The Rule of Saint Francis in Capuchin Tradition

“The beautiful and holy reform”

Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Translated by Gary Devery OFM Cap

Abbreviazions:

FC I = I frati cappuccini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo. I: Ispirazione e istituzione. A cura di C. Cargnoni, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Roma-Perugia 1988, CIV-2060 p., 66 ill. f.t.

FC II = I frati cappuccini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo. II: Storia e cronaca. A cura di C. Cargnoni, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Roma-Perugia 1988, 1884 pp., 58 tab.

FC III/1-2 = I frati cappuccini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo. Vol. III/1-2: Santità e apostolato. Edizioni Frate Indovino, Roma-Perugia 1991, 2505, 2507-5282 p., 52 tab. (I vol.), 53-110 tab. (II vol.).

FC IV = I Frati Cappuccini. Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo. Vol. IV: Espansione e inculturazione. Edizioni Frate Indovino, Roma-Perugia 1992 [ma 1993], 2072 p., 77 tab.


I. When Francesco Gonzaga, General Minister of the Observants, wrote the famous work De origine seraphicae religionis franciscanae eiusque progressibus, edited at Rome in 1587, briefly touching on the Capuchins, he contrasted them with the other two big Franciscan families with these words: “There is a specific difference between the Capuchin fathers and us Observants and the Conventual fathers: the last make use of certain concessions and privileges or pontifical dispensations regarding the Franciscan Rule. Whereas the Capuchins observe the same Rule rigorously as it sounds, that is, literally; while we Observants observe it tenaciously, but according to the pontifical declarations”.[1]

Such a characterization more than sixty years after the beginning of the reform corresponded to the image that had formed and imposed itself on the judgment of the other Franciscan families, and reflected a general conviction. The Capuchins arose to better observe the Rule, and to observe it ad litteram, sine glossa, perhaps influenced a little by the spiritualistic stream, especially by Angelo Clareno, and, above all, involved with a rediscovery of the spirit and the examples of Saint Francis and his companions. However, the clarification of Gonzaga, if we want to be subtle, was not exact, because if it were true that the Capuchins appeared to be more austere and inflexible than the other Franciscans, by 1587 they had already, at least in part, modified that radical literalism of observance characterising the first years and, through the influence of learned and fervent Observant friars minor who had passed over into their ranks, had balanced out this radical position.

This “juridical” balance had already been definitively fixed in the Constitutions of 1536. They specified, from one side, the obligation to observe the Rule “simply, ad literam, without gloss”, that is, “purely, holily and spiritually” excluding “all the carnal, useless, harmful and relaxing glosses and explanations”, and from the other side, not wanting to discard “the declarations of the Supreme Pontiffs”, then specified after the Council of Trent, above all, the Bulls Exiit qui seminat of Nicholas III of 1279 and Exivi de Paradiso of Clement V of 1312. But this did not mean that the reforming criterion of observing the Rule simply and spiritually without referring to commentaries and expositions came to be renounced. In fact, the problem was how to renew the literal observance of the Rule faced with the animosity and fervour, that became in some cases insidious polemics, that seemed to be a return to the examples of a radical spiritualism, and at times – at least by way of the accusations of the adversaries – smelled of Alumbrandismo and Free Spirit (libero spirito), or it reminded them, as I have said, of a certain attitude in vogue of the spirituals of division and separation, particularly those of Angelo Clareno.[2] The eagerness indicated already in the first Constitutions of 1536 of the willingness to accept “singularly as a valid comment on our Rule […] the declarations of the Supreme Pontiffs and the holy life, teaching and example of our Father Saint Francis”,[3] was almost an obligatory choice and, without doubt, a tactic to ward off any reason for accusation and the bad reputation of heretical spiritualism that would accompany it. The heroic and radical choices in prayer, poverty and pastoral charity, even if by the end of the sixteenth century they are removed from the constitutional text, were not thereby also cancelled from the deepest depths of the heart of the Capuchins because, as writes monsignor Francesco Saverio Toppi, “the message of the primitive constitutional texts were indelibly inscribed in the very flesh of the Order, because it possessed its true force not in the norms, but in the inspiration of a charism. Beyond the law, it had infused a spirit, and this could not be extinguished”.[4]

II. To understand this juridical-spiritually achieved equilibrium that progressively emerged in the initial development of the Order, it is enough to re-read the early chronicles in which are vividly manifested the strong and continuous, and I would say, almost jealously guarded, relationship with the Franciscan Rule. Love overcame every juridical and legislative limit that became superimposed on it like hardened limestone in the long history of Franciscanism, making the flow of the pure and original sap of the Poverello’s Rule less free and spontaneous. It needed a purification that cut away these hinderances and impediments so as to return to the “clear, pristine and fresh water” of Franciscan inspiration and charism. The first Capuchins were radicals, as is the case for any reformers, who did not permit any exceptions in the observance of the Rule. It is not so for us today who say, with modern cultural and theological sensibilities, that the person of Christ with his Gospel comes before the letter of the Rule. They, instead, read and observed the Gospel and penetrated with love to the divine person, into the divine Spirit of Christ by means of the Rule in which was always reflected and by which they were always confronted with the mens [mind] and voluntas [will] of Saint Francis, in his teachings and in his everyday life, transmitted by way of the biographical sources. The Rule was their point of reference, but the novelty was in the new way of reading it and translating it into practice. As such, it also influenced the Statutes of Albacina of 1529, they being in some ways marked by it, while the fundamental Constitutions of Roma-S. Eufemia of 1536 were an extraordinary spiritual re-reading of the same Rule, a true novelty in the history of the constitutional history of the Franciscan Order.[5]

We could dwell on this characteristic aspect to highlight the depth of the existential and spiritual development by the first Capuchins of the chapters of the Rule. We need to read in parallel the chapters of the Rule and the respective chapters of the first Constitutions to grasp the interior reactions and resonances and the concrete decisions that the individual words of the Rule produced in the hearts of the Capuchin reformers, that is, the group of redactors entrusted with drafting the normative text of the reform. However, the analysis would be too long and take us too far, but it is enough that we point out some essential and fundamental points of this Capuchin meditation on the Rule that resulted in the text of 1536. As monsignor Francesco Saverio Toppi wrote with complete clarity, the wording of constitutional legislation developed a “spirituality entirely centred on Christ and the primacy of love”. Everything is relative to Christ and every choice, even in the small everyday things, is illuminated by the Gospel, that is, the living Person, by the “living spirit” of Jesus Christ, and Francis of Assisi with his “enflamed words and loving works”, which are his agent, example and mirror. It arrives to the point where this loving meditation on the omnipresent Christ overflows into an “overwhelming lyrical impetus” which becomes, to again use the words of monsignor Toppi, “kerygma, exhortation, praise, contemplative ecstasy that resounds within, reading and listening on one’s knees […]. In the background of the Constitutions stands sovereign, like the Pantacrator in the golden apses of the Byzantine churches, Christ the Lord at the centre of the Trinity, the Church and the universe. With the dynamics of the Pasqual mystery, the Crucified is joined to the Risen One and irradiates a joyous hope on those who have chosen him as the supreme ideal”.[6] Everything is then moved by love that is “the bond that joins Jesus Christ and animates as a forma virtutum [pattern of virtue] the ascetical effort. It is the basis of the evangelical dynamism that leaps forth from every page of the Constitutions, where every norm or directive finds its reason to be in the love of God and of Christ. Love, alongside the Christo-centralism, is the constant that flows through the legislative text […] and fills in the distance between statute and freedom, between law and charism, and transforms the legislative text into an arioso treatise on spirituality”.[7]

The chronicler Bernardino da Colpetrazzo in his “simple and devout history” recalls how the first Capuchins “took as their principal foundation and deliberation the perfect observance of the Rule and Testament of our seraphic Father and, above all, the precepts of holy poverty”.[8] He explains how they saw and interpreted the Rule:

The Rule of Saint Francis is nothing other than a way of life that is well accommodated to holy contemplation. Therefore, it does not depart from the cross, taking part in both the active and the contemplative life. It makes the mixed life more perfect than the simple contemplative life because it is more in conformity to the Holy Gospel and the apostolic life. With poverty it observes the two precepts of the love of God and of neighbour. It carries out the love of God in holy prayer and the love of neighbour in preaching. Likewise with holy poverty, our Rule purges us of every earthly affection and makes us disposed for prayer. With prayer it puts us in order with God. With preaching and good example it puts us in order with our neighbour [Book 2, IX].[9]

In other words, the Rule is viewed iconographically in the cross with its two sides, fixed in the centre by charity, that express the vertical-ascensional contemplative yearning and the horizontal yearning of charitable and fraternal, apostolic-missionary love.

It is the image brusquely condensed and taught by Francesco Ripanti da Jesi in his mysterious and quasi esoterical Circolo de carità divina where he sees the act of perfect love as the effort to conform oneself to the love of Christ and his movement of “descent” and “ascent”, where Christ (as says Ripanti) “loving Himself, reaches beyond Himself and loves you. Ultimately, however, by loving you for Himself He comes back to Himself, thus always circling as if spinning around”.[10] It is the spiration of love, the flux and reflux of the act of love, as splendidly described by Mattia Bellintani dal Salò in his Prattica dell’orazion mentale.[11] This act of love concentrates into the “evangelical cross, to which the Saviour invites us”, writes Ripanti, “whose height [that is, the vertical line] is the act of undeviating love, which embraces Christ immediately, wanting to love Him completely. The cross beam [the horizontal line] is the activity of reflecting on direct love [that is, derived as light reflected from Christ], especially in annihilation [nullazione], which means hating and detesting all that offends his divinity or humanity”, that is, the battle of personal purification against every reality of sin against God and neighbour, ending in having nothing of oneself and where God is all. Ripanti continues, “The nail that holds the beams together, on which they depend, is the habit of divine love”. Therefore, the evangelical cross indissolubly unites the love of God and the love of neighbour and requires a continuous exercise and incessant yearning for an ever more perfect love, “making you an instrument of your Saviour and mystical member of the holy Church […] almost becoming totally love.”[12] Here lies the heart of the Rule which, in the mens [minds] of the founding fathers of the Capuchin reform, is simply a rule of love, an exercise of love proved in the cross of Christ and diffused in the Church. Therefore, the Rule is all a question of love. This incessant yearning is powerfully reaffirmed in the first Constitutions of 1536 with these words: “Given that God is our final end to whom everyone should tend and long to see himself transformed in Him, we exhort all the friars to direct all their thoughts to this aim. With every possible impulse of love let us focus all our intentions and longing to unite ourselves to our supremely good Father with all our heart, mind and soul, with our strength and virtue, with actual, continuous, intense and pure love”.[13]

This impetus of love then explains all the Capuchin apostolate that must first prime itself with the “Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation” upon the mountain of prayer and contemplation, and then, by “an overflowing of love”, it can discharge itself on souls in the apostolate of missionary evangelisation and in all the forms of spiritual and corporal mercy.[14] The affection of the heart has the upper hand and comes to be absorbed by love, which is the holy operation of the Spirit, to which the friars needs to offer themselves and by which they need to leave themselves to be guided and carried, without offering resistance, and “give themselves into His serene possession”, as say the ancient Constitutions.[15]

On this point it is interesting to remember a significant witness in the process of Saint Lawrence of Brindisi of when he would visit the friars and preach long on the observance of the Rule. The text says: “When reasoning with the friars, he would take great effort over those words of our holy Rule: “Let those who are illiterate not be anxious to learn, but let them pay attention to what they must desire above all else: to have the Spirit of the Lord and Its holy activity”, etc. On these words I heard Fr Brindisi reason while in the act of visiting the friars and demonstrate that the marrow of our Rule can be reduced to this perfection, and that around this everyone needs to exercise himself”.[16]

This interpretation of the Rule pointed out by the holy “apostolic doctor” was not a personal and wayward idea but corresponds with the disquiet of the interior reform of the Order already present in the first decades of its development. Giovanni da Fano, who wrote the first “Capuchin” commentary on the Rule, decisively affirms it and following the pattern of an anonymous manuscript commentary, all spiritual, called Amore evangelico (that the first Capuchins both knew and avidly read in the first years of their reform), repeating that “as the Gospel law is a law of love and grace and of the manifestation of the Son of God, who became man and died for sinners, thus this Rule is a Rule of love and contains within itself the Spirit of Christ and His grace and so whoever wishes to understand it must necessarily have the Spirit of Christ in him, which is nothing else but an ardent desire to know, love, imitate, embrace and carry Him in our heart” [514]. He specifies that the Gospel “which is the law of love, cannot enter our hearts except by means of love” and “so our Rule, being a Rule of love, cannot be really understood in our hearts except through love”. It is a love that overcomes a sterile literal observance to find itself in union with the Spirit of Christ and with his form of love, the true understanding and observance of the Rule. For this reason (he concludes), two things are necessary: “Firstly, a unique and ardent desire to achieve a perfect love for God and a perfect union with His Majesty through love. Secondly, it is necessary for him to act in such a way that he tries with all care and fervour, with God’s grace, to achieve such love and union, as much as human frailty will allow; in this life this love and union should be his main objective” [531].[17]

The proto-martyr of the Capuchin reform, Giovanni Zuazo da Medina del Campo († 1551) who passed from the Scalzi to the Capuchins, drawing from the revelations and spiritual illuminations he received during his contemplation, expressed with ardour the various grades of observance of the Rule, three necessary and the fourth for perfection. This last was that:

Know, Brother Giovanni, that the true observance of the Rule totally consists in having in truth My true, lively and pure Spirit, yes, as it is written in the Rule, and yes, as it still says: “To which Spirit all things must serve”; indeed I tell you, Brother Giovanni, that many friars without this spirit and without true humility and burning charity want to demonstrate too much zeal for poverty, making of it an idol, by which they not only not observe poverty, but with such arid and cruel zeal are thrust down and confound the true and pure spiritual observance of the Rule; and from this they become proud, contentious, agitated, unstable and conflictive amongst themselves; completely losing the peaceful and tranquil foundation of holy and evangelical poverty and humility, driving out from themselves (by way of the continuous agitation) the true, lively, holy and charitable spirit, the ultimate foundation of her Rule. And know that all the other ceremonies, exercises and observances only have value and are pleasing to me in as much as they proceed from the above-mentioned spirit and induce holy prayer and lively love towards me.[18]

III. This overall perspective is not an exaggerated expression of spiritualism and radicalism of the reform of the first Capuchins, but a mature conviction that matured in an experience of vital renewal and also mediated upon in luminous pages of spiritual literature that proved to be very fruitful. A review of these Capuchin authors would be too long, but with a careful choice it is possible to verify this diffused conviction in regard to the interpretation of the Franciscan Rule, developed at the very moment in which the Order reached its juridical and spiritual maturity.

Onorato Bochard de Chamigny of Paris
The venerable Father Onorato Bochard de Champigny of Paris († 1624) in his work Académie évangélique, writes for his novices that the whole observance of the Rule hinges on “first and foremost the exercise […] of having always present the Spirit of our Lord that works in us, and which by means of continuous prayer proceeds from a pure heart (as seen at chapter X of the Rule) and which was the pleasing occupation of Mary Magdalen in contemplation”. And he adds that in the observance of the Rule “the second exercise, no less important than the first, is to procure with fervour the salvation of souls with preaching (as appears in chapters IX and XII of the same Rule). It most clearly follows that solitude and silence are absolutely necessary for the actual practice of the first exercise and for its proper preparation, but also to put into practice the second exercise in such a way that it be fruitful for souls and for those searching for their salvation. This does not require great proofs because the Son of God has taught this with his example […]. Saint Francis, his imitator, has done the same, with great undertaking, and has taught both by way of words and by his example […]. And to fully understand what we are saying on this argument, we need to remember that, after having given us in his Rule many salutary teachings and precepts about every sort of virtue, blessed Father Saint Francis exhorted us and compelled us to have the Spirit of our Lord and his holy operations above every other thing”.[19]

Joseph Tremblay of Paris
It is also impressive what Father Joseph Tremblay of Paris († 1638), the famous “Grey Eminence”, the most brilliant disciple of the English Capuchin mystic Benedict of Canfield (+ 1610), wrote when he was Master of Novices and transmitted to novices as an ardent and far-sighted formator. He saw in the “Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation” the vital centre of the “Capuchin” mystic, by which, according to chapters V and X of the Regola bollata, we can participate in seraphic perfection and essential union, deiform, trinitarian – active and contemplative (mixed life) -, of which the stigmatised Francis remains the unique model. He saw in the “seraphic profession” the “progress and the goal of the spiritual life” and used the comparison with the sun which produces three effects: first of all, a “ray of light and knowledge” that clarifies, that is, it shows how “the spiritual life begins with the light of prayer, when God lights up in the soul, at first blind, a ray of new inspiration” that drives away vices and sins and shows “the excellent good of virtue and the beauty of the law of God”; it is a first effect that is called “the habit of prayer”. The second effect is that of “being enlivened and sustained by healthy food, full of the juice of eternal life, as are the holy virtues, fruit that grow on the eternal hills of perfect devotion and acquire their maturity from the sun of passionate grace, fruit of the tree of life planted in the heavenly paradise of the hearts that love God” and which demands an undertaking of the mortification of all the bad habits. The third effect of the sun, finally, is to expose to God the lamp of one’s own heart to receive the rays and influences of the spirit, that is, “to open our spirit to receive the gift and the part which God wants to give us of his infinite Spirit, that Saint Paul calls “the participation in the lot of the saints in light”.

The image of the sun as divine light is then applied to the observance of the Franciscan Rule. This wants that our hearts be pure and empty of any type of vainglory, envy and care of this world, so that it may be filled with the purest air of the Spirit of our Lord and of his holy operation, praying always to him with a pure heart, thereby nourishing in us the fire of continual prayer, both in the elevation of contemplative life, here called praying with a pure heart, and in the exercise of penance and in the works of the active life, here described as having patience in persecution and infirmity. In fact, all of the spiritual life is condensed into these three principal points: Firstly, the knowledge and practice of prayer; secondly, the knowledge and practice of mortifications and virtues; thirdly, the knowledge and practice of the spirit of the Rule, and this refers to prayer, mortification and virtues”. Being more specific in his thoughts, he adds that Saint Francis “left us as an inheritance the Spirit of God and his holy operation and wants that all things serve devotion just as the master of the house has command over everything and keeps all the household chores in good order”.

The Spirit of God presents the Rule to us as wholly spiritual, perfectly united in the operation of the Spirit of our Lord, completely taken up in the exercise of praying to Him with a pure heart, of embracing persecution for justice sake. The seraphic spirit takes for the rule the letter and the spirit of the rule, to which Saint Francis did not want added any relaxing explanation…, no gloss, nor to the Testament. With the word purely he intended spiritual understanding. With the adverb simply he intended literal simplicity. The Holy Spirit is the patron and distributor to us of all the gifts that flow from him as a fresh stream in full spate. With these words [of chapter V and X of the Rule] he indicates this pleasing Spirit, this habit and this breathing of the interior life”. Thus, also for Joseph of Paris the heart of the Rule consists in the “holy operation of the Spirit”.[20]

Continuing to leaf through the Capuchin spiritual literature we find other authors who reaffirm with new and original expressions the Capuchin way of reading and interpreting the Rule.

Marziale d’Étampes
Marziale d’Étampes († 1634) in his booklet Méthode facile pur apprendre à faire oraison mentale (Paris 1629) reaffirms the importance of acquiring the Spirit of our Lord and his holy operation, the spirit of prayer and devotion according to the dictates of the Rule, that is, “to study is to have always God present in all our actions, thoughts and words and as the end and purpose, and to make in him our dwelling place by way of a lively and burning faith”. Further along he says that “this holy operation is to love him above all else and to honour, revere and adore him in everything with a pure heart and sincere affection […]. In this way our seraphic father united the two exercises of mortification and prayer, that is, to always have God present in our spirit. He himself practiced this during his life and has ordered us to do it in the Rule. In fact, after having listed in order several fine teachings, as well as the most appropriate ways to gradually ascend to one of the most sublime perfections that exist in the Church of God, in chapter X of the Rule, which is like the ultimate of ways in acquiring perfection, because the other two, chapters XI and XII, are instead charitable warnings given to those who are already considered perfect, so that they do not fall from such a high state, he then makes an extract or summary, reducing them to unity, in having but one only, in which, however, all the others are included and gathered together, both within and without of the said Rule, and what is to be desired above all other things is to have the Spirit of our Lord and his holy operation; that is, to have it always present in our spirit and in our intentions, in our works, thoughts and words, after the example of our blessed father”. This persuasion needs to always accompany the friar. And “it is not necessary – he explains with a true Capuchin spirit – to struggle to comprehend this with philosophical and theological reasoning, but needs to be satisfied simply with faith that is given us by the Church and her Sacred Scripture, and leave aside dedicating yourselves to all the other more curious investigations, so as to occupy yourselves more in that of simple faith and of burning charity, as sons of the seraphic father […]. Let us therefore make a firm resolve – he concludes – to live always according this truth and with the greatest desire to study above all other things, and to have in all other things, always present the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ and to strive to be pleasing to him in everything and, above all, doing his most holy will and being satisfied in it, which is, the holy operation of God, so that we can always pray to God with a pure heart”.[21]

Cipriano Crousers d’Anversa
Also in a significant commentary on the Rule, which is today completely unknown and forgotten, published by Cyprian Crousers of Antwerp in 1625 and entitled: Lectiones paraeniticae ad regulum seraphici patris s. Francisci, we read a profound analysis of two passages of the Rule from chapters V and X that are considered the heart and the marrow of the same Rule. The author seeks to respond to the question of what is meant by spiritual observance of the rule. With many pages he explains the significance of this Spirit of the Lord, of his holy operation and of the spirit of prayer and devotion. He says that “it is nothing other than to carry out under the interior impulse of the Holy Spirit all that the Rule prescribes, whether dealing with bodily actions or with those regarding the soul, whether external or internal, according to the end understood in the Rule of the Holy Spirit, that is nothing other than to possess the Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation”.[22] He adds that “the Rule can never be spiritually observed if one does not practice it or if one is not already a spiritual man, or that the observance of the same Rule does not render him such; or if not already possessing the Spirit of the Lord, he does not acquire it by practice of the Rule itself. It is without doubt that this latter is an efficacious means to this end. In fact, the Rule is spiritual, as says Saint Paul of the law in the letter to the Romans chapter VII, where he asserts, ‘The law is spiritual’, because if observed it makes a person spiritual and just; and this can be said even more of the seraphic Rule, being the marrow of the holy Gospel”.[23] With precision he analyses the significance of this “Spirit of the Lord” that the friars need to desire above every other thing and need to possesses, not only in vow or desire, but in reality itself and he says that it is “that gift for which the mind, in intellect and affection, adapts itself to it and increases more and more in understanding the most sublime and perfect realities […]. It is, in fact, only by means of this Spirit that we can know all that God has given us”.[24] He then underlines how he who professes to observe the Rule needs to be a spiritual man, with the significance given by the apostle Paul to this term in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 3:1-3) where he affirms that not everyone who possesses the sanctifying Spirit of the Lord merit to be called spiritual; indeed, many of them are still called carnal and animal, newborn and infant, who cannot support the solid nourishment of a more perfect justice and of a wisdom that is divine, mysterious and hidden, “not human, which not only surpasses every feeling and every intelligence of men, but is more than a little contrary”. This mysterious wisdom is the death and cross of Christ, a wisdom “hidden in the mystery of the cross and in the death of Christ” to which we must dispose ourselves, delight in it and incorporate it into the practice of works.

For this reason, concludes Father Cyprian of Antwerp, “The Spirit of the Lord, which the Seraphic Father deals with in this passage of the Rule, is none other than an impulse of God whereby the human soul is impelled to have more perfect goods and to aspire to greater charisms by means of a better way than all the others shown it. Nor is it enough to do the holy will of God in observance of his commandments and in the faithful practice of the evangelical counsels, but in addition to this, to yearn with all the strength of the soul for the perfect will of God to be realised in him, not limited to any one commandment or counsel, and to expand his mind beyond what can be thought possible, to the sincerest delight in God and by a most efficacious movement of the Holy Spirit, being carried along by all his power [è portata da tutti i remi e le vele: it is carried by all the oars and sails] into the most pure and manifest blessing of God. This is the Spirit of the Lord that the friars should desire above all other things, to have it, that is, to possess it so as to be welcomed, possessed and guided by it. Let this be the desire, the sighing and the incessant groaning of the friars”.[25]

Bernardine of Paris
Bernardine of Paris, forty years later, almost synthesised and adapted this Capuchin tradition of observance of the Rule in his beautiful book, L’esprit de S. François formé sur celuy de Jésus Christ (Paris 1662), drawing this interpretation together in a suggestive way. The very well-defined text merits to have its most important points reported here. He applies to the Rule the profound significance of having in itself “the new law brought to the world by Jesus Christ, composed of letter and spirit: one teaches the meaning, the other enlivens the heart. The law commands and instructs about the divine will, the spirit inspires the will and gives the grace to carry it out. The seraphic Rule has this privilege in common with the Gospel, being a synthesis. Jesus Christ who is the author of both, has formed it in himself. He has his letter that commands and prohibits. He has his laws, his counsels and his precepts. But beneath this exterior surface he has hidden a life-giving spirit, and Jesus Christ, who knows well our weaknesses, is disposed to granting it to those who profess it, and at the same time, it is this Rule that has been placed between your hands and with it you have pronounced the vows, to you are communicated the Holy Spirit and, with the same finger with which he wrote with characters of light and of fire in the hearts of the apostles, the new law, which is that of charity. He has invisibly tattooed the Rule on you in the depth of your spirit by means of the charity that he has diffused in your hearts to render them observant according to the spirit of the evangelical law, which is that of love”.[26]

The beginning and source of all the Rule is the person of Christ who, with his Spirit, diffuses in the hearts of his disciples the capacity to complete the works of the new law, that is, the Gospel, with a spirit of love. This foundation – explains this author – is very evident in Saint Francis, who was “completely filled with the evangelical spirit”. He “did not offer to his sons the Rule as a dead rule, but life-giving (the Rule and life of the Friars Minor, says this great patriarch, is to observe the holy Gospel); and he was illuminated by a special light when donating this celestial instruction to his disciples in the tenth chapter of his Rule: that they seek above all to have the Spirit of our Lord and his holy operation”.[27] Therefore “he does not want that his disciples only externally profess the evangelical Rule, but he begs and exhorts them to strive above all other things to have the Spirit of our Lord, to fill themselves with it and this will become the universal principal of all their actions: This is the study to which one must most strongly apply himself”. Consequent to this is that “they must not content themselves with an exterior observance of their Rule. Faithfulness asks that this be animated by the Spirit of our Lord and the Rule be practiced for interior motives of love, as sons of grace”.[28]

The impressive insistence on demanding this spirit of love in the observance of the Rule, led Bernardine of Paris to dictate some substantial instructions adapted to this observance. There are four points of the highest spiritual level, indispensable for arriving to this perfection; and they merit to be reported here as they are:

1. Take great care to dispossess yourselves of the natural spirit that was given to you by Adam. Empty your interior as much as possible of all the lights of your own spirit and of human reason by means of an annihilation of your whole self. As soon as Jesus Christ discovers this vacuum in the depth of your heart, he will immediately fill it with his spirit which is his love”.

2. Be lovingly bound by this spirit, totally abandoning yourself to his power both with a gentle gaze and an inner glance, and with a loving detachment of your heart in the Spirit of the Son of God, and attach yourself inseparably to his divine power with a cordial and intimate diligence, so as to no longer depend on anything but his operations.

3. Never act in exercising your Rule if not be with a movement of love and with the spirit of Grace and for the love of God alone, because, as says the Apostle, all mortifications are of little benefit if they are not animated by the spirit of God and by this interior love, which he calls devotion and which he says is useful to all things. St Bonaventure considers the plan of Francis to be contained within words that the friars are to have the Spirit of our Lord and therefor observe their Rule with the interior movement of devotion that looks only to the glory of God. Whatever you do to fulfil the duties giving glory to God, do it by an interior elevation of charity that goes beyond the instruction of the Rule and the law, so as to act according to the spirit of the new law and not that of the ancient that looks only to the commands and authority of the legislator.

4. Render yourself docile to the Spirit of Our Lord, obeying to his divine impulses, following his heavenly promptings, courageously going where he draws you, walking with faith wherever he calls you. Those who are sons of God, says Saint Paul, are guided by this divine Spirit that leads them in all their ways.[29]

Significant fruit would result for the life of the community from this method of observance, described in this way:

1. It will become all divine in the principles that direct it, in its object to which it refers itself, in its exercises with which it will be occupied; the Spirit of our Lord, drawn by love into the centre of their hearts, will be their all in all things: in understanding there will be light to guide it; in the soul there will be grace to sanctify it; the spirit of Adam, of nature and of the world will be totally destroyed in it; there will not be found anything other than the Spirit of our Lord living and reigning, being the beginning of all their actions and being also their end. This community will possess nothing outside of God and look to him and submit to him with continual exercising of love and devotion.

2. Walking under the guidance of the Spirit of our Lord they will lovingly experience how his yoke is light and his law is gentle. They, says Saint Paul, that are led by the Spirit are no longer under the law where, as slaves, they groan under the heaviness of his burden, since they act our of fear (as explains Saint Augustine); they, by means of charity, are under the law that they bear with the gentleness of charity, as obedient sons; everything is sweet to those who love. It is this charity that has them fulfil with joy the precepts of justice and grace.

3. This community will become very spiritual, interior and recollected; as such, its components will be drawn from the Spirit of our Lord into the depth of their hearts, so the Spirit will, by a gently touch, draw their thoughts to rest in him as their end and as the most loving object to be loved by them. Each will find God at the centre of their heart for a loving introversion, to revel in the presence of such a desirable God, without losing sight of other creatures.

4. This religious family will perfectly fulfil the pious desires of their divine Patriarch. Filled with the Spirit of our Lord, they will possess his holy operation, that is, they will become most holy, interiorly and externally, and the Spirit of our Lord being by love in the profundity of their hearts as a source of holiness, it will expand its effects everywhere, sanctifying their thoughts to see God alone, their emotions to love God alone, their intentions to seek nothing else but His glory; it will bring His sanctification to their words, into their works and in their sufferings, nothing being wanted nor commanded except by the impulse of this divine Spirit.[30]

The conclusion of Bernardine of Paris explains with suggestive efficacy this aspect; here are his words:

The actions of this community are no longer its own, but of the Spirit who appropriates them. It is more passive to the divine and holy operations that act on it, it is moved more by the Spirit than by itself, because after abandoning itself to the power of the Spirit, it no longer operates with its own intelligence and strength, but the Spirit has the upper hand in the acting, not it; and the spirit of His spirit which governs it, it is the life of His life that animates it. Thereby the community is rendered very docile to His guidance, to complete all that He inspires, or to flee and distance itself from all that is not pleasing to Him.

It is in this attitude that the Rule in this religious family is observed not only according to the letters as they sound, but also according to the spirit that gives life, that is, spiritually, interiorly, lovingly […]. Therefore, those who want to render themselves faithful to the greatness of their Capuchin vocation are not content with an exterior and visible observance. They accompany and animate it with an interior and filial love. It is not the true Israel – writes Saint Paul – who makes profession of the law and show only some external observance of it, but those that do it secretly in the depth of the heart by a spirit of grace that binds them to our Lord. They are not true sons of Saint Francis who boast of having the most holy Rule of the Church and wear the habit and observe some of it externally, but those who strive to have the Spirit of our Lord and his holy operation and to observe it with a spirit of love.[31]

From these diverse texts it has therefore been demonstrated how the interpretation and explanation of the Rule and the mode of observing it in light of the Capuchin charism are seen and guided by a contemplative dimension, exactly as Bernardino d’Asti said, that is, that father Saint Francis, giving the Rule, “had no other intention than to order his friars, freed from every impediment, to holy prayer, removing from us by the precepts of the Rule those things that could impede us in holy prayer and giving us these means by which to acquire the true love of God, in which consists the observance of every good law”,[32] by which the Franciscan Rule is a way to live well disposed to holy contemplation, where the Spirit of the Lord operates freely because he finds in the friar the most complete disposition and attention to his impulses.

This observance of the Rule, and, therefore, of the Constitutions, which are its authentic commentary, became the slogan and the theoretical and practical ideal.

IV. As noted at the beginning, after a brief period of radicalism without any juridical and Papal documents, the Capuchins accepted the bulls Exiit and Exivi and maintained a particular bond, even if not juridically binding, to the Testament of Saint Francis, seen as the primary charismatic explanation of the Rule and, therefore, an important point of reference for the Order.

The General Superiors visited the friars and, in their discourses, insisted on the observance of the Rule, and we know how demanding and forceful they were in this. From this the first commentaries on the Rule written by Capuchins were born, in which can be noted a gradual passage from the spiritual-evangelical aspect to the use of juridical norms or to a synthesis between one aspect and the other. The first Capuchin commentaries, reported or indicated in the first volume of I Frati Cappuccini, are a clear demonstration of this.[33]

Even subsequent writings of explanation and observance of the Rule, which appeared until the 20th century, as can be noted in the list attached as an appendix, demonstrate on one hand, the will to practice the Franciscan Rule with meticulous precision and with spirit, and on the other hand, they are attentive to the juridical norms of the Church and to the indications of a local Franciscan tradition with tones of strict observance and the influence of a heavy moral casuistry drawn from a rather demanding theology of religious life.

Nevertheless, an element to always hold present is the great concreteness they manifest in regard to the Franciscan Rule. For them there is never simply a “beautiful thought” or a “beautiful spiritual theory” that is not immediately translated in concrete practice, in regular observance, also I would say, tangibly expressed. Such as happened in the formation of novices, where the novice masters sought to get the young novices to carry out concrete exercises of the diverse values of the Capuchin life (prayer, penance, silence, obedience, fraternal service, etc.) rather than to linger on the beautiful and long theories which, if anything, they could later follow, as a fruit of practice. In fact, many Capuchins in their simplicity passed the hours of mental prayer praying the Rule, repeating it in their hearts as a word of life and memorising it during the individual works of their day.

This was so much so that Saint Charles Borromeo, certainly not gentle with himself, marvelled at it and said that if the Capuchins remain faithful to all their observances and practices according to the Spirit, they are truly heroic and saintly men. This was also to say that, otherwise, there would be the risk of transforming them into a knot of formalities and of weighty practices without any spirit.

Now it is precisely this “regular observance” that became in modern times, according to the judgement of many, the “black beast” of the life of the friars and carried with it a certain “monasticisation” of the Franciscan life, deforming it from being spontaneous and free. From these manipulations (it has been repeated) there have derived many evils and deviations or conditioning of the purity of the evangelical life of Saint Francis.

The new resource and remedy to overcome this danger seems to be the much hoped for renewal of the Constitutions, in the wake of Vatican Council II, which has valued above all the person, leaving to each one the particular choices of concrete observance of the spiritual life, indicating only the general criteria and the spirit which is to animate it.

Up to this point it would seem that the new Constitutions have taken the upper hand over the Rule, which appears to many to be an archaic document, already overtaken by the spirit of the modern life, seen as a sign of the times that are more markedly directed towards the social life being lived out in a more personally-centred and individualistic way.

After the Council, many saw this momentum of modern renewal as a break with the past which was responsible for relaxing and impeding the spiritual development of the Order, attributing it to a false interpretation of the Councils itself, to an arbitrary and tendentious hermeneutics, as the Holy Father [Benedict XVI] said in a discourse given to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005.

Certainly the adaption of the theology of the Council to religious life in the spirit of the Capuchin tradition is an urgent program to combat that secularisation that is present “under the form of a gnosis, that is, of an intellectual knowledge, which has not been followed by a new style of life and a renewal with the capacity to attract, through the witness of life”.[34] Otherwise, texts of profound theological intellectualism are created, but similar to an empty shell.

Therefore, the recovery of the Rule is a requirement for the true renewal of the Order, a recovery that, going beyond the juridical aspects but also respecting them, overcomes every formalism that lacks spirit, just as it bodes well today with the spiritual exegesis of the Bible and the Gospels. This recovery requires a clear reply to the challenges of the modern rationalistic, scientific, relativistic and secularised world and, therefore, a reconnection with the spiritual interpretation of the Rule, which has motivated the profound interiority and powerful concreteness of the Capuchin spirituality. If the Capuchins have had to pay a contribution to the hierarchical and juridical dimension of the Church, nevertheless, they have seen in their rereading of the Franciscan Rule that more intimate and profound source of life in the Church, which is, the action of the Holy Spirit, to which the friars must be above all and totally conform themselves.

2009

APPENDIX

Principal Capuchin commentaries on the Franciscan Rule and aids to its observance in chronological order of edition

HIERONYMUS A POLIZZI (1544-1611), Expositio f. Hieronymi a Politio siculi Ordinis fratrum minorum capuccinorum: cum dubijs excussis in regulam seraphici patriarchae s. Francisci eiusdem Ordinis fundatoris. Nunc denuo typi dantur. Neapoli, apud Io. Iacobum Carlinum, 1606. 16 cm., [12] f., 844 p., [45] f.

SANCTES A ROMA (1545-1621), Espositione sopra la Regola del serafico padre s. Francesco di F. Santi Thesauro romano predicatore capuccino. In Roma, appresso Egidio Spada, 1614. 21 cm., [4] f., 429, [38] p.

HIERONYMUS A POLIZZI, Expositio f. Hieronymi a Politio siculi Ordinis fratrum minorum capuccinorum: cum dubijs excussis in regulam seraphici patriarchae s. Francisci eiusdem Ordinis fundatoris. Editio tertia. Coloniae Agrippinae, apud Ioannem Kinckium, 1615. 13 cm., [16] f., 432 p., [8] f.

HIERONYMUS A POLIZZI, Expositio f. Hieronymi a Politio siculi Ordinis fratrum minorum capuccinorum : cum dubijs excussis in regulam seraphici patriarchae s. Francisci eiusdem Ordinis fundatoris. Editio tertia. Coloniae Agrippinae: apud Ioannem Kinckium, 1615. 13 cm., [30], 916, [60] p.

LUDOVICUS A PARIS († 1623), Exposition litterale de la regle des ff. mineurs …: ensemble le resolutions et practiques de plusieurs choses que l’on observe entre les freres mineurs capucins, par frere Lovis de Paris capucins predicateur. [Paris, s.n., 1622?]. 8 cm., [10] f., 731 p., [25] f., 8 p.

LUDOVICUS A PARIS, Exposition litterale de la regle des ff. mineurs …: ensemble le resolutions et practiques de plusieurs choses que l’on observe entre les freres mineurs capucins / par frere Lovis de Paris capucins predicateur. 4. ed. revenë par l’autheur. A Paris, chez Iean Foüer, 1625. 8 cm., [10] f., 734 p., [25] f., 8 p.

CYPRIANUS AB ANVERS († 1637), Lectiones paraeniticae ad regulam seraphici patris s. Francisci. Auctore r. p. Cypriano Crousers Antuerpensi Ordinis s. Francisci capucinorum. Coloniae Agrippinae, apud Arnoldum Kempens, 1625. 22 cm., [10], 1096 p., [14] f.

LEANDER A MURCIA (fl. 1615-1660), Questiones selectas regulares y exposicion de la regla de los Frayles Menores por el R. P. Fr. Leandro de Murcia, lector de sancta teologia. Madrid, Por Gregorio Rodriguez, 1645. 30 cm., 22 f., 535, [34] p.

LEANDER A MURCIA, Llave maestra y escudo de la verdad. Explicacion de la bulas de n. s. p. Inocencio Dezimo y de la sanza Cruzada, con otro tratado en que el autor como con escudo defiende la verdad de algunas opiniones que llevò en su libro de las questionas selectae regulares y exposicion de la Regla, por el r. padre fray Andro de Murcia, lectores de santa teologia. Madrid, por Gregorio Rodriguez, 1650. 22 cm., 18 f., 105, 107 p.

BASILIUS A TARUEL (1603-1682), Suma o compendio sobre la regla de los frayles menores hijos de su gran padre y serafico patriarca san Francisco: recopilada de la exposicion que sobre ella hizo el r.p. fr. Pedro Navarro. por el m.r.p. fr. Basilio de Teruel. En Valencia, por Vicente Cabrera, 1679. 14 cm., [10] f., 221 p, [14] f.

BERNARDINUS A GENT († 1732), Ausslegung uber die Regel der Minderbrüde. P. Bernardinus von Gend Capuciner. [Trad. P. Humilis a Kleve cap.]. Collen, Ben Caspar Drimborn, 1720. 17 cm., [11], 790 p., [21] f.

ILLUMINATUS A FREIBURG (fl. 1736), Kurze Erklaerung der Regul der Minderen Brueder des heil. Vatters Francisci: Gestellt durch kurze Fragen und Antworten zur Unterrichtung in selbiger der Novizen und jungen Professen Capuciner Ordens. Solothurn, Gedruckt bey Urs Neuburger, 1736. 13 cm., 193 p.

AUGUSTINUS A CONEGLIANO (1686-1756), Compendiosa seraphicae regulae espositio / auctore rev. patre Augustino De Gabrielis a Conegliano Ordinis Capuccinorum. Venetiis, Typis Joannis Tybernini, 1749. 12 cm., 284 p.

FLORIDUS BURGHUSIANUS, Quaestiones selectae supra IV. caput Regulae seraphicae FFr. Min. S. P. Francisci Capucinorum de licito et illicito recursu ad pecuniam / authore R. P. Florido Burghusiano. Monachii, typis Joannis Jacobi Vötter, 1751. 16 cm., 83 p.

GAUDENTIUS A BRESCIA (1718-1769), Lo spirito della serafica regola esposto in meditazioni, e conferenze alli professori della sua letterale osservanza / da f. Gaudenzio da Brescia cappuccino. Aggiuntevi alcune osservazioni apologetiche critiche. In Brescia, dalle stampe di Giammaria Rizzardi, 1761. 24 cm., XVI-311 p.

BERNARDUS A BOLOGNA (1699-1768), Lezioni sopra la Regola dei frati minori di s. Francesco / esposte a’ suoi religiosi fratelli da f. Bernardo da Bologna cappuccino lettore teologo. 3. ed. dall’autore riveduta e accresciuta. In Bologna, Nella Stamperia di s. Tommaso d’Aquino, 1764. 25 cm., [6] f., 466 p.

AUGUSTINUS A FUSIGNANO (1717-1803), Breve sposizione della regola de’ ff. minori, data in iscritto a’ suoi novizij di Cesena dal padre Agostino da Fusignano cappuccino, e posta in luce da un divoto dell’Ordine. In Cesena, per Greforio Biasini, 1767. 14 cm., 214, [1] p.

DOROTEO DA KOBLENZ († 1769), Dissertatio de regulae minoritanae praeceptis, consiliis, monitionibus, libertatibus, | ac perfectionibus; | nec non de quampluribus aliis scitu tum necessariis, tum utilibus, | ad eand[em] reductive spectantibus, | ad fratrum minorum s. francisci capucinorum | specialem usum et utilitatem | concinnata | per f. hierotheus confluentinum, | eorundem fratrum minorum in provincia rhenana | aliquando ministro provincialem. Cart. autogr., sec. XVIII, mm 215 x 170 (p. 1), [II]-343 p., num. coeva, dall’antico fondo della curia generale dei cappuccini (conservato a Roma, in Arch. Gen. dell’Ordine, AB 138: cf. Lexicon cap. 752; A. Jacobs, Totenbuch der Rheinisch-Westfälischen sowie der früheren Rheinischen und Kölnischen Kapuzinerprovinz, Limburg 1933, 39).

VIATOR A COCCAGLIO (1706-1793), Tracce di tradizione sopra la regola de’ frati minori / notate da f. Viatore da Coccaglio cappuccino. In Venezia, appresso Simone Occhi, 1780. 25 cm., XXIV-468 p.

BONAVENTURA A VICH (1696-1768), Explicacion de las obligaciones del frayle menor capuchino conforme a las Bulas Pontificias …: para instrucción principalmente de la juventud de la provincia de la Madre de Dios de Cataluña, ordenada en forma de dialogo. Tarragona, por Pedro Canals, 1799. 15 cm., X-254 p.

ALBERTUS A BOLZANO (1796-1863), Expositio regulae ff. minorum s. p. Francisci Ass., a r.mo p. Alberto a Bulsano. Oeniponte, Typis Fel. Rauch, 1850. 20 cm., XIV, [1] f., 518 p.

ALBERTUS A BOLZANO, Expositio regulae ff. minorum s. p. Francisci Ass. . / a rmo p. Alberto a Bulsano. Editio altera, expurgata a r.mo p. Franc. Xaverio a S. Erasmo. Neapoli, Typis Januarii Palma, 1853. 20 cm., XI-439 p.

SAMUEL A LODI (1803-1862), Esposizione ascetico-morale della regola minoritana, compilata dal p. Samuele Majocchi di Lodi ex provinciale cappuccino. Piacenza, dalla tip. di Francesco Solari, 1856. 22 cm., 683 p.

HILARIUS A PARIS (1831-1904), Regula Fratrum Minorum juxta romanorum pontificum decreta et documenta Ordinis, a R. P. Hilario Parisiensi … explanata. Lugduni; Parisiis: apud H. Pelagaud filium et Roblot, 1870. 26 cm., XXX850 p.

HILARIUS A PARIS, Exposition de la Règle de s. François d’Assise avec l’histoire de la pauvreté. Par le T. R. P. Hilaire de Paris. Fribourg, Imprimerie de Ph. Haesler Comp., 1872. 25 cm., XXII-650 p.

JOSÉ CALASANZ VIVES Y TUTÓ, card. (1854-1913), Catecismo de n. s. regla dedicado á los hh. coristas y leges capuchinos de las provincias de España / por un religioso capuchino de la provincia de la Madre de Dios. Roma, Tip. Vaticana, 1890. 13 cm., 114 p.

LADISLAUS A PARIS (1835-1908), Méditations sur la Règle et les Constitutions des Frères-mineurs Capucins de Saint François d’Assise. 4 v. Fontenay-le-Comte, Couvent des Frères Mineurs Capucins, 1894-1896. 22 cm. [Cyclostylo impressum].

LADISLAUS A PARIS, Méditations sur la Règle des frères mineurs et sur les saints des trois Ordres de saint François d’Assise, par le r. p. Ladislaus de Paris de l’Ordre des frères mineurs capucins. Paris, Oeuvre de saint François d’Assise, [1899]. 25 cm., XXIII-1183 p.

PIUS A BENEVENTO (1842-1908), Catechismo della regola di s. Francesco d’Assisi / composto dal p. Pio da Benevento dei frati minori cappuccini. Benevento, Tip. D’Alessandro, 1905. 18 cm., 239 p.

PIATUS A MONS (1815-1904), Pium minoritae Vademecum: seu Capuccinus, religiosus regulae sectator assecuratione pia instructus / opusculum posthumum adm. rev. patris Piati Montensis. Edidit r.p. Adolphus a Denderwindeke. Mechliniae, Typ. H. Dierickx-Beke, [1907]. 17 cm., 211 p.

ALBERTUS A BOLZANO (1796-1863), Pium minoritae vade-mecum seu capuccinus, religiosus regulae sectator assecuratione pia instructus, opusculum posthumus … concinnatum ex expositione Regulae Fratrum Minorum Sancti Francisci Assisiensis, a r.mo p. Alberto a Bulzano, auctum quampluribus adnotationibus edidit r.p. Adolphus a Denderwindeke. Mechliniae, Typ. H. Dierickx-Beke, [1907]. 18 cm., 211 p., ill.

EUGENIUS A PONTREMOLI (1858-1921), Breve esposizione della regola minoritana ad uso dei ff. mm. Cappuccini. Firenze, Tip. s. Francesco a Montughi, 1911. 19 cm., 146 p., [4] f.

THOMAS VILLANOVA A ZEIL (1869-1940), Regel des ersten Ordens des heiligen Franziskus: kurze Einführung für Novizen und Laienbrüder. Von P. Thomas Villanova [Gerster] von Zeil. Innsbruck, Verlag der Nordtirolischen Kapuzinerprovinz, [1914]. 16 cm., 94 p., 1 f. (varie edizioni e traduzioni).

BARTOLOMEO DA MONZA (Ratti) (1856-1920), Esposizione | della | Regola e vita dei Frati Minori | scritta | dal | Molto Rev. Padre Bartolomeo da Monza | dei | Frati Minori Cappuccini | Già Missionario Apostolico nell’Indie e nel Brasile | ex Provinciale Titolare | della Provincia di S. Carlo in Lombardia | Anno 1918. Ms. cart., mm 310 x 210 (p. 1); 2*-XLIX-1036 p., num. orig.; provenienza: dall’autore al p. Venanzio da Lisle-en-Rigault († 1926) ministro generale dei cappuccini (dedica); stato di conservazione buono; autografo del p. Bartolomeo da Monza che, dopo essere stato missionario in India (1883-1905?) e in Brasile (1905-1908), si è dedicato poi al commento alla Regola di san Francesco per l’uso dei cappuccini esposta in 68 lezioni, terminato nel 1918 (conservato a Roma, in Arch. Gen. dell’Ordine, AD 64).

THOMAS VILLANOVA A ZEIL, Regola del primo Ordine di s. Francesco: breve spiegazione per i novizi e per i fratelli. P. Tommaso Villanova Gerster O.C.; traduzione del p. Matteo da Coronata sulla 3. ed. conforme al nuovo codice. Genova, Tip. della Gioventù, 1919. 17 cm., 167 p.

LUIGI DA CLEARFIELD (Kausler) (1864-1931), Quomodo obligat | regula | fratrum minorum. | Thesis | Theologico-juridico-regularis, | quam elaboravit | A.R.P. Aloysius Kausler, O.M.Cap., | Provinciae Pennsylvanicae | Lector Jubilatus. | In praesentem formam redegit | et Disceptationem | historico-theologicam | adjecit | R.P. Fransciscus Laing, O.M.Cap., | ejusdem Provinciae | Lector. || (c. [I]). Ms. cart.1923 (lettera allegata), mm 280 x 215; cc. [III], XXIX-414; num. coeva; bianco il verso di tutte le carte; dattiloscritto; provenienza: dall’autore inviato alla curia generale dei cappuccini nel 1923; tesi del p. Luigi da Clearfield presentata al ministro generale dei cappuccini, vi è infatti allegata la lettera del ministro generale, Giuseppe Antonio Bussolari da S. Giovanni in P., del 14 agosto 1923 al provinciale con la quale dà l’approvazione per la stampa. (conservato a Roma, in Arch. Gen. dell’Ordine, AB 198).

Regle des frères-mineur, suivie de La conduite intérieur [de p. Paul de Lagny]. Paris, Soc. et Libr. s. François d’Assise – [Gembloux, J. Duculot], 1926. 11 cm., 372 p.

PETRUS AB HERNEN (1864-1928), Dissertatio practica de regulae seraphicae obligatione, a patre Petro [ab Hernen]. [S.l., s.n., 1927?]. 22 cm., 14 p.

ZENO AB UFERING, Erklärung der Regel des heiligen Seraphischen Vaters Franziskus, von P. Zeno von Ufering O.M.Cap. Altötting, St. Fidelisdruckerei, 1929. 23 cm., XVI-555 p.

DIONYSIUS A ROSSIGLIONE (1882-1955), La regola del serafico p. s. Francesco spiegata ai novizi e fratelli laici nella conferenza settimanale. F. Dionigi da Rossiglione O.M.Cap.. Alessandria, Tip. Cattolica, 1934. 20 cm., [4], 388 p., [5] f.

RAYMUND LINDEN (1904-1981), Die Regelobservanz in der Rheinischen Kapuzinerprovinz von der Gründung bis zur Teilung 1611-1668, von P. Dr. Raymund Linden O.M.Cap. (Franziskanische Studien. 16). Münster i. W., Aschendorff, [1936]. 23 cm., XI-150 p., ill.

ALBERTUS A BOLZANO, Exposición de la Regla de los frailes menores : compendio de la novísima edición (1932) de la obra del mismo título del p. Alberto de Bolzano. [A cura di] p. Riccardo de Lizaso O.M.Cap. Pamplona, PP. Capuchinos, 1939. 20 cm., XV-287 p.

BERNARDINUS A SIENA (1911-1992), Esposizione della Regola francescana: con riferimento al Diritto comune e al Diritto particolare dei FF.MM. Cappuccini, di p. Bernardino da Siena o.f.m.cap. Firenze, Curia Provincializia dei Frati Minori Cappuccini, 1950. 22 cm., XX-529 p.

BERNARDINUS A SIENA, Esposizione della Regola francescana, con riferimento al Diritto comune e al Diritto particolare dei FF.MM. Cappuccini di p. Bernardino da Siena o.f.m.cap. 2. ed. Firenze, Curia Generale dei FF. MM. Cappuccini, 1959. 22 cm., XIV-599 p.

FORTUNATUS A SANTIAGO († 1932), Una polémica acerca de la Regla franciscana a finales del siglo XVIII y principios del XIX : Antonio Esquivel y su doctrina. Roma, [s.n.], 1965. 24 cm., 1 f.p., 183-220 p.; 24 cm. (Ex Laurentianum 6 [1965]).

FIDELIS [ELIZONDO] A PAMPLONA (1924-), De praeceptis aequipollentibus in Regula franciscana. Roma, [s.n.], 1967. 24 cm.,[281]-348 p. (Ex Laurentianum 8 [1967]).

ARCHANGELUS A BARLETTA (1908-), Brevi istruzioni sulla regola del 1° Ordine. Pro manuscripto. Maglie, Tipografia A. Donato, [19—]. 16 cm., 58 p.

La Regola francescana nel capitolo speciale del 1968 dei Frati Minori Cappuccini in relazione ai Documenti Pontifici. Rilievi su l’attuale impostazione della legislazione francescana-cappuccina per una rivalutazione della Regola francescana. [s. l. , s. ed., 1967?]. 23 cm., 4 p.

Regula franciscana in Capitulo speciali anni 1968 Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum conlata documentis pontificiis. Animadversione circa hodiernam compositionem legislationis franciscanae, capuccinae ad quamdam reintegrationem Regulae franciscanae. [s. l., s. ed., 1967?]. 25 cm., 7 p.

FIDELIS A PAMPLONA, Disquisitio historica de praeceptorum descriptione et enumeratione in Regula francescana. Romae, Institutum Historicum OFM Cap., [1967]. 24 cm., [250]-285 p. (Ex Collectanea Franciscana 37 [1967]).

FORTUNATUS A SANTIAGO (1932-), Doctrinas acerca de la Regla franciscana en los siglos XVIII-XIX. Roma, [s.n.], 1967. 24 cm., XV-62 p. (Ex Laurentianum 7 [1966]). Ante titulum: Pont. Universitas Gregoriana Facultas Iuris Canonici. Excerpta ex diss. ad lauream.

PASCHAL RYWALSKI (1911-2002), Il rinnovamento dei Cappuccini e la Regola di S. Francesco. Testo italiano dall’originale latino pubblicato dalla Conferenza Italiana dei Superiori Provinciali Cappuccini. «Pro manuscripto». Roma, Conferenza Italiana dei Superiori Provinciali Cappuccini, 1974. 17 cm., 31 p.

FIDEL ELIZONDO, Los sumarios de la regla franciscana en la Orden Capuchina. Roma, Laurentianum, 1975. 23 cm., [383]-430 p. (Extrattum ex Commentario Laurentianum 16 [1975]).

FIDEL ELIZONDO, Los sumarios de la regla franciscana en la Orden Capuchina. Roma, Laurentianum, 1976. 23 cm., 42 p. (Extrattum ex Commentario Laurentianum 17 [1976]).

FIDEL ELIZONDO, Exposiciones de la regla franciscana publicadas por capuchinos españoles. [Barcelona], Estudios Franciscanos, 1978. 24 cm., [202]-262 p. (Ex Estudios Franciscanos 79 [1978]).

FIDEL ELIZONDO, Regola francescana presso i primi cappuccini. Roma, [s.ed.], 1978. 24 cm., [625]-665 p. (Ex L’Italia Francescana 53 [1978]).

FIDEL ELIZONDO, Ediciones capuchinas de la Regla franciscana publicadas en lengua alemana. [Barcelona], Estudios Franciscanos, 1979. 24 cm., [301]-342 p. (Ex Estudios Franciscanos 80 [1979]).

FIDELIS A PAMPLONA, Comentario inedito de Victorio de Appeltern a un rescripto de Clemente VIII sobre la Regla francescana. Roma, [s.n.], 1980. 24 cm., [27]-69 p. (Ex Laurentianum 21 [1980]).

FIDELIS A PAMPLONA, Ediciones capuchinas de la Regla franciscana publicadas en lengua inglesa y neerlandesa. [Bercelona], Estudios Franciscanos, 1980. 24 cm., [223]-261 p. (Ex Estudios Franciscanos 81 [1980]).

ALDIR CROCOLI (1948-), Una leitura pedagogica da regra de sâo Francisco de Assis. Roma, [s.ed.], 1981. 29 cm., 123 f. Ante tit.: Pontificio Ateneu Antonianum. Instituto Franciscano de Espiritualidade.

FIDEL ELIZONDO, Ediciones Capuchinas de la Regla franciscana publicadas en lengua latina. [Barcelona], Estudios Franciscanos, 1984. 23 cm., [3]-109 p. (Ex Estudios Franciscanos 85 [1984]).

JULIO MICÓ (1943-), Valores evangélicos de la Regla de S. Francisco hoy. Valencia, Provincia Franciscana de Valencia, Aragón y Baleares, 1990. 23 cm., [264]-274 p. (Ex Selecciones de Franciscanismo 19 [1990]).

RUFINO MARÍA GRÁNDEZ (1936-), La regla franciscana en mi profesion capuchina. (Colección OPI, 1). Burlada (Navarra), Curia Provincial de Capuchinos, 1991. 21 cm., 65 p.

  1. Cf. FC I, 171s.
  2. Cf. the very latest collection of studies on this fervent spiritual: F. ACCROCCA, Un ribelle tranquillo. Angelo Clareno e gli Spirituali francescani fra Due e Trecento, Edizioni Porziuncola, S. Maria degli Angeli-Assisi 2009. On the presence of Clareno in the writings of the first Capuchins cf. the exhaustive bibliography at p. 108 of the cited volume of Accrocca, note 4; in particular, his study: L’influsso degli Spirituali sulle Costituzioni di Albacina, in Ludovico da Fossombrone e l’Ordine dei Cappuccini, a work of V. Criscuolo (Bibliotheca seraphico-capuccina, 44) Roma 1994, 271-306. Two documents in particular reveal this fact: in the brief Pastoralis officii cura of Clement VII of 15 April 1534 it is noted the claim of the first Capuchins “to observe the Rule of blessed Francis to perfection, not only according to the declarations that have until now issued from our preceding Roman Popes, but according to its literal sense” (praetendentes se velle Regulam beati Francisci ad unguem, iuxta eius literale sensum, et non declarationes super illa hactenus per romanos pontifices praedecessores nostros editas, observare); and the letter of Vittoria Colonna to Cardinal G. Contarini of 1536 in which she lists the accusations against the Capuchins, the first of which is that they are followers of the Free Spirit («paiono luterani, perché predicano la libertà del spirito»). Cf. FC I, 70s; II, 217.
  3. Const. 1536, n. 5, in FC I, 262.
  4. FC I, 244.
  5. An observation, already often affirmed, and now pointedly reiterated by a critical study of the Constitutions of the Order by Pietro Maranesi, Le costituzioni minoritiche: una identità in cammino, in Italia Francescana (84 (2009) 256-264, the whole article pages 231-266.
  6. FC I, 235.
  7. Ibid., 236, 241.
  8. BERNARDINUS A COLPETRAZZO, Historia Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum (1525-1593). Liber tertius: Ratio vivendi Fratrum (Monumenta Historica Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, 4) Romae 1941, 149.
  9. ID., Liber secundus: Biographiae selectae (Monumenta Historica Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, 3) Assisi 1940, 80.
  10. FC III/1, 270.
  11. Ibid., 703-705.
  12. Ibid., 270, 296.
  13. Cost. 1536, n. 63: FC I, 336.
  14. Cf. C. CARGNONI, L’apostolato dei cappuccini come “redundantia di amore”, in Italia Francescana 53 (1978) 559-593; and, apart from this, in: La vita dei frati cappuccini ripensata nel 450° anniversario della loro riforma. Conferenze tenute al convegno nazionale (Roma, 25-30 sett. 1978) Roma, L’Italia Francescana – CISPCap., 1978, 51-85.
  15. Cost. 1536, n. 112: FC I, 411; “we exhort the preachers to imprint Blessed Christ upon their hearts and to give themselves into His serene possession so that through the superabundance of love He may be the one who speaks in them, not only with words but especially through their deeds after the example of Paul, the teacher of the nations. He did not dare preach anything to others unless Christ had first worked it in him”. 
  16. Cf. FC III/2, 5045.
  17. FC I, 602ff, 616.
  18. FC IV, 1099ff.
  19. Cf. ibid., 246-249.
  20. Fragments synthesised from ibid., 315-343.
  21. Ibid., 374-385.
  22. Ibid., 579-580.
  23. Ibid., 580.
  24. Ibid., 605-606.
  25. Ibid., 606-515.
  26. Ibid., 396.
  27. Ibid., 397.
  28. Ibid., 397ff.
  29. Ibid., 399-400.
  30. Ibid., 401-403.
  31. Ibid., 403-404.
  32. BERNARDINUS A COLPETRAZZO, Historia Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum (1525-1593). Liber secundus: Biographiae selectae (Monumenta Historica Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, 3) Assisi 1940, 187.
  33. Cf. FC I, 479-1159.
  34. An accurate reading of the renewal of religious life after the Council, with its lights and shadows, can be read in the study of V. DE PAOLIS, La vita religiosa e la Chiesa del Vaticano II, in Commentarium pro religiosis et missionariis 90 (2009) 7-28, qui 21.