is a new atmosphere of growing reform. There are courageous initiatives but not always in unison with the Capuchin spirit, tending to embellish the interior spaces of the friary, renovating the parlours to be more modern and welcoming, a lively preoccupation for the pantry and cellar, the use of more modern and less burdensome methods and means for manual work, and, then, the grandiose and extravagant feasts carried out in honour of the saints of the Order. No one, near or far, at the height of the XVIII century, foresaw the coming devastating storm that was about to be unleashed with the French revolution.

The Constitutions of Rome – St. Eufemia of 1536 are the conclusion of the reconsideration of the renewed and reformed Franciscan life.[13] Therefore, it already had a formulation of the material culture that was to be found in the movement of expansion of the Order, consisting of particular developments and enrichment of themes and terms, of instruments and objects, and also a new vocabulary.

Nevertheless, this requires reflection on the genesis of this legislative text and on the very first “material culture” chosen and used by the first Capuchin reformers. These men came from different place and from a variety of cultures according to their place of formation and of origin and the interaction they had with the other forms of Franciscan renewal and reform.[14]

A useful and significant method could be in comparing the pre-Capuchin material culture in the Franciscan context with the choices and rejections made by the Capuchins. In this way an initial formulation of the material culture could be acquired, which later, with the expansion and development of the Order, finds and adopts a new vocabulary and sensibility.

Before 1536 there were a good 10 years of reforming ferment[15] beginning with the individualistic gesture of Matteo da Bascio up until the Chapter at Rome – St Eufermia. In these years there was an always clearer development of this material culture, from the very first indications that were in regard to place and habit.

The Capuchin habit

The humanist Antonio Minturno in a letter of 1534 from Messina describes the novelty of the habit that distinguished the first Capuchins from that of the Observants. He says: “They are not different from the Observants in anything other, in my opinion, than the outside habit, with a cowl similar to that used by the peasants when it rains”.[16] “They wear habits of coarse and shredded cloth and the pointed cowl and they go barefoot”.[17] A century later, Valeriano Magni, in one of his apologetic works writes: “With us there is no ownership of goods. There is a poor and strict use of necessary things. To cover our bare flesh, we wear a rough woollen tunic, night and day, healthy or sick, alive and dead. We go barefoot, and are well distinguished by the sharp-pointed hood (cappuccino) that has us taken as buffoons by strangers”.[18]

The habit is the material cultural sign of a choice of renewal. If we think of the historical,[19] apologetic and practical development of the Capuchin habit, we cannot pass over the language used to describe it. There are many writings that want to prove that the Capuchin habit is the taking up again of the true habit of Saint Francis as it seems to appear from the literary sources and paintings; and naturally it is not possible to neglect the concrete and material fact of how the habit was made. This leads us to look at the numerous “wool mills” (lanifici) that arose at the initiative of the friars in their various provinces of the Order; it was like a small textile industry for domestic self-sufficiency. Already, this particular aspect alone of the material culture as being necessarily connected with the person of the friar, who had chosen the Capuchin reform and therefore a particular lifestyle also on the material level, demands a very long discourse.[20] But a few of the points of this discourse need to be listed.

At first the description of the habit naturally provoked a certain disdain on the part of the other Franciscans. Giovanni da Fano, who initially was opposed to the Capuchins, in a writing of 1527 entitled Dialogo de la salute expressed his aversion in this way: “They lay the perfection in the exterior man, while caring little for the interior”.[21] Here his is, above all, referring to the habit “deformed in colour, extremely coarse or old” and he in invites the “scrupulous brother” “not to become confused by that deformity of the habit and the Capuchins”.[22] He also gives the measure of the habit: “The habit is no wider than 15 or 16 palms, according to the Borgensi statutes (of Burgos in 1523), and short whereby nearly all of the feet can be seen. The length of the sleeve does not exceed past half of the length of the hand, with a corresponding width”.[23]

The Statutes of Albacina of 1529 give some specifications, saying that if a brother wants to have only one habit he can do so, otherwise he can “have a poor and short tunic that does not extend more than four fingers past the knee”, while for the sick and old friars, they “may be granted mantles that may extend to the fingertips, but not exceeding this, and the cords should be coarse and plain, with a simple knot, without any singularity… The length of the habits should be no more than eleven common palms or twelve for the more corpulent friars, and the tunic, seven palms. The sleeves are to be narrow and poor, enough so that the arm can enter and be withdrawn freely”.[24] An anonymous manuscript entitled Amore evangelico sopra la Regola di S. Francesco that was being handed around among the friars in the first period of the Capuchins and that inspired the first beginnings of the reform proposes a description of the habit along with the spiritual motivations. The text splendidly expresses the Capuchin ideal of the habit and with specific measurements:

Saint Francis always wanted the cut of the length of the habit to be two fingers above the feet, in such a manner that the bare feet could always be seen; the length of the sleeves to extend to the fingers and the width of the habit such that it did not need tying with cord. The width of the habit should be according to the person up to 13 palms; in regard to the width of the sleeves, they should be such that one hand can pass through to lay upon the other. The hood is to be four-sided, long enough to cover the face. The colour of the habit is to be always similar to that of earth or ash, to remember the dead body of our Lord on the cross; the habit is to be vile so that the world will draw devotion from it, rather than ridiculing it, and remember the passion of the Saviour, and in this exterior sign the world may know that we desire nothing of this earth, but that our calling is to heaven”.[25]

A description repeated like a refrain can already by found in the bull of Clement VII, Religionis zelus given at Viterbo, 3 July 1528. In it the pope lists the fundamental aspects of the Capuchin life as like that of the hermit, carried out in an eremitical and austere manner, freely begging, wearing a beard and wearing the habit with the four-sided cowl: habitum cum caputio quadrato gestare[26]. This is the refrain that continues to return in successive official documents of the popes: wearing the habit with the quadrated hood.[27] Such repeats Paul III in his brief Cum sicut nobis of 29 April 1536 and in the bull Exponi nobis of 25 August of the same year.[28] Also Pius IV repeats the same in the bull Pastoralis officii cura of 2 April 1560.[29] But what does wearing the habit with a quadrated cowl signify? It signified the counter-practice of the round cowl attached to the collar or shoulder cape introduced by the Observants. The sources also say: “quadrated and pyramidal cowl” used in the Order from Saint Francis onwards, a long and sharp hood and attached to the habit because it represented the form of the cross, and large enough to be able to cover the face.

Boverius and others try to prove by way of history and ancient illustrations that Saint Francis wore the cowl “of the quadrated form, therefor it was not round; and that it was large enough to cover the face, therefor it had a long and sharp corner in the form of pyramid, in the same way as that used by the Capuchins of today”.[30] To demonstrate the truth that the “quadrated and pyramidal cowl” was in the authentic form of the habit of Saint Francis, Boverius wrote a treatise entitled: De vera habitus forma, a Seraphico B.P.N. Francisco instituta, demonstrations undecim,[31] with many illustrations. This text can be read in the Italian translation made by Fr Benedetto Sanbenedetti of Milan: Undeci dimonstrationi della vera forma dell’habito istituita dal P. S. Francesco.[32] A precise description is given by Wadding in his Annals, cited by Fr. Benedetto: “… the common habit of the friars minor has the quadrated cowl without the orbital pendent in front on the chest, and without that full and round cowl, that covers the head, which was the common use from the time of St Bonaventure to our times”.[33]

I also think that the first attempts at making such a habit were badly done, thus justifying the accusation of wearing badly cut habits. As can be read in the chronicles, feminine hands intervened to help the friars.[34] Very soon, along with the wool mills that guaranteed an austere and simple quality to the fabric, were added skilled and capable friary tailors who tailor-made the habit and tunic. So as to make them last longer, to the inevitable tears that occurred at the front of the habit, following the Rule of Saint Francis, the Capuchins liked to repeatedly add patch onto patch, resulting in a patched, mottled and mendacious habit of various shades of colour. There is a curious report of the patches on the habit in in the customs of the province of Brescia. It reads: “The custom of wearing white patches of sackcloth on the habit was conserved as a statute of our Religious in Brescia and Badia up until the Provincial Chapter of 1744, celebrated under M.R.P. Carlo of Sarezzo, where it was put to the vote as to whether it should be done away with or not, and there were only 6 or 7 votes to the contrary, and all the others were for doing away with it, and so it was done away with. Our young friars still wore the white patches on the back, and the novices still wore them on their sleeves; this continued to be the practice until 1755, when by the order of the most Reverend Father Serafino of Capricolle, General, it was done away with; still retained was the wearing of the mantle in choir for the reading of the lessons, and the clerics still recited the Invitatory, but no longer prostrated to kiss the floor at the cuius festum colimus, etc.”.[35]

The Constitutions of Rome – St Eufemia of 1536 reassert the same ideal of austerity in clothing: “The friars … dress in the poorest, roughest, most abject, austere and worthless cloth readily found in the provinces where they are. Let the friars remember that the sackcloth in which Saint Francis wanted them to be patched and the cords we gird ourselves with should not suit the rich of the world”.[36] A reference to the Statutes of Albacina is to be noted which, however, is much more specific in some details but made with great discretion, such as in the measurements for the habit and in the style of the mantle, worn with the cowl on journeys. It is expressed in a way that is not yet well formulated, but already implied. In faithfully expressing the “quadrated” cowl, the text already anticipates the long apologetic discourse developed in the seventeenth century: “The cowl is quadrated, as can be seen from those of Saint Francis, and his companions, that still remain as relics; it can also be seen from the ancient paintings and it is written in the Conformità”.[37] It reads, “the cord of the friars is to be of rope that is coarse, abject and rough, with the most simple of knots, without any peculiarity or singularity… They are not to wear birettas or hats, nor extra clothing or things superfluous”.[38] Francesco di Chambéry said: “we, I say, should more cover ourselves than dress ourselves”.[39]

Therefore, the first “material culture” formulated by the Capuchins refers to the habit, the external sign of the return to the spirit of Saint Francis. This element characterises the traditional physiognomy and outline of the Capuchin and is at the beginning of the development of technical art that continued to be modified and revised so as to guarantee an austere and coarse fabric but, at the same time, strong and durable.

Wool mill and wool-working friars

Fr Cassiano of Langasco has spoken splendidly of the “wool-working friars”.[40] The ancient Capuchin wool mills that arose in the various provinces merits a moment of reflection that is connected to material culture, that allows for the admiration of the ideal of the Capuchin habit with the quadrated cowl that grew out of domestic technology and manual work.

The development of the Order and the multiplication of the friaries made it necessary in each province from the end of the sixteenth century the creation of its own operation for the preparation of the cloth necessary for the garments and coverings, uniform in colour and external shape. Thus, the wool mills arose where the friars collected the wool by way of questing or bequests and donations. They washed, carded, teased and spun the wool, and then wove it with the looms. The chronicler Bernardino da Colpetrazzo records how “in many places they arrange the looms, as I have seen with my own eyes in Rome at S. Nicola, where there were four or five looms, and they earned so much that it was almost enough to supply all the food for the friars. It was the same in Genova, where they wove cloth of great value and also distilled herbs [probably for dyeing the wool]. So that, in many places, they lived from their hard work”.[41]

This ability to weave led to the creation of strong and robust cloth, despite its coarseness. The Capuchins of Sicily wove a rough cloth of coarse wool called “albagio” [a rough, white woollen fabric]. Also, in Genova the friars manufactured similar cloth, so much so that Saint Felice da Cantalice “continually wore a habit of “albagio” from Genova, that is much rougher than our ordinary ones, because it was like a hair shirt”.[42] The workshop was situated in a place isolated from the friary so as not to disturb the friars and included the various spaces for the successive operations of the cloth making, with basins for washing the wool, with places for spinning, weaving, carding and the process of fulling. There were two primary ways of operating a fulling machine: by pestles operated by hydraulic energy that kept the machines continually running or by cylinders. Material procured by questing, in particular wool, flax and hemp, was sent from the individual friaries to the wool workshops, according to the directives of the superiors. Many documents of these directives have been preserved, for example, in the provincial archives of Milan; but each province holds records and registers of this type of domestic activity. An apostolic wool mill trustee was nominated for the selling of the wool, waste material from the wool, and other by-products of the wool mill. Those who worked there were called lay woolers or woolers and worked under the guidance and coordination of the head – wool miller or “master of the art” who guaranteed the quality of the product.

Some friars became such great experts that they began to be called to other provinces to teach this work, such as, for example, Br Giorgio da Lissone, from the province of Lombardy, who died in 1620. He became famous for being an expert in assembling machines for spinning, twisting, plying and weaving wool and because of this ability he has sent to the various provinces to install his inventions.[43] Every friary had to offer alms for the wool mill up to a maximum of 12 Masses. To prepare the list of the garments of the friaries that had not been visited by the Provincial, the guardian had to assemble the fraternity to hear their requests, while the “old garments were got ridden of” and also to ascertain which mantles they wanted to have changed. This list had to be given to the house brother, with the list and the requests being sent to the Father Provincial.[44]

Precise regulations were established by chapters and by the definitor general to maintain uniformity, being attentive to the questing so as not to have excess amounts of wool and so as not to have certain types of more expensive and long-lasting wool, that would be acting against the purity of the Rule.

The work was commenced in the room of the looms before an image of Christ or the Blessed Virgin by genuflecting and reciting three Our Fathers and Ave Marias, and then the work proceeded in silence. Three wool working brothers carried out the different operations of the wool mill and if the output needed to be increased because of the needs of the province, the number of friars were increased, as well as involving tertiaries and trusted lay people. In Genoa the wool mill at the friary of the SS. Concezione (today Padre Santo) was famous, it provided clothes for more than one hundred friars: habits, mantels, tunics. The activity involved various friars and sometimes external personnel. It was linked with the questing for the wool, so as to have the raw material. Everything was recorded in the book of accounts and distribution of cloth. The office was passed on from master to disciple, and usually lasted a lifetime. Br Ambrogio da Chiavari († 1788) had 64 uninterrupted years, in work and prayer, of attending to the weaving of the wool.

After the suppression of the friaries [Napoleonic period of suppression 1789-1815], in the time of the restoration, resumption was attempted in the activity of wool milling, but it only lasted a little while and slowly disappeared in the second half of the nineteenth century.[45] In another example, in two friaries, in Moderna and Piacenza, the province set up headquarters of the wool mill for the production of cloth for the habits of the friars. That of Moderna, had five large rooms for weaving and the subsequent processes, a porch for drying the cloth and a huge warehouse for storing the wool or hemp (Canevazzara). In front of the buildings there was laid out a “wool garden”, probably where the herbs necessary for dyeing were cultivated. The wool mill of the friary of Piacenza was slightly smaller and had four rooms joined together, and by way of two stairways, connected with the attic, where the fabric was hung out for drying.

The kit (personal items) of the friars

The kit of the friars was reduced to the minimum, also here interpreting in a radical and literal way the Rule of Saint Francis which speaks not only of the habit with a cowl, but also the tunic without the cowl, mantle, caperone, rope belt or cord and drawers … and cloth patches, excluding berrettas and hats, and second pairs of or superfluous clothing. The Statutes of Albacina specify: “No one shall take a flask, a satchel or hat with him on a journey; but those who need them shall have only two pairs of drawers and a pair of handkerchiefs…”.[46] A kit, as can be noted, vary bare, but already a little more developed, it compared with the statement of Bernardino d’Asti that permits only two tunics or a tunic with a mantle and prohibits “carrying three items of clothing”.[47] The resupplying of this clothing was done by the house brother who kept these clothes in a room called the common room (comunità). The Statutes of Albacina explain this: “the old and worn habits of the friars shall be placed in a common room. An overseer shall be appointed for the community, who shall take diligent care of these habits, repair them, wash them when necessary, and store them away when they are cleaned. When any friar wishes to have his habit washed, he shall receive another from the overseer of the community, who shall return his own habit to him clean, not after two or three months, but after three of four days”.[48] The text is taken up and rendered less harsh by the Constitutions of 1536: “ In each of our places there should also be a small room where the clothing of the community is kept by a friar assigned to this. He shall keep these clean and patched according to the need of the poor friars, who will use these clothes according to their need and return them clean with thanksgiving”.[49]

Boverius, describing the task of the house brother, that of responsibility for the clothing, lists the garments of the friars: “Habitus, tunicae, caputia tam in habitibus consuenda, quam ad imbres coercendos apta, pallia, petiae, cordae, linea femoralia, sudariola, sandalia, instrumenta his omnibus custodiendis idonea” [The habit, tunic and hood, like the traditional habit, allowing for a little space suitable for inserting the hands, a mantle, a caperone, cord, draws handkerchief, sandals and a suitable place for all of these things].[50]

In 1576, forty years after the first Constitutions, it was decreed that “mixed wool is not to be made of linen, but of the coarse and broken part of hemp” and there is always the insistent exhortation to “wear a miserly habit, not precious, used, not unrepaired, not shredded, not overly coarse, because just as singularity stinks of pride, the torn habit reveals laziness and exquisite negligence… if it happens that we tear our habit, it is promptly repaired; if due to excessive sweating and other causes it becomes stained, it is to be promptly washed, as referred to by our book of customs…. covered by a tunic, so that our bare skin is never and in any manner revealed, with the exception of the feet, that, like the Holy Apostles, shod with simple and poor sandals, remain bare, but a little muddied, and always a little dirty,[51] for if they are too clean they will not appear dirty to us and to others, thereby causing the scandal of I do not know what type of evil suspicion in the souls of those who see them”.[52]

A relevant aspect is in the washing of the clothes. Also here the Capuchins have made their choices and developed a well-disciplined method. It was an important part in the formation of the novices, such that in the ceremonial for the novitiate of Bartolomeo Vecchi, it teaches the method of doing the laundry, that of placing it in the tub, boiling the water with the ash inside, washing and cleaning the habits and scouring the new clothes, in short, it was a very tiring and laborious task.[53]

In 1613, the General Minister Paolo da Cesena decreed: “Many are using mantles much too long, and the abuse is growing. Therefore, it is ordered that the Provincials are to ensure that everyone conforms to the determination of the Constitutions”.[54]

In a Provincial Chapter celebrated in Crema in 1628, it was established: “One is not to have a second pair for his own use of things such as the habit, mantle, sandals, a cloth or mixed wool towel, without special permission”.[55]

In the seventeenth century, as it turns out, this vital element of the “material culture” became a precious treasure to be defended, to give just one example: in the province of Brescia, the foundation of a friary in Albino was being opposed by the Observants, because “we all have to go together to the same circle of people for alms – write the Capuchins to the Congregation – they are seeking to change their habit to be similar to ours, as with the sandals, the cowl, the short mantle and in other things, against the bulls of the Supreme Pontiffs”.[56]

An interesting example is that of a series of registers preserved in the Archives of Milan that makes reference to the production of the wool mill operating at the friary of Bergamo in regard to the distribution of the habits of the friars in the years of the reconstruction of the Province after the suppressions. They consist 33 registers from 1859 to 1954 that list the names of the religious to whom have been delivered personal clothing. The distribution of the clothing includes the following garments: habit, mantle, sleeves [covering for sleeves of the habit while working], collerete, night habit, rope, cord. A memorandum notifies that the habit is to be given every four years, the mantel every eight years, the “sleeves” and the collarete every three years. As can be seen, the habit remained an economic preoccupation for the provinces and became increasingly more challenging, above all, from the beginning of the last decades of the eighteenth century, when, for example, the Provincial of Brescia, Fr Viatore da Coccaglio, on 7 November 1771, constrained by the restrictive policy of the Venetian government, wrote in a circular the province regarding the wool mill:

Being that the prohibition of [wearing] the religious habit renders impossible the continuation of the wool mill, therefore, it makes it necessary to put all these troubles into the hands of the laity. So that the work does not become excessively expensive, everyone needs to contribute to it, if we are to be clothed. At this time each friary should make a detailed note of all the expenses, so that I can then give that help which is believed necessary for its maintenance. It has also been decided not to go to the trouble of having different mixed wool cords for summer and winter, just hemp cords of moderate thickness, and all the same. These will be given to everyone, to replace the thin cords of twine, and those of wool, which are so discordant from uniformity, because this is the first and most obvious extrinsic distinction in all the regulated gatherings. By this provision, all the censures will also cease, by which the laity and the Regulars of other Institutes, with reason, chastise us upon seeing all the variations to our habit. I hope that this will now end, and that I will no longer have occasion to mortify anyone in public with painful reproaches, nor have to excuse anyone concerning the form of the habit or its unsightliness by way of neglect.[57]


With the habit goes the footwear, a covering for the foot, that for the young friars it could be forbidden to wear, with them going barefoot, or using poor sandals, as explains the Belgian ceremonial: “As such, the sandals are made in the friary and not for any reason are they to be made by the laity, so that we maintain our humility and simplicity, except for the novices entering the Order, if someone has already committed to having them made outside the Order. Above all, they shall shun peculiarity and superfluity, so that the sandals are simple, with a maximum of layers for the sole and with second-hand leather under the heel. It would be most offensive and against our simplicity to see thick sandals, made of four or five layers for the sole, they would not differ from shoes”.[58]

The difference was in the choice of sandals and the discarding of the shoes/clogs (zoccoli) which the Observant friars wore, who were also called zoccolanti. In fact, the Statutes of Albacina prescribed that the friars “may wear sandals, as we read that the Apostles and our first fathers wore. However they shall be poor, sewn with simple thread as becomes the poor, and by no means shall they use shoes”.[59] The chronicler Bernardino da Colpetrazzo reiterated this austere custom: “In the winter they wore sandals, usually made from bits of leather they had found along the road or begged from shops and then sewn together… [n. 378-379] These sandals were crudely made out of old boots the friars found along the road and gathered up. They used string to turn them into sandals…” [n. 443].[60]

Also here it happened in the Order that there was a specialised “cobblers” workshop for the making of sandals according to the custom and tradition of the Capuchins. Boverius dedicates a whole chapter to the “sutor sandaliorum” [cobbler of sandals], always ready to fix the sandals of visitors, who did not waste too much leather and kept his workplace under lock and key.[61]

Frequent prohibitions arose in this field, always regarding an ideal of poverty that also had to shine forth from the externals, therefore materially, that is, in the material culture. In 1576, at the time of Girolamo da Montefiore, it was forbidden to make adjustments to the soles that made them larger than the width of two finger[62] and the guardians of each friary had “to administer the leather, Bulgarian hide and hemp for the soles”.[63] The province of Milan, amongst its various practices, has this: “The custom of the Province in force is to be maintained, according to which the sick are always to be provided for but without recourse to the use of shoes. The use of socks is not only prohibited, but also the unnecessary and unlicensed us of those with heels and toes and especially slippers”.[64] The general procurator, Fr Girolamo da Castelferretti, in 1622, writing to Pope Gregory XV, could say: “the slip on footwear or sandals that we Capuchin wear are the precious stones and relics of the poverty of our Father Francis that we have always held onto since the beginning of the Reform until now”.[65]

Capuchin habitations

Another fundamental aspect of the Capuchin material culture regards not only clothing, but the place of everyday life. Pontifical documents, even in their stereotypical form, in speaking in general of Capuchins indicate that when the friars receive a hermitage or any other place,[66] whether a newly chosen place, a friary or hermitage, they ought to convert it into a friary, house or a place like a hermitage.[67] Therefore, the choice of an eremitical life presupposed places and habitations taken over and adapted or specifically constructed, with a development and dissemination of internal structures that served the everyday life of the friars. The history of this development shows how the very first habitations chosen or renovated, as best they could, were usually beside little, half-abandoned churches. They were not able to resist falling apart after only a few years and so were abandoned for more durable and functional habitations that were closer to the population centres.[68]

The Statutes of Albacina formulated this primitive method of construction when they describe “that the monasteries which are to be built shall be built as humbly as possible, from mud and twigs, or from rock and clay where twigs cannot be had easily. The churches are excepted, for they must be built decently, but they shall be small because of our state of poverty. The cells shall be so poor, humble and narrow that they seem to be graves of the living and a prison for penitents rather than places where one dwells comfortably”.[69]

The history of the first Capuchin constructions is indicated in the Constitutions of 1536, which exhort that they be constructed with wicker, mud, reeds and unfired bricks and lowly material and they proposed a “small model” for the cells, doors, windows, corridor of the dormitory and small church;[70] this history or constructions can also be read in the ancient local, provincial and general chronicles. Such as the chronicler Salvatore Rasari da Rivolta, who reports that in Como on the promontory of Balbieanello in 1535, next to the little church that the Capuchins had taken over from the Conventual Fathers, “they repaired some small rooms, and most humble cells made of wicker and clay, as was usually done in that period” so as to imitate Saint Francis.[71] When they had entered into the city in 1537, they obtained a little church and here developed their dwelling: “the construction was simple, lowly and poor, as was that of the Church and the choir, as with the monastery, not being more than ten or twelve little cells (bedrooms) made of toffo with the doors so low that it was necessary to bend down to enter; the cells were so small that a tall friar had great difficulty in stretching out when laying down”.[72] Another example is when the chronicle reports on the foundation of the friary at Erba. Behind the ancient church of San Salvatore “they made a choir, under the choir they made the refectory, and under the stairs they kept the flasks of wine and bread, it serving as a cellar, and there nearby was a small kitchen. Above the church they constructed six cells of clay and wicker, some of them being without windows…”.[73]

Also for the foundation of the friary at Monza, the chronicler reports that in 1539 Francesco da Cannobio came to oversee the building of the friary that was “very poor and very small with the cells of clay, and the outside wall of that small garden, on which was the sundial, was made of corn stalks, and so endured for many years”, that is, until 1611.[74]

The first dwelling in Biella has a curious history. Here the friars in 1553 “constructed a small dwelling in the form of a monastery, with eight or ten little cells made of wicker and clay, and under these was the refectory which had a very basic kitchen, serving as the cellar and pantry was a very small room under the steps leading up to the dormitory. They had no cloister, the church and the choir were very narrow and very poor, and they used a mallet with an assone in exchange for a bell to ring for the Matins and the Masses and with the other offices of the hours”.[75]

In the friary of Domasco there were “two simple dormitories and three infirmaries above the refectory; they did not have the cloister but just inside the front door there were two guest rooms for the laity”.[76] Similarly for the friary in Lecco: “it was a poor and low construction with two simple dormitories of cells, one above the refectory, kitchen and small canteen, the other was above the three guestrooms”.[77]

The spaces of the friary

Other than the areas of the church, refectory, dormitory and some offices for various works,[78] other particular rooms were provided, such as “a small room with a fireplace to receive, when necessary, pilgrims and strangers”, a detached hermit’s cell for the more fervent contemplatives, a small room which contained the Sacred Scripture and the works of some of the saintly Doctors, the nucleus of the future libraries that were often enriched by a variety of reading material, especially for preaching, as can be seen in the requested lists at the end of the sixteenth century by the Congregation of the Index.[79]

The embellishment of these spaces was slowed down, if not to say, prohibited, so much so that in the Ordinances of 1576, it was established “to observe the legislation of the Constitutions, not to exceed them with cornices or the use of stone, nor with chests, wardrobes… where there are wash basin of worked stone, they are either removed or reworked into a simpler form. The walls of the rooms are not to be smoothed, except to the height of three brazza”.[80] In 1601 it was added: “The style of the buildings are not to be enlarged and in the same Province there is not to be built more than one building at the same time. The cells are not to be whitened, nor the dormitories and infirmaries, that from now on will not be constructed beyond the ordinary 12 palms.[81] In 1671, it was forbidden to introduce glass windows (that is, glass in the windows, in place of cloth) into the dormitories, offices, etc., as it corresponded little with our most strict poverty.[82]

The commitment to keeping the friary clean was well published and organised, as writes Fr Francesco da Chambéry: “Twice a week, by established custom, we clean the internal areas of the friary, our young clerics sweep the upper floor, the friars holding some office, whether cleric or lay, clean the lower floor, while the church, choir, sacristy, corridor leading to the chapel are cleaned by the sacristan or his companion. Every Saturday or on the vigil of the feasts some are charged by the superiors to tend and clean the garden paths; the sweepers clean the cells, after this, they go to sweep the corridors of the dormitory. In the morning or evening, as the occasion presents itself, they clean the rows of the garden of all rubbish”.[83]

The cell of the friar

What is of particular interest are the indications relating to the cell of the friar. In the cells are to be the indispensable minimum: bare-board beds, mats, brooms, ferns and a bit of straw or hay, but large hooded cloaks are not to be used (as per the Constitutions of 1536).[84] The Statutes of Albacina had already established that “no one shall lock his cell or anything else with a key, but the cells shall always be kept open so that those who wish may enter”.[85] Keeping the cells unlocked was again reiterated by Saint Lorenzo da Brindisi in 1602 at the General Chapter in Rome: “it is not permitted that the cells are to be locked and you do as you want; and whoever is found locking it, is to be punished for appropriation”.[86] “We sleep dressed”, writes Fr Francesco di Chambéry, “content with only straw… [the friar] takes it to his cell, devoutly putting it in order, as becomes a religious. Firstly, therefore, he will take care to decently cover the bed where he will lay for the night. If then, a little of the bedding straw has fallen, or if some dirt has entered the cell when entering and leaving, he will take a broom that has been placed in the corner of the room and sweep it away, in such a way that the religious cleanliness of the cell will move all to devotion, both the visitors and the inhabitant himself”.[87]

The cells of the Capuchin, in a word, “are cramped and narrow, they are divided, the doors are low, the windows small, the bed is two joined tables with a cilizio on top [a coarse and rough covering] of a little bit of straw, or bundles of stems [fassine – fascine]. The pillow was a zucchetto con un pezzo di grezzo chiodato sopra con le brochette [that is, a log with a piece of raw wool fixed on top by tacks or nails like a mushroom head, like those used for boots, in the text called, for dialectical resonance, “brochette”]. Everyone had his cross in the cell and some others had the skull of a dead [friar] at the head of the bed; there were few books, because the primary study was that of reading of the Crucified”.[88]

In the cell there was no need “to put anything superfluous or curious and, finally, nothing precious carried with alacrity, but excluding it with devout modesty, with everything being little, contemptable and clean”.[89] Similar indications had already been proposed in the Statutes of Albacina: “And the friars shall not have vain or precious pictures in their cells; but they shall be content with some small and poor images of Christ our Crucified Lord, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, or wooden crosses decorated with the symbols of the Passion of the Lord, like the lance, the sponge or the reed, and other things like that”.[90] Here could be introduced all the great writings about images and art in the Capuchin tradition.[91]

In this vein, Fr Francesco di Chambéry recommends: “Now pray, now carry out your responsibilities, now cry, now leaf through some spiritual, moral or scholastic book if it is part of your work, now write something in your small notebook of matters that deign to be known and that seem useful to you… Now go to have a modest, regulated and devout sleep, that will be on the bare-board tables or un a litter with a little laid out straw and covered by a coarse cloth fixed with nails, as conceded by our Constitutions… The cell of the infirmary is to be provided with holy water, some relics of the saints, some pious images hung on the walls, the ritual and, above all, the portable crucifix… hold the Crucifix in your hand so that occasionally you can show it to [the sick friar]”.[92]

The infirmary mentioned here draws attention to the work of the infirmarians, above all, to the pharmacies that the Capuchins created, also to the benefit of the people, and to the task of researching medicinal plants and herbs, of which they became great cultivators. This alone could be made a chapter of “material culture” deserving a long treatment.[93]

Food and drink

Another significant aspect of this “material culture” is the food – the types and how food was served at table. Also here the chronicles are rich and detailed. At the beginning of the friary in Biella in 1553 the friars, “Lived very poorly, content with a little maize bread and water coloured with wine, eaten with cooked herbs”.[94]

The Constitutions of 1536 specify: when traveling you are not to bring flasks, meat, eggs nor delicate or costly food (n. 48). On Wednesday’s meat is not eaten (n. 50). At table there is to be only one type of minestra (n. 51) and no special plates of food are to be prepared, nor are delicate foods, such as meat, eggs, cheese, fish or other similar things to be sought out, except for the sick, guests, the old or the very weak (n. 53) and in the times of fast, there is to be only cooked or raw salad (n. 51). The table wine is to be well watered down (n. 52). A friar is free to abstain from wine, meat, eggs or other foods (n. 53). Furthermore, tablecloths are not to be used, but there is to be a poor napkin per friar (n. 53). The use of flavourings is prohibited, except for the sick (n. 54). There is to be no storing of food and of fruit, and no bottles and barrels of wine, but some poor containers or flasks are permitted (n. 82).

The Province of Brescia listed the “good customs practiced by our Elders” and in regard to the refectory and kitchen, it specifies: “On the three evenings of the usual Matins called Religione [the then penitential custom of getting up on three nights -Monday, Wednesday, Friday – for midnight Office], according to the old custom, there are four things: that is, salad and minestra; a meat or poultry dish; and for the fourth, stuff of the kitchen, or a sauce with cheese. This is the ancient practice, say some of today”.[95] During the big lent “on the Friday’s of March the only thing passed is minestra with spinach, with some snails on top”.[96] Fr Gagnand adds: “we have gardens that we cultivate with our own hands, with sweat on our faces, so that nearly all year round we can serve its herbs as companatico [an accompaniment to food, especially bread]. We also cultivate the flowers to decorate the altar”.[97] Therefore, manual work was an important aspect of the Capuchin material culture.[98]


It is significant that, reading the Constitutions of 1536, the first insistent lines regarding “reading”, therefore, the use of books, the material culture of books are: the four Gospels are to be read, that is, one Gospel each month (n. 1.11), every Friday is scheduled a reading of the Rule (n. 2), at table and during work in common some devout book is read (n. 65), useless or frivolous books are not to be kept, some text of scripture is to be read, interpreted by the saints and holy doctors (n. 121/2), it is forbidden to read and study objectionable and vain books, but, more than anything, to study the Sacred Scripture, that is, Jesus Christ, and the life of Saint Francis and those of his companions are to be read frequently (n. 6), the friars should be content with a little book of prayer and the preachers need not carry many books with them, but read the book of the cross (n. 116).

Francesco Gagnant in his booklet of the Capuchin customs, prepared at the beginning of the seventeenth century, noted that the friars seek to have with them, as is the custom, spiritual books, and everyday to read, with attention, some devout pages. He adds: “The books (I am not speaking of profane books, but on spiritual and Christian ones) found among us are in three subject matters: they can be referred to as scholastic, moral and mystical theology”.[99]

Much has already been written on the library and book culture of the Capuchins and, above all, to studies and so I will not enter into this topic.[100]

Excluded and forbidden objects

Reading and leafing through the innumerable general ordinances (that is, those established in the general chapters) and the provincial ordinances (established in the provincial chapters) demonstrate the choices and exclusion of objects, utensils, and other things that are entering into use in the Order or by individual friars and that come to be prohibited because they are contrary to the spirit of poverty and humility. The repetition of these ordinances serves to signify that slowly the factual use of these things became ordinary and unstoppable.

In the diverse ordinances is to be noted numerous interventions, above all, from the first years of the seventeenth century through to the eighteenth, “to remove the most grave abuse of using outside of the friary and on sweaty travels, skin-white linen handkerchiefs, not without causing great sorrow to the zealous friars and being in peril of giving scandal to the laity… It should not be difficult for the father provincials to concede sweat cloths in consideration of the condition and office of the friars but not to concede to anyone linen cloth, even if it be dark coloured”.[101] It was forcefully and repeatedly insisted upon because it was considered “an insufferable abuse, very much against the observance of our Rule”,[102] so much so that in 1748, the General Minister Sigismondo da Ferrara lamented: “We remain disappointed and surprised that no benefit has come from the many prohibitions and the many motives of reason and conscience adopted in so many general ordinances against the liberty of carrying in and out of the friary white handkerchiefs or sweat clothes of linen. Let provincial and local superiors, in as far as they can know and do, oppose such an improper liberty, that is much to our discredit, and not permit their subjects to use them, other than in cases of laborious work, or other true needs, but never outside of the cloister”.[103] The motives of reason and conscience are synthetically expressed in another ordinance, with these words: “The ordinance against the abuse of linen handkerchiefs is renewed, and more so when they are white and not coloured, because they are being seen worn around the necks of religious, being persuaded that they wear them for fashion, and not because of need, and not being sweat cloths, but rather like dress shirts and small tunics. This disorder, in that the laity admire those provinces that do not use them, is to remain as forbidden, precisely so as not to scandalise those that see this usage almost always by religious. But even when there is no scandal given, there is always the violation of the conscience, since the use of linen cloth is not permitted, save for during the time of some work, toil, long journey, that once this necessity of wearing them is finished, they have to be entirely removed…”.[104] Along with this can be added the indication of another abuse to be abolished: “Nor here is to be neglected by the Father Provincials and Guardians the ordinance of removing the abuse of the skullcap or beret, that is prohibited by our Constitutions, and used with impunity by many religious, not only in the friary, but also on the public streets; it was not a practice of our elders, who were content with the hood or a handkerchief placed on their head in regard to the sun, or another such discomfort”.[105] In 1576, Girolamo da Montefiore prescribed: “Remove the bavaro [cap? Tyrolean type-hat?], in order that, little by little, the form of the Habit is not corrupted”.[106] Among the ordinances made during the provincial chapter of Bergamo in 1619, one reads: “The wearing of the little beret is not to be introduced, nor the soffietti di canne di archiburgio”.[107] Again in 1656 and 1688: “The abuse has grown in some places, but the little berets have to be entirely done away with, and anyone who for reason of infirmity has need of it, should not leave the house with the little beret”.[108]

A Franciscan “speciality” was the custom of the “spropria” – “expropriation”, which was, during the visit of the provincial minister every friar had to show everything that he was using in his cell and the minister could take away that which he considered against poverty. The general ordinances were very severe, such as, for example, in the general chapter of 1602, held in Rome in the friary of S. Bonaventura, in the presence of Saint Lorenzo da Brindisi: “in every visit they are to unerringly carry out the expropriation, and he who is found not to have shown everything, is to be punished for appropriation. It is not worth the effort to say that he wanted to show it to the father general or that it has been conceded it by him… Little bags or little sacks, or similar things, are not permitted to the simplex priests, nor clerics, nor lay brothers”.[109] An ordinance of the chapter of 1608 reminds the superiors of this duty during the visits to the friars: “… they are to visit the sacristies and all the other offices of the friary, making sure that there are no superfluous robes and provisions. They should carry out diligently the “expropriation” of the friars without partiality, not conceding anything to them other than what discretely needs to be done, according to the condition of the office and of the person. If it is found that during the “expropriation” some friar has hidden something, without showing it to the father provincial, immediately he is to be severely punished as an appropriator”.[110] The General Minister Fr Simpliciano da Milano, fifty years later, in 1656, pointed out this duty to provincials: “In the visits of the Father Provincials, they are to diligently carry out the “expropriations”, they are not to permit the religious to have cords, crowns, little crosses or other curiosities, and they are to visit all the cells and offices”.[111]

Many friars became skilled in making objects of devotion and art. The diversity of preventative interventions at provincial chapters reveal the breadth of the paraphernalia of objects and tools in use. Girolamo da Montefiore in 1576 intervenes with some detail on this skilled work:

He who has the grace of working with walls or wood should do it not so as to receive payment, nor with detriment to prayer or any other necessary exercise. However, one is to be rid of polishing files and other tools for particular work. Young lay friars are forbidden the work Agnus [“il lavorare Agnus”: cf. next quote below which refer to the work of making the tabernacles in Capuchin churches that were traditionally wooden and referred to as Agnus Dei]. Any particular work that is detrimental to poverty and to the common practice of the Order, is forbidden. However, manual labour is to be carried out after the example of our elders, and it is something useful for the friaries, which are too frequently having to make recourse to the laity to toil for us, having to substitute for the religious. The work of carving (di lima) is prohibited, or seeking out buffalo horn, ivory, brass, etc.”.[112]

The following decree that emanated from Bergamo on 30 May 1597, during the Provincial Chapter is interesting. It reveals a diffusion of handicraft activity by the friars in making and distributing objects of devotion using precious material:

1. Let no friar make or want to make from now onwards Agnus Dei covered in gold, silk, brass or tin, nor of little crosses or a skulls of ivory or of ebony; and those who are making or are found to have already made them (leaving aside having one for his own particular use) are required to make this known and hand them over to his guardian, who will hold on to all of them himself, until I come, and then he will faithful hand them over.

2. I concede that they can make the names of Jesus (nomi di Giesù), the Agnus Dei covered by paperboard with the aforementioned names, or covered by cloth, linsey-woolsey (mezzalana), panno mondo, or simple small crosses of wood or bone. In fact, the Father guardians should see that is done so as to maintain popular devotion.

3. Once the aforementioned things have been made, you will consign them to the guardian, who is the one who can distribute them to the laity himself. He can also give them to the questors and porters for distribution, being the public offices of the friary that deal with the laity. It will always be presumed that they are never given in one’s own name but in the name of the friary.

4. All the other friars can give the names of Jesus to the laity, but no other thing, except to family in first and second grade [of sanguinity]. If any other friar wants to give something other than the aforementioned, he must expressly get permission from his guardian for each time, and in giving the objects he must tell the receivers he has been given such permission.[113]

In the Chapter of 21 May 1612 at Bergamo: “To be removed from all the friars are carving files and other iron tools for working on curious things of any type; it is forbidden to make blades of knives, screws, screw punches/awls, and to seek out brass, sheet metal, tin plate, crystals, buffalo horns, silk cloths and similar things under the pain of etc.”.[114] The following year in Brescia in the friary of SS. Marcellino and Pietro: “It is forbidden to seek out pigments, gold, silver and similar things for painting or illuminate paper, etc. at both great expense and wasting of time, and to use these sought out things”.[115] However, they were recommendations that little attention was paid to, if, again at Bergamo in the Chapter of 13 September, the same prohibitions were restated: “It is forbidden to work with carving files, to seek out ivory, crystals, buffalo horn, knife blades, cloth for the Agnus Dei and the reliquaries, under the pain …”.[116]

There was a unique instruction given in the Provincial Chapter at Crema in 1618: “One is not to have glasses to see from the distance”,[117] perhaps to inculcate mortification of the eyes.

Towards the end of the XVIII century, the Provincial of Brescia pointed out an abuse: “The abuse of making oneself look to be of the clerical state by the use of the razor is being introduced, which has never been a custom of our Province; the observance of our Constitutions is recommended to all” (that set down the doing of the tonsure every 20 days or once a month with scissors).[118]

The ordinances of the General Chapters also intervened to prohibit certain games that the friars played on the days of relaxation that preceded the great Lent. The list of these “prohibited” games is interesting. Such as in 1576: “he who plays with the ball, or with dice, is to be punished by [putting back on] the caperone and is deprived of voice, with other penances according to the will of father provincial”.[119]

Clemente da Noto in 1621: “He who plays at chess, sbaraglino [another type of strategy board game] and games of fortune is to be deprived of active and passive voice for a year. He is to do a penance of three fasts on bread and water with three disciplines in the refectory whoever plays at the card game known as Matto [Mad/Crazy – cf. ftn below: precedent to tarots] or any of its forms or equivalents; it being the card game damned in the holy scriptures, and serious authors say that for us Capuchins it is a mortal sin”. His letter continues: “We detest such abuses and I prohibit them under the pain of active and passive voice for two Chapter years, making it again known, that the playing of cards is prohibited etc. No one is ever to play in his cell or in other private places at these games customary among you, other than in the few days that precede our Lents”.[120]

In the ordinances of Fr Marcantonio da Carpenedolo in 1662-1663: “it is forbidden to all to play the game of sbaraglio. During the time of recreation, the abuse of card games using Agnus Dei, medalions, etc, repeatedly spoken against and prohibited continues to sprout forth with profound irreverence, so we renew the above-mentioned prohibition and we order that if someone contravenes it, he is to be punished without any dispensation by the Father Guardian and by the Father Provincial with the discipline of bread and water. In the same manner, the game of passodieci [ten steps] is also prohibited”.[121] Stefano da Cesena in 1672: “Nor will they permit themselves to play raucous or irreligious games, nor dice games in any form, but only those that are very simple that have been used in the Order, and the one who loses, as according to the practice of our ancient Fathers, says some devout psalm, but not devotions” etc.[122]

Other prohibitions are in regard to the use of substances considered too worldly, but which were being introduced amongst the friars.

In 1643, amongst the ordinance made by Innocenzo da Caltagirone, one reads: “Up to the present, it has been introduced and is becoming more common, that many without any necessity, rather, with damage to their health, in every place and at any time, are using tobacco…”.[123] The prohibition of tobacco is so frequently returned to in the ordinances of 1662, 1667, 1671, 1688, 1691, 1669, so much so that in 1709 Bernardino da Saluzzo would be forced to acknowledge its ineffectiveness: “Since now the use of tobacco is not known to be cureable, religious should at least abstain from using it in church and in the choir during the times of the divine Office [here referring to the use of snuff]; and those who have the necessity to use it, are not permitted gilded containers, or in other manners curious, nor handkerchiefs of silk, which are against poverty and simplicity in our Institute”.[124]

Other reprehensible ‘abuses’ were the drinking of grappa, tasting of sweets and using deodorant. In 1656: “No one is to have grappa in the cell under the pain of the discipline”.[125] In 1667 and 1750: “it is prohibited to smell of musk and amber under the pain of the discipline … you are asked to moderate the use of coffee, rosolio, chocolate, and especially with the laity …”.[126]

All of these prescriptions, customs, uses, prohibitions, that can be multiplied by a diversity of details, reflect a long experience of local and regional culture mixed into the daily life and devotions of the friars. However, following the principle of uniformity up until Vatican Council II, a behaviour was established, and a choice of material culture made that was substantial common to the various regions. If doubts arose, the official answer generally was always this: “servantur constitutiones, servandum religionis usum” [observing the Constitutions is observing the customs of the Order]. Reference to the Constitutions always remained the measure of fidelity and equilibrium.

A sarcastic exaggeration of these uses of the Capuchins appeared in France in 1641 in the booklet of Pierre du Molin, Le Capucin, where, with emphasised polemic ,he excised the value of the devote practices and everyday uses of the friars. However, it can still be considered a witness sui generis to the “material culture” of the ancient Capuchins.[127]

Open conclusion

To understand the material culture, in the anthropological sense of the term, one must, in the first place, study what was the relationship of the Capuchins with the objects that constituted the world of everyday life. Therefore, the habit, food, habitation, the tools of work, books, etc. What, in the first place, was the significance of the rethinking of the very concept of use and consumption. Why did the Capuchins use determined objects and exclude others? Why were so many things first excluded, then included? Because the choices were varied, and usually, that which was first considered unsuitable to the Capuchin life, slowly became necessary. Consumers are not only passive and isolated subjects: rather, they use the flow of things, of objects, to actively construct their social identities, their own worlds of meaning.

The Capuchins in their history have chosen determined objects, tools, surroundings, material spaces, habits and food to signify a spiritual value and a practice of life of enormous symbolic density always tied to a diffused cultural and social sensibility. That is, the objects and various aspects of the Capuchin material culture have their own “career” or life cycle. As long as the significance of the signs endure, by way of the diverse “regimes of value”, in the evolutionary legislative development of updating and of inculturation, which constitute “socio-technical systems”, they will continue to play their own role as active social agents. The choices that the friar makes will continue to be very conditioned by the current culture.

I am reminded by the simplicity of that lay brother who was used to saving money by how he used the light from lamp, when there was not yet electricity. When electricity arrived in the friary, he sought to reduce to a minimum the rotation of the interrupter, so as to save energy, without realising that in so doing, it would terminate, and the light would switch off.

In the end, that which was considered unacceptable, incongruent and unsuitable for signifying the spiritual choices, or signified the contrary, slowly becomes introduced into the practices, and becomes a necessity. It is a difficult path for cultural anthropology that is too tied to the classicist devaluation of the modern, which is considered inauthentic, and, instead, favours the traditional, which, instead, is considered authentic. But it is also a necessary path for a discipline that aspires to gather in the deep and subtle grain of culture, which today is hidden in the complex daily relationship of the Capuchin friars with a universe overflowing with goods and mass consumption. Well then, what is needed is a renewed and actualised material culture that in the modern world again transmits a message worthy of the Capuchin evangelical tradition.[128]

  1. Cost. 1536, nn. 27, 61 e 67: FC I, 290, 335, 340.
  2. It is a phrase that can be read in the chronicle of Bernardino da Colpetrazzo. Cf. Felice Accrocca, “La più disperata vita”: le origini francescane nella rilettura dei primi cappuccini, in Id., Francesco e i suoi frati. Dalle origini ai Cappuccini (Bibliotheca Seraphico-Capuccina, 105). Roma 2017, 371-397.
  3. Cf. Massimo Petrocchi, Storia della spiritualità italiana. II: Il Cinquecento e il Seicento, Roma 1968, 18.
  4. Fabio Dei – Pietro Meloni, Antropologia della cultura materiale (Studi Superiori, 978). Roma, Carocci editore, 2015.
  5. Editi a Genova, Litografia «Sorriso Francescano», 1990, e ripubblicati da noi nel quarto volume de I frati Cappuccini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo, Roma-Perugia 1992, 1643-1732, sono dieci libretti con questi titoli che caratterizzano i vari aspetti dell’arte materiale in convento: 1. Cultura materiale in convento. – 2. Farmacisti… Cerusici… Dentisti. – 3. 4. L’intaglio. – 5. L’intreccio. – 6. L’ornato, la grafica. – 7. Terraglia francescana. – 8. I frati lanari. – 9. La «officina» del convento. – 10. Un pizzico di «misticanza». La «presa» di tabacco. Ricordo anche i seguenti altri scritti: Tesori d’arte e povertà, in L’Italia Francescana 45 (1970) 65-75; Vita e cultura cappuccina. La Chiesa della SS. Concezione a Genova (Padre Santo). Coordinatore Ernesto Avegno; presentazione padre Cassiano da Langasco. Genova, Sagep Editrice, 1984 con contributi significativi come: L’arredo cappuccino, 23-48; Cenni sull’iconografia dei dipinti della Santissima Concezione con riferimento all’iconografia cappuccina nei secoli XVII e XVIII, 49-67; Vita cappuccina e produzione artigianale, 95-101.
  6. Cf. Servus Gieben, L’arredamento e le sculture lignee dei cappuccini nel periodo della controriforma, in L’immagine di San Francesco nella Controriforma, Roma 1982, 233-241; Atlante cappuccino. Opera inedita di Silvestro da Panicale 1632. A cura di Servus Gieben, Roma 1990; Il b. Bernardo da Offida nella grafica devozionale, in Bernardo da Offida. Atti del convegno storico sul Beato cappuccino, Offida 24 settembre 1994, Roma 1996, 91-128; I cento anni del Museo Francescano dei Cappuccini (Roma). Gli inizi, 1880-1896, Roma 1982, 425-452, tav. 22-24; Conventi e chiese: beni artistici e storici. Inventario e schedario fotografico, S. Maria degli Angeli – Assisi (PG) 1991, 345-358; I «Flores seraphici» di Carlo d’Arenberg, Milano – Bollate [1994], 1-12; Iconografia cappuccina umbra, in I cappuccini nell’Umbria del Cinquecento 1525-1619, Roma 2001, 321-332; L’iconografia del pellegrinaggio francescanoi, in Il beato Antonio da Stroncone, 4: Atti delle giornate di studio. Stroncone, 27 marzo 1999 e 25 novembre 2000, S. Maria degli Angeli – Assisi (PG) 2002, 27-51; Per la storia dell’abito francescano, in Coll. Franc. 66 (1996) 431-478; Per l’iconografia della penitenza e dei penitenti francescani (sec. XIII-XVI), in Santi e santità nel movimento penitenziale francescanoi dal Duecento al Cinquecento. Atti del Convegno di Studi Francescani Assisi, 11-12 febbraio 1998, Roma 1998, 143-159; La predicazione e la propaganda dei cappuccini attraverso l’immagine, in Girolamo Mautini da Narni e l’ordine dei Frati Minori Cappuccini fra ‘500 e ‘600, Roma 1998, 423-435; Il richiamo della foresta. La funzione del bosco presso i primi cappuccini, in Picenum Seraphicum 12 (1975) 290-295; San Felice attraverso l’immagine, in San Felice da Cantalice nella devozione popolare, Roma 1987, 15-55; La cultura materiale dei cappuccini nel primo secolo (1525-1619), in Coll. Franc. 69 (1999) 145-173; La vita quotidiana nei conventi, in I cappuccini in Emilia-Romagna. Storia di una presenza, Bologna 2002, 198-215; Felice Accrocca – Aleksander Horowski, Servus Gieben (1924-2014), cappuccino: studioso della cultura, arte e storia francescana, in Coll. Franc. 84 (2014) 159-196.
  7. I found a codice manoscritto dell’APCL, A 319 very useful, entitled: Compendio Alfabetico delle Ordinazioni Generali e Provinciali che si ritrovano nell’Archivio di Brescia; cominciando dall’Anno 1576 sino all’anno 1742.
  8. For the Capuchin ceremonials of Boverio and Francesco Gagnand di Chambéry see FC I, 1763-1977.
  9. Modo d’incaminare i novizi con santa uniformità di cerimonie e riti, in FC I, 1323-1485.
  10. Anthologically collected in FC I, 479-1159.
  11. The material of the primitive Capuchin chronicles is vast, and the biography has grown in these recent years. Here again we refer you to FC II, 1083-1879; see also the different “vitae fratrum” and the development of the analytical biography in FC V, 3-8-334.
  12. Text with study notes in FC I, 165-225. [Translator: see a summary in Review of Constitutions 1536…]
  13. Text with study notes in FC I, 227-464. [Translator: see a summary in Review of Constitutions 1536…]
  14. In particular, it would be useful to make a comparison with the statutes of the houses of recollection, with the general statutes of the Observants and of the Reformers, with the Statutes of the “Scalzi” of Giovanni de la Puebla and then with Saint Pietro d’Alcantara, with the Statutes of Leone and also with the Boneventurian Constitutions of Narbonne.
  15. On the ferments of reform at the beginning of the sixteenth century cf. G.G. Merlo, Nel nome di San Francesco. Storia dei frati minori e del francescanesimo sino agli inizi del XVI secolo, Padova 2003; P. Sella, Leone X e la definitiva divisione dell’Ordine dei Minori (O.Min.). La bolla «Ite vos» (29 maggio 1517), Grottaferrata, Quaracchi, 2001; V. Criscuolo, Cappuccini e recolletti calabresi, in Id., (a cura di), Ludovico da Fossombrone e l’Ordine dei cappuccini, Roma 1994, 175-226; C. Urbanelli, Storia dei cappuccini delle Marche, I: Origini della riforma cappuccina, 1525-1536; II: Vicende del primo cinquantesimo, 1535-1583; III: Documenti, 1517-1609, Ancona 1978/1978/1984; altra bibliografia in FC V, 296-299.
  16. Cf. Lettere di Meser Antonio Minturno. In Vinegia, appresso Girolamo Scoto, 1549, f. 63v: FC II, 308.
  17. So writes a Poor Clare nun in the chronicle of the monastery of Santa Lucia of Foligno and entitled: Libro delle ricordanze, f. 69r: FC II, 417.
  18. «Nulla apud nos rerum proprietas. Usus necessariorum pauper et arctus. Amicimur ad nudas carnes lanea ac rudi tunica vigiles et dormientes, sani et aegri, vivi et mortui. Nudipedes, insignes caputio quod apud ignotos non referat scurras», in Valeriani Magni Mediolanensis… Iudicium de catholicorum regula credendi ad studia universalia Biblistarum, Viennae Austriae 1641, 313-314: FC I, 2046.
  19. Cf. Servus Gieben, Per la storia dell’abito francescano, in Coll. Franc. 66 (1996) 431-478.
  20. Ne tratta il Boverio: De officio praefecti Lanificio, cap. XXV, in De externis quibusdam ritibus…, Napoli 1626, 433-435; Flaviano Farella, Il lanificio dei Cappuccini di Palermo, in L’Italia Francescana 61 (1976) 88-96; Roma, AGC, Cod. AC 98: Cerimoniale dell’Ordine dei Cappuccini preso dalle Rubriche del Rituale Romano, dai Decreti dei Pontefici, dagli Autori e Rituale dell’Ordine stesso, e dalli Usi delle Province, p. 162-164 (= Del Lanifizio).
  21. Dialogo de la salute tra el frate stimulato et el frate rationabile circa la regula de li frati Minori et sue dechiaratione per stimulati, Impressum Ancone per Magistrum Bernardinum Cercelensem Anno Domini 1527: FC II, 61.
  22. Ibid.: FC II, 67.
  23. Ibid.
  24. Cost. Alb., n. 20 e 22: FC I, 195-196.
  25. FC I, 566.
  26. FC I, 65.
  27. On this theme cf. C. Cargnoni, Alcuni aspetti del successo della riforma cappuccina nei primi cinquant’anni (1525-1574), in Le origini della riforma caqppuccina. Atti del convegno di studi storici, Camerino 18-21 settembre 1978, Ancona 1979, 227-231, tutto l’art. 211-259.
  28. FC I, 75 e 82.
  29. Ibid., 100.
  30. Cf. Celestino da Bergamo, Breve ragguaglio del tempo in cui vennero a Bergomo i Capuccini… e per necessario preambolo dell’abito e dell’origine loro, Brescia 1622, 3.
  31. Annales Minorum Capucinorum tomus primus, Lugduni 1632, 877-968.
  32. Cf. Annali…, Torino 1641, 1-138.
  33. Ibid., 18. Many suggestions towards this austerity of the habit used by the Capuchins can be found in the Franciscan. Cf. 3Cel 2,2; Leg. maior, Miracoli 1,1 (FF 826 e 1256); Clareno, Hist. 7 trib. (ed. A Ghinato, 222); Liber de Conformitate… V, 104).
  34. Cf. C. Cargnoni, La Madre e le Madri dei Cappuccini, in Cammino n. 5 (maggio 1978) 8-9.
  35. Varie costumanze della nostra Provincia, in APCL, A 319, f. 25r.
  36. Cost. 1536, n. 21: FC I, 284.
  37. Ibid., n. 23: FC I, 286s. In the Libro cronologico del convento della Concezione in Milano can be read a long treatise in defence of the Capuchin habit entitled: Discorso intorno al capuccio aguzzo quale usiamo nei Capuccini, e habito povero, e stretto, et rapezzato, come sia antico questo uso sino dal glorioso N.P.S. Francesco, com’egli medesimo l’usò, e tutti i suoi seguaci, come poi si lasciasse, e di novo sia posto in uso: APCL, A 301, f. 17r-24r.
  38. Cost. 1536, n. 23: FC I, 287.
  39. «Nos, inquam, plus tegimur, quam vestimur», in Regulares et Religiosae P.P. Capuccinorum Exercitationes, Lugduni 1634, lib. II, cap. 11: De disciplina et corporis maceratione: FC I, 1952.
  40. Cf. I frati lanari, in FC IV, 1706-1713.
  41. Bernardinus a Colpetrazzo, Historia Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum (1525-1593). Liber tertius: Ratio vivendi fratrum… (MHOC, 4), in lucem editus a P. Melchiore a Pobladura, Romae 1941, 195.
  42. Processus sixtinus, ed. M. D’Alatri, Roma 1964, 354.
  43. Valdemiro Bonari, I cappuccini della provincia milanese, II/2, Crema 1899, 658-659. Nel Libro cronologico …della Concezione in Milano si legge: « In this place on 23rd April Br Giorgio da Lissone, lay brother, passed to the Lord, while staying with family in Milan dove faceva la cerca, and was brought to Milan, sick with ponta, he was 52 years old and in vows for 34. His trade was to make cloth, which he faithfully and exemplarily worked hard at for many years. He was sent to Switzerland and Provence to set up and teach his trade» (APCL, A 301, f. 202v).
  44. Cf. Bologna, APC, Busta 6 – fasc. 1: Manuale pei Segretari, p. 18: FC I, 1732-1733.
  45. Also see ad es. Alfeo Giacomelli, Problemi economici, questua e impegno sociale, in I Cappuccini in Emilia-Romagna. Storia di una presenza, Bologna 2002, 224-226 (= Il lanificio del convento bolognese di Monte Calvario).
  46. Cost. Alb., n. 27: FC I, 200. [Statutes of Albacina n. 24].
  47. Cf. FC I, 747-751.
  48. Ibid., n. 66: FC I, 223. [Statutes of Albacina n. 57.]
  49. Cost. 1536, n. 24: FC I, 287-288.
  50. Cf. De officio Praefecti Communitati vestium, in Appendix in qua de externis quibusdam ritibus ad religionis politiam et domestica munera recte obeunda spectantibus agitur. Neapoli, Typis Scorigianis, 1626, 411.
  51. It was a widely diffused concept, as is demonstrated by an episode in the life of saint Felice da Cantalice: cf. la deposizione di fra Alessio da Romano nel Processo sistino: FC III/2, 4683.
  52. This passage was translated into Italian from the book of Francesco di Chambéry, Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, lib. I, cap. XV: De honestate et munditia habitus, Lugduni 1634, 102-104.
  53. Cf. Modo d’incaminare i novizi della nostra provincia di Bologna con santa uniformità di cerimonie e riti, cap. 8, n. 18-22: FC I, 1379-1382.
  54. Text copied from the Libro cronologico di Crema, in APCL, Ms. A 325, f. 18v.
  55. Ibid., f. 40r.
  56. Cf. I Cappuccini e la Congregazione Romana dei Vescovi e Regolari, vol. V: 1613-1615, a cura di V. Criscuolo, Roma 1993, 12-13, doc. 93 allegato.
  57. APCL, P 583/464, f. 4v-5r.
  58. «Et ideo sandalia fiant in conventu, et nullo modo procurentur fieri per saeculares, ut nostra conservetur humilitas et simplicitas, exceptis novitiis venientibus ad Ordinem, si qui forsan per alios illa refici curarent extra Ordinem. Et super omnia caveant a curiositate et superfluitate, sed sint simplicia, tribus tantum soleis compacta, cum frusto corii sub calcaneo. Est enim indecens multum visu, et contra nostram simplicitatem, fratres sandalia interdum tam crassa habere, quatuor scilicet ac quinque soleis multiplicatis, ita ut a celepodiis non differant»: De communitate et vestimentis, in Cerimoniae et observantiae in nostra congregatione Gandensi ordinatae anno Domini 1594, f. 99v.
  59. Cost. Alb., n. 23: FC I, 197, n. 104. [Statutes of Albacina n. 21]
  60. Bernardinus a Colpetrazzo, Historia Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum (1525-1593). Liber tertius: Ratio vivendi fratrum… (MHOC, 4), in lucem editus a P. Melchiore a Pobladura, Romae 1941, 155: FC I, 1162, 1170. [The Capuchin Reform n. 378-379; n. 443]
  61. Cf. De ufficio sutoris sandalium, in Z. Boverio, Appendix in qua de externis quibusdam ritibus, ad religiosam politiam pertinentibus, nel rituale De sacris ritibus, Neapoli 1626, 413-415.
  62. APCL, ms. A 319, f. 20r.
  63. APCL, P 583/421.
  64. Cf. Consuetudini e regolamenti pei Minori Cappuccini della Provincia di S. Carlo in Lombardia, Milano 1911, 14-15.
  65. FC I, 1206s, n. 1110.
  66. Paolo III nel breve “Cum sicut nobis”, 29 apr. 1536.
  67. Bolla Exponi nobis del 25 ag. 1536.
  68. On Capuchin architecture, on which we cannot dwell because it would require too long a discourse, the bibliography has multiplied in these last decades. Cf. ad es. Gianni Volpe, La vil materia, ovvero l’architettura cappuccina delle origini nelle Marche, in Picenum Seraphicum 22-23 (2003-2004) 203-245; Tommaso Scalesse, Note sull’architettura dei cappuccini nel Cinquecento, in I Francescani in Europa tra Riforma e Copntroriforma, Assisi 1987, 197-221; Giancarlo Frè, Architetture cappuccine in Emilia e in Romagna, in I Cappuccini in Emilia-Romagna. Storia di una presenza, Bologna 2002, 352-36; Giorgio Rossini, Appunti per una storia dell’architettura cappuccina in Liguria, in Studi in onore di p. Cassiano da Langasco, Genova 1989, 25-60; Architettura cappuccina, Arte “Minore”, “Cultura materiale”, a cura di F. Calloni – A. Colli – S. Gieben – Cassiano da Langasco, in FC IV, 1465-1732 (vari studi); Ferdinando Zanzottera, L’architettura cappuccina del XIX secolo in relazione alle istanze tradizionali della cultura dell’Ordine, in Kamillio Kaiser, un cappuccino tra gli artisti dell’800 lombardo, Gorle (BG) 2001, 135-165.
  69. Cost. Alb., n. 51: FC I, 213. [Statutes of Albacina n. 43]
  70. Cost. 1536, n. 74: FC I, 348-349.
  71. Metodio da Nembro, Salvatore Rasari e la sua cronaca, Milano 1973, 127.
  72. Ibid., 130.
  73. Ibid., 146.
  74. Ibid., 159.
  75. Ibid., 212.
  76. Ibid. 325.
  77. Ibid., 354.
  78. See in this regard the interesting contribution of Paolo Giardelli, Vita cappuccina e produzione artigianale, in Vita e cultura cappuccina. Chiesa della SS. Concezione a Genova (Padre Santo), Genova 1984, 95-101.
  79. The bibliographies on the argument of libraries and books of the Capuchins have been multiplying in these recent times. Si veda in generale Libri, biblioteche e cultura degli Ordini regolari nell’Italia moderna attraverso la documentazione della Congregazione dell’Indice. A cura di Rosa Marisa Borraccini – Roberto Rusconi. (Studi e Testi, 434). Città del Vaticano 2006; e in particolare per i cappuccini: Ugo Rozzo, Le biblioteche dei cappuccini nell’inchiesta della Congregazione dell’Indice (1597-1603), in Bartolomeo Barbieri da Castelvetro (1615-1697), un cappuccino alla scuola di san Bonaventura nell’Emilia del ‘600. A cura di Andrea Maggioli e Pietro Maranesi, Roma 1998, 57-101; Stanislao da Campagnola, Le biblioteche dei cappuccini nel passaggio tra Cinque e Seicento, in Biblioteche cappuccine italiane. Atti del Congresso Nazionale tenuto in Assisi, 14-16 ottobre 1987. A cura di Anselmo Mattioli. Perugia 1988, 65-112.
  80. APCL, A 319, f. 4v.
  81. Ibid.
  82. Ibid., f. 21v.
  83. «Bis singulis hebdomadibus apud nos ex inveterata consuetudine interiorum Coenobii locorum nitor restituitur, superiora domus verrunt iuvenes Clerici nostri, inferiora Officiales, sive Clerici, sive laici sint. Ecclesiam vero, chorum, Sacristiam, ambulacrum ad capellam Aedituus aut eius socius. Singulis Sabathi diebus, aut festivitatum vigiliis horti deambulatoria reparant et mundant deputati a Superioribus, quilibet quae sibi assignata sunt decori pristino studiose restituit»: Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, lib. IV, cap. VIII: De mundando monasterio, Lugduni 1634, 340-342.
  84. Cost. 1536, n. 25: FC I, 289. [Constitutions 1536, n. 20]
  85. Ord. Alb., n. 46: FC I, 209. [Statutes of Albacina n. 41]
  86. Cf. Ordinazioni del capitolo generale del 1602, in I Cappuccini. Fonti documentarie e narrative del primo secolo (1525-1619), a cura di Vincenzo Criscuolo, Roma 1994, 277.
  87. «Dormimus vestiti solo stramine contenti… quilibet ad cellam suam modesto gressu pergit, ut illam convenienter, et ut Religiosum decet religiose componat. Primo igitur illi curae erit, lectulum, in quo nocte iacuit, decenter cooperire.. Tandem si quid straminis e lecto deciderit, aut aliquid sordis ab ingressu, aut egressu cella tua contraxerit, scopula, quam ad id opus in aliquo cubiculi angulo repositam habebis, expellas, ita ut nitor religiosus cellae omnes et extraneos et incolam ipsum ad devotionem provocet»: Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, Lugduni 1634, 173, 255.
  88. From a codice ms. Compiled towards 1626 by p. Mattia da Padova and conserved in the APC a Venezia-Mestre: FC I, 1316.
  89. «In cella nihil superfluum, nihil curiosum, nihil denique pretiosum admittas, allatum alacriter, sed eam religiosa modestia respue; sint tibi omnia pauca, vilia, at munda»: Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, Lugduni 1634, 275.
  90. Ord. Alb., n. 52: FC I, 214. [Statutes of Albacina n. 46]
  91. Cf. Servus Gieben, La predicazione e la propaganda dei cappuccini attraverso l’immagine, Roma 1998, 423-435; Marzia Cataldi Gallo, Cenni sull’iconografia dei dipinti della Santissima Comcezione con riferimento all’iconografia cappuccina nei secoli XVII e XVIII, in Vita e cultura cappuccina. Chiesa della SS. Concezione a Genova (Padre Santo), Genova 1984, 49-53; Donatella Biagi Maino, Caratteristiche della committenza artistica cappuccina in Emilia Romagna nelle’età moderna, in Girolamo Mautini da Narni e l’Ordine dei Cappuccini fra ‘500 e ‘600, a cura di V. Criscuolo, Roma 1998, 437-451; La fede nell’arte: luoghi e pittori dei frati Cappuccini, a cura di Rosa Giorgi, Milano 2011.
  92. «Nunc ora, nunc conterere, nunc lacrymare, nunc spirituales aliquos libros, morales etiam et scholasticos, si muneris tui fuerit revolve, nunc quae digna sunt scitu, et usui proficua tibi videntur, in parvo aliquo cartophilacio re[276]scribe, ut in occasionibus tibi prompta sint… moderatum, regulatum, ac religiosum desidero somnum, nudis videlicet tabulis, aut lectulo pauco aliquo stramine strato, et rudi tela claviculis transfixa cooperto, sicut concedunt Constitutiones nostrae… ne cella infirmaria careat aqua benedicta, aliquibus Sanctorum reliquiis, piis imaginibus parieti affixis, rituali, praecipue crucifixo gestatorio… pro infirmo preces et ferventes fundant, assistens vero etiam oret; et prae manibus gestet crucifixum, quem illi interrumpendo quandoque orationes suas ostendant»: Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, Lugduni 1634, 275-276, 388, 408.
  93. On this, see the beautiful detailed histories of Cassiano da Langasco, Farmacisti… Cerusici… dentisti, in FC IV, 1651-1673.
  94. Metodio da Nembro, Salvatore Rasari e la sua cronaca, Milano 1973, 212.
  95. APCL, A 319, f. 70r.
  96. Ibid., f. 71r.
  97. « Ideo hortos habemus, quos propriis manibus et sudore vultus nostri colimus, et illorum olusculis maiore anni parte pro obsonio utimur. Seminamus etiam flores pro altaris ornamento»: Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, lib. III, cap. X: De labore manuali, Lugduni 1634, 266: FC I, 1957.
  98. On this aspect cf. C. Cargnoni, I frati cappuccini tra lavoro e devozione, in Italia Francescana 82 (2007) 313-328.
  99. « si studuerint apud se, ut moris est, habere libros spirituales, et singulis diebus legerint aliquem affectuosum attente… Caeterum libri (de prophanis non est mihi sermo, sed de christianis et spiritualibus) in triplici reperiuntur apud nos differentia: aut pertinent ad Theologiam Scholasticam, aut ad moralem, aut ad mysticam»: Regulares et religiosae PP. Capuccinorum exercitationes, Lugduni 1634, 109, 318.
  100. Cf. Pietro Maranesi, “Nescientes litteras”. L’ammonizione della Regola francescana e la questione degli studi nell’Ordine (sec. XIII-XVI) (Bibliotheca Seraphico-Capuccina, 61), Roma 2000; Id., Gli studi dei frati minori. Una breve ricostruzione di una doppia questione identitaria, in Italia Francescana 92 (2017) 103-125; Marianna Iafelice, Le biblioteche cappuccine come centri di cultura (secoli XVI-XIX), ibid., 127-139; Felice Accrocca, L’ombra di Ochino. I Cappuccini, la predicazione e lo studio agli inizi della nuova riforma, in Id., Francesco e i suoi frati. Dalle origini ai Cappuccini (Bibliotheca Seraphico-Capuccina, 105), Roma 2017, 399-424. Vedi anche sopra alla nota 77.
  101. APCL, A 319, f. 10r.
  102. Ibid.
  103. Ibid., f. 11r.
  104. Ibid., f. 10v.
  105. Ibid., f. 11r.
  106. APCL, A 319: Compendio alfabetico delle ordinazioni generali e provinciali, f. 2r. Il bavaro era un colletto o risvolto del cappuccio.
  107. APCL, A 306: Atti dei Capitoli di Cappuccini della Provincia di Brescia che comprendeva anche Bergamo cominciati nel 1588 sino al 1808, f. 16v. The “soffietti” could be a beret that has been pleated to render it softer.
  108. APCL, A 319, f. 1v.
  109. Ordinazioni del capitolo generale del 1602, in Fonti documentarie e narrative del primo secolo (1525-1619), a cura di V. Cricuolo, Roma 1994, 277; anche in Acta Ordinis. Tabulae Capitulorum Generalium Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, I: 1529-1623. A cura di V. Criscuolo, Roma 2008, 214.
  110. Cf. Acta Ordinis. Tabulae Capitulorum Generalium Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, I: 1529-1623, Roma 2008, 428.
  111. APCL, A 319, f. 17r.
  112. Ibid., f. 5v-6r.
  113. APCL, A 306: Atti dei Capitoli di Cappuccini della Prov. di Brescia, f. 4r.
  114. APCL, A 306: Atti dei Capitoli di Cappuccini della Prov. di Brescia, f. 13r; anche A 324: Libro cronologico di Brescia, f. 14r.
  115. APCL, A 306: Atti dei Capitoli di Cappuccini della Prov. di Brescia, f. 13v.
  116. Ibid., f. 16v.
  117. APCL, A 325: Libro cronologico del convento de’ frati Capuccini di Crema, f. 40r.
  118. APCL, A 319: Compendio alfabetico delle ordinazioni generali e provinciali, f. 2v; Cost. 1536, n. 29: «La tonsura si faccia di 20 in 20 giorni, o vero una volta el mese, con le forfici»: FC I, 292.
  119. APCL, A 319, f. 5r. The ‘caperone’ is a piece of the habit that the novices wear up to the time of their first profession. As describes Boverius: «a un hood distinct from the habit with two pieces of cloth that hang, one down on the chest and the other down over the spine, and finish with an orbicular cut.» (Annali dell’Ordine de’ frati minori cappuccini composti dal Molto R.P. Zaccaria Boverio… e tradotti nell’Italiano da Fra Benedertto Sanbenedetti, Tomo primo, Parte Seconda, In Venetia 1643, 690).
  120. APCL, A 319, f. 5r. The “sbaraglino” is a game that is played with dice and checkers and in which one wins by being the first to clear the table of the checkers; it is also called tric-trac or tavola reale [royal table]. The game of Matto is a game of fortune played with cards; (called also Il Folle [The Lunatic] o Il Follo) it is an older form of the arcane game of tarots.
  121. Ibid., f. 5r. “Sbaraglio” is a game similar to sbanraglino, where one plays with three dices instead of two. “Passodieci” instead is a card game similar to tarots, with the cards of the games that in some suits have ten signs and they can assume an esoteric and symbolic meaning, as it happens in cartomancy.
  122. Ibid.
  123. Testo in Analecta Ord. Fr. Min. Cap. 6 (1890) 240a (n. 58).
  124. Testo in Analecta Ord. Fr. Min. Cap. 7 (1891) 338a (n. 33).
  125. Ibid., f. 1v.
  126. Ibid.
  127. The complete title is: Le Capucin. Traitté, auquel est descrite et examinee l’Origine des Capucins, leurs Vœux, Reigles, & Disciplines. Sedan 1641.
  128. For these and similar consideration, see the essay already cited: Fabio Dei – Pietro Meloni, Antropologia della cultura materiale (Studi Superiori, 978). Roma, Carocci editore, 2015.