True friars with living faith

The 1536 Capuchin Constitutions and the evangelical village

Gary Devery OFM Cap

Table of Contents

Because true friars with living faith should depend upon their kind, supremely good and heavenly Father… This opening premise of article 48[1] of the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions provides an interpretative key for the reading of the Constitutions and the initial period of the Capuchin Reform. Upon first reading, this claim probably rings as naïve hyper-exaggeration. However, read in the context of the 2005 study by Isaballe Garnier-Mathez, L’Epithète et la connivence: écriture concertée chez les Evangéliques français (1523-1534), I think it can be justified.

Garnier-Mathez limits her study to the period 1523 to 1534, coinciding with the New Testament being published in vernacular, in this case, French, for the first time by Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples (1523) and the Affair of the Placards (1534) which resulted in severe repression against those seeking reform in the Church in France.[2] In terms of Capuchin history, it encapsulates the period of the promulgation of Religionis zealous (1528), the Statutes of Albacina (1529) and leads up to the threshold years of the writing of the first Constitutions of 1536.

To set any year limit to the influences on the Capuchin reform is arbitrary. For this study the limit will more or less correspond with that set by Garnier-Mather for the purpose of drawing out the implications of her fine study in regards to the Capuchin Reform. Guillaume Alonge in Condottiero, Cardinale, Eretico, his study of the reforming Bishop of Verona, Cardinal Federico Fregoso, notes that strong elements of reform within the Catholic Church in Western Europe can be seen especially in France in the 1520’s and then in Italy in the 1530’s, with the evangelical circle of Jacques Lefèvre d’Etaples particularly influencing the origins of the reform in Italy.[3] As with the 1534 Affair of the Placards in France being a watershed point, in Italy it could be situated in the failure of the Diet of Regensburg of 1541 and several months later, in 1542, the institution of the Roman Inquisition by Pope Paul III under the control of Cardinal Gian Pietro Carafa, which leads to one of the composers of the 1536 Constitutions, Bernardino Ochino, the then leader of the Capuchin Reform, fleeing across the Alps.

Conservatives, Reformers, Evangelicals

I will use the term Conservatives to refer to those who were resistant to changes in the Church. The changes being resisted are the use of the vernacular over against Latin, especially in making the scriptures and commentaries on them available in the vernacular, preaching in the vernacular in a style understandable to the less educated people, and the doing away with religious practices that were being perceived as verging on the superstitious or as being promoted more for material gain than spiritual growth. It will also refer to those resistant to expanding theology beyond the exclusively Aristotelian/Thomistic scholastic model. In Garnier-Mathez study the Masters of the Faculty of Theology of the Sorbonne University of Paris will fall under this category of Conservatives.

Reformers will refer to those who will eventually break completely with the Catholic Church. They will be the likes of Martin Luther, John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli.

Evangelicals will refer to those seeking reform within the Church of the sixteenth century who are endeavouringing to remain faithful and obedient. Within the French Evangelicals they were the likes of Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples, Bishop Guillaume Briçonnet of Meaux, Bishop Gérard Roussel of Oloron and Marguerite of Navarre.

Collaboration between reforming bishops and Capuchin friars in Italy

Guillaume Alonge in Condottiero, Cardinale, Eretico[4] follows the trajectory of Frederico Fregoso from military leader defending his family interests and the city of Genoa to his time spent among the Evangelicals of France and finally his work of reform as the Cardinal bishop of Gubbio in Italy. The period Fregoso spent in France and then in Italy corresponds to the period of the study of Garnier-Mathez, the 1520’s spent in France and the 1530’s in Italy until his death in Gubbio in 1541.

Fregoso links up with other Italians, the likes of Ludovico di Canossa and Antonio Brucioli, during his stay in France in the 1520’s. They come under the influence of Jacques Lefévre d’Etaples, Marguerite of Navarra and the reforming bishop of Meaux, Guillaume Briçonnet.[5] Returned to Italy in the 1530’s, Brucioli will publish a new translation of the Bible into the vernacular, Fregoso will take up the reform of his diocese of Gubbio in 1530, Canossa, also a bishop, will work in a reforming pastoral relationship with Bishop Gian Matteo Giberti of Verona who retreated to his diocese in 1528 after the sack of Rome.[6] Within this network of reforming Italian bishops, some in the timeline beyond the 1530’s, will also be found Cosimo Gheri of Fano, Ercole Gonzaga of Mantova, Pier Paolo Vergerio of Capodistria, Giovanni Battista Vergerio of Pola, Vittore Soranzo of Bergamo, Iacopo Nacchianti of Chioggia, and Isidoro Chiari of Folgino.[7] Also to be included in this network of Italian reformers would be Cardinal Gasparo Contarini and Cardinal Reginald Pole. A few decades later, in the counter-reformation period, St Charles Borromeo, impressed by Giberti’s reform of his diocese will appoint Nicolò Ormaneto as his vicar-general of Milan. Ormaneto was a priest from Verona trained by Giberti.[8]

Alonge notes that Lucien Febvre had already formulated the hypothesis that there was a circulation of persons, ideas, books and models of reform reaching from France into Italy. It was a transalpine reform involving, broadly speaking, central and northern Italy. The pastoral reforms similar to Bishop Briçonnet of Meaux in France, also arose in the 1530’s in central and northern Italy, involving the above-mentioned Italian bishops. It was a reform of the Church that commenced from the peripheries, from the dioceses, in a renewal of the religious life of the people by way of evangelical preaching simplified into the language of the people. It was an articulation of theology that was understandable to ordinary and simple people. It consisted of religious practices that gave the people direct access to the scriptures but was anchored in a traditional vision of obedience to both civil and Church authority.[9]

Working with these bishops in the reform of their diocese were various religious orders, such as the Benedictines, Augustinians and Capuchins. The Capuchin Bernardino Ochino had already preached with success in Rome in 1536 and in Ferrara the following year. In the summer of 1536 at Urbino a meeting was held between Ochino, Duchess Elenora Gonzaga, Caterina Cibo and Bishop Fregoso. At that meeting Elenora Gonzaga assured Ochino and the young Capuchin reform of the support of the Gonzaga family in Veneto. In 1538, the Capuchin Giuseppe da Ferno preached the advent cycle at Gubbio at the invitation of Bishop Fregoso. During this cycle of preaching the Capuchins introduced the religious practice of the Forty Hours. This was to be repeated in many other places, such as in Modena in 1539 and in Siena in 1540. In 1538 Ochino was itinerant in Veneto preaching from Mantova to Venice, being welcomed by the bishops Giberti and Fregoso. [10]

The Capuchins pastoral work with the bishops involved a program of using the practice of the Forty Hours and processions involving many of the citizens, preaching that was evangelical and in a language and style that addressed the different levels of society, special instructions for the children and setting up corporal works of mercy by involving the leaders of the community.

Alonge notes that one of the secrets to the success of the early friars of the Capuchin reform was in their capacity to collaborate with both the local civil and church authorities. The collaboration involved the whole life of the community, addressing the spiritual, moral and common good by way of establishing associations to care for those in special need of welfare and assistance. The Capuchins were a privileged instrument in the hands of the reforming Italian bishops, such as Fregoso, Giberti and Gonzaga. It is within this context of collaboration with the bishops that the extraordinary choice made by the early Capuchins in article 37 of the 1536 Constitutions can be understood. They chose to reject the long-standing privilege of the Franciscans and other religious orders of being exempt from the authority of the local bishop: [11]

We also direct that when the friars wish to take up some new place, according to the teaching of the humble Francis, let them go first of all to the Bishop or his Vicar and ask permission to be able to take up the place in his Diocese. Once permission is obtained, let them go the Community or lord and ask them that they might to lend them a small place.

Vittoria Colonna was one the key lay leaders in Italy reinforcing this close collaboration between the early Capuchins and the reforming bishops. It was in her residence in Rome that the Capuchins drew up the 1536 Constitutions.[12]

Having very briefly contextualised the relationship between the French Evangelicals of the 1520’s, the reforming Bishops of central and northern Italy in the 1530’s and 1540’s and the collaboration of the early Capuchins in this reform, we can now investigate the language of the reform and its influence in the writing of the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions.

Points from Garnier-Mathez’s study

Garnier-Mathez examines around twenty works of different genre characterised by doctrinal discourse of theological content covering the period 1523 to 1534. This corpus is referred to as ‘evangelical discourse’. The commonalities within the selected corpus will be the use of adjectives that present a homogeneity of content that reveals the existence of a network of writers, preachers and bishops forming an ‘evangelical village’.[13] Garnier-Mathez predicts that the integration into her research by others of texts written simultaneously in Europe, from Antwerp to Italy, in the decades 1520-1540, leading up to the work of the Council of Trent, would likely reveal the impact of the French-speaking evangelicals in their production. This is the period in which the first Capuchin Constitutions are written.[14]

The lexical identification of the French Evangelicals

The following adjectives are identified as highly recurrent within the corpus of evangelical discourse: évangélique/evangelical; vray/true; seul/alone; vif/living[15]. Within religious discourse there is the propensity for the use of analogy and antithesis. Therefore, the use of their antithesis is also revealing. The evangelical discourse will often contrast heavenly things with earthly things, the spiritual with the human.[16] This contrasting by way of antithesis in evangelical discourse is a characteristic of biblical discourse. The frequent contrasting of qualifiers, such as spiritual, divine, heavenly, eternal, immortal, invisible, perpetual with human, mortal, carnal, fleshly, material, worldly, earthly, sensual, will invest evangelical discourse with a lexical frequency and variety much greater than is found in the New Testament use of such contrasting qualifiers. This serves to shift the emphasis of anthropological and soteriological questions. In the Medieval tradition the emphasis is on human depravity, whereas the evangelical adjectives are an appeal for transcendence, an appeal for human natured to be transformed, even deified.[17]

The ‘reforming’ adjectives serve to amplify in order to clarify both in terms of linguistics and theology: true God, true doctrine, true Christian, true faith, living faith, true and living faith. The Evangelicals use them to focus attention, giving persuasive energy to the discourse, to emphasis the essentiality of the spiritual dimension of the human person.[18] This is also achieved by using them in conjunction with their juxtaposition, such as living faith/dead faith, eternal life/eternal damnation, which, by setting up dialectical tension within the discourse, serve to contrast the spiritual world and the human world, truth and error, salvation and damnation. The adjectives also have the cognitive function of emphasising theological truths that are difficult to represent, especially for the less educated, and contribute to the understanding of the doctrine of salvation, such as using living faith to express that faith which vivifies the human person in the process of the transformation from the old Adam to the new man. Within the discourse this would be juxtaposed with adjectives and their substantives that express the person with a faith that is dead, the person trapped in a dark prison, thus representing the person deprived of God. These adjectives used in this way, particularly in prose, were given a surplus of meaning.[19]


The adjective evangelical expresses the Catholic tension of responding to the Spirit and recognising atrophied systems, and then having the courage to let go of them. The combination of the Gospels being only available in Latin and Christian doctrine being confined to Scholastic theology were an impediment to the less educated being nourished in faith. An initial endeavour of the Evangelicals was to make the Gospel text accessible to all by way of the vernacular. Lefèvre d’Etaples will write in the preface of his translation of the New Testament into French that the time has arrived for our Lord Jesus Christ, our only salvation, truth and life, to be purely announced to all the world, without the impediment placed upon it by the doctrines of men who claim to be important. Here he is taking aim at those clinging to and defending at all cost Scholastic theology, particularly the Masters of the Faculty of Theology of the Sorbonne University of Paris. Lefèvre’s concerns are pastoral. He desires that the simple members of the body of Jesus Christ, having the scriptures in their own language, may also be certain of evangelical truth, like those who have it in the Latin.[20] Up until this point all the Franciscan Constitutions from those of Bonaventure’s Constitutions of Narbonne (1239) to the 1449 Capestrano Constitutions were composed and published in Latin.[21] The Capuchin reformers will write the 1536 Constitutions in the vernacular.[22]

The adjective evangelical derives from the cultural substrates of Pauline, Augustinian and ‘neo-Platonic’ influences that were feeding the reform movement in general. These combine to express a common desire for internalised spiritual renewal that conforms the Christian life to that of Jesus Christ. The common language of the Evangelicals is achieved by combining the adjective with different nouns, by repetition, and by use of antithesis to deepen the contrast between the true, sound, wholesome Christian life of good, healthy and solid doctrines and that of one that is false, vain, foolish, diabolical, worldly and of merely human traditions.[23]

The 1536 Constitutions will use the adjective evangelical some fifteen times to give expression to how the friars are called to live out the Christian life: persevering in the spiritual observance of the evangelical and Seraphic Rule (preface of Constitutions); evangelical teachings (art. 1; 117); evangelical perfection (art. 2; 151); evangelical silence (art. 44); evangelical correction (art. 46); evangelical greeting (art. 47); evangelical pearl (art. 58); evangelical poverty (art. 67; 73); evangelical preachers (art. 117); evangelical peoples (art. 117); evangelical precepts and counsels (art. 126; 149). Often it is used within the context of the antithesis, thereby contrasting heavenly things with earthly things, the spiritual with the human. Similar indications could be provided by other common adjectives of the ‘evangelical village’ that are also used in the Capuchin Constitutions, such as spiritual (used 20 times) and heavenly (11). Garnier-Mathez notes that from her lexicological analysis the first use of spiritual as an adjective used figuratively as in contrasting earthly to spiritual can be traced back to 1523, and evangelical back to 1529.[24]

Evangelical is understood in the double sense of the authenticity of the sacred text translated for simple people, and the content of Christian doctrine. Lefèvre operates from a positive anthropology, confident that the faithful, even the less educated, the simple, will be able to respond to the promptings of the Spirit once they hear and understand the scriptures and the content of Christian doctrine.

The use of the adjective simple is diametrically opposed between the Conservatives (such as the Masters of the Faculty of Theology) and the Evangelicals. For the Conservatives its use is derogatory towards the uneducated who are judged as not being intelligent enough to be allowed access to the holy gospels. Whereas Lefèvre will write in his Epistre exhortatoire:

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, if anyone is touched by this holy sigh of celestial desire and comes to some understanding of the holy writing of divine wisdom, they must not be ungrateful, but must continually give thanks with a visceral and tearful heart to the one who reveals his secrets to humble hearts. […] Do not feel proud of yourself but give your approval to the humble. And as such, the great treasures of God are communicated to you who are simple and unlettered and not clerics.[25]

Garnier-Mathez observes that on the lexical level evangelical truth, that forms a syntagm with human traditions, is of Pauline influence on the Evangelicals. The Pauline corpus has a major influence on the formation of the Evangelicals soteriology, especially when it is combined with the Epistle of James, allowing evangelical truth to hold in tension living faith and works of charity.[26] The seven direct references to St Paul throughout the Capuchin Constitutions indicate the strength of the Pauline influence (art. 4, 49, 65, 111, 112). Lefèvre translates the Epistle to the Colossians 2: 8 with:

See that no one deceives you by philosophy and vain deception: according to human tradition, according to the rules of the world, and not according to Christ.[27]

When human tradition is used by the Evangelicals, it is not referring to a human tradition prior to the Christian revelation to the Apostles, or as used in the writings of Augustine of the opposition between truth and vanity[28], rather, it is referring to Christian traditions, particularly that of scholasticism, which have become atrophied and lost the evangelical spirit by granting to ritualised practices the effective power of justification. Lefèvre or one of his disciples will write that human doctrines cannot nourish your souls, rather, it puts them to death.[29] Garnier-Mathez notes that the adjective human is used here in a purely axiological sense, that of connoting blame. It is used to denounce practices which claim to save but have the opposite effect of distancing the believer from salvation.[30]

In the spirit of the same positive anthropology, desire for evangelical truth and seeking to remove any atrophied structures and practices that are an impediment to meeting Christ, the early Capuchin reformers will write in article 4 of the Constitutions:

Because the flames of divine love originate from the light of divine things, we order that there be some reading of the Sacred Scriptures, explaining them with the holy and devout Doctors. Even though Divine Wisdom may be unfathomable and lofty, nonetheless it has lowered itself so much in Christ Our Saviour that without any other means the simple and unlearned can grasp it with the pure, dovelike and fresh gaze of faith. Therefore all the friars are forbidden to dare to teach or study unfitting and irrelevant sciences, but only the Sacred Scriptures, indeed the most holy Jesus Christ himself, in whom according to Paul are all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God.

This extends into the attitude of prayer and worship the friars are to seek. They are “not to have the eye of their intention focus on human favour and glory or anything temporal. With a simple, pure and clean heart let them consider the divine honour, celebrating for the sake of charity alone and with all humble reverence, faith and devotion” (n. 32). In contrast to the polyphonic choir singing that was developing[31] in the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, the friars were to pray the office “with due devotion, attention, maturity, uniformity of voice and in harmony with the spirit, without frills or an affected voice, and with the voice neither too high nor too low, but in between” (n. 36). The reason for this is evangelical: The friars should strive to sing psalms to God more with the heart than with the mouth so that what our fair Saviour said of the Hebrews may not be said of us: “These people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (n. 36).

True, alone, living

We are mainly interested in the adjectives true and living. For the sake of an integrated overview of Garnier-Mathez’s study, alone will be included here as an overall introduction before exploring true and living in more detail and in their usage in the Capuchin Constitutions.

The Evangelicals used these three adjectives as distinguishers that contrast with the scholastic heritage: true highlights the primacy of the Word of God, alone that the relationship with God calls for a radical exclusivity, and living emphasises the active nature of saving faith. The combination of these qualifiers with key substantives (nouns) within the discourse create new expressions, thus a process of lexicalisation is established resulting in a language of the ‘evangelical village’. Pre-existing concepts, often scholastic, are reinterpreted and result in a theology that is particular to the Evangelicals, in contrast to the Conservatives, and which distinguishes them from the Reformers on important doctrinal points.

The repetition of these adjectives with various substantives, as demonstrated above with the use of evangelical in the Capuchin Constitutions, in the writings and preaching of the Evangelicals is part of pedagogical endeavour that puts the evangelical doctrine within the reach of the less educated people, the simple people, who do not understand Latin. Garnier-Mathez observes these adjectives used with a variety of substantives serve to amplify and clarify particular abstract concepts – doctrine, faith, salvation, divine mediation – but at the same time making them accessible to a public with little training in theological questions. The discourse works on several levels, with the semantic richness of adjectives being exploited in such a way as to express all the nuances of theological thought, thus also nourishing, at the same time, those trained in theological questions.[32]

The use of alone has it background in the texts of the first covenant, such as in Dt 6:4: Hear O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone (NRSVACE). Used by the Evangelicals it serves to amplify the necessity of an exclusive relationship with God, as the one thing necessary, but without excluding the cult of the saints, in contrast to its extended meaning by the Reformers. The Evangelicals are very circumspect in the use of faith alone, because of the extended meaning given to it by the Reformers of excluding works. For the Evangelicals, the adjective alone is not related to the issue of justification, but used to distinguish the nature of faith we are to have in God, that of faith by charity at work in the believer, which for the Evangelicals is none other than living faith.[33]

Garnier-Mathez points out an interesting and important distinction in the use of the adjective alone by Lefèvre d’Etaples and Luther. Lefèvre, the authoritative translator of the New Testament into French and who is highly influential among the Evangelicals, manifested a scrupulous respect for the biblical text, which distinguishes him from how Luther uses it. Luther will add the adjective allein/alone to his translation of the Letter to the Romans in order to bend the text to his doctrinal position on justification by faith.[34]

For Luther alone, while denoting the exclusivity of the faith relationship one is to have with God, also refers to the uselessness of works in the process of justification; alone, as used by the Evangelicals, marks this exclusivity of faith relationship with God, but is an exclusivity that is also open to works.[35] When the Evangelicals are appropriating the writings of Luther into their French heritage, faith alone becomes living faith. ‘Faith that saves without works’ becomes ‘the saving faith full of good works’. This is not a mere translation but a rewriting of the text with new doctrinal significance. The addition of ‘living’ or the omission of ‘alone’ to the noun ‘faith’ indicates a change in theological orientation which is freed both from the atrophied scholastic tradition and the loss of tradition in the Lutheran reform. Garnier-Mathez notes that the Lutheran writings offered in French to believers are freed from Lutheranism through, at times, a single epithet and becomes the literary heritage of French evangelism at the beginning of the 16th century. Luther translated is no longer Luther.[36]

In the 1536 Constitutions, alone is used in the opening article where it resonates with the Evangelical use. It is used to indicate that it is the ‘evangelical teaching’ of the ‘most fair Son of God’ ‘that it alone teaches and shows us the straight way to go to God’. It is used to emphasis one of the central pillars of the Evangelical reform, that the friars ‘after the example of the virgin Cecilia always carry the sacred Gospel in their heart of hearts…’. It is the opening blast of the evangelical trumpet of a call to being a true friar with living faith.


The Evangelicals were seeking to make the Gospel text available to all, in reaction to the use of Latin for the sacred text that only the well-educated could understand. They were also seeking to teach and preach to the simple people in a style and with content the uneducated could comprehend, in contrast to the monopoly held by scholastic theology, written in Latin, that claimed to teach the truth but had gradually become atrophied and had become an impediment to the message of Christ. Lefèvre d’Etaples in the preface of his translation of the New Testament into French will express this contrast with a double lexical and conceptual opposition, Gospel/doctrine of men; purity/presumption:

Now the time has arrived in which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only salvation, truth and life, wants that his Gospel be purely announced to all the world, so that people will no longer be confused by other doctrines of men who presume to be important… That simple members of the body of Jesus Christ having this in their language may be certain of evangelical truth, like those who have it in Latin.[37]

Evangelical truth is understood in the double sense of the authenticity of the sacred text translated for the comprehension of the less educated people, and of the content of Christian doctrine.[38] The often repeated adjective true is used to identify this meaning in the evangelical discourses. Its antithesis is human traditions or doctrines that do harm to the salvation of the person.

The Evangelicals are animated by the same zeal as St Augustine in defending the truth of the Holy Gospels, proclaiming true faith, and propagating sound doctrine. Augustine, still working at the dawn of the Christian era, was confronting profane rhetoric and pagan rites. At the end of the medieval period and the beginning of the modern period, the Evangelicals were combating scholastic rhetoric and Church traditions that sometimes bordered on the superstitious. The field of battle was right faith (recta fides) and its theological substratum of sound doctrine (doctrina sana) which established sound Christian practices of faith.[39]

Garnier-Mathez nominates true as an ‘evangelical’ adjective in the proper sense. It finds its substratum in the very truth of God, manifest most clearly in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. It does not attempt to contrast a ‘God of the Evangelicals’ over against a ‘God of the Conservatives’. The adjective designates the fundamental truth of the Christian faith made accessible to all, educated and less. The adjective is both a theological message and a didactic process of emphasising the truths of the faith, signifying both the divine and the unique in Jesus Christ, which the adjective subsumes and heightens. The theological truth expressed by the Evangelicals is nothing new. The insistent formulation by various substantives repeated throughout the discourse or writing is new. It amplifies and clarifies by both repetition and by being joined to different nouns. This serves as an identifier of the evangelical spirit. Knowing the true God and his Son Jesus Christ, true God and true man, is the foundation for the authentic Christian. This allows for a shift in evangelical discourse to move from the adjective true being used as an identifier for God to that of also being used to identify the Christian: true Christian.[40] The truth is in Jesus Christ, he is the unique exemplar, he is the only way to salvation. This truth is to be embraced and interiorised by the Christian:

He is justified and set free, free from all bondage, and truly Christian, that is to say, a spiritual man, renewed man, an interior man.[41]

Garnier-Mathez observes that multiplication of the use of the adjective true and its derived adverb truly throughout the Evangelical corpus ranks among the most significant argumentative procedures of evangelical discourse and seeks to situate the doctrinal aspect of its arguments in the truth of the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, true God and true man. The antithesis to the surety of this truth is human doubt:

[…] God, willing to be made man for us, and to die for us, and to give himself in sacrifice, so that in this sacrifice God forgives all the sins of all those who ever were from the beginning of the world, and who are and will be until the end, having such knowledge, faith and trust in him. And there is nothing to doubt about this. For there is nothing so true that we hold and speak to each other that it is true, nor that in heaven and earth is there such a thing is as is true.[42]

The repetitive use of the adjective true, often joined to spiritual, in combination with various biblical and natural images (such as true heavenly bread, true spiritual circumcision, true spiritual sun and their antitheses) in evangelical discourse assist in opening the major articles of faith to the less educated people. In this task of the ‘evangelical village’, the exceptional recurrence of the adjective true can be considered as a manifestation of the Christocentrism of the authors, combined with a desire to refocus the essential truths of salvation. The evangelical task is to open the full treasure of the Gospel, Jesus Christ, true God and true man, to the humble, the simple, the poor. Helped by the language of the ‘evangelical village’, they too can enter fully into a spiritual life of a humanity revitalised by living faith. They too can drink from the saving stream and eat the true heavenly bread of true doctrine. They no longer need to be trapped in the dark prison of human, false, vain and foolish doctrine and human traditions that are an impediment to the Gospel.[43]

The adjective true and the adverb truly used repetitively and in combination with other adjectives of the ‘evangelical village’, combined with diverse substantives, serve to amplify and thus clarify the essential spiritual dimension of the human person. The true Christian seeks an exclusive relationship with the true God, fully revealed in the Gospels, Jesus Christ, true God and true man. The evangelical discourse is Catholic, it opens the true doctrine of salvation to all, as contrasting to the atrophied elements of scholastic theology and the Conservatives which left the humble, simple and poor impeded by false doctrine and human traditions.

The use of true in the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions

Within the Capuchin Constitutions the use of the adjective true can be found to resonate with the three primary uses identified in the Evangelicals corpus: referring 1) to Christ; 2) to doctrine and practice, and their antitheses; 3) to the person with living faith, and the antithesis.

The Capuchin use of the adjective true, along with other adjectives and nouns of the identified Evangelicals lexicon serves to amplify and clarify: 1) the Christocentricity of living faith; 2) Christian doctrine and practice is open to all, and demanded of all, no matter the level of education; 3) a soteriology that is positive whereby with living faith the spirit of devotion burn continuously and ever more intensely on the altar of their heart.

True referring to Christ as the object

94. […] If the superiors see them truly contrite and humbled, with a firm resolve to amend themselves and ready for a fitting penitence, they should receive them with gentleness according to the example of Christ our true Father and shepherd in the same way the prodigal son was received by his very kind Father.[44]

The ministers are to model themselves after Christ, especially in mercy, carrying the sins of the contrite and humble friars on their shoulders, after the example of Christ, our true Father in faith, being reminded in the subsequent article that if “we want to lift up again one who has fallen, it is necessary to bend down in kindness, just as the most kind saviour Christ did when presented with the adulterous woman, and not to act with rigid justice and cruelty toward the one brought before them. Indeed Christ, the Son of God, descended from heaven to the Cross to save us and showed all possible gentleness to humbled sinners”.

152. In Christ are our merits, examples of life, helps, favours and rewards. He is God and man, true light, the splendour of glory and radiance of eternal light, the flawless mirror and image of God, whom the eternal Father has made judge, lawgiver and the salvation of men to whom the Holy Spirit has given testimony.[45]

True referring to doctrine and practice as the object, and the antithesis

123. […] In this way they will find that they make greater progress in study the more they work on the spirit rather than the letter, for without the spirit the true meaning is not acquired and the letter alone blinds and kills.[46]

The antithesis begins article 123 referring to friars who in their study “seek that knowledge which puffs up” and warning those friars who “immerse themselves in literary study to the point where they have to neglect the study done by prayer”, which “would be clearly contrary to the intention of the Seraphic Father who never wanted holy prayer to be set aside for any such literary study”. This sits clearly in the concern of the Evangelicals that scholastic study and theology had become atrophied and was in need of reform.

124. […] They will also have reason to humble themselves if they recognise that they have an increased obligation before God for having been promoted to study and made worthy to be introduced to the true and fine understanding of the sacred texts beneath whose meaning lay hidden the one whose spirit is sweeter than honey for anyone who tastes it.[47]

This article 124 also begins with the warning against losing the true path in the work of study:

They should strive to never leave the royal path that leads to paradise, holy poverty together with holy humility, and often call to mind the saying of Jacapone that acquired knowledge bestows a mortal blow if it is not clothed in a humble heart.[48]

True referring to the person with living faith as the object, and the antithesis

6. As true and legitimate sons of Christ, our Father and Lord, born again by Him in Saint Francis, we share in his inheritance.[49]

Article 6 is positive; the antithesis is implied: false and illegitimate sons of Christ and illegitimate sons of Saint Francis. Article 62 will use the adjective poor in this antithetical sense: The friars should not want to be those false poor about whom Saint Bernard speaks.

41. As prayer is the spiritual teacher of the friars, and so that the spirit of devotion not grow cold in the friars but burn continuously and ever more intensely on the altar of their heart, and indeed just as the Seraphic Father desired that the true spiritual friar to pray always – we no less direct that two special times be assigned for prayer for the sake of the tepid.[50]

In article 41 the antithesis is the tepid friar who needs to be assigned special times of prayer as contrasted to the “true spiritual friar” who prays always in his heart.

48. Because true friars with living faith should depend upon their kind, supremely good and heavenly Father, we direct them not to carry flasks, meat, eggs, nor delicate or fine foods along the way. In this way they abandon all their cares upon God…[51]

In article 48 the antithesis is implied: the friar who doubts the providence of God and is preoccupied to hoard food for himself.

58. […] The Seraphic Father was accustomed to say that his true friars should not value money and coin more than dust. They should flee from it instead and regard it with terror as they would a venomous snake.[52]

In article 58 the antithesis is to violate the beloved spouse of Christ, most high poverty and to become lax by seeking “legacies, inheritances and superfluous alms”. Such things had become the bane of religious orders in the sixteenth century and were one of the practices the Evangelicals were seeking to reform.

128. […] As true sons of the eternal Father they should first visit His church and after having done some act of reverence and prayer, let them present themselves to the superior, showing him their obedience, without which no friar is permitted to go outside our places.[53]

In article 128 the antithesis is implied, the friar who seeks to live outside of obedience. This also was a bane of religious life in the sixteenth century and another practice the Evangelicals were seeking to reform.

136. It pertains to true religious and servants of Christ to flee not only from obvious wrongdoing and sins but also from everything that can be a pretext for any kind of wrongdoing.[54]

The antithesis of article 136 refers to the general squalid state of religious life at the beginning of the sixteenth century. There were many irregular practices that reflected dead faith at the heart of many religious communities of men and women. Scandalous practices were commonplace. It is within this context we need to read the final line of article 136: For our Father St. Francis said that God has taken wives from us and the devil has given us nuns. The point was being made by way of over emphasis. This line did not survive the future revisions of the Constitutions (thankfully).

139. […] To be true disciples of Christ himself let them love one another from the heart, bearing one another’s faults always.[55]

The antithesis of this article is implied. It is the friar who does not do violence to his “own passions and depraved inclinations”, thereby choosing not to storm the kingdom of heaven.

147. At the moment of his death our Seraphic Father left the generous blessing of the most Holy Trinity for the zealous and true observers of the Rule.[56]

The antithesis of article 147 is the friar who is negligent of the Rule given by Saint Francis.

148. Service with no other intention than to avoid punishment belongs only to servile and mercenary spirits. However it pertains to the true sons of God to work for the love of God and to do something pleasing to His Majesty, for divine grace and glory, and to give good example to our neighbour, and for many similar reasons.[57]

The antithesis is to have only a servile and mercenary spirit. A mean-spirited friar is far from a true friar with living faith.


In tracing the use of the adjective living in the Evangelical corpus, Garnier-Mathez observes that from its earliest use by Lefèvre d’Etaples its occurrences, still in th Latin, are related to the theme of works. It is often used with the binomial expression fides viva et operosa [living and active faith]:

Ita opera fidei […] signa sunt fidei, et vivae quidem fidei, quam justificatio sequitur​ [Thus the works of faith […] are signs of faith, and indeed living faith, from which justification follows].[58]

By the mid-1520’s the French equivalent of the Latin fides viva, that is, vive foy [living faith] had entered the vocabulary of Evangelical theologians and preachers on a regular basis, particularly in Meaux, the diocese of Bishop Guillaume Briçonnet.[59] Garnier-Mathez notes that the rarity of the use of the phrase living faith by the Reformers suggests that a recurring and generalised use of living faith indicates it being specific to the language of the evangelical village.[60]

The Evangelicals use of the expression living faith has its origin in Latin scholastic vocabulary of fides viva. In scholastic usage fides viva distinguishes faith from fides mortua, that is, dead faith and from fides ficta, that is, feigned faith. As expressed in a sermon by Jean Gerson, fides viva is living faith that consists in believing in the truth of God, and because of this, loving and fearing Him with affection. Without fides viva no work is meritorious, as stated in Galatians 5:6 “the only thing that counts is faith working through love”. It is called living because it makes people act for the love of God. It is distinguished from dead faith which consists of believing in the truth of the Gospel, without doing the works which flow from such belief. It is called dead because it does not urge the person to the exercise of good works, as according to James 2:17 “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”. In this scholastic understanding of fides viva, faith is a habit formed by charity. It is charity that gives shape and body to faith. Therefore, charity is prior to faith but both are mutually dependent on the other. This contrasts with the Reformers for whom faith is the source of everything, including Christian charity.[61]

The theological position of the Evangelicals in using living faith will place them between the two contradictory positions of the Conservatives and the Reformers. For the Conservatives charity precedes faith, for the Reformers precedence is given to faith. The middle position of the Evangelicals expressed in the preface to Epistres et Evangiles, which places works of charity and faith as inseparably linked together, neither having precedence over the other but if charity is divorced from faith there only remains dead faith:[62]

[…] the gift of faith is a great gift […]. Notwithstanding, if we do not have charity, all these gifts profit us for nothing. And if the faith that we have is without charity, it is not faith, it is nothing but a dead faith, an imperfect faith and not a living faith, because living faith works through charity.[63]

In the Evangelical corpus the linking of the binomials truth and living are often occurrences that are made precisely in relation to the theme of charity. These two adjectives combine to specify the active nature of faith, whose fruit of charity consists in works which may be called good. The adjective true serves to intensify the value of living faith:

[…] simply and purely announce the holy gospel, urging and admonishing all to live according to the word of our Lord in true and living faith which produces and manifest true fruits of charity which are the only works which please God and which can be called good.[64]

If we compare this usage of the binomials true and living as specifying and highlighting the intimate link of faith and charity to their use in article 48 of the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions, the same link is present:

Because true friars with living faith should depend upon their kind, supremely good and heavenly Father, we direct them not to carry flasks, meat, eggs, nor delicate or fine foods along the way. In this way they abandon all their cares upon God who feeds not only the animals but even those who always offend Him.[65]

The faith of the friars is specifically linked to experiencing the charity of the “kind, supremely good and heavenly Father” “who feeds not only the animals but even those who always offend him” (cf. Mt 6:25-34; Lk 12:22-31; Mt 5:45; Lk 6:35). As in the previous section above, true also makes reference to the exclusive relationship that is sought with God.

Garnier-Mathez notes that in evangelical discourse the epithet living manifests an order of priorities inverse to that of scholastic theology. The latter working from a result-oriented perspective striving towards merit. Evangelical discourse worked from a qualitative perspective in which the essence of the faith and the content of the heart of the Christian take precedence. It is not concerned with the general question of the scholastics of faith as a whole. The Evangelicals are concerned with the specifics of faith, whether it is living or dead within the individual person, who is thus either spiritual or worldly. For the Conservatives the meritorious works of James 2:17 are of primary importance in relation to faith, whereas, for the Evangelicals they are corollary to a particular expression of faith, that is, living faith:[66]

[…] thus is it of faith, which if we have as living, would infallibly produce and of its nature, (so good and virtuous is), all good works, for Jesus Christ is always present in them.[67]

Lefèvre d’Etaples sought to unite Paul and James and thus demonstrate that there is no contradiction between them, between faith and works, which distinguishes the Evangelicals from the Reformers who remained suspicious of James and works.

Garnier-Mathez will conclude that the adjective living is the significant qualifier of evangelical faith. It is the “evangelical trumpet” of faith that is open to all classes of people. It does not depend on education and knowledge of Latin, it is more a matter of the heart, of confident hope in and affection for Jesus Christ, and externally expresses itself in works of charity moved by the Spirit.[68] She notes that living is a biblical adjective. Its usage in this biblical context with other nouns radiates the nuances of living faith referred to by the Evangelicals:

But whoever can have a little taste of the excellence and vigour of faith, can never write or speak enough of it. For it is truly the living fountain, as Jesus Christ calls it, speaking to the Samaritan woman. And rightly so because the heart which is full of it cannot be contained in itself but, like the deer, it runs and jumps after the fountain of living water.[69]

And it is certainly right that the living God should have a temple and a dwelling built not of dead stones, but of living stones, blessed and consecrated by the unction of the Holy Spirit.[70]

The soteriology of the Evangelicals sits between the Conservatives and Reformers, between the saving efficacy of works that highlight practices of worship and puts more emphasis on the rules of the moral life than the underlying Christian doctrine, and on the other side, the utter primacy of faith alone. The Evangelicals start with a terminology of scholastic origin, fides viva, and apply the new insights gleaned from the theological and pastoral interpretation of the Pauline corpus. Living faith is primarily a way of life whereby the whole life of the Christian is devoted to the one thing necessary, Jesus Christ, true man and true God. Living faith resides in the heart of the believer and is externalised in works of charity, thus opposed to a dead faith. It is a vivifying faith which gives eternal life promised as salvation in Jesus Christ. The binomials true and living, or their synonyms, often occur together. Regarding living, they are emphasising the importance of holding the tension together of faith and works of charity. Concerning true, with its synonyms such as sure, certain, firm, sets faith in relationship to the theme of trust in the divine promise, such as the promise in the 1536 Constitutions of the “kind, supremely good and heavenly Father” to feed “not only the animals but even those who always offend Him”.

Living combined with various biblical nouns, living word, living stones, living water, becomes the signal word of the Evangelicals whose concern is primarily pastoral in desiring to transmit this living faith to all, including the uneducated and simple people, especially by way of preaching from the pulpit.[71] In the words of Garnier-Mathez, the epithet living is indeed the ‘evangelical trumpet’[72] of the Evangelicals in bringing the people to a living faith that produces the works of charity. The Evangelicals promote an active and affective spirituality, which is rooted in the heart and in love rather than the law. The adjective living is often accompanied in the evangelical corpus with other adjectives that express fire, light and life. The accompaniment of such adjectives allows for a deeper expression of living faith as a metaphor for the charity that consumes the life of the Christian whose heart burns with the fire of ardent love:[73]

Lefèvre d’Etaples: But to return to Saint Paul, true knight of Jesus Christ, carrying the flaming banner of faith of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ in front of all the Christians who come from the gentiles.[74]

Guilhem Farel: For where there is no light of faith, no clarity of the word of God, there reign the princes of darkness, there are the stumbling and falling into the pit.[75]

Lefèvre d’Etaples: Let us receive the sweet visitation of Jesus Christ, our only salvation, in the celestial evangelical light. How then on the day of Jesus Christ who is the true sun, can we see any other light than the light of faith, which is given in the holy gospel? […] So my brothers and sisters let us walk in the light of day, in the light of the holy gospel, having all our true confidence directed towards the true sun.[76]

Lefèvre d’Etaples: For whoever has charity, has everything. He has the full light of faith inflamed by love, shining brighter in the spirit of the Lord our God than the sun does at noon on the brightest and hottest day of summer. [Revelation is] for those in whom the spirit of God dwells, not only to vivify and illuminate in faith, to ravish in hope, to inflame in love, which is called charity, but to reveal the secrets of divine wisdom.[77]

From the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions:

3. The friars should also always try to speak about God as this may truly help them to be kindled in His love and so that the Gospel teaching may bear fruit in our hearts.[78]

4. Because the flames of divine love originate from the light of divine things, we order that there be some reading of the Sacred Scriptures, explaining them with the holy and devout Doctors.[79]

42. Let the Friars remember that prayer is nothing other than to speak to God with the heart. Therefore the one who speaks to God only with his mouth is not praying. Hence each should strive to do mental prayer and according to the teaching of Christ, the best teacher, adore the Father in spirit and in truth. Each friar should take diligent care to enlighten his mind and inflame his affection more than to form words.[80]

123. Let the students not seek that knowledge which puffs up, but rather the enlightening and enkindling charity of Christ that edifies the soul.[81]

The meaning of living faith in the soteriology of the Evangelicals

Garnier-Mathez puts forward living faith as the metaphor of salvation for the Evangelicals. To express this, she uses the commentary on the Gospel of Mark 16:14-20 by Lefèvre d’Etaples. His translation of the relevant verses is:

And finally he appeared to the eleven seated at table and reproached them for their hardness of heart, for they had not believed in those who had seen him resurrected. And said to them: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.[82]

Lefèvre’s commentary on these verses is:

He did not say: Whoever believes and does good works will be saved, but only whoever believes; not that there is not the need to always do good to one’s neighbour, for to say this would have been superfluous for just like a living man, who necessarily drinks, eats, sits, gets up, and does nothing without command, for otherwise he would not know how to do them, so it is with faith, which, if for us it is living, would infallibly produce by its nature (it is so good and virtuous) all good works, for Jesus Christ always provides them. And on the contrary, where faith is dead, and unbelief reigns, nothing will ever be good, however precious, perfect and holy it seems, for Jesus Christ is not present there.[83]

Garnier-Mathez notes that the originality of this commentary of Lefèvre comes from the comparison made with “a living man” which embodies as concretely as possible the quality of faith that the preacher wants to engender in the hearers. Just as being alive implies a set of actions that accord with the nature of the person, such as eating and drinking, it is the same with living faith, it is externalised, embodied by works by its very nature. The expression “good works” implies a life that is full of good and virtuous actions. The opposite is dead faith, in which nothing is good. The works are the fruit of living faith, not a first condition of obtaining such faith, thus contrasting with the Conservatists, and opposed to the complete separation of faith and works by the Reformers. This middle way is achieved by the conciliate of Paul and James: Lefèvre will write, “And now remains faith, hope and charity, these three things, but the greatest is charity”. The two theological virtues of faith and charity are put into perspective with each other. The relationship binds them together, establishing a de facto hierarchy between the two, Lefèvre continues, “the faith we have without charity is not faith at all.” The Evangelical doctrine combines James’s argument of “faith without works is dead” (Jm 2:17) with Paul’s “the only thing that counts is faith working through love” (Gal 5:6).

The evangelical preacher is seeking to encourage the listener to move from the internal, spiritual to the concrete, to actions that have the weight of eternal salvation, expressing living faith. These external actions of their nature need to be connected to living faith, or they are arising solely from a limited, human belief and “so on the contrary, where faith is dead, and unbelief reigns, nothing will ever be good, however precious, perfect and holy it seems, for Jesus Christ is not present there”. The evangelical preaching seeks to generate a “new man”, a “true Christian” who seeks a unique and exclusive relationship with Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ is present in the person with living faith, this by its nature will produce the works of charity. Living faith is an abbreviation of evangelical soteriology: [84]

[…] The gift of faith is a great gift, for as our Lord says: If you have faith as is the mustard seed, you will say to this mountain: Go away from here, and it will go away, and nothing will be impossible for you. Notwithstanding, if we don’t have charity, all these gifts are of no benefit to us. And even “the faith we have without charity is not faith at all”, for it is only a dead faith, an imperfect faith and not a living faith, for a living faith works through charity.[85]

As noted above, when the Capuchins were collaborating with a bishop in his diocese and carrying out a cycle of preaching, they would also seek to externalise the spiritual conversion they were seeking in the people listening by setting up practical works of corporal mercy. Within the 1536 Constitutions the essentiality of a true friar with living faith giving fruit in good works is expressed in article 89:

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 the sick during the times of plague, according to what their Vicars decide, who will strive in such cases to keep prudent charity in mind.[86]

Capuchin usage of living faith

Living in the Capuchin Constitutions

The adjective living occurs only twice in the Constitutions and is used only once in article 48 in reference to faith. Paradoxically, this makes its use in article 48 more inviting to be seen as an interpretive key to open up the Capuchin Constitutions. Its unique use in the Constitutions invite us to contextualise the phrase living faith into the situation in which the early Capuchin reform was unfolding as part of a larger reform within the Church in Europe in the sixteenth century. We can find other synonymous expressions of living faith in the Constitutions, with adjectives being used to both amplify and clarify this particular expression of faith (pure, dovelike, fresh) that is open to all, even those marginalised by a lack of education and knowledge of Latin and scholastic theology:

Because the flames of divine love originate from the light of divine things, we order that there be some reading of the Sacred Scriptures, explaining them with the holy and devout Doctors. Even though Divine Wisdom may be unfathomable and lofty, nonetheless it has lowered itself so much in Christ Our Saviour that without any other means the simple and unlearned can grasp it with the pure, dovelike and fresh gaze of faith. Therefore all the friars are forbidden to dare to teach or study unfitting and irrelevant sciences, but only the Sacred Scriptures, indeed the most holy Jesus Christ himself, in whom according to Paul are all the treasures of the wisdom and knowledge of God (art. 4).[87]

The first use of the adjective living occurs significantly in the preface of the Constitutions. It is used as a Christological amplifier of the noun spirit that is referring Jesus Christ. It is stated with its antithesis. For the purpose of the friars persevering in the “spiritual observance of the evangelical and seraphic Rule”, the Constitutions have been drawn up to defend the friars “from all the enemies of the living spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, and from all the compromises against the most fervent and seraphic zeal of our Father Saint Francis”. The run of adjectives in the Preface (spiritual, evangelical, seraphic, impregnable, living, fervent) immediately places us in a similar use of adjectives as is found in the language of the ‘evangelical village’.

Due to the paucity of the adjective living in the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions it would serve to look a little wider. It would be a worthwhile exercise to search the extant text of the early Capuchin Friars as gathered together by Costanzo Cargnoni in I Frati Cappuccini. However, no electronic database (to my knowledge) exists whereby this could be done easily.

Acknowledging this constraint, I will simply take one sample of a 1538 homily by Bernardino Ochino delivered in Lucca, Italy. Ochino is one of the key friars of the commission who gathered in the residence of Vittoria Colonna in Rome to draw up the Constitutions in 1536 during a period in which Cardinal Contarini is also a guest of the Colonna household.[88] It has already been acknowledged above that Ochino is collaborating with the reforming bishops of Italy, such as Fregoso and Giberti.

A translation of the entire homily is provided here with the original Italian found here.

Within the short homily of around 1,000 words in Italian living faith is used six times (viva fede 4 times and fede viva 2 times). Its antitheses dead faith is used four times. Dead works/actions are used four times (operazioni morte 2 times and opere morte 2 times).

Other evangelical epithets that catch the eye are true Christians used four times, living spirit (used three times), living fruits (used twice), the evangelical sense of living is also implied in the use of the imagery of quicksilver or mercury whose characteristic of moving and volatile activity is utilised to describe living faith with works of charity, and the adjective evangelical (evangelica) occurs once.

The rich and repetitive use of evangelical adjectives, especially true and living, along with various substantives, Christian, faith, fruits, spirit, works, serve to amplify and clarify the evangelical theological and soteriological position. This is also reinforced by the constant juxtaposing of antitheses. The true Christian has living faith with works of charity as contrasted to those who are baptised, participate in Christian ceremonies, have religious habits, may be well learned, but have only dead faith and dead actions.

Extracts from the first homily of Bernardino Ochino at Lucca in 1538

In the following I have pulled out the sentences in the homily[89] that make use of the adjective living to look for evidence that Ochino is using the adjective in a way that resonates with the language of the ‘evangelical village’ described Garnier-Mathez, with all that implies regarding doctrine, practice and soteriology.

5631 […] thus, one does not know the true Christian who is not known by baptism, nor by ceremonies, but by living fruits of living faith and by the living spirit.[90]

Nor does living faith consist of only dead works, after the manner of the Pharisee, who said, justifying himself: “I am not like other men”,[91] but in being humble with Jesus who says: Cum feceritis haec omnia, dicite quia serviutiles sumus,[92] that is, when you have done every good action that a good Christian can do, say that you are useless servants and without any fruit, because if Christ stripped you of all his gifts, which he has freely given you, what would remain that is yours, if not an infinite multitude of sins, offences and infirmities without number? And therefore, the perfection of the Christian life does not consist in only dead works, but in living works of living faith.[93]

5632 [….], that is, those whom God has foreknown, he has predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, not with only dead faith, but in imitating the life of Christ are we able to be conformed to him, who being Son of God despised all things of the world, to show us the evangelical way and of that which Christian perfection consists; since living faith, which works by loving kindness, works actively and is not idle, and like quicksilver [argento vivo/living silver] is always active, giving fruition to works of the spirit and of living faith, from which and by which fruits one certainly recognises a perfect Christian. Therefore, it is not by being baptised or learned, not by dead faith, nor by ceremonies alone that one knows the Christian. But what does our Saviour say? A fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos: by the living fruits of living faith and by the living spirit one recognises the true Christian; by these fruits you will be consoled, my Christian, if with all your heart you ask this of God, with a humble heart, so that you may be happy in this life and in the next.[94]

Michele Camaioni in Il Vangelo e L’Anticristo[95] notes that already for some years during the 1530’s in Lucca the ideas of the Reformers had been circulating by way of merchants who were in contact with the Franco-Swiss and German region.[96] The five sermons delivered in the Cathedral of Lucca by Ochino reflect those delivered in previous years in Rome, Naples, Ferrara, Florence and Perugia. According to Camaioni, the central themes running through all of these were penance and conversion, the devaluation of human works as a means of salvation, the priority accorded to faith in divine mercy and the invitation to invoke the gift of “living faith” animated by an ardent spirit of charity towards God and neighbour.

This last aspect was strongly insisted upon by Ochino in his preaching to the people of Lucca because of the great disparity between the wealthy and the poor, resulting in some practical results such as the commune adopting measures to deal with the plague of pauperism. It is in the second sermon that Ochino will use the antithesis to true Christian to press home this point: [97]

But O my, what can I say of those impious and false Christians who abound in everything and would sooner allow the poor to starve to death than their dogs and mules?[98]

Ochino is not trying to establish new external practices but is concerned with the interior formation of the people.[99] The problem of the false Christian is deeper than morality, it resides in a lack of living faith in God and in the benefits of Christ, hence the use of the adjective true and its antithesis false resonates with the use outlined above by Garnier-Mathez where the substratum for truth is the primacy and exclusivity of the Christians relationship with God, and especially in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. The moral aspect is consequent to this but also essential.

The pairing of true and living in this preaching of Ochino is significant. It places us at the heart of the sixteenth century debate over justification by faith alone, predestination and the merits of the works of charity. As in France between the Conservatives and the Reformers, this debate was also unfolding in Italy. Camaioni demonstrates that this dispute had already begun in Italy in the 1520’s, contemporary to what is happening in France. It is enough to cite the example Camaioni gives of an Italian translation of Luther that was repeatedly printed in Venice from 1525 and circulating in Italy, being attributed to either an anonymous author or to Erasmus:

God […] does not want that man remains in idleness, or that he lives for himself alone. It is therefore necessary that […] we are attentive to works and exercises of love, which are born from faith, like fruit from the tree: I am not saying those works, that by our own industry and law or by men are truly esteemed as good, but those useful to our neighbours. And such works should be done freely, spontaneously, without merit or reward”.[100]

In France, Lefèvre and the other Evangelicals steer the middle path between the Conservatives and Reformers in the central debate over justification by faith alone and the merits of works. As outlined above, by the conciliation of Paul and James they often link the binomials truth and living to amplify and specify the active nature of faith, whose fruit of charity consists in works. This will be the same path for the Italian reformers seeking to remain in communion with the pope. This is demonstrated clearly in the preaching of Ochino in Lucca.

Within the section examining the preaching of Ochino in Lucca in 1538, Camaioni examines a discursive letter of Cardinal Contarini sent to Lattanzio Tolomei in 1537.[101] It deals with the justification – faith alone – works debate and pastoral care in preaching such matters to the less educated people. Camaioni notes that Ochino in his preaching is substantially in synch with the cautious pastoral indication formulated by Contarini. As with the French Evangelicals, Contarini takes the moderate position between the Conservatives and Reformers. As well as expressing a moderate doctrinal position of living faith giving fruit to works of charity in order for it to be considered justifying faith, there is also the pastoral concern for the less educated listeners to the preaching that they do not become misled and adopt either the extreme of Catholic Pelagianism or that of rigid faith alone and predestination, with the consequent moral laxism that can arise from misconception of such difficult Christian doctrine.[102]

Ochino in his preaching of living faith to the people of Lucca is seeking to hold together the two theological virtues of faith and charity. As for Lefèvre and the French Evangelicals, also for Ochino, it is when Jesus Christ is present in the person with living faith, which works by loving kindness, this by its nature will produce the works of charity. The epithet living faith becomes an abbreviation of evangelical soteriology.

True friars with living faith as an interpretative key to the 1536 Constitutions

Costanzo Cargnoni, a leading expert in Capuchin studies, strips back the Capuchin identity or charism or essential elements of the Capuchin life to three fundamentals: primacy of prayer and devotion, highest Seraphic poverty and pastoral ministry as an “overflowing of love”.[103] These align with the Evangelicals soteriology.

The insights of the Evangelicals study of the Pauline corpus understand the true Christian as being invited into an affective relationship with Jesus Christ in which prayer is less about externals but begins as matter of the heart. The true Christian prays with living faith to enter into the truth of Jesus Christ both in his person and in the content of faith. For the true friar “prayer is the spiritual teacher of the friars”. Its antithesis is the friar who is cold hearted, tepid, “and so that the spirit of devotion not grow cold in the friars but burn continuously and ever more intensely on the altar of their heart, and indeed just as the Seraphic Father desired that the true spiritual friar to pray always” (art. 41) specific times be set aside for mental prayer.

Highest seraphic poverty is not about poverty for poverty’s sake. It is not an end in itself. Its end is soteriological, to imitate and be conformed to the new Man, Jesus Christ: “Since we have been called to this life to live in the spirit by mortifying this external man of ours, we exhort the friars to accustom themselves to suffer the lack of worldly things after the example of Christ who, while being Lord of all, chose to be poor and to suffer for us” (art. 61). The poverty of the friar allows him to live his minority, a live lived among the simple, poor, uneducated and marginalised of society, whose marginalisation was only reinforced by the Conservatives insistence on Latin, both in scholastic theology and in the use of scripture. As seen above in the preaching of Ochino in Lucca, he can quote the Latin text of scripture, thus appealing to the educated and then immediately translate it into the vernacular but in the language of the Evangelical village: “A fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos: by the living fruits of living faith and by the living spirit one recognises the true Christian”.

In Evangelical soteriology living faith and works of charity are held in an inseparable tension. Without the works of charity, faith is dead. Highest seraphic poverty placed the friar at the service of others. They became the friars of the people. For the early Capuchins this was characterised by their preaching. The true friar preaching with living faith also sought to cultivate works of charity in the listeners. These expressions of charity resulted in some enduring corporal works of mercy carried out in the various places where the preached:

Refined, embroidered and pretentious words do not go with the naked and humble Crucified, as do plain, simple, humble and lowly words instead, which are divine and ardent words full of love after the example of Paul, the vessel of election, who did not preach with sublime expressions and human eloquence, but in the power of the Spirit. Therefore we exhort the preachers to imprint Blessed Christ upon their hearts and to give themselves into His serene possession so that through the superabundance of love He may be the one who speaks in them, not only with words but especially through their deeds after the example of Paul, the teacher of the nations. He did not dare preach anything to others unless Christ had first worked it in him. Christ too, the most perfect teacher, taught us not only with doctrine but with works. Great in the kingdom of heaven are those who do first and then teach and preach to others (art. 112).[104]

The phrase true friars with living faith, using the insights of the semantic study of Garnier-Mathez, assists in opening up the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions to being interpreted from within the wider historical context of the reform occurring within the Church in sixteenth century Europe.

  1. Paul Hanbridge has transcribed the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions in their original language, cf. CapDox. Article 48 is as follows: Et perche li ueri frati con uiua fede debano péder dal pio:& optimo loro celeste padre:fi ordina:che per la uia nó portino ne fiafchi‐ne‐ carne‐ne‐ oua ne dilicati‐o‐ƥciofi cibi‐ laffando di fe steffi ogni loro cura a dio:el quale pafce non folo li animali:ma ét quelli che fempre loffendino. Ne le cita‐o‐uero castelli:a li quali faranno proximi li nostri lochi:li frati non fi fermino a dormire‐o‐uero mágiare fora de effi lochi fenza grande neceffita.Hanbridge translates this into English as: Because true friars with living faith should depend upon their kind, supremely good and heavenly Father, we direct them not to carry flasks, meat, eggs, nor delicate or fine foods along the way. In this way they abandon all their cares upon God who feeds not only the animals but even those who always offend Him. Unless there is great need, the friars are not to stop to sleep or eat in the towns or castelli near our places (cf. CapDox).
  2. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète et la connivence : écriture concertée chez les Evangéliques français (1523-1534) (French Edition 2005). Librairie Droz. Kindle Edition, p. 15; 61; 341.
  3. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero, Cardinale, Eretico. Frederico Fregoso nella crisi politica e reilgiosa del Cinquecento, Roma 2017, pages XVI-XVII. He notes the influence of Ludovico di Canossa on the pastoral side, especially on Gian Matteo Gilberti as bishop of Verona, and that of Antonio Brucioli by way of a new translation of the Bible into Italian which allowed for the diffusion of biblical texts among the more uneducated sectors of society.
  4. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero, Cardinale, Eretico. Federico Fregoso nella crisi politica e religiousa del Cinquecento, Roma, 2017 (Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura).
  5. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 83 ff.
  6. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 97; cf. Peyronel Rambaldi, Susanna, Verso la Riforma. Criticare la chiesa, riformare la chiesa (XV-XVI secolo), 2019, p.365-377.
  7. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 201; 210-222.
  8. Rivolta, Adolfo, San Carlo Borromeo. Note Biografiche. Studio sulle lettere e sui suo documenti. 1938, Milano (editrice di G. Gasparini), p. 17-18: Lettera 6 maggio 1564. Ms. Ambros. S. Q. + 11, 7). Charles Borromeo sends a letter to his agent in Milan, Tullio Abonese in which he states: “Within a few days Mons. Nicolò Ormaneto will pass by there. He is one of the greater men of these times and who I have wanted to govern my Church of Milan, where he will go to supply for my momentary absence. He was trained by Cardinal Pole of England, of venerable memory, and was until now the main assistant of Matteo il Vecchio [Gian Matteo Giberti], Bishop of Verona, a man of rare virtue and of great talent. What is more, he has many times shown his personal worth, he is such, in short, in the judgement of those who know him, that I must consider myself greatly indemnified for having deferred until this moment to provide for the administration of my diocese with a person to my liking, for the good that I hope to have from his good governance. He is well versed in biblical science and theology. I wanted to make these things known to you for the greater satisfaction of the city” [Fra qualche giorno Mons. Nicolò Ormaneto passerà di quì. È uno dei più grandi uomini di questi tempi e che io ho potuto avere per il governo della mia Chiesa di Milano, dove egli sì recherà per supplire la mia momentanea assenza. Egli fu allevato dal Card. Polo di Inghilterra, dì veneranda memoria, e da ultimo principale servitore di Matteo il Vecchio,Vescovo di Verona, uomo di rare virtù e di grande valentia. Di più, egli ha dato prove molteplici del suo valore personale, egli è tale insomma a giudizio di coloro che lo conoscono, che io devo riguardarmi come molto indennizzato di avere differito fino a questo momento di provvedere a l’amministrazione della mia Diocesi d’una persona di mio gusto, per il bene che îo spero di averne dal suo buon governo. Egli è molto versato nella scienza dei sacrì canoni e della teologia. Io ho voluto farvi conoscere queste cose per la più grande soddisfazione della città.]
  9. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 201-202. In footnote 18 the reference to Febvre is given: L. Febvre, Idée d’une recherche d’histoire comparée: le cas Briçonnet, in ID., Au Coeur religieux du XVIe siècle, Paris, S.E.V.P.N., 19682, pp. 178-184.
  10. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 201-228.
  11. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 228-229.
  12. Cf. Alonge, Guillaume, Condottiero…, p. 229
  13. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, pages 96; 159; 164; 175; 307; 311; especially 321-322: the common adjective evokes doctrinal community and spiritual communion within a group – of a village – sharing the same religious impulse, speaking the same common language: evangelique/evangelical doctrine, vraye/true religion, vive/living faith, God seule/alone, nouveau/new man; the adjectives shared by the group, integrated into the language of their village reflect a linguistic community and a common system of beliefs and practices; 347; 348
  14. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 347.
  15. Vif could be translated as ‘lively’ or ‘living’. I have chosen ‘living’ for the following two reasons: firstly, its anithesis is morte/dead as in James 2:17 ‘faith without works is dead’ cf. Garnier-Mathez, p. 162, 163, 165, 167, 170, 171, 175, 176, 177, 179, 181, 193, 194, 296, 299, 309, 342, 344; secondly, for the English translation of the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions I am using that of Paul Hanbridge who uses ‘living’ in translating article 48, whereas Mark Stier uses ‘lively’.
  16. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 96.
  17. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 344.
  18. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 344.
  19. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 344- 345.
  20. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 97-98.
  21. For a fine article on the development of the Franciscan Constitutions cf. Pietro Maranesi, Le Costituzioni minoritiche: una identità in cammino in Italia Francescana, n. 2, 2009:231-266. For a detailed summary of this article in English go to CapDox.
  22. For a transcription of the 1536 Capuchin Constitutions in the original language go to CapDox.
  23. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p.101-104.
  24. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 100, 158, 190, 192, 196, 299-300, 307, 325, 332, 376, 341, 343.
  25. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 104; cf. footnote 33 for reference to quote: Doncques chiers freres & sœurs si aucun est touché de ce sainct soupir de desir celeste & vient à aucune intelligence de l’escripture saincte de la sapience divine, il n’en doit estre ingrat, mais continuellement rendre grace de cueur visceral et larmoyant à celuy qui revele ses secretz aux cueurs humbles. […] ne sentez point de vous orgueilleusement, mais soyez consentans aux humbles. Et pourtant, de tant que les grans tresors de dieu vous sont communiquez qui estes simples & sans lettres & non point clercz.
  26. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 342
  27. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 101: Voyez que nul ne vous deçoive par philosophie et vaine deception: selon la tradition des hommes, selon les règles du monde, et non point selon Christ.
  28. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 105.
  29. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 101: Et entendez que les doctrines humaines ne peuvent nourrir voz ames, mais plutost les faire mourir.
  30. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 101
  31. John Rice, a historian of music, notes that the recognition of St Cecilia as the patron of musicians seems to have become entrenched in the early period of the sixteenth century. In this century there are around 60 extant Caecilian Motets, with the first being written in 1532 (Cf. Webpage by John Rice: John A. Rice, History of Music) but the friars write St Cecilia into the first article of the Constitutions for an evangelical motif: “after the example of the virgin Cecilia always carry the sacred Gospel in their heart of hearts”; Cf. Kendrick, Robert L., Music among the Disciplines in Early Modern Catholicism in Listening to Early Modern Catholicism. Perspectives from Musicology edited by Daniele V. Filippi and Michael Noone, 2017, Brill: “The early disdain of the Jesuits has often been noted (although one of the first places this would change would be on the missions in South Asia), but other new orders, in Europe and elsewhere, also specifically banned polyphony, regarding it as an obstacle to their mission.22 Such decrees included not only the active orders of the Theatines, Somascans, Barnabites, Capuchins, but also the contemplatives of Teresa of Ávila’s Discalced Carmelites, and the Augustinian Recollects of Luis de León (these last three thus departing from the medieval musical practices of the mendicant traditions that spawned them). […] The numbers among older monastic and mendicant groups tied to music, trying to make their way in a new devotional world, are striking: in Italy, some 60 Benedictines among the monastics, compared to 140 Franciscans (mainly Conventuals, with Observants more specialized in chant and chant-generated polyphony), 50 Augustinians (or Augustinian-rule canons), 23 Servites, and 16 Carmelites. These figures contrast with the members of the new orders: two Barnabites, four Jesuits, one Theatine, and no Capuchins.” Pages 43-44; cf. Melchiorre da Pobladura, (translated by Paul Hanbridge) The Capuchin Reform. A Franciscan Renaissance. A portrait of sixteenth century Capuchin life. An English translation of La bella e santa riforma: 725 […] The Office has always been said out loud and in a monotone, with pauses but no harmonies. All the Hours are sung in a monotone, night and day, on ferial days as well as feasts. This has been very carefully planned so that the recitation does not get faster and faster, but proceeds slowly, and can be easily understood by anyone who hears it, and properly relished by those who pray it.
  32. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 342.
  33. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 184-185.
  34. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 305.
  35. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 185.
  36. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 345.
  37. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète p. 98: Aussi maintenant le temps est venu, que nostre seigneur Jesuchrist seul salut verité et vie veult que son Evangile soit purement annoncee par tout le​ monde, affin que on ne se desvoye plus par autres doctrines des hommes qui cuydent estre quelque chose…. Affin que les simples membres du corps de Jesuchrist ayans ce en leur langue: puissent estre aussi certains de la verité evangelicque, comme ceulx qui l’ont en latin. (Lefèvre d’Etaples, Epistre exhortatoire, N. T., t.1, [aii r]).
  38. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 98.
  39. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 111-112.
  40. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 113-115.
  41. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 116: [Livre tresutile de la vraye et parfaicte subjection, [(A4) r].
  42. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 117: Epistres et Evangiles, 1A. p. 1: […] Dieu, a voulu estre faict homme pour nous, et mourir pour nous, et se donner en sacrifice, affin que en ce sacrifice Dieu pardonnast tous pechéz à tous ceulx qui jamais furent dès le commencement du monde, et qui sont et seront jusques à la fin ayans telle congnoissance, foy et fiance en luy. Et de ce ne fault rien doubter. Car il n’est point si vray que nous sommes et parlons l’ung à l’autre que ce est vray, ne aussi que le ciel et la terre sont que ceste chose est vraye.
  43. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 119-123.
  44. Et li prelati fe li uederanno ueramente cótriti& humiliati cum fermo propofito di emendarfi& apparechiati alla condegna penitentia con dolceza‐a‐ exemplo di christo nostro uero padre& pastore li receuino nel modo fu receputo dal piiffimo padre el prodigo figlo:
  45. In christo adonɖƷ el quale e dio & homo luce uera:fplendor di gloria e candore de la eterna luce:fpechio fenza macula:&imagine de dio:el quale e constituito dal eterno padre iudice e legiflatore e falute de li homini al quale el fpirito fancto ha dato testimonianza:
  46. cofi facendo tanto magiore profecto fi ritrouarano a far nel studio:quanto che piu daranno opera al fpirito che alla littera:perho che fenza el fpirito non fi acquifita el uero fenfo anzi la fimplice littera la quale exceca& occide.
  47. li fara anchora caufa di humiliarfe fe cognofceranfi hauere accrefciuto noua obligatione con dio ƥ effere stati promoffi al studio‐& facti degni di effere introducti al la uera& fuaue intelligentia de le facrate littere fotto el fenfo de le quale sta nafcosto effo:il cui fpirito fopra el melle‐e‐dolce a chi lo gusta.
  48. Ma sforzaranfi infieme con la fancta pouerta di non mai laffare la uia regia che conduce al paradifo la fancta humilta: ricordádofi fpeffo dil dicto di Iacobone:che fcientia acquifita da mortal ferita:fe non‐e‐uestita di core humiliato.
  49. Et acio che come ueri& legitimi figlioli di Christo nřo padre& Signore pturiti iterú da lui in fan Francefco:fiamo participi de la fua heredita:
  50. Et perche la oratione e la fpiritual maestra de frati:accio lo fpirito de la deuotione non fi tepidifca ne frati:ma ardédo continuamente nel altare del core fempre piu faccenda:fi come defyderaua el feraphico padre: etiam chel uero fpiritual frate minore fempre ori:niente dimeno fi ordina:che a qsto fiano deputate per li tepidi due hore particulare:una dopo compieta per tutto lanno.
  51. Et perche li ueri frati con uiua fede debano péder dal pio:& optimo loro celeste padre:fi ordina:che per la uia nó portino ne fiafchi‐ne‐carne‐ne‐oua ne dilicati‐o‐ƥciofi cibi‐laffando di fe steffi ogni loro cura a dio:
  52. Soleua dire el feraphyco padre:che li fuoi ueri frati nó debano far piu ftima de la pecunia& deli denari che de la poluere:imo fugirla:& hauerla in horrore come uno uenenofo ferpente…
  53. …come ueri figlioli de lo eterno padre pieno uifitano la fua chiefia& facta alchuna reuerentia:& oratione fe reprefentino al prelato monstrandoli le odebientie loro fenza le quale‐a‐nifciuno frate fia licito andare fora de li nostri lochi…
  54. Et ƥche alli ueri religiofi& ferui di christo fe apertiene fugire non folo li euidenti mali&peccati:
  55. … accio fiano di effo Christo ueri difcipuli cordialmente fe amino fupportando li difetti luno de laltro fempre …
  56. Et perche el nřo feraphico ƥře effendo in lo articulo de la morte laffo la larga benedittione de la fantifsima Trinita a li Zelatori & ueri obferuatori del la Regula…
  57. Et perche el feruire nó con altra intétione che per fugire la pena apertene folaméte a li fpiriti feruili& mercenarii.Ma operare per amore de dio& per far cofa grata a la fua maiesta&per diuina gratia&gloria& ƥ dare di fe bono exéplo al cƥximo‐ & per molte fimile caufe:
  58. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 159, cf. footnote 13: Lefèvre d’Etaples, Commentarius in epistolas divi Pauli, Rom. IV, no 29, fol. 76 r. cited by Noëlle Balley, op.cit., t.3, p. 798.
  59. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 160.
  60. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 164.
  61. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 164-165.
  62. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 170; 181-182.
  63. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 170: ftn. 66: Epistres et Evangiles, 20 A, p.113: c’est ung grand don que le don de foy […]. Nonobstant, se nous n’avons charité, tous ces dons icy ne nous proffitent riens. Et mesmement la foy que nous avons sans charité, ce n’est point foy, car ce n’est que une foy morte, une foy imparfaicte et non pas vive, car la foy vive œuvre par charité.
  64. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 172: ftn. 72: Exhortation sur ces sainctes paroles de nostre segneur Jesus, [B (6) r]: […] annuncent simplement et purement le sainct evangile, incitans et admonestans tous à vivre selon la parolle de nostre seigneur en vraye et vive foy laquelle produysse et face vray fruict de charité qui sont les seulles œuvres qui plaisent à dieu et qu’on peut nommer bonnes.
  65. Et perche li ueri frati con uiua fede debano péder dal pio:& optimo loro celeste padre:fi ordina:che per la uia nó portino ne fiafchi‐ne‐carne‐ne‐oua ne dilicati‐o‐ƥciofi cibi‐laffando di fe steffi ogni loro cura a dio:el quale pafce non folo li animali:ma ét quelli che fempre loffendino.
  66. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 187-188.
  67. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 186: Epistres et Evangiles, 35 B, p. 201, addition de l’édition Vingle, 1530 (cf. ftn. 130):
  68. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 187-188.
  69. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 193, Livre tresutile de la vraye et parfaicte subjection des chrestiens, [A ii r-A ii v]: Mays quiconcques peult avoir quelque petit goust de l’excellence et vigueur de foy, Jamays ne peult asses escripre, ne assez ouir parler. Car c’est proprement la fontaine vive, Comme Jesuchrist l’apelle, parlant à la Samaritaine. Et a bon droit car le cœur qui en est plein, ne se peult contenir en soymesmes, mays comme le cerf, Il court et sault apres la fontaine de eaue vive. Footnote 161 notes that the image is taken up again a little later in connection with the water gushing forth from the side of Christ on the cross, from which the Church is born: “from his womb will flow rivers of living water”.
  70. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 193, Epistres et Evangiles, homélie ajoutée à l’édition Vingle de 1530, 70 B, p. 390: Et certes, c’est bien raison que le Dieu vivant ait temple et habitation composée non de pierres mortes, mais de pierres vives, beneistes et consacrees par unction du sainct esperit.
  71. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 196-197.
  72. Chapter Three of Part I of Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète… is entitled: L’Éithète vive, “Trompette Evangelicque” de la Foi.
  73. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 288.
  74. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 288, Epistres exhortatoire, N. T., t. 2 [A (5) v]: Mais pour retourner à sainct Pol, vray chevalier de Jesuchrist, portant la baniere de foy flamboyante de l’amour de nostre seigneur Jesuchrist devant tous les chrestiens venuz des gentilz.
  75. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 289, Sommaire et briefve declaration, D’incredulité. Chapitre dixiesme, [c2 r]: Car là où n’est la lumiere de foy, la clarté de la parolle de dieu, là regnent les princes des tenebres, là sont les trebuchementz et tombementz en la fosse.
  76. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 289, Epistre exhortatoire, N. T., t.1, respectivement [a iii r] et [a iiii r-a iiii v]: Recevons la doulce visitation de Jesuchrist nostre seul salutaire, en la lumiere celeste evangelicque. Comment doncques au jour de Jesuchrist qui est le vray soleil, peult on veoir autre lumiere que la lumiere de la foy, laquelle est baillée en la saincte evangile ? […] Doncques mes freres et sueurs cheminons en la lumiere du jour, en la lumiere de la saincte evangile, ayans toute nostre fiance de vraye adresse au vray soleil.
  77. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 170: Epistre exhortatoire, N. T., t.2, [A (8) v]: Car qui a charité, il a tout.Il a foy en plaine lumiere, luysante plus cler en l’esperit esleu de dieu, enflambé par amour, que ne fait le soleil à midy au plus cler et plus chault jour de l’esté. Il a fiance si parfaicte en dieu, que ciel ne terre ne chose qui soit en ciel ne en terre ne luy est riens sinon celuy seul qui est la fiance qui luy est tout.
  78. I i fratri etiam fempre fi sforzino di parlar di dio imperho che questo molto gioua p infiammarfi nel fuo amore&acio la euangelica doctrina poffi fructificare neli cori nostri:
  79. Et perche le fiamme del diuino amore nafcano dal lume de le cofe diuine:fi ordina:che fi lega qualche lectione de le fcripture facre: exponendole con fancti& deuoti Doctori.
  80. Et ricordinfi li frati: che orare nó e altro feno uno parlare a dio col core perho nó ora chi a dio parla folo có la bocca. Perho ciafchuno fi sforzara di fare oratione métale:& fecúdo la doctrina di christo optimo maestro adorare lo eterno padre in fpirito& uerita:hauendo diligente cura di illuminar la mente& infiammar laffecto piu che di formar parole.
  81. Et non cerchino li studenti ad acquistare la inflatiua fcientia ma la illuminatiua:& infiammante charita de christo la quale edifica lanima.
  82. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 295, footnote 34, Epistres et Evangiles 35 B, p. 201: Et en la fin il s’apparut à unze estans assis à table et leur reprocha leur durté de cueur, car ilz n’avoient point creu à ceulx qui l’avoient veu resuscité. Et leur dist : Allez par tout le monde et preschez l’evangile à toute creature. Qui croyra et sera baptizé, il sera sauvé, mais qui ne croyra point, il sera condemné.
  83. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 295, Epistres et Evangiles 35 B, p. 201: Il n’a point dit : Qui croyra et fera bonnes œuvres sera sauvé, mais seulement qui croyra, non pas que tousjours ne soit besoing de faire bien vers son prochain, mais dire cela eust esté superflu, car tout ainsi que ung homme vivant, necessairement il boyt, il mange, il se sied, il se lieve, et faict aucune chose sans commandement, car autrement ne scauroit il faire, ainsi est il de foy, laquelle si nous avions vive, produyrait infailliblement et de sa nature (tant est bonne et vertueuse) toutes bonnes œuvres, car Jesuchrist tousjours y assiste. Et du contraire où est la foy morte, et incredulité regne, nulle chose jamais ne sera bonne, combien que elle semble estre bien precieuse, parfaicte et saincte, car Jesuchrist n’y assiste point.
  84. Cf. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 296-307.
  85. Garnier-Mathez, Isabelle. L’Epithète…, p. 299: Lefèvre, Epistres et Evangiles, 20A, p. 113, éd, Du Bois, 1525.
  86. Et perche a quelli che non hanno amore in terra‐e‐dolce‐ iusta& debita cofa morir per chi mori ƥ noi in croce:fi ordina: che nel tempo de la peste li frati feruino:fecundo difponeranno li loro uicarii:li quali in fimil cafo fi sforzráno di hauer aperti lochi‐de la difcreta charita.
  87. Et perche le fiamme del diuino amore nafcano dal lume de le cofe diuine:fi ordina:che fi lega qualche lectione de le fcripture facre: exponendole con fancti& deuoti Doctori. Et benche quella infinita diuina fapientia fia incomprehenfibile& alta:tamen in christo nostro faluatore tanto fi abaffo:che fenza altro mezo:con lochio puro fimplici: columbino& múdo de la fede li fimplici& idioti la poffano intendere: perho fi prohibiffe a tutti li fratri:che non ardifchono legere ne studiare fcientie impertinente & uane: ma le fcripture facre:imo christo iefu fanctiffimo nel quale fecundo Paulo:fono tutti li thefori de la fapientia& fcientia di dio.
  88. Cf. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo…, p. 333.
  89. The text is taken from Cargnoni, Costanzo (editor), I Frati Cappuccini. Documenti e Testimonianze del Primo Secolo, IIII/1, 2135-2138.
  90. […] cosí, il vero Cristiano non si conosce nello batte[i]mo, né in ne le cerimonie, ma a’ frutti vivi della viva fede de de lo vivo spirito.
  91. Lk 18:11.
  92. Lk 17:10.
  93. Né in le opera morte solamente consiste la fede viva, a guise del Fariseo, il quale diceva giustificandosi: “Non sono come gli altri uomini”, ma umili con Gesú il quale dice: Cum feceritis haec omnia, dicite quia servi inutiles sumus, cioè, quando averete fatto ogni buona operazione che fare può un buon Cristiano, dite che siate servi inutili e senza alcun frutto, imperoché se Cristo ti spogliasse di tutti i suoi doni, li quali per sua liberalità ti ha donato, che cosa aresti di tuo, se non una moltitudine infinita di peccati, bruttezze e infirmità senza numero? E però la perfezione de la vita Cristiana non consiste solo nelle opera morte, ma nelle opera vive della viva fede.
  94. 5632 [….], cioè, quelli che Dio ha prescito, gli ha predestinati conformi alla imagine del suo Figliuolo, non solamente in fede morta, ma che nella imitazione della vita di Cristo siano conformostrarci la strada evangelica e la perfezione Cristiana ove conste; imperoché la fede viva, la quale opera per dilezione, fa operazioni e non sta oziosa, e a guise d’argento vivo sempre si muove, operando frutti di spirito e di viva fede, da li quali e per li quli frutti certamente si conosce un perfetto cristiano. Adunque non per esser battezzato e dotto, non per fede morta, né per cerimonie solamente si conosce il Cristiano. Ma che dice il nostro Salvatore? A fructibus eorum cognoscetis eos: da i frutti vivi della viva fede e del vivo spirito di conosche il vero Cristiano; i quali frutti ti conforto, Cristiano mio, con tutto il cuore che gli domandi a Dio con umil cuore, accioché tu sia felice in questa vita e in nell’altra.
  95. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo. Bernardino Ochino tra francesanesimo ed eresia (1487-1547), 2018, Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici – Napoli, the pages of interest regarding the preaching of Ochino in Lucca in 1538 are 319-339.
  96. Cf. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo…, p. 320.
  97. Cf. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo…, p. 323-324.
  98. Cargnoni, I Frati Cappuccini…, III/1, p. 2141: Ma, ohimé che dirò io di quelli impi e falsi cristiani che abbondano di ogni cosa e nientedimeno permetteno più presto i poveri morir di fame che i loro cani e le lor mule?
  99. Cf. Cf. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo…, p. 326.
  100. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo…, p. 327 footnote 50: From Breve annotatione del vivere Christiano contained in the crypto-Lutheran Libretto volgare, con la dechiaratione de li dieci comandamenti…: Non vole (…) Dio che l’huomo stia in ocio, o vero che ’l viva a sé solo. Bisogna adunque che (…) attendiamo a le opere et exercitii del amore, i quali da la fede come frutti dal arbore nascono: non dico quelle opere, che per nostra industria et legge o vero da gli huomini son stimate bone, ma quelle che siano utili a’ nostri proximi. Et tal opere se dieno fare liberamente, spontaneamente, senza merito o premio. (Cited in S. Seidel Menchi, Le traduzioni italiane di Lutero nella prima metà del Cinquecento, «Rinascimento», XVII (1977), pp. 31-108, in particular p. 57.
  101. The letter, in Italian, can be found on CapDox here; Cf. Camaioni, Michele, I Vangelo e l’Anticristo…, p. 327-335.
  102. Perhaps stated a little too black and white, extremes can run between buying their way into heaven by indulgences no matter how immorally they live to rigid predestination and faith alone, so that they are either saved or condemned with no connection to a virtuous or vicious moral life.
  103. Unpublished notes. An English translation can be found on CapDox here.
  104. Et perche al nudo& humil crucifixo non fonno conueniente: terfe phallerate: & fucate parole:ma nude pure fimplice humile& baffe: niente dimeno diuine infocate& piene di amore‐a‐ exemplo di paulo uafo di electione el quale predicaua non in fublimita di fermone& di eloquentia humana:ma in uirtu di fpirito perho fi exhorta li predicatori‐a‐imprimerfi christo benedetto nel core:& darli di fe poffeffione pacifica accio per redundantia di amore lui fia quello che parli in loro nó folo con le parole ma molto piu con le opere‐a‐exemplo di paolo doctore de le gente el quale non ardiua predicare ad altri alchuna cofa:fe christo in primo nó la operaua in lui:fi come etiam christo perfectiffimo maestro cinfegno nó folo con la doctrina ma có le opere:& questi fonno grandi nel regno del celo:che prima per fe operano& poi ad altri infegnano& ƥdicano.