Introduction to Capuchin Missions and Missionaries








A work of

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap.

Translator’s note: This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. in I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/2, pp.4077-4087. The only additions to the notes made by the translator are references to Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, edited by Regis Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. and William J. Short O.F.M. Conv., New York City Press, New York, London, Manila, for an English version of quotations from the Writings or Biographies of St Francis.

Table of Contents


1. The missionary spirituality of the early Capuchins and the first missionary initiatives in the Order

2. The Missions that were undertaken by French Capuchins in the Near East

3. The Capuchin Missions in the Piemonte Valleys

a) The first missionaries and their apostolic methodology

b) Some of the concerns that the missionaries experienced and the difficulties that they had with the superiors of the province

c) The original growth of missionary activity in the Alps

The letters written by Filippo Robotti

Missions of Mercy towards Priests and Religious Apostates

Other aspects of missionary activity in the Piemonte Valleys


The Capuchin way of life was meant to be a means of reforming the Franciscan Order and was based on a desire to revive the evangelical and ecclesial values of St Francis. Almost all of its founders were concerned with the apostolic vocation of being missionaries and they endeavoured to be true to it. In the beginning this did not take place in an official or organised manner, but was the outcome of a charismatic and mystical impulse that became expressed and codified in the Constitutions of Rome-S Eufemia in 1536 and which was repeated in the subsequent revisions of the laws. Later on, this concern became more official by means of decisions taken at the General Chapters, especially in the later part of the seventeenth century. Subsequently, it was structured more juridically under the guidance and direction of the new Congregation of the Faith that was set up in June 1622 when this apostolate was organised along the lines of Catholic evangelisation throughout the entire world.[1]

The first decades of the Order were mainly taken up with the friars evaluating and deepening the sense of how to live their own way of Franciscan spirituality. However, the friars also demonstrated missionary stamina within Italy by their fervent itinerant preaching to the people and their work in other forms of the apostolate.

After Gregory XIII had revoked Paul III’s Papal Brief Dudum siquidem in 1574, the Capuchins went into the other European countries even though they were not yet able to undertake great missionary journeys across the sea in spite of the request that Cardinal Santiori made in 1584 to have them become missionaries in the East Indies and America. The Pope acceded to the request with joy. However, it was turned down because of the political outlook of Philip II who was suspicious of missionaries from other lands.[2]

The only areas that remained open were the Orient and North Africa. These arears that were prevalently Muslim areas but also contained some European schismatic Protestants. These were the first missionary ventures of the Capuchins during the first months of their early history.

Because of this the documents that are used in the present study deal with two geographical regions. They deal rather briefly with the Near East and Levant. They have more to say about the area of the valleys in the Piermont Alps where the Calvinist heresy was attempting to penetrate into Italy.

The Capuchins in North Africa undertook a successful apostolate of evangelisation and the emancipation of Christian slaves. We have already treated this apostolate in the preceding volume.[3] As we have already stated, this was the first official venture of the Capuchins into being missionaries among the infidels. It was launched in 1587 when Girolamo da Polizzi granted an obedience to certain friars, including Giuseppe da Leonessa, to go to Constantinople to begin missionary activity.[4]

A geographical extension of the apostolate among the infidels began in the second half of the seventeenth century but this is beyond the chronological scope of the present study. Here we do not give all the documentary evidence but simply select those texts that furnish an account of the spirituality and the Franciscan and ecclesiastical objectives of the friars. The documents that we have selected convey the apostolic approach and cultural diversity of the Capuchin charism that was practised by the friars in the many different surroundings in which they worked. After 1622 (a date that is as important as the date of the Council of Trent had been), Capuchin missionary activity was shaped by the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith. This is clearly shown in the first Constitutions of the Order especially in the famous statement in chapter twelve (n.143) that conveys the heroic and mystical approach that was evident in the early Capuchin friars.

1. The missionary spirituality of the early Capuchins and the first missionary initiatives in the Order

In a rich historical and missionary account of these matters Metodio da Nembo[5] wrote: “Article 145 is really very valuable not only as a proof of the undying missionary aspirations of the friars, but also of the missionary vision that preceded the project and which is conveyed in juridical terminology in the following concepts:

1. The underlying missionary spirit in the Order that was based on St Francis and the Franciscan tradition.

2. The core objectives that formed and ultimately defined missionary activity; namely, the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

3. The primary motive that inspired this activity: love of Christ and zeal for the Catholic faith.

4. The skills that were required to undertake this work: being “ready and willing” and feeling called by divine inspiration.

5. The regulations to be observed within the Order to obtain the necessary obedience which had to be given by the Minister General or the Minister Provincial.

6. The way to carryout one’s personal missionary vocation in trepidation and humility, being subject to the judgement of the superiors who provided a guarantee that what was undertaken was in accord with God’s will.

7. The general rules that guided superiors in granting permission: firstly, the welfare of the mission, then, the various requirements when constituting the makeup of the fraternities in different regions.

Those who created the legislation also considered the environment in which the missionaries would be working. They noted the differences between pagans in the Spanish and Portuguese colonies and the fanatical reaction in Muslim areas. As with St Francis and the early Franciscans, the first Capuchin venture went into the Muslim world and this resulted in blood being shed.

Even though the instructions contained in the early Constitutions concerning preaching are comprehensive and presume a lengthy experience in this activity, relatively little is said about other forms of the apostolate.[6] Although the mission to the infidels is mentioned in n. 143 this is only because the Order had already actually experienced something in this field. This directive remained in force until the new modern Constitutions were drafted. What changed in the Constitutions in 1608 was that the question of the missions took pride of place in chapter twelve. The heroic charism of those who had died was canonised and clearly acknowledged.

When we consider the origin of this development, we can understand the profound motives behind the flourishing of missionary activity which included both the emphasis on and progress in comprehensive, seraphic and mystical charity and the historical development and geographical expansion of the missionary apostolate among the infidels, the heretics and the schismatics.

We have often been asked why chapter twelve of the early Constitutions, which treated the subject of the missions in parallel with the same chapter of the Rule, introduced the topic with a fervent exhortation concerning fraternal charity and then went on to discuss missionary activity? Perhaps this did not happen by chance. It is a precise reference “to due order in divine things”.[7] It reveals the charism of the Order in relation to its mission to the Church.

“So that the purity of the Rule be better observed with due order in divine matters, along with most high poverty, we order that there be no less than six and no more twelve Friars in our places. Assembled in the fair name of the gentle Jesus, let them be of one heart and one mind, striving always to tend towards greater perfection. To be true disciples of Christ himself let them love one another from the heart, bearing one another’s faults always. Exerting themselves in divine love and fraternal charity let them strive to give the best example to each other and to every person, even by doing continuous violence to their own passions and depraved inclinations. For as our Saviour says, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent plunder it, that is, those who vigorously do violence to themselves..”[8]

This is the dream of a community that wishes to reproduce the drive of the Apostles and the early Christian community and to be grounded on just one thing which is “the lifestyle of the early Church” or “the way of life recommended in the Gospel”.[9] This is the Church becoming aware of its quintessence. The friars came together in the name of sweet Jesus and for no other reason. They were a group of believers, a community of love living in the Cenacle where Jesus had pronounced the commandment of love. When fraternal love is a reality, it embraces everybody.

The missionary apostolate is based on love of God and love of neighbour. The evangelical community of brothers becomes a platform from which the friars, when renewed by the Spirit and following divine inspiration, go out into the world to mix with “the Saracens and other infidels”[10] to carry out their mission and become holy in obedience and in line with their charism throbbing in and out like a heartbeat. Where there is no ecclesial community there is no mission. The missionary Church is built on the foundation stone of love.

This is why, after describing a vibrant ecclesial community that lives together in harmony and poverty, the early Capuchin Constitutions speak about “the conversion of the infidels.”

“The conversion of the infidels was very close to the heart of our Seraphic Father. Therefore, for the glory of God and their salvation, we direct that if some Friars, who by divine inspiration and who are perfectly enkindled in the love of blessed Christ and in zeal for His Catholic faith, want to go to preach that faith among the infidels, let them have recourse to their Vicar Provincials or the Father Vicar General according to the Rule. On being judged by these as suitable, let them go to such an arduous undertaking with their permission and blessing. However the subjects should not presumptuously judge themselves as suitable for such a difficult and dangerous undertaking”.[11]

When living in community the brothers were obliged to “strive after greater perfection.” In these circumstances they were supposed to be “perfect” already, that is “they should have arrived at the third stage of the interior life”, in other words, they ought to have already advanced beyond the purgative and illuminative stages, and be living in the unitive or mystical stage. The first steps in the missionary journey of the Capuchin Order were taken in the light of a vision and were dominated by a mystical ideal which was expressed in law by the use of expressions that spoke of heroism. “Since for those who have no love upon the earth it is a sweet, fair and fitting thing to die for the one who died for us on the Cross, we instruct the friars to serve during the plague …”[12] The tradition of being of service during the frequent outbreaks of plague[13] is the result of the loving response of those “perfect friars who were enflamed with love of Christ”. Giovanni da Fano said; “One who is a perfect contemplative will feel in the first place the warmth of divine love.” (n. 3920). He will then give of himself and sacrifice himself without being concerned about the method or the means that are involved.

The early Capuchins had an exalted concept to missionary activity. They expected missionaries to be motivated by perfect charity which was the consequence of an experience of unitive and mystical love. However, they were completely at ease with the combination of the contemplative and the active life which is taken for granted today in modern missionary activity.[14]

If we wish to discover the sources of this mystical missionary ideal we need to go back to the days when the Franciscan houses of recollection were founded in Italy and to 1526 when Francesco Quiňones was the general of the Observants. Very fervent friars such as Francesco Ripanti da Jesi, Bernardino Palli d’Asti, Giovanni da Fano fra Battista da Norcia, Bartolomeo Spellucci da Spello and Blessed Bartolomeo Cordoni da Città di Castello lived in these remote places.

The last one mentioned gathered a large number of disciples through his mystical teaching. He taught the art of loving union with God. He proclaimed the Rule of St Francis to be the seraphic road that could sidestep every obstacle between the soul and God and which was able to plunge the soul “into a state of perfect charity and a life of self-sacrifice.” This is the highest and most noble state of existence. Whoever lives in this way discovers that he is living under the rule of divine love and has “a heart that is magnificent, free and extends above everything”. There is nothing, no matter how noble and great, except what happens purely and simply because of God’s love. Such people are always prepared to undertake great works and are ready and willing to do so at any hour when it is needed to jump into fire and be martyred in order to save their neighbour. What would please them most would be to give their life for their enemies. …”.[15]

This mystical desire to die for others led Cordoni to care for those who suffered from the plague in Gubbio and Terni at exactly the same time as Matteo di Bascio was doing the same thing in Camerino. However, this did not satisfy him. He had been yearning for martyrdom for a long time and many of his disciples aspired to the same heroic calling. In the end he managed to disengage himself from the position of superior within the Order and after appealing to Clement VII he obtained permission to join a missionary venture which was led by Giovanni da Troia, who was known as the Spaniard, and who was accompanied by Angelo da Botone and Bartolomeo da Spello. These four missionaries were imprisoned and tortured by the followers of Mohamed and later released to merchants. Cordoni returned to Spain at first and then went to Italy. He then seized the opportunity to join another missionary venture with Bernardo da Bergamo, Francesco da Montone, Angelo da Botone and Bernardo da S. Martino in Campo and departed along with the Crusade that destroyed the fortress at La Goletta when Barbarossa was defeated at Tunisi and where he died in 1535.[16]

In the meantime, Giovanni Spagnolo joined the ranks of the Capuchins in Italy and continued to desire the grace of martyrdom. The jovial Giovanni Zuazo da Medina del Campo, who belonged to the Discalced Franciscans in Spain, having been attracted by the reputation of the early Capuchins, came to Italy in secret with the intention of becoming a Capuchin. He was a very contemplative friar who desired martyrdom.

This was a very troubled period that culminated in the apostacy of Bernardino Ochino. The “uneasy” way of life that these zealous and fervent friars experienced was purified by what they suffered and they were strengthened by living the practice of contemplation as set out in the wonderful little book: Arte de la unione by Giovanni Pili da Fano, or by the practice of the method of contemplation advocated by Francesco Ripanto da Jesi that was set out in the powerful treatise: Circolo de carità divina.[17] Giovanni da Fano who, along with Bernardino d’Asti and Ripanti, had supported reform among the Observant Friars, joined the Capuchins in 1534. Later on, many Observant Friars who had a reputation for knowledge and sanctity followed him.

Colpetrazzo says that many of the early Capuchins “held an inner desire to go to the land of the infidels to preach the Christian faith and suffer martyrdom. One or other of them said: – Our Lord did not send us so many tribulations for any other reason than to turn us away from the world. We are useless and are hated by the whole world. We have suffered so much so that all that is now left is our poor life. Let us go and offer it for Christ and to convert our neighbours to the true faith.”[18] It took all the skill and intelligence of Ludovico da Fossombrone to restrain the fervour of the mystical desire for martyrdom that would have caused a severe haemorrhage of friars to strike the emerging reform.

It was probably because of this and in order to facilitate the call to missionary activity that number 143 of the Constitutions of 1536 addresses the Provincials Superiors with the words: “The superiors ought not consider the lack of Friars nor be sad because of the departure of good friars. Instead let them cast all their solicitude and concern upon the One who cares for us continually. Let them do all these things as the Holy Spirit teaches and carry out everything with that charity which does nothing badly.”

The extent of the missionary aspirations of the Capuchins is demonstrated in the following emotional story. Bernardino Ochino tried to make certain Catholic attitudes look “ridiculous”. In 1554 while he was in Geneva, he put together a number of anticatholic anecdotes including the following (n. 46). [19] He produced a satire against the Porziuncola Indulgence in which he said that a group of 25 Capuchins came to S. Maria degli Angeli wishing to obtain the precious indulgence in order to obtain forgiveness of all of their sins as well as the sins of their neighbours. They went around day and night going in one door and coming out the other hoping to save 20,000 people each day. By doing this they were hopeful of saving all Christians and also of gaining indulgences for the Turks, the Jews, the pagans and the heretics. They all hoped that the whole world would be saved by the prayers of the Capuchins.

There were also some personal initiatives. There were individual Capuchins in the missionary territory of Brazil in the second decade of the Capuchin Reform. There is historical evidence of the missionary activity of two Capuchin mystical protomartyrs; Giovanni Zuazo and Giovanni Spagnolo di Troia as well as Blessed Bartolomeo Cordoni a priest and another friar who was a brother. In 1549 and 1551, with the approval of the Minister General, of Bernardino d’Asti, and of Paul III, they went to Constantinople, then to Palestine and to Cairo where they were martyred.[20]

A year after Propaganda Fide was established, when the Order had not yet spread throughout Europe, on 26th July 1623 Father Girolamo da Castelferretti, the Procurator of the Order, wrote to Cardinal Paolo Virelleschi da Foligno saying:

In order to bring about the conversion of souls the Capuchins travel about more than any other men or women religious. In the Province of Piemonte we have eight missions in the Alps. We have a mission in Torone for the conversion of sections of Geneva, that is so extensive and famous that it is known throughout Europe. We have a mission in Ireland and one in England. We have a mission in Béarn in the Province of Tolosa; one in Poetú in the Province of Torena. The Province of Paris has permission to move further afield.

The Province of Lorena is trying to establish missions. During the months in which we have been in correspondence, Father General has been talking about establishing missions in Aleppo, Constantinople, Cairo, and Moluccas. At the moment, Father Ignazio Bergamasco, who is the superior of the mission of Valtellina and many other places, is doing great work for the conversion of souls. We have heard that since Easter more than a thousand heretics have been converted. We became aware of this by means of letter sent by the friars who live there.

Most of the pulpits in Italy, France, Spain and Germany are occupied by Capuchins. Father Giacinto da Casale has done everything that he could to promote the Capuchins. Father Zaccaria da Saluzzo has written something against the Archbishop of Spalato (Marcantonio de Dominicis) and has tried to bring the King of England back to the Catholic faith. Father Diego da Quiroga (+ 1649), Provincial of Castiglia, is doing the same kind of work.[21]

By the exercise of divine love, the early Capuchins opened their hearts and their communities sharing Christ’s love with the entire world with increasing love and heroism which is the true way of living the Franciscan ideal and “being in union with the Church”.

2. The Missions that were undertaken by French Capuchins in the Near East

This wave of missionary activity as it is described in the letter written by Girolamo da Castelferrette paints a picture of what the Order looked like in 1623. It worked in a variety of apostolic activities and was prepared to extend these activities. Indeed, wherever the friars set up a community, immediately was born a new mission to convert the heretics, the schematics and non-Catholics. This is what happened in the famous mission in Chablais in 1594-1595 which was setup by many friars including Father Cherubino da Maurienne. The same thing happened in many areas of France beginning with the mission at Poitou that was established by Father Giuseppe Tremblay in Paris in 1617 and went on to Pau in the region of Béarn in 1619 and then from there to other Provinces. The work continued on into Holland, Switzerland, Bohemia and parts of Germany.[22]

We cannot cover the development of all of these missions. By preaching to the people in a challenging manner, the provision of catechetical instruction, personal thought-provoking discussion and the devotion of the Forty Hours along with providing a strong witness to poverty, austerity and contemplation according to what was customary in Capuchin spirituality, they led the Catholic Church as well as Huguenots, Calvinists and other groups in the Reformation back to the true faith.[23]

There were also other initiatives such as the first overseas missionary expedition in which Capuchins from Paris went to Maranhäo (Brazil) in 1612. Although it only lasted for three years it is historically important because of the “nostalgic reminiscences” that were left by some of the missionaries.[24]

The French initiative, which also had the support of the political aims of the king, lasted longer in the Levant. We cannot allude to this mission which was established in the seventeenth century without mentioning two famous French personalities: Father Pacifico da Provins (+ 1684) and Giuseppe du Tremblay da Parigi (+ 1638).

The first one deserves to be remembered as the one who founded these missions. René de Lescalle, who was a descendent of the Dukes of Verona, became a Capuchin in Rome in 1605 and took the name Pacifico. Endowed with energy, creativity and a sense of adventure combined with a sincere zeal for the salvation of the infidels, he soon set off for the missions that were the hot topic of conversation in France at the time. In 1611 he had already offered to join the expedition to Brazil as one of the forty Capuchins who answered the call. However, he was not chosen since he had not yet completed his studies.

A favourable opportunity arose later when he discovered that his brother who had gone to fight the Turks in Hungary had been taken prisoner, cast aside his baptism and become a Muslim. Following this, in 1619, his zeal impelled him to ask his superiors to grant him an obedience to go to Constantinople in the hope of meeting up with his brother the “poor lost sheep”. His Provincial Superior, Father Onorato de Chanpigny da Parigi, raised no objection to him undertaking this journey. However, it took two years for the General Superiors to grant him the required authorisation in 1621.

He set out with Father Ippolito da Parigi and they spent two months in Constantinople till the end of spring in 1622. While he was there, rather than looking for his brother, he asked the French and Venetian ambassadors about the possibility of establishing a Catholic mission. He and another Capuchins then visited Alexandria in Egypt, Rosetta, Cairo, Damietta and much of Palestine on foot until they reached Damascus. It was a journey to find out if they could establish a mission in all of these places.

When in Rome, Pacifico da Provins furnished a detailed report of his journey to the Congregation of the Propaganda of the Faith and asked for several Capuchin mission stations to be set up in various cities in the Levant. The request was couched in terms filled with enthusiasm and apostolic zeal (doc. 1).

The Cardinals in the Propagation of the Faith decided to ask the Capuchin Superiors to send missionaries. Since he was sure that he would be nominated, Father Pacifico returned to France to put his affairs in order and to prepare to depart. However, the matter dragged on and it was not until 23rd July 1624 that he was entrusted with the mission to Constantinople and the surrounding regions of Greece and Thrace. He was ready to embark for Marseilles when he received an order to update his missionary program. He knew that those who were attending the General Chapter in Rome were considering changes in the regulations pertaining to his missionary agenda. Father Giuseppe da Parigi was involved in this. In fact, on 19th April 1625 the Propagation of the Faith officially assigned Father Giuseppe to establish missions in the Near East and named him as the Apostolic Commissary of Constantinople and the other missions in the East as well as those in England and Scotland.

Giuseppe da Parigi asked to have an assistant and the Congregation nominated the Provincial Superior, Leonardo da Parigi, and gave him the same juridical authority. He resigned from all other offices in the Order, and gave himself totally to being Prefect of the missions in the East, while continuing to govern the missions in Poitou and making use of his political and social contacts and his privileged position in the French Court.

Pacifico da Provins had to submit to this disappointing situation. He realized that he had been robbed of the merit of establishing the missions of the French Capuchins in the Levant and forced to serve under someone else who was in charge. When he was suddenly recalled to Paris, he lived there for some months. It was only at the beginning of Lent in 1626 that he could go back to the East accompanied by Father Gabriele and Father Pacifico, both of whom came from Paris. This was not to establish a mission in Constantinople but organize a missionary foundation in the business section of Aleppo, the harbor city of the East, and to set up an apostolic mission among the Armenians.

However, another group of Capuchins was assigned to the mission in Constantinople. The group was made up of Leonardo de la Tour di Parigi, Evangelista di Reims and Raffaele di Villeneuve-Roi under the control of Father Arcangelo de Fossés, who was related to the Count of Césy, the French Ambassador. The Count became the providential instrument of the establishment of many other sites. In fact, his resourceful influence succeeded in a few friars being assigned to the church of S. Giorgio at Galata in July of 1626. On April 6th 1627 he had Father Leonardo de la Tour and Father Raffaele de Villeneuve sent from Constantinople to the Isle of Chios which was the strongpoint of Latin Christianity in the East. More Capuchins were established in Naxos in the following year, and near the end of 1628 another foundation was opened at Smyrna. Later on, helpers were also needed in Syria and in Egypt with the prospect of being able to penetrate into Ethiopia in the future.

In the meantime, going beyond his most ambitious aspirations and after obtaining many privileges from the local Leader, he succeeded in establishing a missionary foundation in Aleppo in 1626 with the possibility of establishing more sites throughout Turkey. The following year he took up the opportunity of establishing a mission in Cyprus. It was at this time that he sent a letter to the Guardian at Messina in which he related the success of the friars among the schismatics and the Muslims (doc. 3).

In the same year, Father Arcangelo da Fossés, who was the superior in Constantinople, sent a letter to a lady at the French Court, who was a benefactor of the Capuchins. The letter gave an account of the beginnings of missionary activity in the main cities in the East (doc. 2). Following four years of intense work Father Arcangelo also sent an official report to the Propagation of the Faith regarding the missionary activity of the Capuchins in Greece and Constantinople (doc. 3).

We cannot detail the full extent of the missionary activity of these Capuchins or give a full account of all the difficulties and hindrances. We realize that it was not easy to operate in challenging surroundings in which there were differing political, commercial and religious authorities. The Capuchins kept themselves apart from all political matters and dedicated themselves totally to preaching the faith. They received the support of the French but were opposed by Franciscans who came from the custody of the Holy Land and who wanted to jealously maintain exclusive control of missionary activity.[25]

Giuseppe da Parigi was immediately aware of the difficulties. From the outset he, along with Leonardo da Parigi, set down precise norms of conduct and intelligent pastoral procedures for the missionary friars that would render their apostolic activity effectual and fruitful (doc. 4). When he was Master of Novices in 1604, he formed many young friars in an unambiguously missionary, Catholic spirituality which was based on the austerity of Capuchin life.

In his book Introduction à la vie spirituélle par une facile méthode d’oraison, which was published in Patis in 1626, he collected the ardent spiritual conferences that he delivered to the novices. In chapter seven of the fourth treatise, he describes Capuchin life as being the way of life that is most suitable way of life for apostolic missionary activity. He recalls the ardent desire for martyrdom that gripped St Francis as he went to Morocco and Asia: “Since our Order was formed the friars have had the desire to die. They not only wished to die, but hurried throughout the world hoping for martyrdom. There were twelve poor friars minor in the whole world. Even though their feet did not venture everywhere, they were known everywhere. Because of their courage the missionaries in Africa and Asia made an impression similar to the impression made by St Francis when he astonished the Sultan”.

Such courage was something that should be imitated and put into practice. He wanted to “prepare young soldiers for the ages to come as well as for the present time, who would be people like Elias, who was the Seraph of the last days, would speak with a tongue that was aflame, as it says in Sacred Scripture.” Therefore, the Capuchins should be prepared to undergo martyrdom in the missions among the infidels. However, Giuseppe da Parigi added: “I do not mean to place all the honor of our Order on the acquisition of new populations for God.” The reputation of the friars must thrive in thousands of new situations.” In fact, what was required in France and in Europe was still so great that the Capuchins, in spite of their rapid numerical and territorial expansion, were fully occupied with missions in the countryside and among the Protestants. The Oratorian Order and the Vincentians had led the way in this apostolate.[26]

Therefore, we need to prepare and “to be watchful with prayers and tears, sweat and enthusiasm and even with the shedding of our own blood, if necessary, because if the divine plan has not assigned us to the conquest of all the atheists, Protestants and infidels at least we should prepare the territory for our posterity.” We ought to cultivate apostolic fervor and nourish it continually by standing at the foot of the Cross and plant it everywhere by stamping it on human hearts, flying like seraphic eagles and apostolic spirits throughout the world. Giuseppe da Parigi concludes:

St Francis wanted his friaries to be built near the cities. In the person of our founder and his companions who, like Mary Magdalene at the feet of the Savior, had become accustomed to the sweetness of prayer, our Order earnestly wanted, in imitation of this Penitent, to flee into the midst of grim rocks and wild forests in search of sweet solitude. But just as the ancients had regarded the eagle to be a messenger of the gods, so God had chosen this Order to be a swift-moving messenger, travelling clothed in nothing and in poverty, to bring down the dispatches and communications regarding penance and conversion to people by means of the praiseworthy lifestyle of Friars Minor, and do the work of the great mystical eagle who floats through the air at the height of a sublime lifestyle and calls out: “Woe, woe, woe to those whose hearts are full of earthly concerns”, inviting them to fly to paradise by the example of heavenly conversion of the Friars.[27]

Future apostles and missionaries were trained to have this kind of enthusiasm. Simplicity in clothing and poverty were the influential characteristics of the missionary presence and apostolic activity of the Capuchin Friars. When they went about in the world to preach, to teach catechism, to enter into controversy and to hear Confessions they had to depart as little as possible from the letter and the spirit of their Rule. In that way the prayer life, fraternity and penance that existed in the friary had to take precedence so that the apostolate would not contradict the way of life that was lived in the friary. The ideal was to live the same way of life in the missions as was lived in the friary.

The reputation of the Capuchins was certainly linked to their exemplarity austerity. This is why St Francis de Sales could say that “the Capuchins possess a strict and rigorous way of life or, to put it more clearly, their spirit is that of complete detachment from the things of the world and all its vanity and sensuality. This is demonstrated by the poverty of their habits and this converts souls to God, unites them to the Divine Majesty and at the same time to love of neighbour for the love of God.”[28] The Saint got to know the friars well in the friary at Chablais and he spoke about them in a letter that he sent to the Pope saying that “missionneurs intrèpides dont chacun per son zèle infatigable, rèalisait le travail de beaucoup.”[29]

The letters that we have chosen give an important account of what happened. Father Pacifico di Provina informed the Cardinals of the Propagation of the Faith about these matters because “he had personal experience during his trip through these places of how the austere way of dress, detachment from money and honest way of life had combined to show that the only way to live a good life was to help the infidels.” (n. 7817) He also wrote to a lady at Court who had been a benefactor of the missionaries saying that the judges of the people “say that we are men who are truly consecrated to God, and that they are aware of this undeniable sign which, by means of detachment from the world, we have restricted the usage of money although we could have had anything that we wanted.” (n. 7604.)

There is a detailed account of the apostolic and missionary strategy in a letter signed by Father Giuseppe di Parigi and his assistant, Father Leonardo da Parigi. These two missionaries worked together constantly even though Father Giuseppe who had an exuberant character and who was the founder of these missions was always regarded as the one who started the work. He demanded, above anything else, that there be “perfect observance” of “the Capuchin lifestyle” as it was observed in the friaries. This involved living a way of life that included fraternal life, poverty, humility, prayer and penance that was a characteristic of the Capuchins.

All the main ways of realizing the objective of the missions were based upon this and “it was one of the main aims of apostolic activity”. A missionary ought to be well trained combining serious study with instruction in the local languages which is necessary for hearing Confessions, and which should not be overlooked but undertaken “with pious diligence and resourcefulness.”

Therefore, the missionaries should not wait for people to come to Confession, but, like good hunters, they should “go in search of their quarry”, find them and catch them. Therefore, they ought to be involved in a dynamic apostolate, that is carefully focused, courageous, tireless based on the example of Paul the Apostle wile still being spiritually prudent (cf. n. 7610). Most of all it should be carried out with “humility” and full of “affective devotion”, without becoming down-hearted or discouraged because the “primary objective” of missionary life is “to desire to join in the activity of those who have been lifted up to His Father by their Saviour for the salvation of the world until life is ended. This cannot actually be achieved without shedding some tears since nature is held down and cannot be lifted up until it has become detached from itself. (n. 7611)

Just as there were some missionaries who had become discouraged because of the enormous difficulties and the few achievements, Father Giuseppe was animated by zeal for the faith and asked them to be patient, obedient and steadfast in trusting and have the kind of confidence that had motivated missionaries throughout the ages:

Certainly, it is impossible to gather fruit from these people and improve this neglected vineyard without making allowances for time and being patient. There is nothing that is more contrary to the true spirit that is required than giving in to depression and acting like the wicked vinedresser who did not want to work at cultivating the soil that he thought was barren when he was the one who contributed to this by not working on the field. To become discouraged about this work to which God wants us to depends more to His grace than on our own ability is like closing the door on his blessing. (n. 7614).[30]

Making use of the treasure of pastoral experience the he had accumulated in the missions of Poitu and other regions in France, where he had tried to restore the Catholic faith, he suggests that the missionaries ought to engage the laity in this apostolate and bring them together into groups or confraternities, in which “they might observe the Rule of the Third Order which was well suited to their state and the present circumstances.” (n. 7612) Most of all they should try to “identify those laypeople who were more capable and suitable in drawing others to practice virtue and cast away error”. (n. 7613) One activity that was very necessary and urgent was the education of the young.

Driven by this clear vision of pastoral activity and inspired by spiritual motives Capuchin missionaries could really gather much fruit. When he was near the end of his life, Giuseppe da Parigi planned new methods of missionary animation and insisted even more strongly that his brothers go to the missions among the infidels in the hope that all the Provinces in the Order would move towards sending missionaries. In 1638 he was quite pleased to be able to write:

I give praise to God when I see how our Father St Francis worked in the East in the big cities as well as in the humble regions in which we already have twelve residences. There are Capuchins who are preaching in the different languages of various countries and who administer the Sacraments. The countries include Egypt and now Ethiopia where, after we were invited there, we have produced much fruit. We have gone to New France (Acadia), Guinea, Cape Verde and to many islands near America. The Fathers in Normandy and Britain have made themselves courageously available and have set an example for other Provinces in giving glory to God. I would assist them willingly if I were assigned to that. Father Leonardo and I do not want to do anything without the agreement of the Provinces.

With regard to this matter, it seems that God wants to provide a powerful way that would be useful for everyone and encourage this holy work. It is really good that following the example set by the Province of Touraine in the mission in Poitou, all the other French Provinces undertook domestic and foreign missions. This proved to be very successful in a short space of time and it could incite further development if perused with patience.[31]

A short time before this, near the end of 1637, he supported seven Capuchin students who were willing to go to the missions by writing to their Father Guardian and sending a quite practical programme of mission spirituality which we quote here in full:

I received your letter as well as that of your seven students and now that you are their Guardian you have a greater opportunity to foster their good wishes. The time that you assigned to me near the end of the coming year is quite suitable for bringing this group together in order to create a new batch of workers to make the seed of salvation bloom in the desert and it could serve God’s plan to send them into the world to raise up the earth, and possess the inheritances that were destroyed, and to say to them who were bound: Come forth: and to those who are in darkness: Show yourselves.[32] There is no need to doubt that Our Lord fittingly equips all those who work along with Him to fulfil this prophesy. Nor is there any doubt that one of the outstanding effects of this apostolic work is the proclamation of Jesus where he had not been heard of and in places where he has been forgotten. It would seem that this lay ahead of St Francis and was revealed to him in the very beginning and that he accepted it personally as his calling. However, God having called him to serve other needs in the Church still promised him, as is recorded in many places in the Book of Conformities and was mentioned by many of his disciples, that he would use his Order to bring his glory throughout the world and to replant the faith where the Saviour has been born and which he stained with his precious blood.

I would not be surprised if Satan, who knows better than we do all the favours that God wants to grant to our Order, struggles against them with all his might and my heart weeps when he tempts us to do this to our Lord. It takes great courage to have real confidence and faith in our wonderful Master and wait patiently for his help to do what he wants. In the Provinces the spread of the missionary spirit will work as an impetus to the growth of internal and external devotion to purifying in a furnace the gold that constitutes the love for God that moves many good religious, in spite of the rust of fraternal lethargy.

I address Your Reverence with confidence because I know how you think and because I want to share these thoughts with the good religious whom God inspires to undertake this project. I have many letters from those qui defecerunt in via (who have fallen by the wayside). Pay attention to what they are doing and help them to be strong in the practice of virtue and to make a good noviciate with regard to apostolic activities. What goes wrong in the missions is caused by nothing else than the way the person was not properly prepared and undertook the work from human motivation without realizing that the perfect observance of the Rule is a way to become perfect followers of the Saviour and the Apostles as St Paul commanded when he wrote: in all things let us exhibit ourselves as ministers of God and what follows.[33]

For the present I do not wish to say any more to these good Fathers. Do this on my behalf and tell them that I am praying to God for them so that they will not lose this crown. I entrust myself to your holy prayers. [34]

Let us close the chapter on the missions in the East with this prayer. We will deal later on with the missionary apostolate of the Capuchin Friars in Europe.

3. The Capuchin Missions in the Piemonte Valleys

In a letter about the missionary activities undertaken by the Capuchins written by Girolamo da Castelferretti in 1623, he gives pride of place to the missions in Piemonte: “In the Province of Piemonte we have eight missions in eight of the valleys.”

The valleys stretch out like a fan on the eastern side of the Alps following the course of the different rivers after which they are usually named. These rivers run between the Alps and the hills of the Po, the Monferrano and the lakes of the nearby Swiss Cantons and the French Provinces of Dauphiné, Provenza and the Vicariate of Bercelonnette all of which are inhabited by Calvinists and Hugenots who introduced heresy during the war.

The last group mentioned has links with the Valdensians who were scattered throughout the valleys of Chisone or Pragelato, Germanasca and Pallice. Some of them also lived among the mountain people in the high valleys. They were infected with heresy at the end of the sixteenth century and this went as far as the Valleys of Lucerne and Angrogna where the Jesuits had done most of the work whereas the Capuchins had worked in the higher valleys of Perosa, and San Martino on the Chisone and Germanasco rivers, in the Valleys of Susa on the Dora, the Vale of Macra on the same river, the Valleys of Varaita near the Po which forms the first stage of the great Italian rivers, the Vales of Stura and of Grana. These are the “eight Valleys” that are mentioned in the letter that was written by Castelferretti.

a) The first missionaries and their apostolic methodology

The Capuchin contribution was launched from the friary at Pinerolo where Father Valerino Berna was the superior of the Province of Geneva, which included Piemonte, from1589 to 1591. He was 43 years of age when he was appointed Guardian at Pinerolo in 1595. He had been appointed because he was familiar with the area and the sad situation that had been brought about by heresy in his native valley. For some time, a fervent project had tugged at his heart. He wanted to spread the Gospel to the people and bring them back to the Catholic Church. After spending some time in the area in order to personally acquaint himself with what was going on, he approached both the religious and the local authorities to convince them to establish and support a Capuchin mission in the place.

At the beginning of 1596 the first Capuchin preachers and companions, were sent. Valeriano Berna, Maurizio Gambarini de La Morra a Perrero went to Perosa and the Valleys of San Martino and Perosa, and Stefano da Gambalὸ (Pavia) to Demonte in the Valley of Stura. A year later, in 1579, a fourth, Father Filippo Riborti da Pancalieri, was added to these three. The mission continued to function throughout the Valleys from Dronero and all of the Valley of Macra with these eight Capuchin religious.

The first phase of this missionary work lasted for about four and a half years. The workers themselves tell us what went on in personal accounts given in their letters.

By means of their preaching one church after the other in the different parishes of Prote, Perosa, Dubbione an Pinacchia in the Valley of Perosa was brought back to the faith. The same took place in other parts of the Valley where Mass had not been requested for many years and the churches “were regarded as many stables.” All of them had been profaned and some of them had been knocked down. The sacred altars had been destroyed, pictures and property stolen (nn. 7702-7703). The problem became a burden for the missionaries and required a substantial amount for repairs, rebuilding, refurbishing with vestments and liturgical requirements. This required the assistance of the Duke of Savoy, the Pope and donations from other benefactors.

The method that was adopted involved directly confronting the Waldensian and Calvinist ministers as well as approaching the people “with familiar everyday spiritual arguments”, and by creating “groups who would listen”. Father Valeriano often invited ministers to engage in debate “as it seemed that most of the people wanted to see him debate with the ministers.” (n. 7621). However, most of the ministers seem to have treated the simple people arrogantly issuing threats “against their life and possessions”. If it looked like they might be converted they did not willingly debate with the friars. At times they avoided being confronted out of fear that they would not come through with honour but would lose and become confused. That is what the minister at San Martino did as soon as he heard that Berna was trying to locate him. “He ran off in fright” when he thought that there was the possibility that he would have to give up the local church, which the heretics had occupied for many years, and the priest had organised a solemn procession of all the people during which “all the Catholic people would sing psalms and hymns.” (n. 7620).

The case of a group of ministers who came together to engage in a “solemn and public debate” in 1596 is more interesting.[1] The people and the Capuchins did not expect what happened. The one who was defeated was thrown out of the Valley. The Capuchin priests took advantage of the permissions granted by Duke Carlo Emanuele I, the Nuncio and other prelates and “notified the heretic ministers by sounding a trumpet that there would be a general debate in ten days’ time and that they should indicate whether they were willing to become involved … when they heard this the ministers replied that they had not asked the priests for a debate, and that they were not heretics but true servants of God … and so they walked away from the debate.”

When Father Valerio wrote to Clement VIII in 1596, he gave a clear description of what took place:

We Capuchins who are assigned to the missions go there to work for the honour of God, the progress of the Holy Church and the growth of the Catholic faith. Those who are influenced by the heretic preachers insult us and when the people want to argue with the ministers those ministers turn up as if they were armed for battle and carrying pistols strapped to their sides whereas we have only the Name of Jesus Christ and are trembling when we meet them, sicu oves in medio luporum. However, (by means of God’s great providence!), when they hear our arguments, they are enchanted, lay aside their arms and ferociousness and the preachers become confused and do not know what to say. They resort to throwing insults which, for the glory of God, we accept as roses. (n. 7624).

He never just sat there waiting but seized every opportunity to listen to the people in places that were spread throughout the long Valley as he personally informed Duke Carlo Emanuele I: “Every day after lunch I go through the mountains visiting some heretical place today and another tomorrow speaking to them in the local language so as to bring them back to the holy faith.” (n. 7621).

In addition to the preaching and personal conversations, teaching catechism achieved great results. It was carried out like a debate and sometimes accompanied by triumphant processions as Berna says in one of his letters in 1597: “One day when the Catholics were giving alms, we assembled a large number of heretical women and children for a few hours to instruct them about Catholic teachings. The group joined up with many Catholics and walked to the church following the banner of the cross and singing hymns about Catholic teachings.” (n. 7627).

If the pastoral achievement of the missionaries were amazing, no less amazing were the manifestations of violence and hatred, the threats and insults and the beatings that the missionaries often had to endure. At Perreto in 1598 the heretics hired men with daggers to capture Father Valeriano while he was asleep. He managed to escape by changing the place where he usually slept every night. In the same place, he and Father Maurizio da La Morra, who was his companion, were getting some food from a well-off Catholic, when they were wounded by a servant who was a heretic. It was only through the diligent assistance and attention that was provided by two friars who ran from the friary in Pinerolo that they succeeded in moving on. One night the same missionaries, once more in 1598, risked being burnt to death in the mission house which the heretics had set alight.[2]

Countless instances of sacrifice and suffering came about owing to the wars between France and Spain. It was only with the Treaty of Vervins in 1598 that a glimmer of greater success opened up. On 7th June of the same year the Apostolic Nuncio wrote something about this. “Once the news of the Treaty reached the priests at the mission, their fruitful activities began to double and in addition to the conversion of some heretics they tell me that there was an increase in those attending the course on Christian doctrine as well an increase in the membership of the Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament and the Rosary which they had set up in the Valley.”[3]

The happy occasion when the Pope gave his verdict on the situation in Saluzzo (and in fact chose the Duke of Savoy to help the Jesuit and Capuchin missions in Valleys), led, towards the end of 1598, to Father Valeriano writing a long, important letter to the Pope from which it is possible to obtain a glimpse of what inspired the charism of his missionary apostolate, the main needs of the missions and the solutions that were suggested by his pastoral experience over three years of working in the Valleys. It is a letter that is a kind of critical review of the missions that demonstrates Berna’s personality at the time that he had been called from Ferreri “near the Valleys across the Alps in France to be the first worker in the Capuchin apostolate and the first to promote and take charge of the mission.”[4]

He tells the Pope what are the ecclesiastical and Franciscan reasons for his missionary vocation: “The Seraphic Father St Francis followed this command at the beginning of his vocation: vale, Francisce, repara domum meam quae labitur. As I was filled with an ardent desire for the salvation of souls, I followed his example and in obedience to his command I, along with some of our priests, embraced the difficult task of preaching the holy faith to the heretics in the valleys of his Highness the Duke of Savoy and other places in the Marquisate which had been infected with heresy.” (n. 7631).

He then draws up a summary of the work that was done in those years but which had not achieved what he expected. “In the beginning there was a great effort to strengthen the poor Catholics and to lead many souls back to the church. However, once the troubles of war broke out, because there was much danger and little results, on behalf of all the missionaries I repeatedly asked Your Highness and the Most Illustrious Nuncio permission to withdraw to our friaries.” (n. 631) This was a temptation to make his presence appear to be useless because he lacked the support of those in authority and there did not appear to be any future in continuing.

b) Some of the concerns that the missionaries experienced and the difficulties that they had with the superiors of the province

The doubts that Father Valeriano Berna had were one of the saddest trials that the missionaries had to endure in their apostolate, first of all because of the aggressiveness of the Waldensian and Calvinist ministers, but also because the heretics in the Valleys of Lucerna, Angrogna, Perosa and San Martino had “joined forces with the heretics in Pragellato, so that there was little or no hope of reaping fruit in these Valleys,” as Berna himself put it when he wrote to Clement VIII.

He spent two years in Perosa and San Martino before going on to Dronero in the Valley of Macra, which he called “little Geneva” since it had become the sanctuary of foreign heretics who were living there in exile. They were called “bandits” and had been cast out of Piemonte by the Duke. They organised the uprisings, carried out reprisals and theft and “led it all”. Furthermore, in Dronero many heretical books, “that were widely read”, were being distributed everywhere. (cf. nn. 7632-33). Abuses such as marriages between Catholics and heretics, baptisms administered by heretics, children being taught by teachers who were “suspect”, notaries who had committed perjury, and many who were stealing and selling church property in places where there was no pastor in residence and who had left everything “up to poor mercenary priests who were uneducated”, a prohibition “to listen to sermons”, with all of this taking place under the pretext of freedom of conscience. (n. 7634-38).

The Pope and others who were in authority did not want to hear about such things. One can only admire the foresight of the Church that did not permit the missionaries to withdraw and retire to the province. We think that they were unknowingly implementing the missionary methodology suggested by St Francis in the First Rule where it speaks of a humble, peaceful unquestioning presence preceding straightforward evangelisation.[5]

In fact, the “temptation” was present among the superiors who, because of the slow progress being made in the neighbouring provinces, had doubts about assigning friars to work there. In view of the plague that had raged during the previous year and had hindered the work of the missionaries, in 1600 the Geneva Chapter decided “to remove the preachers from the Valleys because they were not being productive.”[6] Before that, the Apostolic Nuncio, making use of the authority given him by the Holy See, supported missionaries who were working in their mission stations.[7] Indeed, he sent others to join them including the famous Father Zaccaria Boverio, who went to the vale of Susa, and the expert theologian Father Maurizio de La Morva, who along with Valeriano Berna, was sent to the mission of Thonon in Chablais where there was plenty to do at that time and where there was a need for someone who was competent.

At the beginning of September 1602, following the sudden death of the Nuncio of Turin, Corrado Tartarino, pressure was placed on the Archbishop of Turin, Carlo Broglia, to convey the same message in a letter, dated 12th May, to Cardinal Aldobrandi. He used the occasion of the celebration of the General Chapter in Rome at Pentecost to make the future superiors consider the problem carefully:

Seeing that the Capuchin Fathers will celebrate their General Chapter in Rome at Pentecost, and because of the duty placed on me by His Holiness following the death of the Nuncio, I find that I may have some problems regarding the Capuchin preachers who are assigned or will be assigned to the missions if the superiors did not grant what I request, especially with the last request which involves going to Tonone to celebrate the jubilee of the church when the superiors did not send them.

Therefore, so that the work may go ahead, and because the mission of the Capuchins is a very effective way of destroying heresy in this region because of their exemplary lifestyle, it would be most expedient if you requested the Father General and the Provincials to promote this holy work and send preachers and the necessary companions to do the work, and asked those who are elected to the Council to send other Capuchins in future.

Because the Province of Geneva is waiting for Capuchins to be sent to these mountains, it would be good if you could tell the Provincial and his successors to do this by sending eight preachers accompanied by companions as suggested, so that relying on divine providence the work will continue for the glory of God and the building up of the holy Church.[8]

The Nuncio’s assessment and that of the Archbishop of Turin as well as of some others was not well received by the superiors in the Province of Geneva who took advantage of the period between the death of Pope Clement VIII (4th March 1605) and the installation of Paul V (16th May 1605) to recall the missionaries to the province once again. However, Paul V immediately had them sent back to the missions in the Valleys.

However, the real motive for having doubts about accepting missions and assigning missionaries to them was perhaps more profound and it was concerned with protecting the lifestyle of the Capuchins. For the first time the friars found themselves living permanently outside the friary, in continual contact with people, without time for prayer in choir, without the practices of regular observance, and left on their own with respect to the various exercises of common life. What is more they were prevented from living from alms both because of the hostility of the people who were very poor themselves and because of the distances between the different places which were stretched along the Alpine valleys that were covered in snow for many months. They also incurred many expenses in having to build or repair churches, chapels and modest places to live and because they had to provide liturgical books, vestments and vessels.

The missionaries made use of a fixed stipend which they received from the Pope and the Congregation of the Propagation of the Faith through the Apostolic Nuncio, who had granted a dispensation that was authorised by the Holy See. The dispensation provided for “ordinary begging, and anything else that was required for the exercise of the holy work”. In this way they were able “to accept alms from whoever offered them in the name of S. A. or lived in this jurisdiction or which were given for what was needed for your food or clothing, books or other things needed by you and those of the mission.”[9]

When he was Nuncio Tartarino sent eight Capuchin friars to the missions, four of then to the Marquisate of Saluzzo and four to the valleys.[10] On 30th April 1602 Father Filippo da Pancaliere said in a letter to Cardinal Aldobrandidi: “I know for certain that the Duke of Savoy contributed half of this through giving alms. This was often suspended because there were no ministers there. With regard to the other four the Nuncio told me that he wrote to Rome for alms for them although they have received absolutely nothing up to now.” The Pope had already set aside 400 scudi for the previous “priests in the missions from here to the mountains,” but the money went to the home of Thonon. Because of this, Father Filippo urgently begged his nephew the Cardinal “to send alms for the support of four Capuchins, since we cannot go about begging for many reasons, most of all so that we will not be living in destitution as two of our companions did in the past and until they died.”[11]

As far as the superiors were concerned the work appeared to hinder and almost betray the ideal of Franciscan poverty in the radical way it was understood in the Capuchin Reform. In 1604 the Minister Provincial of Geneva, Paolo M. Pergamo d’Asti, dealt with this delicate matter in a letter dated 19th May that he sent to Father Santi Tesauro, the Vice Procurator General. Father Santi was an authority on the Franciscan Rule who, ten years later in 1614, would publish an official commentary on the Rule.[12] In this commentary, he explained the doubtful issues, using exhaustive documentation and basing his remarks on how missionaries could faithfully observe the Capuchin Constitutions and the Rule. We have been unable to find this letter but we have found the reply which is very interesting both historically and spiritually. It is dated 15th July and it is an example of even-handed enculturation and adaptation of the Capuchin charism.

First of all, Santi Tesauro very clearly outlines certain fundamental principles: the missions are a consecrated work, which should be maintained even at the cost of life. However, this apostolate should not prevent the observance “of the fundamental points in the Rule,” and there is a serious obligation to have recourse to the superiors when, according to chapter ten in the Rule, the friars cannot spiritually observe what the Rule lays down. Furthermore, the Capuchins have renounced all privileges that relax spiritual observance of the Rule. However, once the Pope has become well informed about the Rule and wishes to grant a dispensation to the friars they are obliged to obey (nn. 7783-85). This is what the missionaries ought to do while still “being very diligent to live by means of begging, in accord with our life of poverty and not behave like gentlemen by going after white bread, exquisite wine but eating ordinary food such as alimentary paste.”

On their part, by the use of responsible discernment, the superiors should send only “good, educated, exemplary friars who are not just average friars to the missions.” They should also try to build a friary where the missionaries “would be able to live religious life and what we profess in the same way as they would in a friary in the province so they the would be able to avoid the many difficulties and dangers that arise from having so much freedom when the live outside a friary.” (n. 7787).

The solution could not have been clearer or more foresighted and it remained almost unchanged as the “norm” to be followed in future.

These circumstances, together with the political situation that developed because of the territorial ambitions and conquests of Carlo Emanuele I, led the Capuchins in Piemonte to break away from Geneva in 1619 and form a separate province. The same thing had happened nine years before in the province of Lyons where the friars from Savoy lived.[13]

  1. This is reported in a letter written by Father Filippo Ribotti da Pancalieri. It is also referred to in Codice diplomatico A of the Capuchins in Liguria. Cf. F. Z. Molfino, Codice diplomatico dei Cappuccini liguri, 1530-1900, Genova 1904, 11.
  2. Ibid., 48. Francesco da Moncaliere tells us of other cases of aggression and violence (nn. 7723-24). They have also been recorded by Zeffirino Signetto da Tonengo, I frati delle missioni e della peste, in Boll. Soc. Studi Storici, Archeol. ed Artist. Prov. Cuneo, N 49 (giugno 1963) 78-81.
  3. ASV, Nunziatura Savoia, vol. 35, f. 354r.
  4. Ferreri, Rationarium I, 219.
  5. Cf. Rnb. 16, 6-8.
  6. Molfino, I cappuccini geniovesi V, 89.
  7. On 11th April 1599 the Nuncio Giulio Cesare Riccardi write to Father Valeriano Berna telling him that the Pope wanted “him and his companions to continue living in Dronero and not to leave there without the express command of His Holiness.” On 7th December 1600, Abbot Ruggero Tritonio sent the following letter from Rome to his Vicar Rinaldo Ressano who was working with the friars in the Valleys. “In a decree that was issued last Saturday, our Superior commanded the Monsignor Nuncio to bring the Mission of the Capuchin Fathers back to the Valleys of Perose and San Martino in order to help the poor Catholics on my behalf, otherwise they will run the danger of being lost.” (Torino, APC, Codice missionario, 12, 15 Copia).
  8. Cf., ASV, Borghese III 97 D, f. 249rv, Torino, 12 maggio 1602, The original signed copy – Sul Broglia cf., M. Grosso-M.F. Mellano, La controriforma nella arcdiocesi di Torino (1558-1610), vol. III Città del Vaticano 1951, 125-303.
  9. Cf., letter written by the Nuncio Carrado Tartarino to Father Filippo Ribotti. Torino, 18th December 1601 Torino, APC, Codice missionario, 22.
  10. Cf. n. 7645, note 13.
  11. Cf. n. 7646 and the corresponding note 15. See also above note 38.
  12. See I frati cappuccni, Documenti e testimonianze del primo secolo, Vol. I, Roma 1988, 1123-1509.
  13. The province of Lyons did not support the work of the Capuchins from Savoy who were confronting the Calvinists in Geneva because it led up to relaxation in the observance of the Rule and involved the friars in the political events taking place in Savoy. Therefore, a new province was set up. Paolo V approved the separation and required that the new province should work on the missions. At the Provincial Chapter at Döle in 1611 the new jurisdiction was called “Province des Capucini de la Mission de Thonon” which came about through the influence of Father Cherubino da Maurienne. Cf. A. Erba, La chies sabauda tra Cinque e Seicento: ortodossia tridentina, gallicanesimo savoiardo e assolutismo ducale (1580-1650), Roma 1979, 398-391.


In spite of many obstacles missionary activity continued to develop and expand. The letters written by Filippo Robotti da Pancalieri (doc. 7), the reports compiled by Agostino da Castellmonte (doc. 8) and most of all, those produced by Francesco da Moncalieri (doc. 9), which cover the first three decades of the seventeenth century of missionary activity in the Alpine Valleys, depict a lively amount of activity by means of a substantial amount of documentation that goes beyond what we could present here.

The letters written by Filippo Robotti

Filippo Robotti suffered from bad health but remained so enthusiastic and capable that he was appointed prefect of the missions from 1602 to 1604 and from 1611 to 1616. He became famous for his disputes with heretics entering into an invincible partnership with the learned theologian Maurizio Gambarini, who was an outstanding preacher and controversialist. They listened to the sermons of the Valdensian preachers and then intervened in order to demolish what was obviously false. At San Germano in 1597 they made use of “the Bible composed by Beza himself” (cf. n. 7640). One of the particularly memorable events was the public debate that Robotti had in the presence of Francesco Drago, the Prefect of Pinerolo, with the local minister Davide Rostagon concerning the Eucharist and the sacrifice of the Mass. Later he had this printed and distributed.[1]

Archbishop Broglia often went along with him during his pastoral visits to the Alps and he collaborated extensively with the new zealous Bishop of Saluzzo, Giovenale Ancina who was a member of the Congregation of the Oratory and who, only two years later, on 31st August 1604, died suddenly after being poisoned by a Conventual friar.[2]

The letters that Ribotti sent from the missions sometimes sound apocalyptic. They always make a dramatic presentation of the struggle against the numerous groups of heretics (cf. nn. 7650, 7652). Most of all they appear to be accounts of the victories of battle as they relate the numerous conversions that took place in the Valley of Varaita and the Valley Macra a Dronero and Verzuolo. The letter to the Duke of Savoy, which was written on 12th October 1602 states, “By the grace of God we have cleared heresy out of Verzuolo, Villafalletto, Villanoveta, Piasco Venasca, Lotolo, except in one situation, and have brought thousands back to the Catholic faith […] In these regions there are three areas in which some are still very infected: Praveglielmo, S. Michele and Aceglio” (n. 7653).

Towards the end of January 1603, he wrote, “With the assistance of divine grace … we have cleared this Dutchy of all heretics in the public domain. At Christmas we heard Confessions and distributed Communion to three hundred or more Catholics. We then went to the Valley of Macra where we restored more than seventy people to Catholicism including three who were the heads of families.’ (n. 7655)

He sent a full report to Cardinal Aldobrandini: “Twenty-three of the twenty-six parishes that were infected with heresy in this Dutchy were completely cleansed of public heretics. In two others almost two thousand people were brought back to Catholicism … We freed the entire valley from heresy as well as the valley of Varaita that includes Casteldelfino where the most obstinate were to be found.” (n. 7637-78) “We also cleaned out Valgrana, but what is even more significant, we cleared the Valley of Marca. There are only twelve heretic houses that remain there.” (n. 7659)

He felt the need to have more preachers because “those who have been converted want to listen to more sermons. Therefore, I ask your Most Illustrious Lordship, – he wrote to the same Cardinal from Droneto on January 28th 1603 – not to withdraw the few priest helpers that I have whom I intend to send to Tonone since that would reduce what has been gained to nothing.” (n. 7662)

His request was granted and in August of the same year the number of Capuchin friars was increased from eight to eleven and they were “assigned to Casteldelfino and three other main areas.” (n. 7668) This superb missionary strategy and its evident success often led the heretics to attempt to kill him.

As in the missions of Poitou and Chablais a Thonon, as well as in valleys of Piemonte, the most effective strategy that Ribotti and the other missionaries used was the practice of the Forty Hours because it persuaded the people to celebrate the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Communion, revitalised personal and family Christian life, reintroduced popular piety and was an opportunity for public catechesis and it minimised the bad influence of the Valdensians and the Calvinists.

The Forty Hours that were conducted by Ribotti a Verzuolo in April 1603 and in the Marian Sanctuary in Becetto on 8th September 1603 were very successful. (cf. nn. 7664, 7669). This also took place at the end of October probably at Dogliani as we read in a letter to Carinal Aldobrandini dated 8th December:

[…] I conducted the Forty Hours in Dogliani and offered the Plenary Indulgence that Your Illustrious Lordship had granted Monsignor G. Ancina], who was the Inquisitor of that area, and many priests of our Order attended this ceremony. The priests preached many devout sermons with forty-two groups from the area in attendance. About thirty thousand people came to Confession and received Communion with great devotion during the celebrations up until the 23rd hour. I have never seen so many people being converted to God. All of this took place without greatly disturbing the community. Everyone freely gave alms of more than fifty soldi telling the Monsignor to pass them on to the poor in Dogliani and this gave great edification and support to those poor people.  (n. 7671)

Because he was a tireless promoter of this Eucharistic devotion which he considered to be a privileged instrument in converting heretics and strengthening Christians, over a period of two years he availed himself of the Plenary Indulgence granted by Clement VIII on 24th October 1602. He would have liked to be able to do this for the rest of his life since he was convinced that “he was soon to pass to the other life” as the heretics were threatening him continually. He therefore wrote to the Pope and to his nephew who was a Cardinal asking them to grant that he would be able “for the short period that he had still to live and in the places where he was able to preach … to ask his Father St Francis to petition the Lord Jesus Christ for this Indulgence in order to save the souls which he had redeemed with his most precious blood.” (n. 7672)

His letters also furnish us with an insight into his concept of pastoral activity. They demonstrate the method he preferred, his charismatic preaching and very fruitful evangelisation that was the outcome of long and comprehensive experience. He divided the heretics into two categories: those who were obstinate who were “outlaws or bandits and who led people “ and those who were “deceived into thinking that they were doing the right thing.” (n. 7643)

Nothing could be done for those who were in the first category because “they did not appreciate sermons or debates or the like, despised the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Church” and consequently had become obdurate. The only remedy for them was the arm of the law, the intervention of Princes by means of edicts or threats, seizure of property, exile, prison and death, with these being carried out by the police, financial authorities, soldiers or the officials of the duke. (n. 7644)

On the other hand, the second category of heretics were more open to regret and more easily converted even when they were often under the influence of those who were obstinate who were threatening them and holding them back. Most of the converts came from this category. However, the most important work was still to follow. It was not enough for the duke to send the local officials to accompany the missionaries, nor was it enough to count the number of those who had rejected heresy or who were Catholics, if the preaching did not continue and a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith was not provided. “After being instructed in the faith they should be taught how to be devout.” This would guarantee the stability and perseverance of those who had been converted.

However, sometimes local conditions made it impossible to implement this programme. In fact, the method that was adopted by the Jesuits and the Capuchins was based on fast apostolic activity. It was like the deployment of troops darting ahead to make the first attack. They went from one valley to the other continually criss-crossing long distances. This meant that there was no steady presence or complete course of instruction. Because of this there were frequent incidents of “relapse” among those “who had returned to the Catholic faith through the work of the Jesuits and the Capuchins and who had suddenly been left on their own and deprived of pious preaching.” (cf. n. 7650) Those who were left like this fell back into heresy.

There was no way to overcome this once it became associated with the “lax way of life” led by the clergy concerning which “all the Catholics protested and in one voice asked to have preaches to instruct them” (cf. n. 7660) In fact “Catholics such as these, who were still very fragile and not yet well-educated in the faith, needed to be inspired and soundly instructed concerning what was right.” (n. 7663)

Because of this the apostolate of providing well printed publications was also important. Filippo Ribotti considered this to be very important and tried “to have devout Catholic books replace heretical material.” (n. 7658) He appreciated the way that heresy was being transmitted by means of what appeared in print and he informed Cardinal Aldobrandini about this: “I wish to inform your Most Illustrious Lordship that heresy is being propagated in this Dutchy by means of heretical literature that is being sent from Geneva.” (n. 7661) We also know that because of this Maurizio da La Morra composed a catechism to combat heretical teachings and to deepen the acceptance of faith in the conduct of the Christian way of life and the practice of piety and devotion.[3]

The increasing demand for catechesis required a greater stability in the presence of priests and well-chosen local clergy and the application of the reforms promoted by Trent. This meant that the clergy that were assigned to the Parishes in these Valleys should have “authority”, “be sufficient in number and well-qualified” in doctrine and theological debates as well as “having a better knowledge of the lambs.” (7666-67).

Missions of Mercy towards Priests and Religious Apostates

An apostle of mercy who lived among the missionaries has left us a valuable account, which so far has not been subjected to mush study, concerning the rehabilitation “from their bad way of living” of apostate priests and religious. This is the beautiful account of a missionary, Father Agostino da Castellamonte, who was a simplex priest, companion of the missionary preachers, and they often endured in silence the heavy weight of physical labours and tribulations.

It is an enchanting description because of its simplicity and honesty. A companion of Father Giovanni da Vercelli, he worked in the valleys of Perosa and San Martino where there was widespread heresy which he attributed to “the bad example of the friars and the poor administration of the Prelates” (n. 7675) He seems to summarise his thoughts when he says: “the cause of much of the heresy among religious in these valleys is that, because they are subjects of an Abbot, who lives in Rome, who is only waiting for wool, while his Vicar is looking after the flock, in name only but not in fact.… They send ignorant curates into these valleys, who offer no help to the missionaries. Some of them do not know how to read the Mass, others are sicut erat in principio …it is enough if the food is cooking and then everything is alright.” (n. 7676).

Nonetheless, many missionaries had worked there for more that twenty-five years when the first group of Capuchins, led by Father Valeriano Brena, came to evangelise the valleys. It was the “bad example” given by the clergy that made the Catholics indifferent and blocked the conversion of the heretics. This situation was like what happened in 1598, when Father Stefano Gambalὸ, who was a missionary in Val di Macra, observed that “some rejoiced to have scandalous priests so that they could speak against the Church, and write about it to Geneva, and when they saw priests like this removed in order to comfort Catholics who were saying that they did not want to hear Mass when it was celebrated by priest like this, the heretics agreed with the Catholics about their removal.”[1]

Father Giovanni da Vercelli succeeded in converting various heretics “who were prominent in their religion”, such as the elderly minister in Useus or Usseaux in the Valley of Pragelato, who had been a Dominican. When he debated with the priest, de vera et falsa religione, he was not always able to conceal his heartfelt compunction. (cf. nn. 7681-83) There was also a “zoccolante” who was an apostate priest whom he approached in order to convert him, whom he discovered “in the home of a prostitute” where the women forbade anyone to enter (cf. n. 7684). “In Perosa there were three famous people, a priest who was a Cistercian, a Canon and a doctor, three important people, who had been persecuted because of their faults and they wanted to become heretics. By speaking to them, Father Giovanni had them turn back and cast aside their errors. (n. 7677).

In reality, Father Giovanni and his companion had come to the valley of Pragelato not just “to save these souls” but most of all “to win over any apostate, because there were many of them there of many different religions.” (n. 7688). The Valdensians had control of that valley and many of them would be converted and would willingly meet the Capuchins whom they admired, as did many of the ministers, who showed them respect and appreciated their poverty (cf. n. 7689), even if there were others who were somewhat aggressive and violent.

In his simplicity Father Agostino observed that “many men and women said that we were the genuine servants of God and that they would willingly lister to our sermons, whereas their own priests were fakes, that is had concubines, and they no longer wanted to attend their Masses. Some women came to meet them with hands joined, looking at the sandals on our feet with great admiration, saying that they would willingly listen to the word od God that we preached whereas their ministers were too greedy.” (n. 7689)

In some parts of Pragelato the Capuchins had not been heard of and people were seeing them for the first time. Father Agostino once wen to beg for a piece of bread for Father Giovanni who ‘was exhausted and so tired that he could not move.” When he wrote his report he said “that when the poor people in the Alpine Valleys saw him, they thought that they were seeing a miracle … and instead of giving him bread they hurled insults at him. Some women fell to the ground with laughter. The street was full of people …, saying one thing or another. He sought out those who had little faith, but the people were so astounded that everything about me confused them.” (n, 7680)

The friars certainly made great sacrifices and were tireless “in working for the holy faith and the salvation of souls, travelling through the valleys, going into this Parish after the other to preach the word of God and teach Christian doctrine. During the winter they walked unshod through the ice and snow through the rough Alpine countryside, often with only a piece of bread in their capuche so that they would not be a bother to the poor Catholics. They slept in stables with the animals on pieces of straw.” (n. 7677)

Finally, they were convinced “the heretics would be converted more by good example than by words and that it was necessary for the Prelates to provide some good Curates who were educated and would give good example, and who would help the missionaries to lift people up and not put them down.” (n. 7690).

  1. Cf. “A reflection composed by Father Serafino and sent by Father Valeriano to the Pope. It was written in November 1598.” (ASV. Storia 36, f. 123r).

Other aspects of missionary activity in the Piemonte Valleys

Other interesting aspects of the missionary apostolate are revealed in the report composed by Francesco Duco of Monacalieri. It contains the outcome of thirty-three years of pastoral activity carried out by the Capuchins in various places in these valleys.

This report, which in reality is a short history of the missions, contains the activities of many other missionaries. We cannot deal with all of this here. However, some items should be mentioned, such as what Francesco da Monacalieri himself sponsored in 1621 in Pancalieri when he undertook what turned out to be a very successful programme of Lenten preaching. When he went beyond the Vale of Marca he discovered a region where the situation was shocking. All kinds of terrible things were taking place. The area was filled with armed bandits who were working with heretics from the Vale of Luserna who “acting as if they were merchants, went from one place to another causing great damage to poor souls.” (n. 7734)

While preaching Father Francesco also spoke about catechetical matters and the ministry of Reconciliation because he was convinced that, from the beginning of 1622 onwards, he had to intervene in a very radical manner and help devout people. Father Lodovico da Nizza began the work and his preaching made a great contribution to improving the lifestyle of the people by means of the imposition of a number of restrictions. This met with some opposition from the parish priest and the friars who came out with “strong criticism.” He was very upset by this to the point of becoming sick. The parish priest imprisoned for his larceny.

Father Francesco, whom we have already mentioned, and his companion Agostino da Castellamonte came on the scene in 1623. It was he who probably wrote the report. He immediately began the work of preaching, catechising and “spiritual renewal,” preaching on festival days and teaching catechism during the week. This assisted those who could not read. Fathers Alessandro da Oneglia and Antonio da Strambino[1] would do the same thing in the Vale of Macra in 1627, just as Father Stefano da Tenda a Casteldelfino did in the Vale of Varaita. (cf. n. 7778)

They also taught young people “spiritual hymns” which they sang joyfully while they were working in the fields instead of singing profane songs. The young people, especially the young girls, whom the friar instructed in living the spiritual life, made great progress because of this. Some of them, who overcame great difficulties and the opposition of parents and friends, embraced the lifestyle of consecrated virginity and were vested “in the penitential habit of St Francis.” There was a real explosion of vocations among both boys and girls. (cf. n. 7238-40)

Father Francesco remained in Pancalieri for five years and achieved great success in improving the district and reviving the Parishes. He used the Forty Hours as a means of attracting young people. During the celebration of Carnevale he also organised groups from the general population. In these groups the young people were dressed in sackcloth. The groups were rostered to take turns in spending time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. (cf. n. 7243)

Another missionary whom we ought to mention was Father Stefano da Tenda who in the beginning worked with Valeriano Berna in the Vale of Varaita. For many years he was the outstanding apostle of Casteldelfino where he often was at risk of being killed by the heretics. He loved meeting up with individuals and visiting families. “On Sundays and on days during the week he spent time in the home of a Catholic friend where he invited the whole family to come together so that he could explain the scriptures to each one of them in simple language. Some heretics also came along, and this increased the success of such meetings even though it took a lot of effort to bring such people back to the right path of salvation.” (n. 7779) During winter when people spent long nights in the stables when they were unable to work because prevented by the deep snow, he went from house to house spreading the Gospel and debating with men from the surrounding mountains.[2]

In addition to the fatigue of long journeys in mountains covered in snow and the burden of giving catechesis and instructions, the missionaries worked with their hands in the restoration of churches “that had almost been totally destroyed internally” as well as on the “chapels in the countryside.” They used “what was left over from their living expenses” to provide for most of the expenses. (cf. nn. 7780. 7753)

Thirty years later, in 1659, when Mattia Ferreri da Cavallermaggiore related the history of the missions in the Valleys of Piemonte in a large volume entitled Rationarium chronologicum, which he intended to be the equivalent of the Annales of Boverius, he was able to paint a detailed picture of the territories that were brought to the faith by the Capuchins, by giving a list of eleven residences of the permanent missionaries, which were the centres from which they ventured out on their tasks. They went out from here to the Vale of Mattino, from Perose to Dibbione, from Porte to the Vale of Perose, from Dronero to the lower part of the Vale of Nacre as far as Busca and San Damiano, from Acceglio to the upper part of the Vale of Macra as far as the Alps, from Verzuolo to the lower part of the Vale of Varaita including Venesca and Castigliole, from Casteldelfino to the upper part of the Valley including Bussasco, from Paesana to the Po Valley as far as Revello. From Caraglio throughout the entire Valley of Grana, from Demonte throughout the Vale of Stura, from Pancalieri through the entire surrounding area. This made it possible for them to go as far as the Vale of Soana.[3]

Unfortunately, only one historian other than Ferreri recorded a geographical sketch of the heroic missionary activity that went on for almost a hundred and fifty years and which involved about two thousand Capuchins.[4] Their zeal was equalled by their capacity to adapt to circumstances, their patience, and their perseverance. Although, they used various tactics, including decrees that were issued by Dukes, in order to convert heretics and to re-educate Catholics, the best weapon of the Capuchins was their life of poverty and detachment, their humility and Gospel way of life. This was as effective there as it was in France and in the East.

Because of this, when the Bishop of Saluzzo wrote to the Cardinal Prefect of the Propagation of the Faith on 12th February 1638 in order to inform him of what was taking place in his Diocese he was able to state that heresy appeared to have been eradicated “thanks to the great zeal and excellent way of life of the good Capuchin missionaries who, by means of their persevering labours, exemplary life and preaching, had almost completely uprooted heresy in the infected valleys.”[5] In addition to this, when the Nunzio of Torino wrote to Cardinal Sforza in 1660 he said the same thing: “The Capuchins are the most successful missionaries that have come from the Sacred Congregation simply because of their visible poverty and detachment from all self-interest which makes a great impression on ordinary people making it easier to interact with them and to communicate with Princes, and even with those who are infidels.”[6]

  1. Cf. Ferreti, Rationarium II, 253.
  2. Cf. Ferreri, Rationarium II, 350s.
  3. Cf. Ferreri, Rationarium II, “Epistola commonefactoria ad tyrones cappuccinos”, [9]
  4. Cf. Father Zeffirino Signetto da Tonengo, I frati delle missioni e della peste cit. 82.
  5. Roma, APF, Lettere di Francia, Fiaridra, Avignone, Savoia …, vol. 137, f, 174r.
  6. Roma, APF, Fondo Vienria, Italia 9, f. 276r.
  1. There is a copy on the Library at Reale di Torino which has the following heading: Raggionamento a modo di disputa fatto tra il rever. P. Filippo Ribotti predicatore cappuccino della missione apostolica … et David Rstagno ministro in dette Valli. Torino, 1598, 11,5 n. 7,5 cm., 79 pp.
  2. Cf. A. Cistellini, San Filippo Neri, l’Oratorio e la Congregazione oratoria. Storia e spiritualità, vol. III, Brescia 1989, 1637-1640. Bishop Ancian had great regard for the missionary activity of the Capuchins (cf. n. 7766).
  3. Cf. above in the introduction to section II/3: Catechismi, pp. 3216-3221.
  1. Cf. Metodo da Nembro, Fonti dei pensiero missionario nell’Ordine cappuccino (secoli XVI-XVIII), in Miscellanea Melchior de Pobladura, a cura di Isidoro da Villapadierna, vol II, Roma 1964, 98 nota 79.
  2. Cf. El consejo de las Indias en el siglo XV, Valladolid 1970.
  3. Cf. I frati cappuccini II, 1065-1077.
  4. Ibid.; 1649-1653m nn. 1654-1655.
  5. Cf. Metodio da Nembro, Fonti del pensiero missionario cit., 90s.
  6. Cf. I frati cappuccini I, 239s; P. Bonaventura von Mehr, Das Predigtwesen in der Kölnischen und Rheinischen Kapuzinerprovinz im 17, und 18. Jahrbundert, Roma 1945 27-34.
  7. This phrase is found in at the beginning of chapter twelve of the Constitutions of 1536, n. 139. Cf., I frati cappuccini P, 445, n. 408.
  8. Ibid.
  9. These are two of the factors that describe what were the objectives of the Church reform before St Francis and which also convey what the Poverello stood for.
  10. Rb. 12, 1-2 (FF n. 107).
  11. Cf Const. 1536, n. 143, 1-3 (n. 413)
  12. Const. 1536, n. 89 (n. 280)
  13. Cf above, in vol II/5, pp. 3635-4068.
  14. Cf. the Decree Ad Gentes nn 38 and 40.
  15. Cf. Bortolomeo Cordoni di Ctiità di Castello. Dialogi della unione spirituale de Dio con l’amina, Milano 1539, cap. 49 ff. 233v-236r.
  16. Cf. N. Santinelli, Il beato Bartolomeo Cordoni e le fonti della sua mistica, Città di Castello 1930, 43-49.
  17. For the complete text see above vol III/1, pp. 265-429.
  18. Cf. MHOC II, 215.
  19. Cf. P. Hildebrand, L’Ordre de S. François dans les oeuvres d’Ochin, in Neerlandia Franceiscana 2 (1919) 220.
  20. Cf. MHOC III 292-300.
  21. Cf. Litterar circukares superiorim generalium Ordinis Fratrum Minorum capuccinorum (1548-1803), edited by P. Melchiore a Pobladura (MHOC, VIII), Romae 1960, 41s.
  22. For all of these missions see Rocco da Cesinale, Storia delle missioni dei cappuccini I-II, Parigi, 1867 and 1872. For a summary and bibliography see the more recent work by Melchior da Pobladura, Historia generalis O.F.M.Cap. I, Romae 1947, 298-335; II/2, Romae 1948, 180-221. See also vol IV I Frati Cappuccini, which deals with the Order in the various European regions.
  23. Cf. Bernard Dompnier, Les missions des capucins et leur emprente sur la réforme catholique en France, in Revue d’historie de l’Eglise de France 70-N. 184 (1984) 127-147.
  24. Cf. Guillaumie de Vaumas, L’éveil missionarie de la France (d’henri IV à la foundation du Séminaire des Missions Estrangères), Lyon 1942, 62-66 (= Les capucins au Maranhäo, 1612-1614)
  25. Cf. Guillaume de Vaumas, L’ éveil missionnaire de le France Cit., 107-137
  26. Ibid., note 48 7, 240; see also the study by B. Dompnier cit. above in note 21, where he shows the influence of these groups.
  27. For all these quotations which we have translated into English cf. Méthode d’ oraison du P. Joseph du Tremblay, revue et annotée par le P. Apollinaire de Valence, Le Mans 1897, 171-179 (cap. VII: Combien cette comparaison du vol de l’aigle convient excellemment à un vrai capucin et frère mineur). Giuseppe da Parigi also imparted this spirit into the Sisters of Monte Calvario which he founded and whom he always wanted to direct in spite of his many commitments. To achieve this, he wrote Exercice pour la devotion des missions. Cf. G. de Vaumas, L’èveil missionnarie de la France cit. 241s.
  28. Cf. Les varies entretiens spirituels, in Oeuvres completes (rdiz. Della Visitazionei), VII, 226. The text dates back to 1618.
  29. Oeuvres completes Ediz. Della Visitazione), XII, 233 (lettera del 15.11.1603).
  30. See also n. 7615
  31. Cf. G. de Vaumas, Lettres et documents du Père Joseph de Paris concermant les missions ètrangères (1619-1638), Leon 1942 260, doc. 109.
  32. Cf. Is 49: 8-9.
  33. Cf. 2 Cor 6: 4.
  34. Cf. G. de Vaumas, Lettres et documents cit. 251s, doc. 105.