Introduction to the Forty Hour Devotion








A work of

Translated by Patrick Colbourne OFM Cap

Translator’s note: This translation is based on the introduction, text and footnotes which were published by P. Costanzo Cargnoni O.F.M. Cap. in I Frati Cappuccini: Documenti e testimonianze dell primo secolo, Edizioni Frate Indovino, Perugia, vol III/2, pp.2903-2958. The only additions to the notes made by the translator are references to Francis of Assisi: The Early Documents, edited by Regis Armstrong, O.F.M. Cap., J. A. Wayne Hellmann, O.F.M. and William J. Short O.F.M. Conv., New York City Press, New York, London, Manila, for an English version of quotations from the Writings or Biographies of St Francis.

Table of Contents


1. The origin of the Forty Hours

2. The growth and propagation of the Forty Hours during the first hundred years of the history of the Order in Italy

3. The spirituality of the Forty Hours

a) he Forty Hours and mental prayer: pious literature

b) The Forty Hours and Evangelisation: Preachers and Sermons

c) he Forty Hours and Popular Religious Observances: Confraternities and Peace in Society

d) The Forty Hours and Religious Art



As a popular form of continual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed for forty hours, the Forty Hours[1] had a complex liturgical and devotional history that had its roots in the customs of the first century and medieval Christians that grew out of “the desire to see the Host”. This was still strong in the early seventeenth century. There was probably a link between so-called “veiled” and “unveiled” Forty Hours when the host was either exposed and kept behind a veil.[2]

In the early history of the Capuchins this was both a pastoral ploy and a unique apostolic preference. The Capuchin who started this tradition in the Order was Giuseppe Piantanida da Ferno, whose contribution was also important, as we shall see, for the establishment and development of a school of Christian doctrine for children. Both these pastoral initiatives were launched in Milan in 1537.[3]

In this section we deal with some of the things that took place in the space of a century from the end of 1500 to the first half of 1600 in order to understand the growth and development of a pastoral strategy that was implemented by the Capuchins. We shall briefly mention the origin and spread of the Forty Hours in Italy analysing its spirituality as a school of popular mental prayer, a particular form of evangelisation that was based on certain devotional writings, suggestions made in sermons and significant spiritual tendencies developed in lay confraternities that promoted peace in society and it also became a source of religious art.

1. The origin of the Forty Hours

The transition from a somewhat local popular devotional liturgical practice to a classical form of liturgy that involved the continual exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for forty hours, and processions from one church to another, took place in Milan in the ten years between 1527 and 1537. This new form of liturgical practice was supported by the people of Milan and the influence of individuals who contributed something personal to the practice.

The first person to act was the priest Antonio Bollotti who was dedicated to St Antonio di Grenoble and who established the Oratorio dell’Eterna Sapienza,[4] and who, in 1527, the year in which the Sack of Rome occurred, promised the devotees of the Scuola which he set up in the Church of S Sepolcro to celebrate the practice of the Forty Hours not only during the triduum in Holy Week, but also on three other occasions, the feasts of Pentecost, the Assumption and Christmas. This was also extended to other Churches in Milan after Bellotti died in 1528.

Another person who contributed was the Spanish Dominican Tommaso Nieto, who lived in the monastery of S Eustorigio and who preached the Lenten Course in the cathedral in 1529, when there was the danger of imminent war as well as plague. He repeatedly urged the people to do penance to pray and to receive the Sacraments and finally to undertake three days of processions as a form of making amends and offering petitions. At the end, which was on Sunday 16th April, he carried the Corpus Domini to the Basilica of S. Ambrogio and then brought it back to the Cathedral where it remained exposed among many lights on the main altar until the evening. During these processions the Dominican also led the devotion of the Forty Hours as it was practiced in the Church of S Sepolcro. He wanted the same to be done in the other Parishes between 8th and 10th June in the same year.[5] Thus in the space of a few years the people became used to the practice of spending forty hours before the Blessed Sacrament exposed with great solemnity.

At this point a third person came on the scene. This was Fra Buono from Cremona (+1547), a saintly man, a hermit who lived alone. He was a friend of the early Barnabites, especially St Antonio Maria Zarccaria.[6] According to the Jesuit chronicler, Paolo Morigia, he asked the Duke of Milan, Francesco II Sforza and the Vicar General Ghillino Ghillini, Bishop of Comacchio, and suffrage of the Archbishop Cardinal Ippolito d’ Este, for permission to expose the Blessed Sacrament on the altar without it being covered by a veil surrounded with lights so that it could be adored continually by the people for forty hours, day and night, in one church and then in another. In fact, on 11th August 1534 there was a solemn procession of the Corpus Domini from the cathedral to the Basilica of S. Ambrogio and back. This was accompanied by all the secular and religious clergy, the Confraternities and the people who carried many lights.

The account of Fra Buono’s contribution as it was portrayed in the Historia dell’antichità by Paolo Morigia (+1602) was written later and was inaccurate.[7] It almost completely confuses what happened with the activity of St Antonio M. Zacaria and his followers. This is made clear in an important letter that the Saint wrote to the Barnabites and the nuns at Vicenza on 8th October 1538 in which we read: “I wish everyone to know about the good deeds of our Fra Buono because I know that he started the prayers of the Forty Hours and other devotions.” [8] He was confused about these things and also in including Br Giuseppe Piantanida da Fermo in the apostolate of the Capuchins.

While all this was going on the Duke of Milan died (+ 1st November 1535). The city had been occupied by the Spanish and was continually on the verge of war through being threatened by the King of France and the Republic of Venice because of internal politics. The most important document that describes what happened to the friars is a passage in the Cronica milanese dall’1500 al 1544 that was written by Gianmarco Burigozza, who was an active businessman as well as historian. It told of what happened in the city using the local language spoken in Venice and Milan.[9]

According to this account it would appear that in 1537 “some men” that is the early Barnabites, together with their founder, (as he was designated in the last story), proposed erecting an alter in the ambo of the Cathedral for “continual exposition of the “Corpus Domini.” The Lenten preacher spoke of this from the pulpit suggesting it to the entire population. The Lenten Course began in the middle of February and finished on 1St April with the Feast of Easter.

This proposal was carried out immediately. It was agreed that “this new practice” would be implemented in all the churches in the city using many lights and decorations “with a great display of special symbols and lights.” The event began during the first days of March departing from the Porta Orientale and going to the Porta Romana and Ticinese. The chronicler, however, says that it went to the Porta Vercellina.

The account is fairly generic and although it is accurate in saying that “the men who made up the confraternity” were the early Barnabites, the identity of the one who preached in the cathedral remains unknown even though tradition says he was a Capuchin. This would have been Giuseppe Piantanida da Fermo. Having fled during the night from the friary at Pallanza towards the end of 1535 with four Friars Minor, he was accommodated by the Capuchins in Milan at via Arena near Porta Ticinese, moving from here to the small friary of Badia di Brescia that had been established by Giovanni Pili da Fano, he was clothed as a Capuchin. He was soon called to the General Chapter that met in Rome in the friary at S Eufemia in September. When the Chapter ended, he came to Milan.

Some doubt still remains as to whether Giuseppe da Farno knew St Antonio M. Zaccaria and the early Barnabites before he joined the Capuchin Reform, while he was a famous preacher. Perhaps he heard about the Eucharistic fervour from Giovanni da Fano who in 1535 had stayed in Milan with St Giovanni da Vedra outside the Porta Vercellina and knew Duke Francesco II who published an Ordinazione per la Corpus Domini during the month of May. It was at that time that he probably came to know the Barnabites who lived in the hermitage with Fra Buono and St Antonio M. Zaccaria. He then went on to Brescia in the first months of 1536 where he preached the Lenten Course. The facts are not clear. The Capuchin sources do not have much to say but simply repeat what was thought at the time. They all agree on the fact that he preached the Lenten Course in Milan in 1536. In Milan a Capuchin chronicler, Salvatore da Rivolta, who wrote in the seventeenth century, accepted all the Capuchin tradition that went before him.[10]

“While he was in this city (Milan) after returning from Rome, where he attended the General Chapter which was celebrated in the same year that he joined the Capuchins, and when he saw the great calamities that had stricken the city due to the long, continuous wars […], one day while he was preaching in the Cathedral, he urged the people and the Senate, who were listening to his sermon, to take up this devotion for a whole year in each of the Churches carrying the Blessed Sacrament from one place to another […].”

As we can see, there is no mention of collaboration or friendship with the Barnabites. This is only mentioned in the last years of his life, when, following the General Chapter in 1552, after he finally returned to the Milan Province, he remained until his death that took place in 1539.[11]

It is beyond doubt that these Capuchin sources that were composed exclusively or mainly to promote devotion and edification did not intend to address the historical question of who was the founder of the Forty Hours. It is only with the publication of new documents that precise details begin to appear. In fact, it was even difficult for Burigozzo, who lived at the time, to establish the sequence of the personal contributions of those who initiated the devotional practice.

Therefore, until there is more certainty, we can only rely on the opinion of the scholarly Jesuit, A. De Santi, who, following a programme of critical research, said that “the historical circumstances seem to indicate that the saintly founder of the Barnabites, his religious companions, the hermit Fra Buono and Father Giuseppe da Ferno all played a leading part in the introduction of the nonstop Forty Hours in Milan in 1537: Zaccaria being the one who first had the idea, his companions and Fra Bruno the ones who put it into practice in different Churches, and Fr Giuseppe as the fervent, tireless apostle of the word in arousing the people to undertake beneficial prayer and prepare themselves for conversion.”[12]

2. The growth and propagation of the Forty Hours during the first hundred years of the history of the Order in Italy

While the first celebrations of the Forty Hours were taking place in Milan in 1537, when he heard about this from the state and religious authorities, Paul III, issued a Brief stating his approval and encouragement and granting a plenary indulgence. The document was issued on 28th August and it is the first Pontifical document to deal with this matter.[13] This document does not say which individuals were responsible for initiating the devotion. It only speaks of its popularity (ad intercessionem civium dictae civitatis), and the reason why it took place (ad placandam Dei iam in Chrisianos ob eorum delicta conciattam et ad effrigendos turcarum, ad christianorum necem properantium, conatus et apparatus). Papal approvals continued to flow and the Forty Hours became an important practice, even being seen as obligatory for Catholics. The Papal authorities took action and so did the religious and civic authorities because they recognised the great material and benefits that the people enjoyed.

If it is true that, inspired by Fra Buono and the founder of the Barnabites, the solemn celebration of the Forty Hours started in Milan, it is even more certain that they would probably have remained a local and regional practice if the Capuchins had not propagated them throughout the whole of Europe, promoting them with ardent zeal when they preached throughout Italy during Lent and in Europe during the sixteenth century. They were assisted by the Jesuits and especially by the laws passed by St Charles Borromeo at various synods.

Given the fact that the founding of the devotion of the Forty Hours in Milan and then in Venice has been attributed to the early Barnabites in the history of this religious Order, there does not seem to be any reference to the development and propagation of this devotion as carried out by the Capuchins.[14] Perhaps a Religious Congregation that was founded for the education of young people could not describe itself as an Order that was involved in itinerant preaching as this was not seen as one of its characteristic features. The documentation on this topic is so vast and interesting that it is not possible to examine it in detail and this is why most historical and theological authors in the past assigned it to Giuseppe da Ferno and the Capuchins. This is why De Santi states that Giuseppe da Ferno “is given the unquestioned glory of being the first one to spread this pious devotion through the cities of Italy beginning in the same year in Pavia. We should recognise that he, his companions and all the Capuchins had the advantage of being, after him, the most fervent, most effective and most fortunate promotors of the Forty Hours.”[15]

Let us make a list of the most important events that took place in the development and growth of the Forty Hours devotion and which involved the Capuchins in Italy and also evaluate some contemporary documentation.

In 1537 Piantandia introduced the Forty Hours into Pavia and did the same in the Church of S. Francesco as Gubbio in Umbria in April and the feast was repeated each year at Christmas. In June of 1538 he made arrangements for this celebration in Borgo San Sepolcro. These arrangements were taken up again in 1568 and this became one of the oldest celebrations of the Forty Hours (doc. 1). In 1538 he introduced them into Siena and then Arezzo,[16] and did the same in November at Modena in Romagna.[17] In 1549 Bernadino Ochino organised the Forty Hours in Siena stretching them out over forty days. Only a crucifix was carried during the processions. (doc. 2) [18]

During the early part of the decade that began in 1540 the Forty Hours expanded. It was introduced to Bologna in 1546 and 1548 through the good work of Piantanida.[19] The fact that the Forty Hours had been introduced into Rimini in 1548 by a Capuchin Priest and two Minor Observant Brothers during the time of Carnivale is interesting because the Capuchins usually worked there only in the first days of Holy Week.[20]

Another Capuchin preacher had introduced the Forty Hours into Recanati in January 1542. This was certified in a decree issued by the civic authorities. The same document says that they were carried out each year in the Churches. “Let them be performed once at the same time in each Church, beginning at ten on Holy Thursday and going on for forty hours … to ask for God’s mercy, the forgiveness of sins and the protection of our city from all tribulation and imminent spiritual or temporal danger to souls.”[21]

In Rome the Forty Hours commenced as a private devotion. They began following the initiatives taken by the Archconfraternity of Trinità dei Pellegrini that was founded by S. Filippo Neri in the Church of S. Salvatore in Campo on 16th August 1548.[22] In the beginning it did not attract many followers. However, it was given new strength in 1551 because of the activity of a Capuchin, perhaps Franceco da Soriano who preached on the importance of praying for the dead in S. Lorenzo in Damaso. The confraternity accepted the invitation and as a first step organised the practice of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for forty hours in the chapel of the Concezione. Because of this Giulio III added the word “orazione” to the tile of the Confraternity so that it became “arciconfraternita della orazione e morte.” This pious practice was recognised by Pio IV in 1560. However, it seems that the practice was limited to members of the Confraternity and not extended to the general public. A priest friar, Gaetano Marcantonio Fusco, reorganised the practice on 29th September 1565 by setting up a group, which at first was made up of forty-eight brothers and later grew to seventy-two, which he called “Numero del sovvenimento” or “numero della notte”. They took turns in adoration during the night and were eventually joined by “quelli del Giorno.”[23]

In the Process for the Canonisation of san Filippo Neri we read that at the time of the controversy that existed between the Oratory and Cardinal Rosari, an anonymous priest came forward to speak “on behalf of some religious (Capuchins) who were enlightened by God, to tell him to undertake the devotion of the Forty Hours which would yield great fruit.” San Filippo introduced the devotion on the first Sunday of each month and on the first days of Holy Week.[24]

Father Francesco Soriano (+ 1567), who was another great apostle of the Forty Hours, came after Piantanida. He deserves merit for improving the organisation and creating a uniform celebration of the Forty Hours as he promoted it in Terni, Recanati, Sepoleto, Todi, Amelia, Perugia, Orvieto, Assisi, Città di Castello, Gubbio, and Borgo S. Sepolcro. He also propagated it in the north and south of Italy bringing peace to the scuffles among brothers. “In fact, he made them all keep silent and when an hour had passed, he spoke briefly and made then all embrace and ask pardon of each other.”[25] Together with san Filippo Neri, in the early years of the Forty Hours between 1549 and 1552, he worked on this while being Vicar Provincial of the Capuchin Province in Rome.[26]

It was during this time that the Jesuits became involved in the apostolate of the Forty Hours. In 1553 Girolomo Otello di Bassano very successfully introduced the pious practice in Messina to distract from the incursions of the Turks between 1557 and 1558. He did the same in other cities in Sicily such as Syracuse where the Jesuits were established.[27] In the same year, 1553, two other Jesuits revived the Forty Hours at Perugia, where it was the custom to gather in the Cathedral before Easter to engage in this kind of prayer.[28]

However, what is more interesting took place at Mecerata in 1536, when the Jesuit Fathers, E. Gomez de Montemayor and J. Mortagnes, responded to worldly amusements and theatrical performances that took place during the last three days of Carnivale by celebrating the Forty Hours in a grand way that was something like a theatrical production or better still a holy exhibition.[29] The people were drawn to the Church and abandoned the amusements. This was the first challenging presentation of the Forty Hours at Carnivale time and it became a feature among the Jesuits who adopted it in all their Churches and colleges in Italy and other countries. Bercastel claimed that this is where the Forty Hours were founded and that it was here that the new terminology regarding this practice was initiated which called it “carnevale significato” and “triduo delle quarantore.” In Rome the Pope himself used to visit the oratory of Caravità on the last of the three days.[30]

Fr Fulvio Androsio, who also wrote various works on frequent Communion, organised the Forty Hours in the same year in Mendola (Folio 10).[31] Giovanni Guerra did the same in Amelia in 1559, Gian Leonardo Ferreri did it in Siena in 1563,[32] Androsio in Ferara in 1565, Benedetto Giustiniani in Manfredonia in 1574, Niccolὸ Bobadilla in Amatrice in 1560, Carlo Mastrilli in Palermo in1591. This was taking place through the whole of Italy.[33] While the Jesuits developed their own formula in the “Carnevale santificato”, the Capuchins maintained the traditional method during Holy Week.

During the whole of the second half of the sixteenth century it was mainly Mattia Bellintani da Salὸ, the disciple of Piantandia, who promoted this Eucharistic devotion while he was preaching. He was an apostle of large poplar manifestations of reconciliation and peace.[34]

Bellintani began in the Cathedral in Spoleto in 1564 and went on to Narni in1565, to Amelia a year later. In 1568 he went to Cava de’Tirreni (Salermo) and then to Naples, Nola in 1569, Perugia in 1571 and then, to the Cathedral in Milan in the presence of St Charles in 1582. He moved on to Brescia in 1573, to Bergamo and Vercelli in 1574 and 1575, to Genoa in 1579, and Bologna in 1580. He came back to St Charles in Milan in 1582, where “because of the large crowd he celebrated the Forty Hours and preached the sermons on two occasions, that is, on Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday.” He went to Messina in 1583, to Terni in 1584, to Vicenza in 1586 and to Verona the following year, where “he met with great opposition from the Rectors since they feared he would arouse too much tumult […] as well Mons Marcantonio Dalla Torre, the Provost of the Cathedral, who said that the noble women should not take part in the procession and yet it was evident that many noble women along with the people had attended the prayers so that there were 7500 at the Cathedral doors with many women going before the set time and coming back repeatedly. This event was recorded as being something extraordinary in that city.”[35]

He returned to Brescia where for two consecutive years he celebrated the Forty Hours in 1588 and 1589. He went on to Lucca in 1590 and to Pavia in 1591, then to Savona in 1593 and Milan in 1592, and was back in Brescia in 1598. When he preached, he always found a way to attract people to the devotional practice that he was able to organise so well by involving all classes of society with an enthusiasm that was more successful than efforts made by some of the leaders in the city or the secular or religious clergy. The testimony that a Capuchin, Br Stefano da Milano, gave about this is interesting. In a letter to St Charles Borromeo that was written on 15th March he tells of some of the difficulties there were encountered in setting up the celebration of the Forty Hours.[36]

Another account of these difficulties can be found in two letters that were sent by Mons. Iacopo Maracco on 5th July and 4th September 1567 to the Patriarch of Aquileia (doc. 3).

There are numerous testimonies to the tireless Eucharistic apostolate that Bellintani carried out in France and Brescia, but better than all of these is the personal testimony that he gives in a small volume that was published in Brescia in 1588 where he makes himself the organiser and historian of the Forty Hours (doc. 6). It says in a contemporary chronicle written in Milan in 1593 that he “preached a sermon every hour and in each one he asked the people to forgive those who had injured them and to place themselves before the Lord since this should make them lament and make every hard heart repentant”.[37]

St Charles himself “made great preparations before beginning the prayers on the many occasions that the Blessed Sacrament was exposed […] urging the people with persuasive eloquence, at times not leaving the church for forty hours, imploring the people with amazing enthusiasm and effectiveness while on his knees in front of the altar where the Blessed Sacrament was publicly exposed […]. In the prayers that the Capuchin Fr Mattia Bellintani composed to move everyone to repent through loving God and to participate in some public spiritual activity, and he did not hesitate to reach out to those around him as a preacher ought to.”[38]

The sermons that Bellintani delivered in the Cathedral in Milan in 1572 also involved St Charles Borromeo who had already found this popular devotion well established in Milan. In 1565 during the first provincial council, he recommended it to the faithful. In the fourth provincial council in 1576 he improved the way it was conducted by abolishing the abuse of how it lasted in one church longer than in another church in the city. Unwillingly to overlook any detail, he brought these regulations together in an ordinance that he promulgated on 27th June 1577 which was headed Avvvertimenti per l’oratione delle Quaranta Hore.[39] This text had an influence on all of the subsequent ecclesiastical pronouncements regarding the celebration of the Forty Hours.

Even though he was old Father Mattia continued to preach and we know that he conducted the Forty Hours again in 1600 in Aquileia, in Portese di Riviera in 1601, in Gardone in 1602 where he repeated this again four years later, in Salὸ in 1608, in Maderno in 1609 and in Chiari in 1610 and finally in the friary at Brescia in 1611, the year in which he died.[40]

Bishop Marco Cornaro introduced the Forty Hours into Padua in 1600 having them celebrated during the three days of Carnevale to implore the Lord’s help in the wars raging in the Republic of Venice. At the same time as Bellintani, many other preachers, not only Capuchins, propagated the Forty Hours. Urged on by a Capuchin preacher in Tolentino, on 16th March the civic authorities decreed that the pious practice of the Forty Hours be celebrated during Holy Week, with alms for the poor, with citizens carrying out the order seriatim et devote.[41] On 5th April it was decided unanimously to celebrate the Forty Hours every year “on the fast of the Lord’s Passion […] with appropriate solemnity” in different churches to be designated.[42]

At Recanati in 1662 a Capuchin Giovanni da Valenza, known as the Spagniard, put forth the proposal to celebrate the Forty Hours every year. The civic authorities accepted his proposal on 24th March leaving it up to the Bishop to decide whether to have the procession on Holy Thursday.[43] In Tolentino upon the insistence of a Capuchin preacher, Bonaventura da Norcia, it was decided to hold the Forty Hours each month to revive “cum in preteritum tempus divina oratio quatraginta horarum quolibet mense jugiter fieri solitum fuit et postea hiusmodi sancta institution desueverit […] iuxta solitum, quolibet singulo mense reponendam esse censuit”.[44]

In Lucca in 1562, the Friar Minor, Giovanni Antonio da Busseto, set up the Forty Hours with large processions in the surrounding countryside. The people came barefoot singing the “santore” (the Litany of the Saints) and psalms and carrying a Crucifix.[45] In the city of Piove di Sacco in 1564 the Conventual Sebastiano de Poppi introduced the Forty Hours during Holy Week. We could say that it gradually became a fairly widespread custom both during Holy Week as well as during the days of Carnevale that integrated the Capuchin and Jesuit methods.

In Udine the Forty Hours were introduced by a Capuchin, Pacifico da San Gervasio, in 1565. They received such an enthusiastic reception that the City Consul laid down that they be celebrated annually.[46]

In 1604 Father Fedele da San Germano was nominated in a special pastoral letter written by Bishop Agostino Valier. He preached the Forty Hours very successfully in Verona. He did the same thing in many other cities in Italy and in France such as Rome (doc. 5), Vercelli, Padua, Genoa, Naples and Avignon. He called this “his fruitful spiritual harvest since it yielded a great crop of what he had planted in his Lenten Courses.”[47]

The Lenten Courses that Giacinto da Casale preached in Milan in 1613 (doc. 8/1), and in Piacenza in 1617 (doc. 8/3) became famous.[48]

In Fiumara in Reggio Calabria Father Grisostomo da Utri did the same thing in 1615.[49] In 1626 Giovanni da Sestola preached in Capri in 1626.[50] In 1629 Francesco da Sessa organised the Forty Hours at Castrovillari (Calabria) with a spectacular penitential procession and ten years later he also preached at Como.[51]

The Forty Hours that were preached by Father Tommasso da Caltagirone at Cesena in 1643 and at Imola in 1543 were sensational.[52] Giovanni Battista d’ Este (+1644) was another great apostle of this devotion. Alfonso III Duke of Modena had already taken the devotion to Gorizia, Innsbruck, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Guastalla, Correggio, Cento Massa and many other cities.[53]

Finally, we should at least mention the success that the Forty Hours enjoyed in the fight against heresy not only in Italy but also in France, Switzerland, Germany and throughout Eastern Europe. In the hills and valleys where Protestant influence was strong, the Capuchins made use of this devotion as a special weapon to counteract this and convert people to the Catholic faith.[54]

We would never reach the end if we went through all the Capuchin preachers at the turn of the century who worked in this field of evangelisation. The General Constitutions of 1689 considered the practice of the Forty Hours to be “an exclusive and unique contribution made by the Order.”[55]

3. The spirituality of the Forty Hours

The documents and evidence that are collected in this section were put together in order to show the development of the practice and spirituality of the Forty Hours in the first hundred years of Capuchin history. In fact, the development of this pious practice during that century had its origin in diverse historical and local circumstances.

We might say that it was a kind of “devotion moderna” (modern devotion) because of its practice of mental prayer that developed into a popular form of piety that was associated with the life of Confraternities that either already existed or that were founded to practice the Forty Hours. It is possible to examine a whole list of forms of spirituality that were based on a kind of preaching that was popular, provocative, penitential and doctrinal, that facilitated a frame of mind that was barouche, picturesque and theatrical, which was delivered in a style that was new in its terminology and interpretation of traditional Catholic spirituality.

a) he Forty Hours and mental prayer: pious literature

It is only indirectly, through Bellintani, that we know which spiritual points Giuseppe da Ferno used when he was propagating the Forty Hours. The only original text that contains some information is in the communal archives of Borgo San Sepolcro. It contains the instructions that he gave in 1538 to eleven local Confraternities about how to perform this devotional exercise. The aim was to contemplate the forty hours that Christ spent in the grave and the desire to foster peace within the city and this is stated explicitly: “to promote universal peace throughout the city”. The beginning of the Forty Hours is announced with a festive announcement in all the churches so that “all the people, both men and women, might go on their knees and say the Pater noster and the Ave Maria five times in commemoration of the five wounds of Our Most Sweet Saviour”. The time for prayer must be spent in an atmosphere of total recollection, “in devotion and silence.” This was based on a desire to promote the revival of Christian living which was clearly a part of the movement to revive a Catholic way of life that led up to the Council of Trent which was “pre-riforma Cattolica.” (doc. 1)

In 1540 Bernardino Ochino propagated the Forty Hours in Siena for reasons that were in line with evangelical Valdesianism [referring to the influence of Juan de Valdés] and the spirituality of the “benefit of Christ Crucified”. He was convinced that what was important about this devotion were “two very devout and holy activities” that were directedly linked with the dual command to love God and our neighbour. They were to be put into practice by means of mental prayer and assisting the sick. The first involved a commitment on the part of the friars as well as an invitation and a warning “to perform genuine penance having true contrition, very sincere confession and after making full satisfaction, giving spiritual and material alms, performing real fasting and holy prayer by contemplating on those things that transformed the soul into her beloved Jesus Christ” through love and covered it with divine virtues and praying for “what was needed for personal and public spiritual necessities.” Thus, it was a practical method of prayer designed to teach the people and twenty-two Confraternities in Siena. They were to participate dressed in the penitential garb of those doing penance, and pray mentally in silence in the way that “those who had recently embraced prayer were doing” by joining in the Forty Hours which required “separating oneself from the world”. This involved permanent detachment of the soul, “marshalling her faculties” so as “to rise up to heaven to the feet of the Most Holy Trinity”, and to imprint on the soul the image of the Crucified, a resolve to “strip oneself of the old man and put on the new man, the Blessed Christ.” (nn. 6548-6550)

The guide for this kind of prayer is “holy repentance”, that leads to “coming to judge ourselves spiritually and sacramentally”. However, two other things have to be joined to repentance, and they are “genuine fasting and giving spiritual and temporal alms.” Bernardino Ochino emphasises the difficulty of mental prayer and, by means of the Forty Hours, he tries to provide a precious and easy opportunity for Christian people to grasp this difficult art, “because prayer is one of the things, perhaps the most important, that is required of a Christian. Most people only know how to move their lips, but do not know how to pray, specifically mentally. Thus, for the sake of charity, we need to occasionally, indeed often, advise our brothers to learn from someone who knows how to pray. It is even more important to provide them with spiritual books that contain this information. Many will see their former ignorance or negligence as the cause of what they have been missing.” (n.6559). This is why “sermons should be brief and devout and always teach how to pray.”

In order to stress the importance of this exercise he proposed that the exercise of prayer should not just last for forty hours, but forty days “like the longer prayers that we read about in the Old and New Testaments in Sacred Scripture.” Then in addition to “the great mystery” that is hidden in “the number forty”, the practice “will lead us to recall” that “we should not only pray at this set time, but always”. (n. 6557). He wanted all this to be carried out in a penitential, simple manner, without too much “ceremony or ritual” and without “the decoration of drapes or curtains, but simply with devotion and zeal for God with the decoration being in our soul.” The lights that accompanied the procession with the naked Crucifix were extinguished in the oratory and in the semidarkness that fostered prayer and interior recollection the only light that glimmered was the glow “that lit the figure of Christ.” (nn. 6558, 6555).

If the grace of repentance and mental prayer is “the foremost and greater grace”, it is not the only factor. However, it enflames the soul to receive “a second grace that is not less useful or efficacious than the first”, for it reinforces active fraternal charity. As he said in his sermons, Bernardino Ochino understood this grace as a work of mercy that “helped the poor sick people in the main hospital for an entire night.” (n. 6551). Because there were twenty-two Confraternities in Siena it was possible “to have someone visit … the most sacred place and spend the night with Jesus Christ” every twenty-two days.

We can see how Ochino considered this practice to be an effective instrument in the reform of the Church and the conduct of Christians since it made use of a tactic that was similar to that used by members of the Oratory of Divine Love and by spiritual and charitable movements before the Catholic Reformation started.

The fact that the Forty Hours became “a school of mental prayer” at a popular level becomes even more evident in a very rare booklet that is possibly one of the oldest devotional documents to be printed on the Forty Hours. It was published in Bergamo in 1577 with the title: Modo qual si deve tenere nella santa meditatione delle Quaranta Hore nella città di Bergamo et Diocese Ridotto ad instanza delli devote Presideni della Compagnia del Sacretissimo Corpo di Cristo.[56] The objective of the prayers to make reparation for the situation in the city is very clear in Ordine di fare la meditatione delle Quaranta Hore which is set out at the beginning and which describes the actual mood and spiritual character of this devotional exercise. (doc. 4). The text is contemporary with the Avvertenza by St Charles. However, it was composed independently and this is why it shows a particular approach. The environment for prayer is treated with great care stating that it should be “devout and silent, removed as far as possible from noise and disturbance” to enable “holy prayer and meditation” to be practiced more devoutly.

The exercises that were gathered in the booklet form a “confessione”, that is a series of thoughts that would arouse contrition and sorrow for sin that was like an examination of conscience that stressed an inner disposition. “I confess that I have not given honour to your Holy Name. […] I have not adored you with fitting worship of spirit nor with the adequate faith that was fitting for the immensity of your Majesty […] I have not celebrated the prescribed feasts with inner devotion of heart. …”[57] It sounds like a preparation and introduction to meditation that requires enlightenment, strength, recollection, conversion, purification and contemplation:

“O Lord, enlighten my soul, […] O Lord, strengthen my will […] O Lord, stop all my vain, dishonest and unjust thoughts, […] O Lord, lead me to genuine, holy repentance, to an inner and sincere confession, and to making just and meritorious satisfaction. O Lord, bind my weak intellect to the pilar of your Holy Cross, so that at the foot of that cross, together with Magdalene, I may contemplate your immense charity and infinite love, that caused you to die so the you could give me life.”[58]

On the other hand, the “first meditation” is a prayer of praise and intercession for the needs of the Church, society and the city, with a detailed listing of all the ranks in civic, ecclesiastical and religious society, especially the members of the Confraternity, so that peace may come to the city and the world, and sinners, heretics and infidels be converted. However, the basic objective is Christ’s Passion in so far as “the devout and holy prayers” of those participating in the Forty Hours are aimed at the “celebration of the of the sweetest memory of your precious death and holy burial, so that your Holy Church my rejoice and be consoled because you have given her sufficient grace.”[59] Although not numbered, forty-six points are put forwards with regard to “pious, contemplative prayers on the Passion of Our Redeemer”. These correspond to moments in the story of the Passion, and the sorrow of Jesus in the Garden of Olives until the stone was removed from the grave. All are presented with striking emotional feeling and popular simplicity. They are followed by a number of ejaculations to increase love for Christ, and some short prayers of intercession. It all ends with certain Latin prayers to be recited before and after Communion or Confession, together with an Exertitium quotidianum that covers the main acts of the day as lived in the environment of monastic or religious houses. This makes us suspect the collaboration of some religious brother, probably Mattia da Salὸ, who had preached in Bergamo three years earlier and celebrated the Forty Hours “before crowds with wonderful success.” Without doubt this booklet is still a “classical” example of the lay spirituality that flourished in the wake of the Forty Hours.

In this context the method used by Mattia da Salὸ is even more important. His Ordini nella orazione delle quaranta ore (nn. 6602-6610), which was printed many times, and his spiritual commentary in the Tratto dela santa orazione delle quaranta ore, which was published in Brescia in 1588 (doc. 6), are a clear expression of the way of thinking of the Tridentine reform which is conveyed in the emotional style of the Franciscan way of speaking.

The faithful must have undoubtedly understood that this type of prayer was both important and necessary because of our sins and the corruption in the city, “therefore, it was necessary to ask God to reform and free the city by means of tribulations.” Prayer during the Forty Hours “is a sign and a help for the reformation of the Church and the means of turning Christians to virtuous living.” Because it has been set up to “recall the most holy Passion of the Lord”, the faithful “should meditate on his Passion and death and in doing so devoutly commend themselves to Him.” (n. 6603)

If the various groups were able to sing litanies, psalms and hymns during the processions to the church where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, they should also be able to meditate silently while reciting the rosary or saying other prayers. However, in front of the Sacrament “prayer should be said in the following way. Those who know how to do so should think about the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, or read the book written by the preacher: Prattica dell’orazione mentale, starting from the three exercises and going on to the end of the first part of the book”. This includes twenty-three meditations on the Passion of Jesus Christ that were well known among the people but which had been reworked and translated, and commented upon by St Charles Borromeo, St Francis di Sales and many others. In the second part of his Prattica, which was published for the first time in Venice in 1581, after the first part had appeared in Brescia in 1573, Bellintani added more meditations that dealt with the Church and the Sacraments. Among the Sacraments the Eucharist was dealt with in seventeen exercises of meditation, which were accompanied by twenty-three on the Passion. This made forty meditations that coincided with the Forty Hours of adoration. However, he also said that “other books that dealt with the Passion could be read slowly and meditatively while dwelling pensively on what the Lord had suffered for us in an attempt to move the soul to compassion and tears.” (n. 6605).

The following favours were to be requested: pardon for sin, the grace to sin no more in future, to obtain necessary help in material matters, to plead for help for dear ones, and to pray for the Pope and the entire Church “that they be defended against infidels and heretics and that all Christian Princes promote peace and become more perfect.” They should pray for the Local Ordinary, for local civic authorities, for the city and its safekeeping, for poor sinners and for the dead, for those for whom they had been asked to pray, for those who they did not love and for those who had hurt them. (n. 6606) Emphasis was placed on a life of penance and the imitating the Crucified and especially on the value of praying at night which was said to have been a characteristic of the early Church with its “frequent vigils” and a special way of following the example of Christ. (n. 6608) As a sign of authentic renewal, the immediate objective of the exercise ought to be “the lifting of the heart up to God through contrition and devotion and the turning of the heart towards one’s neighbour in fraternal love and loving reconciliation.”

To gain a better understanding of this method of prayer it would be necessary to read the prayer “exercises” Bellintani set down in his booklet to help devout people to meditate during the Forty Hours.[60] They are acts of faith and humility in the real presence of the Eucharistic Christ, that assist “a person “to think a little with a devout heart that is contrite, compassionate and loving” while he is contemplating on “the Sacred Passion” of which the Sacrament is a living memorial. They make the person realise the serious responsibility of Princes and those in authority in the city to bring peace and harmony to everyone. “Let there be no public or domestic disturbance, discord or controversy. Let all enjoy peace, love and Christian unity. Away with adversity. Let prosperity thrive. Let the nobility reign and provide for the poor, promoting peace, maintaining the sacred places and let everyone help each other with what divine providence has provided for their salvation and glory. “Lord Jesus Christ while praying in the garden during your most Sacred Passion you willed those early prayers be as efficacious as our prayers when they are offered, through your inspiration, in memory of your own Passion, and which are offered in silent devotion, sorrow and tears that also includes spiritual joy and edification. Grant that such prayer may yield abundant fruit and offer the complete satisfaction that is according to your will.”[61]

These sentiments were connected with the emotions displayed in every gesture, in fact, with the words and the interior and exterior actions of the Passion: “make me experience the turmoil …”. Mattia da Salὸ saw the body of the Church in Christ’s body covered with wounds and that made him pray: “Since there was no part of your sacred body that was sound, the same is true of your body the Church and this is why your actual body suffered without any member being healthy. Let the head be cured. Let the prelates and the worldly Princes be just, merciful, zealous, diligent and care for their subjects in all their material and spiritual needs. Let the image of priests and religious men and women display an exemplary way of life and let them teach ignorant people the words that come from your lips. Let the neck that represents the rich and the powerful be always open to passing your influence on to the lower members who need it. May anyone who possesses the strength of the shoulders carry the weight of what is weak and feeble through being compassionate. May those who can help others by acting like the arm or the hand. Like the legs, may those who are noble and wise support the body by governing well and doing everything according to the spirit of your grace and your love. May they all be governed by what you will and obey that alone in everything. Let there be no vice or sin in any of them or anything to offend you. Keep the whole body in peace, in charity and in perfect unity. Let the devil not have power to disturb or molest them. Cast him away from us. As your servants, O Lord, and in union with your wounds, we bless and glorify you eternally.”[62]

All of this superabundant outpouring of the most tender affection comes to a climax in the end in the sorrow and love the Virgin Mother at the foot of the cross. “You most holy Virgin … through the sacred limbs of your Son whom you had earlier conceived through the work of the Holy Spirit, and which were later tormented because of us, and which you very reverently cared for when he died and had been wounded, help us who are members of your Son. Because we are dead because of our sins do not, O Mother, reject us, as you did not reject your Son’s bodily members, after he died, reverently laying them to rest and adoring them in the grave. They were your Son’s members and we too are his members, and though we are dead because of sin, his members died for our sins. You were the Mother of those members and you are also our Mother. You showed compassion for those members, show similar compassion for the members for whom he died. Lady, give us the merit of those members. Grant us the fruit, give us the reward, and although we are asking this in a cold manner, in an arid way and with little devotion, being the dead and cold members that we are, grant us life and warmth, tenderness and emotional devotion by means of your warm, gentle and merciful heart. O most loving Jesus, who loved and still loves your Mother more than any other creature, permit our prayers to come before you through her intercession. May she offer them to you and beg that in your love and reverence for your Mother you will grant what we desire and ask and out of love hear the prayers of us poor sinners who by your grace are her sons.”[63] This is how the Forty Hours actually became a popular instrument of mental and contemplative prayer.

This meditative feature became officially recognised by Charles Borremeo in his Avvertenza per l’orazione delle quarantore, in which he shows that he was influenced by Bellintani when he advised that at times there should be “pious, emotional points” which ought to be “brief, so that they did not exceed a quarter of an hour and which were more exhortations to pray and points on meditation than sermons, or preaching.”[64]

Another booklet in connection with the Forty Hours was composed at the beginning of the century by Father Michelangelo da Venezia: Fascetto di mirra, nel quale si contengono quaranta meditazioni sopra la Passione di nostro Signore, che passono servire anco per l’oratione delle Quanta Hore. The way that the meditations are organised once more reflects the method of Bellintani. After reading the text, the one who is engaged in the Forty Hours is encouraged to relive the mystery “in his heart” and to experience it “emotionally more than intellectually”.[65]

We could indicate many others authors and witnesses to demonstrate that the Forty Hours spread the practice of mental prayer through the people in a style that was based on the teachings of Mattia da Salὸ and which was imitated and developed by many other preachers.[66]

b) The Forty Hours and Evangelisation: Preachers and Sermons

From the very beginning the preacher was an important figure in the establishment of the Forty Hours. At first the preaching was rather discrete and almost invisible because what received greater emphasis were the circumstances that fostered private and silent prayer. However, little by little it became necessary to spiritually guide and support the faithful in experiencing adoration, reparation and praise towards the Most Holy Sacrament. Everyone agreed that the sermons should be brief, meditative and moving and St Charles stressed this point in his Avvertenza.

We also know that in the beginning there were few sermons, just one or two a day. However, the practice of delivering a brief, devotional sermon during each of the forty hours soon developed. This was adopted almost immediately by Francesco da Soriano and, most of all, by Bellintani. It became the custom among Capuchin preachers who produced plentiful and important devotional literature for preaching that contained special sermons that dealt with moments of meditation, based on the use of the imagination, in order to bring the scenes home to the faithful and to arouse feelings for what was sacred in the practice that they were sharing.

This kind of Capuchin preaching became a regular feature of every celebration of the Forty Hours so much so that it was promoted in all the instructions given by the Diocesan Bishops. Here is an example of this in what Cardinal F. Borromeo wrote on 23td March 1623.

“Because we wanted the Forty Hours to be celebrated this year in the Churches in our city and be as fruitful as possible, motivated by the kindness of the Reverend Capuchin preacher who spoke in these Churches and who volunteered to preach every hour, we decided to hold the devotion in the cathedral on Palm Sunday […] When people were told to go into the Oratory where the prayers would be said, they went in immediately without any commotion and, once they had entered, they remained there with the greatest possible devotion in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and listened attentively to the sermons that the preacher delivered every hour. When the discourses had finished, they remained there devoutly for the remainder of the hour silently meditating on what they had heard and asking God to bless the Church, to cast out heresy, to bless the Supreme Pontiff and the illustrious Archbishop and clergy of the Diocese of the city, and for the majestic Catholic Prince and his ministers, for unity among Christian Princes, the conversion of obstinate sinners, for peace between the citizens, for deceased souls and for the material and spiritual needs of the city and the State of Milan. By the use of these intentions, the priest tried to awaken the emotions of those present and produce the kind of fruit that he had promoted with charity and zeal.[67]

Thus, it is probable that this kind of preaching developed a method of meditation that began with reading devout books such as the Prattica dell’orazione mentale which we have already quoted. Here, after listening to a brief sermon, the process of “reading” became silent meditation (meditatione) and praying (oratio) about the various intentions in an atmosphere of affectionate love and a commitment to renewal of life. (“Excitare gli affetti e portare I frutti”).

In fact, it was a style of preaching that resembled “an exercise in love aimed at bringing the sinner back to God.” This is how it is described in a booklet that was published in 1614 that not only outlined the way that the Forty Hours were led in 1608 by Fedele da S. Gemano who was a Capuchin in the Church of S. Lorenzo in Damaso, but “also provided a brief description of the topics of all the sermons that the priest delivered.” Thus, it provided a summary of the Capuchin way of carrying out this apostolate (doc. 7).

The one who composed this report was certainly Bartolemeo Maioni from Como. He dedicated it to Filippo Archinti who was the Bishop of the city and he sent it with a letter dated 2nd January 1614. He was convinced that he was offering “a rule and norms for anyone who wanted to become involved in this activity.” He noted that Father Fedele da San Germano had made a collection “of the various ways” of conducting the Forty Hours that he had observed in other Capuchin preachers and had included “all the things that it seemed to him were useful in bearing fruit in the souls of the faithful”. He compared them with other details that he had personally experienced to be effective. He said this was testimony “from his own lips.”

The method which this preacher set out (nn. 6616-6625) emphasised spiritual preparation and the need to lay down a plan for the activities and for the setting out of the order in the various processions, the responsibilities of the different “deputati e regolatori” (officials and supervisors), especially with regard to the carrying of “a devout image of the Crucified […] on an elevated cross that could be seen”, the arrangement of the children who were dressed as little angels and who carried candles before and after the “most holy cross”. After they had sung sorrowful motets that were meant to promote recollection, the various groups that were composed of the different ranks of society and which were present at the hours where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in the oratory, listened to the sermon. The preacher, who was kneeling down, adopting the role “of a mediator between the soul and God”, spoke about “the reasons and emotions involved in achieving reconciliation with His Divine Majesty”. By listening to the sermon, the devout should be made aware that “when they were criticised in the sermon, as they certainly would have been, that they were to cry out loudly either yes or no as they felt touched to the heart.” Woe to anyone who contradicted or criticised this devout practice since, as Mattia da Salὸ had pointed out in his “ordini” (rules) which were observed literally here, God would punish hm. Each point was explained and backed up by events in the Bible (nn. 6626-6631).

The whole procedure, the sequence of activities, the supervision and the attention to detail were all set out in the sermon that the preacher delivered as the “foundation for the fruitfulness of this activity”. It is here that we see the typical style of seraphic Capuchin preaching that the chronicler described in his chronical.

“This kind of preaching began with prayer, using the second person, he prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, as though this was the person from whom he was taking his theme like Joel or David or Job. When he had said the prayer, he turned to the people and presented examples that provoked devout feelings of compunction. When he saw what they were contrite, he spoke to God asking, in accord with his theme, if he had done what David did. He then turned back to the people with the answer being yes and gave them additional reasons to pray emotionally” (n. 6635).

When the people were in the benches and had become recollected with the help of music, the preacher then appeared on the scene and “kneeling down beside the altar, in cornu Evangeli (on the Gospel side), with a thick rope around his bare neck, after spending a short time in prayer, speaking with a very soft and devout voice, with his eyes fixed on the Blessed Sacrament, he began his sermon. The theme was always completely penitential and insisted on the suitability, necessity and urgency of being converted, sorrow for sin, compassion and contemplation focused on Christ’s wounds on the cross, fraternal and public peace and reconciliation in union with Christ on the cross, repentance and mercy, trust in the Sorrowful Virgin, a new way of life in the spirit, perseverance and so on. Such chosen topics always came at the end of the Lenten Course and should transform the heart and lead it to a spiritual way of life. Eucharistic themes remained almost completely in the shade being replaced instead by motives and emotions that would breakdown any barrier that might obstruct the will from experiencing conversion to penance, and Christian renewal of conduct. In the end this led the anonymous chronicler to say that the objective was “the reform of the city and of the world.”

The penitential element was also the basis of the method that Fr Giacinto da Casale adopted for the Forty Hours which should have been the most mature fruit of preaching during Lent. Various contemporary reports concerning his preaching highlight this feature (doc. 8). A few days before Holy Week he urged the faithful to prepare to celebrate this devotion solemnly. He also circulated a booklet that contained the best ways to make this preparation. When Palm Sunday arrived, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed that evening. A report on his celebration of the Forty Hours in Milan in 1613, related that after the Miserere had been sung “softly” by a few friars who, along with other “devour lay people”, performed very devoutly for more than twenty minutes, “the priest came out with a large crown of thorns on his head, a large thick rope and a large iron chain around his neck and a cross in his hand.” (We note the barouche touch in the frequent use of the word “large”.) As he knelt “to the left of the Blessed Sacrament and adored it profoundly” he turned to the people and delivered a sermon that was just as long as the scourging. “The theme was always centred on the words of Jonah to the Ninevites; “Adhuc quadraginta horae, et Ninive subertitur.” However, what was said “was always different in each of the sermons and it touched the heart amazing the listeners.” (n. 6686).

The same thing appears in a report on the Forty Hours that he preached in Brescia in 1615: “The preacher delivered the first sermon, on his knees but in the sanctuary, in the same way as the other thirty-nine”. From there he was able to contemplate: “how it pleased God to make a comparison between those who were lost in a cloud of senseless darkness and with the body of a poor man who was barefoot, dressed in sackcloth and scarred with the wounds of the Passion of the Redeemer. He always started with the words of the Prophet: Recedite de medio Babilonis, recedite de medio Caldeorum et unusquisque salvet animam suam, [Jeremiah 50:8] and then went on to the end with the rest, keeping what he said, his sentences, his arguments and exhortations brief in conformity to the requirements of the oratory and the Confraternities.” (nn. 6699-6700).

There was a repetition of the same penitential theme based on images from the life in hermitages in the Lenten sermons that Natta preached in Piacenza in 1617. The preacher, who was barefoot, with a thick rope around his neck, a crown of thorns on his head and a large cross in his hand, (portraying a vivid image of mortification and penance), came down from the pulpit “on the left-hand side where there was an unsightly cave in between precipices with a Crucifix in his hand.” Kneeling down and placing the Crucifix on the ground “he turned to the people and with an expression that was more angelic than human he spoke in a soft voice that penetrated their hearts, even the hardest of them, that could be heard from one end of the church to the other. He proclaimed the words of Jeremiah: Revertere, revertere […] et non avertam faciem meam a vobis […] [Jeremiah 3:12]. This was the theme of all the sermons though the style in which there were delivered was always different. The priest’s main objective was to draw souls into hating and detesting sin, to making a firm resolution to amend, to provide a fruitful atmosphere so that such a good opportunity would not be wasted. These were sermons that were crafted very prudently with respect to character of the people who had come. He mixed threats with rewards to move the various temperaments of those who were listening.” (nn. 6720-6722).

The preacher’s endurance was amazing. “After so many sermons throughout the day, even thought he fasted from one evening to another, and it seemed that would lose his voice, he spoke even louder.” The Forty Hours ended with a procession and the replacement of the Blessed Sacrament and with a discourse that listed “all the activities of the people that were backed up by many examples and quotes from Scripture” in accord with what the People of God had done as recorded in the Bible when it described how they came together to publicly acknowledge that the Lord had been with them “when one of the prophets told them to make reparation for the iniquity they had committed threatening them with cruel punishment. The people would respond in a loud voice that they would never disobey God’s law in future […] and that they were repentant […], words and actions that should animate them to genuine contrition of heart, many tears and signs of being sorry. God had often forgiven them and he would do so now.” (n. 6725)

The same kind of penitential and pastoral objective is mentioned in many other reports that deal with Capuchin preachers and others making us aware of the way the theme and the method developed. Among the other numerous items[68] we would like to refer specifically to the collection of sermons by Girolamo da Castronovo in Sicily (+ 1671) that indicates one hundred important reasons for the conversion of sinners as the fruitful result of the Forty Hours as they were normally conducted by the Capuchin Fathers during Holy Week, to which they added a sermon to be preached on the Saturday preceding the celebration and a spiritual exercise that would serve as an introduction to the meditative process before the Blessed Sacrament was exposed […]. This happened in Palermo in 1665 and 1760. This report is interesting in that it shows how the themes were developed in a very popular and plain style that touched on the urgent need for repentance, the brutish character of sin, conversion, heartfelt contrition, the imitation of Christ, pardoning of offenses, the unifying quality of charity, temptation, reading “the great book of Christ Crucified”, and his wounds, especially the wound in his side so as to make it come to life in our heart “by means of devout contemplation”. There were also special sermons that were aimed at all categories of people, the young, women, those in authority, priests and members of various religious bodies. The sermon for religious focused on perseverance. The sermon was original also because it described the development of the Forty Hours that was based on the experience of the preacher which was influenced by the method proposed by Mattia da Salὸ and cast in poetic imagery that portrayed a variety of scenes and characters that led up to the penitential theme along the lines of popular theatre. (doc. 10).

The Sermoni divoti e affectuosi per l’oratione delle Quarant’ Hore sopra I treni di Geremia, colle istruzioni necessarie per celebrarla. Opera utilissima a’ predicatori, (Devout and affectionate sermons for the Forty Hours prayer containing tactics of Jeremiah, with the instructions that are necessary to celebrate this. A very useful work for preachers,) by Fr Zaccaria Caseiglioni da Milano, and which was published in Milan in 1633, even though this is outside our chronological range, is an important work that demonstrates the way the Capuchins developed the practice of the Forty Hours. Here too the theme is penitential and focused on the renewal of a way of life. It is a mixture of themes that include sin, the recollection of death, the sufferings endured by the senses and those who are damned, the effects of heartfelt sorrow, exterior corporal penance and penance within the heart, the love of God as displayed in the Eucharist, sacramental Confession, reconciliation, the example and responsibility of civic authorities, divine mercy, etc. All the sermons end with the plea: “Mercy, O Lord. Mercy!” They should be: short, discuss morality, affectionate and seraphic.” As is stated in the preface, the author filled the text with expressions that are ‘devoutly affectionate”, “alive with moral teaching”, “strong exhortations” and “fervent reprisals” in order to provide plenty of material for preachers.

In spite of the benefits that were derived from these devotions, Fr Zaccaria talked about how the Forty Hours had appeared to some people “to have fallen short”. Because of this he intended to start them up again by reinterpreting the meaning of the Forty Hours. He said: “in addition to the three instructions for the celebration, there should be forty-two sermons on the sad themes of Jeremiah that would be very appropriate for that time.” He raised “the objections of some people who gave two reasons for finding it difficult to join in … saying, in the first place, that too much time was spent on these things and secondly that what was meant to be good became bad.” He replied: “It would be pleasing to God if all the time in the world was spent on doing something like this!” This should be carried out “in a positive manner by adopting a humble and simple approach, rejoice with God with a pure heart more than with wonderful exterior decorations.” Thus, he went back to the austere interior spirituality that prevailed in the beginning as a response to the difficulties that were also raised by the civic authorities.

In addition to the sermons which were full of spiritual emotional and biblical energy, three important items were added at the end of the volume. L’istruzzione prima e remota (nn. 6736-6741) proposed that the Forty Hours should be publicized from the pulpit on the Third Sunday in Lent and that in the sermons that followed people be urged to attend in great numbers and prepare themselves by going to Confession and receiving Holy Communion. During that time, it was necessary to provide a number of Confessors who were authorised to give absolution from reserved sins and to cover the necessary expenses for all of this. Where it was the custom to make contributions, the preacher had to use all his skill in the way he announced this to the faithful and a Capuchin friar could not do such things. He should not receive money under any circumstances. “In order to preserve his good name, whoever he was, since what was permitted to others was very unbecoming for us Capuchins.”

This was repeated in various circular letters or ordinances issued by the Order. For example, in 1643 the General Chapter laid down that “So that the abundant fruit that usually followed when the preachers spoke during the Forty Hours may not diminish the reputation of someone who was considered to be an angel of light, it is laid down that during the Forty Hours the preachers leave such matters and anything like that to those who are in charge, and that they not become involved in anything apart from preaching. Even while preaching it is not appropriate for them to speak to the congregation during the Forty Hours about giving money, wax, oil or anything else that is required for the celebration.”[69]

If alms were brought to the preacher’s room, he could be punished as someone who possessed things. It should be quite clear that “our preachers are intent on nothing else than the honour of God and the salvation of souls.”[70]

Following the remote preparation, there came the proximate preparation and thus in his Istruzzione seconda e propinqua […] ciὸ che si avrà a fare piú da vicino (nn. 6742-6746) Fr Zaccaria explained how this was to be carried out, giving details about the public times and the plenary indulgence, the process for the sermons and participation in order to prevent any discomfort or absence. What is most interesting about these instructions is what they say about the activity of preachers who must not become involved in the organisation of the celebration but leave it to the initiative of lay people with the preacher only “being involved in setting up the drapes or laying out the bread, identifying a small, dim oratory so that it is like a small cell in which he can work with one light and a Crucifix and where being totally raised up to God he can become enflamed with divine love and love of neighbour and remain for the entire duration of the Forty Hours completely absorbed in meditating, contemplating and praying to his Lord to grant him the grace to know clearly and to cooperate effectively in the salvation of souls. He is to make sure that there is a suitable place close by where he can take the discipline at the appropriate time since some preachers did this in private during every sermon with no lay person being admitted to that place.” (n. 6743).

L’Istruzione terza e congiunta (nn. 6747-6753) completes the picture of the development of the Forty Hours “which should be continuous” in order to gain a plenary indulgence as set down in the brief issued by Innocent X. This is where the preacher is described a being a prophet who conveys a theme to the people which is how St Francis described him in the Rule of the Friars Minor; “Let them preach about vices and virtues, punishment and glory with brevity.” (Rb, Ch. 9). In fact, after Vespers on Palm Sunday, the preacher delivered a general sermon lasting threequarters of an hour to the people who had gathered using “all his inner strength, lively spirit, seraphic fervour and holy zeal.” The topics that were treated could include the brutish nature and enormity of sin, the punishments of hell or the power of prayer with “all of them being mixed together.”

The procession began following this sermon and ,when the Blessed Sacrament had been exposed, the preacher took his place in the pulpit “with a rope around his neck, and with bare feet […] on a platform” and when “he had devoutly bowed to the Blessed Sacrament”, and made the sign of the cross be launched into the topic, “with all his spirit uttering aspirations to the Blessed Sacrament that was exposed, urging the people in an audible voice, with emotional prayers, humbly pleading and sweetly inviting their sinful souls to do penance by bitterly reproaching them, severely rebuking them, strongly threatening those who did not want to turn back to God with eternal damnation.”

This was full of the dramatic barouche gestures of the day, such as holding up “the chilling skull of a dead person while describing how sad was his condition if he had ended his life in mortal sin.” However, the most forceful moment, which burst out like an unexpected, sudden apparition, came at the end of each sermon, when the preacher held up the Crucifix in front of the whole congregation and everyone cried out for God’s mercy, or struck their breasts expressing hatred for sin. If the congregation was not ready to do this, he turned the Crucifix away from the congregation and “threatened them with stern justice if they were ashamed to beg for mercy.” He stressed this even more strongly when he knew that there was someone in the group “who was fixed in hatred or who took revenge or who was obdurate in other sins”. Then, in a theatrical manner, the preacher would “rise to his feet to sing to the Crucifix, and holding it in his hand, he would pronounce terrible threats in God’s name on the obdurate soul saying that because he did not seek mercy, he would obtain justice.” Then “turning his back on the Crucifix” he would “demonstrate how he was suffering too by moving a short distance from his place towards the door […] and then at the end of this theatrical display” he would “conclude by issuing a further invitation to perform penance, always leaving his audience experiencing consolation.” (n. 6750)

The effectiveness of all the sermons always depended on the prayerful environment in which the preacher had to immerse himself “before he delivered the theme […] gazing thoughtfully with his bodily eyes, but even more so with the eyes of his heart, on God who was sacramentally present, begging him with all his strength and inner feelings to enlighten his intelligence and enflame his emotions,” petitions that reflect what is contained in the Capuchin Constitutions.

The reason, for performing the exercise, which they would have heard in the sermons, “were to be the subject of meditation for the groups coming for adoration.” The people were required to make acts of love, sorrow, forgiveness, mercy which, after the Blessed Sacrament had been put back if they wanted to be blessed with the Crucifix, which was the last act of the preacher and the conclusion of the Forty Hours. (cf. nn. 6758-6760)

In the history of the Church the celebration of the Forty Hours provides a welcome opportunity for the historian to observe the religious practices of the Catholic population. In fact, it involved all the people in the city because of its public events, the processions, the peaching, the sacred images and the dramatic manner in which all of this was staged which involved acts of public penance and the large gatherings of Confraternities.

Even a quick glance at the testimony contained in what is published here, that covers the first hundred years of the Order, along with the unpublished details of that spirituality, confirms how although it was started by ecclesiastics, it become the typical expression of popular piety by reviving forms of ancient piety among the people. In fact, the combination of urban and rural parishes in the Forty Hours also revitalised Confraternities that had fallen into the monotony of gloomy religious formalism.

When Charles Borromeo came to Milan the milieu of the Confraternities was lethargic and almost extinct. It was revived mainly by the rapid propagation of the Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament which he decreed were to be set up in every parish in 1570 during his first Pastoral Visitation when he united these Confraternities to all the previous Confraternities, which had been mostly simply Marian Confraternities. At the end of the century, during his Pastoral Visitation, Federico Borromeo noted that there was an institute of the Blessed Sacrament in every community.

Still, outside Italy, or perhaps central Europe, Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament were neither widely dispersed nor propagated by Bishops or missionary preachers but did manage to replace the traditional religious societies.

Nevertheless, the Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament quickly found a place in the life of the local communities. They kept the lamp alight in front of the main altar, procured the illuminations for the various parish functions, procured church ornaments and liturgical requirements and contributed to financing religious feasts such as what was needed for the processions, canopies, lanterns, portable crosses. In doing this they performed an important function in assisting in what was needed for the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and the development of the Forty Hours. They were favoured by Bishops because they were associated with the parishes as laid down in the ecclesiastical and pastoral criteria established by the Council of Trent.

Alongside the confraternities that had been set up for the renewal of the Church by reviving devotion to the Eucharist, and for the teaching Christian doctrine, which were connected to the local clergy, there were Confraternities that were specially dedicated to the Forty Hours. These were founded and supported by the Jesuits and the Capuchins.

We know that in Venice in 1584 a Confraternity of the Forty Hours, which was subsequently known as the “Confraternita degli Emeronitti”, was established by the Capuchins in their small church at Guidecca. It was inspired by their spirituality and was still being supported “by the advice and guidance of the Capuchin Fathers” in 1598 fourteen years after the Confraternity had been founded. The initial contribution of the Jesuits which De Santi said G. Ferro claimed in his booklet does not seem to be proven. However, the Forty Hours were celebrated during Carnevale.[71]

In 1571 the Jesuits established a confraternity in Venice which they called “Collegio di 300 confratelli.” It was founded to conduct the Forty Hour prayers on the first Sunday of every month. In 1577 this was changed to four time a year. In 1593 in the Jesuit church in Rome the “Congregazione dei Nobili” was set up under the patronage of the Virgin who was Assumed. This involved the participation of Cardinals, a number of the Roman nobility and illustrious citizens. They celebrate the Forty Hours three times a year in their oratory on the three final days of Carnevale.

Confraternities dedicated to the Forty Hours were established in Brussels by Fr Giacinto da Casale in 1624. These were known as “Cavalieri della Passione di N. S. Gesú Cristo” and prayed to St Francis. In Spain forty illustrious personages that included six from Spain, five from Toson, one from France and various notable persons in the Kingdom, formed a group. The Archbishop of Malines approved their statutes on 13th July 1624. They were to promote Eucharistic worship, sumptuously decorate churches for the Forty Hours and help with the adoration and the processions. This made a great impression on the people as did the itinerant Capuchin preacher. It was the same as it had been in Milan in 1613 so that the Archbishop appointed “twenty-four knights (cavaglieri) to supervise the crowds at the door of the church. They were to dress in sackcloth so that their humble appearance would humble themselves as well as others. They were to carry white rods since they were carrying the cross and emblems of the Passion and not be armed with iron weapons.” (n. 6683)

In Capri in 1616 another Capuchin, Giovanni da Sestola established a Confraternity that was made up of noble citizens dressed in sackcloth that was shaped like the Capuchin habit and had a hood which was open in front instead of having two holes for the eyes and had a cord around the waits from which hung a rosary. The group was meant to help with the Forty Hours. They carried a black rod which had a small cross at the top. The Confraternity was known as the “Compagnia de’ sacci” and only survived for a few years before it was absorbed into the Compagnia della B. Vergine deal Misericordia. Innocenzo Marcinnὸ da Caltagirone (+1655), who was the Minister General of the Order, when he prepared “his secret weapon against sin,” which was his name for the Forty Hours, chose the “Cavalieri di Cristo” to set up a sumptuous platform in the church, that provided for a throne for the Eucharist, the lights, the music, the processions and the “Araldi di Cristo” (Christ’s Heralds) that organised the rosters for adoration and the places in the procession.[72]

These Confraternities were always made up of notable people that came from the most noble families in the city who because of their prestige, authority and example would be more likely to stimulate people and provoke esteem for the mystery of the Eucharist.

Even though the nobility and people of note had become involved, other worthy people were no less active in providing assistance. Indeed, this was one of the major elements that influenced public opinion. All the contemporary reports concerning the Forty Hours stressed the incredible contribution provided by women from the ranks of the nobility. In this regard the eyewitness testimony concerning the Forty Hours where Mattia da Salὸ preached in Verona in 1587, is quite typical: “What was marvellous was really to be found in what the women did, particularly the noble women. […] At the time set down by their parishes they joined in with the crowd in the place that was assigned to them in the ranks of their fellow nobility or merchants or craftsmen. They did not look down on the others, but were joyfully humble. […] The all seemed to belong to the one family acting like Christian sisters. (To their own amazement,) they arranged it so that their faces, their hair and their cheeks appeared as natural, so that the young women were endowered with modest beauty and looked like angels, while the older women looked motherly.” (nn. 6573-6574)

The presence of women during the Forty Hours that was preached by Fr Fedele da San Germano in 1608 in Rome is also worth mentioning. “Noble women” took care of their Confraternities dressing the little children like angels, having them all carry crosses in their hands, coming along “with capes, or at least black veils to cover them so that no one could see their faces.” “This made them look like Guardian Angels and that led the heart to do penance.” However, those who were poor and did not have veils “wore capes so that they too were covered.” This meant, as someone whom we have already quoted said: “many Roman noble women and leading ladies volunteered to carry the Holy Cross etc. It was great to see how the leading ladies went from door to door in their parishes to invite people to participate.”

“They saw them going along in pairs in the processions wearing veils, barefoot, they sighed and were seen to cry out with tenderness”. What was striking was the sight of the nobles taking part in the processions when only a few very poor people should have been there. However, when they saw a group of seven hundred women, going along in pair, never lifting their eyes, with the one in front carrying a Crucifix, with the majority being noble women […] they were very ashamed!“ However, the most amazing spectacle was when the women who were involved in Christian doctrine appeared. They numbered about three thousand women, all of whom were barefoot, with some of them carrying symbols of Christ’s Passion wearing a penitential habit with a rope around their neck and an iron chain on their arm, “as if they were slaves” (nn. 6632-6634, 6668). It looked like the Carnevale in reverse! The wonderful thing was that so many different classes came together without any disruption. “Men and women, the great and the small, nobles and townspeople came together.” (n. 6678).

The same thing happened at the Forty Hours in Piacenza in 1617 when Fr Giacino da Casale preached there. We hear “the women, the leading ladies of Piacenza, who had been embarrassed to hear the mention of sackcloth and ashes, openly saying that they had not yet done what people in Milan had done. We also hear them talk about the people in Brescia not only wearing sackcloth and ashes, wearing crowns of piercing thorns, carrying crosses on their shoulders which they regarded as being sad, now saying that they wanted to do the same, even if it poured rain day and night and everything was covered in mud.” (n. 6723). There are many examples such as this. This was something very positive psychologically and for society as a whole. It calmed down or at least reduced the tensions between classes in the city. At the same time, it showed that there was little difference between the learned and the uneducated, nobles and townspeople, superiors and subjects, the wealthy and the poor, those who were great and those who were lowly. All of them prayed, did penance and practiced exterior humility. The lords and ladies were putting aside their privileged status, acting like poor people (going barefoot, wearing sackcloth, interacting with the little people who were devout and simple). It was the reverse of the social justice system which was very different and had not dealt with issues of discrimination.

When they were organised in this way the Forty Hours became an opportunity to restore universal peace both because they prevented many things that were scandalous and converted many public sinners and because they often brought about the reconciliation of longstanding enemies and brought peace to communities that were disturbed by all kinds of issues by attacking social and political conflicts at their roots. Such peacefulness still left room for public activities such as crying in church and other loud proclamations.

As a rule, Mattia da Salὸ persuaded the people in the oratory to embrace each other as a sign of peace whether “they were commoners or nobility, rich or poor, friends or enemies.” (n. 6573) An eyewitness from Piacenza said that when Fr Giacinto da Casale conducted the Forty Hours there was much embracing “with many people hugging each other as a sign of being reconciled and at peace.” People who had been enemies for twenty years, who were obstinate in their hatred and who were people of rank, publicly left their place and went as far as half way across the church to embrace and be reconciled with their enemies. One could see “old” enemies “going spontaneously to seek out and be reconciled with one another.” Indeed “it was wonderful to see the preacher’s room filled with people, especially the principal Lords. […] Young men from the high ranks of the nobility knelt down and begged him to cut the long hair that they usually wore in that city.” (n. 6711)

The same thing happened in Rome where Fr Fedele da San Germano conducted the Forty Hours in 1608 and “it seemed that people experienced extraordinary sanctity because the time of the final judgement had arrived.” (n. 6679) Outspoken proclamations of peace, acts of restitution of what belonged to another or restoration of their good name were also a feature of the Forty Hours preached by Venerable Innocenzo da Caltagirone. In Cammarata three infamous bandits shared in the adoration without fear of falling into the hands of the authorities and, at the end, they mounted the platform and confessed their crimes to those who were present. The conversion of some of the women of the street was remarkable. When the Forty Hours had finished twenty, thirty or forty of them went up onto the platform and asked the priest to cut their hair as a sign of their repentance before they retired to a house where they would live a life of making reparation. These kinds of stories are repeated continually in contemporary reports.

The Forty Hours also provided a chance for poor and simple people to turn the tide, in some way, with those who were wealthy, the clergy and religious, in so far as they required everyone to collaborate including the public and ecclesiastical authorities, the nobility and those who were simple people. They all felt that they were equal at least in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament as they acknowledged that they were all making a contribution to public worship as became evident in the penitential exercises where there was not the slightest hint of distinctions or differences in rank. The way the processions were organised demonstrated that nobles and simple people walked together. This was one of the theatrical features of the event that express how one ought to behave. It also shows that the nobles had more at their disposal to make a contribution to what was needed for the celebration of the Forty Hours. Indeed, this may have been a controversial point at some time when there were difficulties with celebrating the Forty Hours. Nevertheless, one cannot overlook the value of the shared participation of the wealthy and the poor when we see rich people dressed in sackcloth, carrying rods like pilgrims and keeping within the ranks during adoration. This was especially evident in the women who blended in with all the other women without embarrassing those less fortunate. What Zaccaria da Milano had to say about this in 1653 in his Istruttione secunda n. 4 is very important. (n. 6744).

The participation of the general public in the Forty Hours seemed to signal the revival of a kind of penitential movement that had been superseded. This does not mean that Eucharistic devotion was imposed on Catholic Christians after the Council of Trent and the intervention of St Charles Borromeo. It also does not mean that it was imposed by Paul III, who was the first Pope to approve this devotion and initiate a change in the ways things were done in the Church by replacing theology and former religious practices with devotional sentiments inspired by humanism according to which Rome was the centre of the animation and reform of Christian society.

Various church groups came together without any differences during the Forty Hours. Men and women, those who had social status as well as the lowly people from various Confraternities or parishes came together and following the cross, walking side by side, keeping in step, walking long distances from distant places in the countryside or other towns they approached the church where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed either singing or in silent recollection of a penitential nature. There were group of lay people and religious that joined in the penitential mood freely and spontaneously and who, led by priests, without any consideration being given to their status, discovered that they were able to thrive in expressing asceticism and exterior mortification. The combination of the calamities of earthquakes, pestilence, famine, and the fear of war and invasion moved the crowd to these penitential thoughts that helped them to overcome their feelings of insecurity and all kinds of fear, while the groups who lived in the cities and the various parishes opened their hearts to those who lived in the countryside who were experiencing similar fears and apprehensions. It meant sharing profoundly in Christ’s Passion in a very real way by participating in what it symbolised and being a victim and being brought as low as he had been and in being saved through that.

The Forty Hours were and are a Christological devotion that are less popular when they have a clerical origin. Here nevertheless, people participated with creative enthusiasm, which was a sign of what they were feeling and of the way that they understood the intercession of saints who guarded and protected the earth, the value of their Confraternities or the intervention of the founders of their Religious Orders and this was evident in the way the processions were arranged in lines that were like little pilgrimages which were an important feature of popular piety. This was even more evident when there were groups that came in from the borders of the city limits or the surrounding countryside to visit the Blessed Sacrament. The journey signified liberty, being set free from daily tasks, doing something different, meeting different groups in a gathering that was temporary but new and which was not part of the class differences in society. It was a Christian society that thrived on unity, being at peace and harmony and which was held together by the unity of religious faith even though clerics and lay people had different functions. Any spirit of elitism between different Confraternities that was based on different spiritualities disappeared at least for the time being and was replaced by a spirit of Christian fraternity.

This spirit of fraternity meant that during the celebration of the Forty Hours a great number of the faithful met with people outside their own group who shared their way of praying. This also led to the consideration of the function of the spiritual indulgences that were associated with the practice of the Forty Hours. From one perspective, there was a renewal of the existing Confraternities that wore a “habit”, had a long tradition and enjoyed an authentic experience of solidarity. On the other hand, Confraternities and groups were forming whose first objective was to gain the indulgences. This was the case in particular in rural societies where there was the hope of discovering one of the fundamental aspects of the Last Things and of finding support against the dark uncertainty of death, as the Forty Hours were linked to Christ’s death and burial. Because of this some of the popular dramatic presentations were aimed at the Last Things and death. For example, in Capri in 1626 Fr Giovanni da Sestola, who usually challenged the faithful, “struck the skull of a dead person with a bone of a dead person’s arm while preaching with such fervour of spirit that he forced everyone to sigh and cry.” This is why he often wore black vestments or carried other symbolic objects, or wore something like sackcloth, or what was black or white, and was accompanied by little angels or little children who symbolised the realities of paradise and the triumph of the Eucharist.

The various forms of doing penance because they involved personal asceticism turned into a public spectacle that provoked compunction in the people’s souls and moved them to the love of Christ Crucified on the cross carried in the processions and enthroned when the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. It was a public exhibition. Such an event provoked new expressions of human feelings, emotions and heartfelt compassion while individual contributions became evident. This produced symbolic gestures and actions that were brutally realistic. It appeared to be a mentality that was linked to the sacred popular theatrical performances that excited the people who saw them very deeply. The cries of Have Mercy on Us, the beating of the chest, the gestures asking for forgiveness and reconciliation were similar to what happened in the ancient processions of the Bianchi and the Flagellant movement.

Here too we are able to document this by the use of some contemporary, fascinating reports. For example, the Forty Hours that were conducted by the Capuchins in Chablis were a flow of expressions of emotion that were evident in the crowd through various external signs. Each hour, groups arrived who were dressed in white like penitents and who were walking barefoot. They were carrying the instruments of the Passion and were often preceded by groups of little angels who represented the mysteries of the Passion. These children then mounted the platform of the Forty Hours carrying lights and coloured banners that represented Biblical scenes such as the adoration of the Magi at Bethlehem as it was linked to adoration during the Forty Hours. They were fed with unleavened bread by an angel which gave them the strength to go on walking until God died.[73]

In Piacenza in 1617 about 259 young people came together three times a week at night in the Bishop’s large hall to engage in “una buona disciplina” after the priest had delivered a brief sermon. However, it was the wailing and the singing of the Miserere and other devout hymns that was most striking. “Almost every day was like Good Friday.” (n. 6712, 6709). The Fretelli della Torricella, a group “which had almost been completely annihilated,” was revived by Fr Giacinto da Casale. The members, who “usually dressed in sackcloth, with a hood looked like the Capuchin habit, and went about barefoot,” took on the task of being of service to prisoners and those who were sick and tried to bring peace to individuals and families that were struggling, especially cases where “there was antagonism against the poor.” “Dressed in their shabby clothes, some of these people carried the skulls and bones of the dead, others carried the whole skeleton, others carried images of the dead or of hell which had appropriate inscriptions, others wore chains, others wore ropes, others scourges” (n. 6724). They invented “new and more appalling ways of doing penance.”

In 1665 when he laid down the rules for the celebration of the Forty Hours, F Girolamo Traina made a list of the possible penitential acts that could be performed by women. (cf. n. 6763) There ought to be two platforms, one on either side of the altar where the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, one for the preacher and the other “for the little ones who had to recite prayers each hour. When they finished praying a sermon was delivered. They were to dressed like angels, and carry a small rod in one hand to serve as a support.” The children recited poems that were composed of different metres with the last verse always being an exhortation to repent and be converted something like the following:[74]

Be determined, be determined, O sinner,
To abandon your sinfulness,
And while, the Redeemer is here present,
Veiled under the outward appearance of something white,
With all your heart ask him to forgive you,
And this he will most willingly grant you.
Then cry out to God and shout
My Lord, take pity, have mercy!

During the Forty Hours the preacher took on the role of a prophet when he mounted the pulpit to speak to the people in what were called “missioni mezzogiorno” (Midday missions).[75] What the preacher said was always accompanied by actions. By means of this new type of preaching the preacher was able to develop a bond between the speaker and those who were listening that was very valuable for the congregation. Because of this what emerged in the Forty Hours was a collective religious experience that went beyond ordinary daily life. It uncovered extraordinary aspects of collective religious experience that the Church was trying to regulate and control that went beyond what was the monotony of “dreadful daily life.” This is what the Minister of the Capuchins, Girolamo da Castelferreti has tried to do in 1620 when he sent out a Circular to the whole Order in which he issued a warning about the gestures “that some of our contemporary preachers were inventing, such as some of the prayers for the churches that were said during the Forty Hours, walking through the streets wearing chains and hanging ropes around their necks and carrying pieces of wood that were made to look like the cross on their shoulders with women carrying the Crucifix; preachers who had people crying out ‘Father yes and Father no’ as if they were in conversation with him. One could add to these novelties such things as necklaces and rings that might offend God and give bad example to the people and which caused laughter rather than tears […].” Instead, he wanted the preachers “to walk the ordinary paths […] which are setting the example of a good way of life, frequent prayer and preaching without the use of novelties”. He also prohibited setting up new Confraternities without having permission and “inventing new devotions not practiced by the saints of the Church.”[76]

The fact remains that the Forty Hours caused an explosion in devotion, with people accepting new forms of devotional practice especially those coming from the Council of Trent which were traditional. Thus, with regard to the Blessed Sacrament, the custom of keeping relics in the tabernacle was abandoned. Now the Blessed Sacrament received what had been directed towards relics. If the procession of the Blessed Sacrament contained a large group of people the clergy informed them of the difference between worship of a mystery and adoration of the Sacrament. Processions had advantages but there was the risk that religious practice would just become something external and manifestations of collective piety not approved by the Church. Beyond all of this, the Forty Hours were like small penitential missions for the city in the way that they were conducted by the Capuchins, who presented a completely original and new understanding of Catholic pastoral activity, that was able to move the emotions. This method worked with communities and provided a model for two over hundred years without any notable change.[77]

d) The Forty Hours and Religious Art

The sensation of triumph and of the glory that surrounded the Blessed Sacrament became immediately evident during the celebration of the Forty Hours as the altar being prepared in a festive manner, filled with flickering candles and colourful flowers. At first it was a discrete duplication of the sumptuous displays that were already in use on other occasions when the Blessed Sacrament was placed on the Altar of Repose on Holy Thursday or when the tomb was set up on Holy Saturday. Throughout the Middle Ages the tomb was decorated with images of the dead Christ, the soldiers on guard and the ladies who were crying as well as other items pertaining to the Passion.

The participation of crowds of people was a deliberate pastoral tactic adopted by the Jesuits and the Capuchins. It always required the use of solemn drapes and the display of lights until in the long run it became a major demonstration as happened on the night of the Forty Hours organised by Fr Cherubino da Murienne in the mission at Chablais at the end of the century. In fact, at Annemasse he erected a massive tent in the shape of a church. It was composed of curtains, drapes and gold ornaments from the Duke’s chapel so that, as Fr Carlo da Ginevra wrote: “it seemed like it was a paradise on earth, which greatly attracted the people.”[78]

At Thonon the Forty Hours were celebrated amidst an even more solemn setting. The square was full of tents to accommodate the people but also to make the environment more conducive to experiencing a feeling of recollection. The exterior of all the buildings was covered with flowers and various suitable images. On another occasion, in 1598, when the Duke of Savoy and the Medici Cardinal were present, the choir of the Church of S. Agostino was transformed into a very beautiful little chapel. In order to catch the eye, the chapel was decked out with a series of columns that led up to a central point that focused on the Blessed Sacrament. All the “heavens” in the chapel, which were set above in a semicircle, were covered with various colours, with blue being dotted with gold and silver stars that shone and twinkled like the stars in the heavens. To increase the emotional effect, two large flat painted surfaces displayed the conflicting flashing reflections of worldly vanity and represented its emptiness. Outside the chapel there was a scene that was full of symbolical meaning. A large rock shot flames and fire up into the air. At its base a stream of flowing water symbolised how the Catholic Church is the incorruptible rock that constantly sends the flames of charity up to heaven while watering the earth with the clear and saving teaching on earth.[79] All of these elements. which are typical in Barouche art, contributed to at least arousing the interest of many people, even heretics, with the objective of converting them. This is one example of how the use of “holy theatrical performances” made the Forty Hours well-known and attractive when it was used by the Jesuits in Rome during carnival time.

Indeed, in his Avvertenza of 1577 St Charles indicated clearly how to decorate the Altar of Repose in a way that resembled what he had said in his Istructiones fabricate et supellectilis ecclesiasticae which was also published in 1577. However, it was soon superseded by the triumph of Barouche architecture which began under Sixtus V.

The Barouche style developed both as a reaction to the doubts raised by Mannerism, and as an attempt to unite different artistic tendencies trying to develop what was dramatic in art by the implementation of graphic scenes. The Barouche way of speaking became popular immediately because it interpreted and expressed a new way of feeling. It was perfectly adapted to glorifying the Church and her hierarchy, while, at the same time, exalting Christ present in the Eucharist as King of the Church.

When this kind of religious devotion became popular the literature regarding the Forty Hours also underwent a change. It succeeded in making an impression of the way people thought because it influenced both individual piety and the religious sensitivity of the masses.

From then on, “decorations” such as the allegorical paintings that were placed around the Blessed Sacrament that depicted the glory of triumph became one of the most characteristic expressions of art in Rome. This spread throughout Italy and Europe.

In the descriptions of Capuchin preaching during the Forty Hours that have come down to us these decorations are hardly mentioned since the preacher was not supposed to be very concerned with them. Nevertheless, perhaps because of the influence of St Charles, it was understood that they should be “mournful and melancholy,” “appropriately exquisite and conventionally splendid yet signify bereavement and melancholy,” and be situated in a darkened place so that the light of the candles would provoke greater devotion.”[80]

When Bellintani preached the Forty Hours in Verona in 1587 “a third of the Cathedral up to the main door was richly decorated, and the entire church was used as an oratory. The Blessed Sacrament was placed on a well-decorated altar on the right with an entrance to the left. It was all covered with drapes and sectioned off inside with candles which made it very solemn and suitable for devotion.” (n. 6569)

During the Forty Hours in 1608 In Rome at S. Lorenzo in Damaso “the altar and the main chapel were richly decked out with many candles in addition to what were usually there which made it like reverencing the Blessed Sacrament in heaven. The whole church was covered with black drapes which were lit by nothing but the light from the altar and the chapel so that one would not but see that this was a frightening place that demanded compunction.” (n. 6632)

When Giacinto da Casale preached the Forty Hours in the Cathedral in Milan in 1613 the “Barouche” style had already taken over. It was no longer “sad, melancholy and serious”, but “most sumptuous’, yet devout and this is how is was described by Canon Bossio who was an eyewitness. (n. 6684). During the Forty Hours in Piacenza in 1617 when the same preacher spoke, the decorations were even more “Barouche”. The Canons of the Cathedral gathered “at the main gate near the choir.” The glory of paradise was represented by the seven heavens, below there were Bethlehem and Nazareth on each side with the city of Jerusalem in between. “This glory was so well situated that it was dimmed by the splendour of the lights which numbered more than a thousand. It was an artistic way of representing the empirical heavens.” Choirs of Angels appeared in the heavens with St Charles and St Francis in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament that was being held by two angels. The altar “was adorned very richly” with twelve large silver candelabra that made it appear to be a “majestic theatre.” The church was completely draped in black and lit by “gentle lights.” (cf. n. 6718-1719). This is a good description of the style and spirit of the times where the play of light is fundamental and is highlighted by the black drapes. They absorb the light, making one focus on the decorations which become more evident.

After being somewhat influenced by the instructions laid down by Fedele da San Germano, in his instructions Fr Girolamo Traina presented a “ritual” that was in line with these developments and which was a genuine “theatrical production”. (n. 6762). Among the Capuchins this is one of the few times when the Forty Hours were preceded by “a devout performance.” It was a three-act sacred production in which many played the role of those who despised the world, what was happening there, sin and the flesh. Others played the roles of little angels, Michael the Archangel, the Madonna, Lucifer, Astaroth and Beelzebub. Each one recited some poetry or different pieces of dialogue that was accompanied by the soft playing of contemporary madrigals during the pauses between the scenes and the acts. What was said conveyed penitential messages proposing a change of conduct and the objectives of the Forty Hours. The whole performance was a dramatic presentation of the themes that would follow in the sermon.[81]

The Barouche flavour of these theatrical presentations is only one example among thousands of a literary genre that made a great impression on people. It was widely developed by the Jesuits and their associates. The Jesuits had a deep understanding of the importance of the theatre and art as effective instruments of communicating with the masses and they used this for religious purposes by creating performances that reflected medieval morality especially as it was portrayed during Carnevale in comical performances. “From being simple commentaries on contemporary events, these theatrical presentations became more elaborate in the way in which they presented a scene and portrayed it by way of dialogue. The Jesuits wanted the actors to outwardly display their inner feelings and thus produce dramatic intensity that would make the production produce a lively effect similar to what was on show in the architecture of their churches.”[82]

It is easy to see the relationship between these theatrical stage presentations of Biblical episodes and religious topics and the “sacred performances” presented during the Forty Hours. What could not be proclaimed in dialogue and music, could at least be summed up in a spectacle and in architecture which presented new opportunities to express allegory, depict Biblical characters and events that were related to the mysteries that were being celebrated.

What was on display during the Forty Hours is important for the history of Barouche art because in Rome it was created by skilful artists.[83] What they had arranged in Rome became obligatory for every celebration of the Forty Hours and it gradually produced an environment of popular festivity that was increased in the late Barouche period by the intervention of the civic authorities themselves. This was particularly evident in Naples where in1666 circulars were sent around that had a political end, directly linking with the Spanish wars, which often made it more a spectacle rather than a meditative, devotional and penitential event.[84]

However, this did not normally happen in the country districts or in places where the tradition of austere devotion and popular participation remained for a long time both in the religious practices and in art and where there were economic reasons for not making a change. The celebration of the Forty Hours remained a feature of the culture, piety and popular religious devotion.[85]


Following the lengthy pastoral experience of a system that was developed by the Capuchins, the preaching and progress during the first hundred years of the Forty Hours was transformed into many forms. However, there was always continuity and harmony in its spirituality. In fact, it is possible to identify the characteristic features that prevailed in the Capuchin, evangelical and seraphic way of preaching as it became a genuine school of popular mental prayer, a prophetic style of austerity and of doing penance, a system that attracted those who were poor and humble as well as an apostolic strategy that was connected to the Lenten journey that brought all classes of society to conversion and reconciliation while contemplating the crucified Christ through the “glory of the Eucharist.” It shared the zeal of the apostle with people in order to move them to loving imitation of the Son of God.

All of these aspects are summarised in an unpublished report of the Forty Hours that was preached by an unknown Capuchin in 1624 at Treviglio. We shall conclude by quoting this document that was written to Cardinal F. Borromeo by the Vicar Forane of Treviglio.

My most illustrious and reverend Lord.

I wish to fulfil my obligation of reporting to your Lordship what happened following the preaching of a Capuchin, Fr Mapello da Bergamo, during Lent this year.[86] Following Palm Sunday he preached very effectively while being mindful of the capacity of the people, rebuking them as they listened attentively. Then on Palm Sunday, he began the Forty Hours, preaching so effectively each day every two hours that he moved people to sincere conversion. Seven processions came from seven nearby areas. The decorations were very sacred and inspired great compunction. Four hundred candles burnt continually. This meant great expense. This devotion not only edified the town but all the surrounding places. As your Reverence knows, plenary indulgences were granted so that not everyone had to stay for the four days. On Good Friday the preacher was wonderful. You might say that this preacher should always preach about the Passion. That he spread extraordinary fruit is proved by the fact that in previous years I heard about a hundred confessions, now there were twice that number with only a couple not coming to Confession. May God be praised for all of this. I send best wishes to your Reverence.

Sent from Terviglio, 19th April 1624.

Your most illustrious and reverend Lordship, I remain your most affectionate Servant.

P. Nocolὸ Zenalio Vicar Forane.[87]

  1. When writing this introduction, I have made ample use of my article Le quarante ieri e oggi. Viaggio nella storia della predicazione cattolica della devozione popolare e della spititualità cappuccino, in IF 61 (1986) 328-460, some of which appeared in Rome in 1986 (Sussidi Formazione permanente – Nuova serie, 10), 143 pp, with an analytical index, and more briefly in DS XII, 2702-2723.
  2. Cf. E. Demoutet, Le désir de voir l’Ostie et les origins de la devotion au Saint Sacrement, Paris 1926. This was mentioned in G. Cagni’s review in Bernabiti Studi 3 (1986) 192.
  3. Cf. below in the study on the introduction to catechetics.
  4. Cf., O Premoli, Storia dei Bernarbiti nel Cinquecento, Roma 1913, 7, 408-415.
  5. Cf., The very rare work which was held in the Ambarosiana di Milano but which has now been lost following bomb attacks: Ordine de la Processione triduana ordinate dal Reverendo patre da Sacra Teologia Doctore celebraissimo Magistro Thomaso Nieto per la liberation de la Cità de Milano et sa;ute de soy citadini, Milano 1529. However, there is a copy of this manuscript in the same library: I 206 inf. (2). Ff. 164.
  6. D. Bergamaschi, Vita di Fra Buono eremita, intitulore delle santissime quarantore, in La Scuola Cattolica 2 (1908) 208-227; 316-337 and throughout, Monza 1908.
  7. Cf., Historia dell’antichità di Milano, Venetia 1592, 344.
  8. Cf. S. Antonio M. Zaccaria, Gli Scritti, Roma 1573, 59.
  9. Cf., Archivio storico italiano 3 (1842) 537, the passage by Burigozzo is contained in Le quarantore ieri e oggi cit., 336.
  10. Cf., Salvatore da Rivolta, Del p. F. Giosefo da Fermo predicatore capucino, detto da Milano, della famiglia Angiolini, ea passata in Plantanida, in id., Vite di alcuni frati capuccini della Provincia di Milano illustri in virtú e santità … cavate dalli Processi giurati delle compilation di essa Provincia, ms. Inedito in Arch. di Stato di Milano, f. r., p.a., cart. 6493, f. 15v-15.
  11. Ibid., f. 20r – 21r.
  12. Cf., A. De Santi, L’orazione delle Quarant’ore e I tempi di calamità e di Guerra, Ro 1919, 109s.
  13. Cf., M. A. Erba, Chierici Regolari di San Paolo (Barnabiti), in DIP II, Roma 1957, 945-974.
  14. Cf., A. M. Erba, Chierici Regolari di San Paolo (Barnabiti), in DIP II, Roma 1975, 945-974.
  15. A. De Santi, L’orazione delle quarantore cit., 109.
  16. Cf., MF 18 (1938) 89.
  17. Cf., vol. II, n. 2120 and note 16.
  18. Cf., C. Canti, Gli eretici d’Italia, II, Torino, 35, 40; R. Bainton, Bernardino Ochino esule e riormatore, ed.ital., Firenze, 1949, 36.
  19. Regarding the preaching of Giuseppe da Farmo cf. MHOC, III, 104-111; VI, 386-405.
  20. Rimini, Bibl. Gambalunghiana, ms. D III. N. 76.
  21. Cf. C. Urbanelli, Storia dei Cappuccini dele Marche, I/3: Documenti, t. I, Ancona 1984, 90, doc. 71=72.
  22. Cf. F. Caraffa, Roma, in DIP VII, Roma 1983, 1836; A. Cistellini, San Filippo Neri, l’Oratorio e la Congregazione oratoriana, I, Brescia 1989, 11s.
  23. Cf. V. Paglia, La morte confortata. Riti della paura e mentalità religiosa a Roma nell’età moderna, Roma 1982, 52.
  24. Cf. Il primo processo per san Filippo Neri, III, Cità del Vaicano 1960, 378, and n. 2376; P. G. Bacci, Vita S. Phillip Neri, lib. I, c. 8, n 3, Roma 1645, 16.
  25. Cf. MHOC, III, 159.
  26. Cf. Giuseppe da Monterotomdo, Gli inizi dell’Otdine cappuccino e della Provincia romana, Roma 1910, 180-187.
  27. Cf. Litt quadrimestres, II (1552-54), Madrid 1895, 197s; J. A. De Polanco, Vita Ignatii Loiolae et rerum Soc. Jesu historia, III (1553-54), Madrid 1895, 197s; Litterae quadrim, V (1557 58) Jacopo Lainio S. J. moderator, Madrid 1921, 522 and 305.
  28. Cf, ibid II, 334; J. A. Polanco, Vita Ignatii cit., III, 43.
  29. Cf. Litt. Quadrim IV (1556), Madrid 1897, 575s. J. A. Polanco, Vita Ignatii cit., VI, Madrid 1898, 81.
  30. Cf, A. E. Berault Bercasyel, Storia del critianesimo, vol. VII, Venezia 1837, 560, n. 825; A. De Santi, L’orazione delle quarantore cit. 277, 288.
  31. Cf. Epistulae mixtae, V (1556-1557), Madrid 1901, 452.
  32. P. Tacchi Venniri, La vita religiosa in Italia durante la prima età della Compagnia di Gesù, I/1, Roma 1930, 239.
  33. Ibid., 240s.
  34. Regarding Bellintani’s preaching see the analysis made by his brother Giovanni da Salò cf. above nn. 6024-6046.
  35. These are the words of Fr Giovanni da Salὸ. Cf. above n. 6039. The account of this Forty Hours was written and published by A. Canobbio in the same year 1587 and is contained in full in doc. 5, nn. 6305-6575.
  36. The letter has been published in vo. II, 981s, nn. 2541-2542.
  37. Cf. the complete passage in vol. II 467s, m. 2178.
  38. Cf. C. Marcpra, Ilprocesso diocesano informative nella vita di san Carlo per la sua canonizzione, in Memorie storiche della diocese di Milano 9 (1962) 365.
  39. Cf. Acta Ecclesiae Medolanesis, ed. A. Ratti, II, Milano 1927ss.
  40. These facts are contained in the document that is cited in note 34.
  41. Cf. C Urbanelli, Storia dei cappuccino delle Marche I/3: Documenti, Ancona 1984, 120s, doc. 109.
  42. Ibid., 124, doc. 113.
  43. Ibid., 167, doc. 165.
  44. Ibid., 698, doc. 631.
  45. Cf. P. Guidi, L’origine delle quarantore a ucca. Uno straordinario predicatore nel 1568 e 1562, in Rassegia eccl. Lucchese 7 (1918) 129-132, 154-158.
  46. Davide da Portogmaro, Storia dei cappuccino veneti, II, Venezia=Mestre 1957, 30-35
  47. Cf. A. Olgiati da Como, Annali dell’Ordine de frati minori capuccini, III/2, Milano 1711, 130-138.
  48. Cf. ibid., 637-644. Giangrisostomo da Cittadella, Biblioteca dei Cappuccini della provincial di Venezia, Padova 1945, 126s; U. Benassi, Un curioso episodio di storia piacentina del primo Seicento, in Boll. Di stor. Piacentino 9 (1914) 255-266.
  49. Cf., Annali… Appendice al t. III, Milano 1744, 82.
  50. L. Maini, Le istituzione delle quarantore in Capri. Relazione idedita di Anonimo contemporaneo pubblicata con note, Modena 1888; Felice da Mareto, Bibloiteca dei Frati Minori Cappuccini della Provincia Parmense, Moderna 1951, 271s. nn. 931-932.
  51. Cf. Relatio solemnitatis quadraginta horarium in Castro Villarum, in AO 21 (1905) 362-368; F. Russo, I frati minori cappuccino della provincial di Cosenza, Napoli 1865, 81-85; for the preaching that took place at Como in 1639 see Discorso historiale del l’inoppinata et improvisa partenza che fece da Como il 26 d’aprile l’anno di nostra salute 1639 il spiritualussimo padre cappuccino fr. Francescp da Sessa, finite ch’ebbe con maravigilioso profitto delle anime il suo quadragesimale di sermoni delle Quarant’hore e le tre prediche delle feste pasquali, Como 1642.
  52. Cf. Imola trasformata per le prediche di P. Tomaso da Caltagione, Imola 1643; Le gloriose fatiche del P. T. di C. nella cattedrale di Imola, Imola 1643; Gennari, L’orazione delle quarantore recitata in Cesena dal P. Tomaso di C., Cesena 1642.
  53. Cf. Giovanni da Sestola, Dei cappuccino d’Este … P. G. Battista e la devozione alla S. Eucarestia, in Frate Francesco (Parma) (1928) 16-19.
  54. For example, see below where we discuss the Capuchin mission in Piemonte and the commitment of Filippo Ribotti da Pancalieri (section II/6, doc. 7, nn. 7657, 7671-7672); C. Cargnoni, Le quarantore ieri e oggi cit., in IF 61 (1986) 360-363.
  55. In the General Chapter in Rome in 1689 Father Gianpietro da Busto (+ 1700) was elected Minister General. Some of the decisions made by the Chapter concerned “missionaries” and the Forty Hours and laid down: “8 De’ Missionarii. – The holy work of the missions, which is very useful for the conversion of souls, began to be abused in such a way that in certain Provinces almost all the preachers wanted to be missionaries with many seeking the title of missionary to build up their reputation, or so that they could enjoy the freedom to hear confessions, even when they lacked the doctrinal formation and other necessary requirements to undertake this ministry. Therefore, we shall try to appoint missionaries only in Advent or Lent, during which there will actually be a course of Advent or Lenten sermons, so that during their sermons each on may refer specially to the Forty Hours and be zealous in promoting this practice as the istituto proprio e singolare della nostra religione.” Cf. AO 7 (1891) 206.
  56. In Bergamo by Vincenzo Sabbio, 1577, 54 ff.
  57. Ibid., f. 2r-4r.
  58. Ibid., f. 5v, 7r-v.
  59. Ibid., f. 17v.
  60. These are the five exercises in affective prayer that follow the tenth chapter of the Trattato under the heading: “What follows are some exercises to be made by those who undertake the Forty Hours of prayer after they have entered the Oratory and are before the Blessed Sacrament.” Each exercise is introduced by the antiphon Adoramus te, sanctissime Domine Jesu Christe et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctum crucem tuum redimisti mundum.
  61. Cf., Trattato della santa orazione della quaranta hore Cit., 48.
  62. Ibid., 56.
  63. Ibid., 78.
  64. Cf. A. De Santi, L’orazione delle Quaranto’ore cit., 120.
  65. With regard to this work see above section I, doc. 19, n. 5068ss.
  66. For these and other authors and for the development of meditative aspect of the Forty Hours see our work: Le quarantore ieri e oggi cit. 383-393.
  67. Originally printed in AGO. Cart. NB: XL Horarum oratio.
  68. With regard to the numerous reports see Le quarantore ieri e oggi Cit., in IF 61 (1986) 400s, 407-414.
  69. Cf. AO 6 (1890) 234, n, 18
  70. Ibid.
  71. Cf. A. De Santi, L’orazione dele quarantore cit., 174-177; D. G. Ferro, Gli Emeronitti a Venezia, Venezia 1879, and now especially: Bianca Betto, La confraternita veneziana delle Quarantore o degli Emeroniti nel secolo XVI, in CF 49 (1979) 75-83, where the text by G. Ferro is published.
  72. Cf. I. Culterra, Un flagellato dalla buona fama, Torino 1954, 70-79.
  73. Cf. Charles de Genève, Le trophèes sacrès ou missions des Capucins en Savoie, I Lausanine 1976, 84s.
  74. Cf. Girolamo Traina da Castronovo, Cento motivi efficaci per la conversion de’peccatore, Palermo 1665, 70.
  75. Cf. Gabriele De Rosa, Linguaggio e vita religiosa attraverso le missioni popolari nel Mezzogiorno nell’ età moderna, in id. Vescovi, popolo e magia nel Sud, 2. Ed., Napoli 1983, 195-226. G. Orlandi, Missioni parrrocchiali e drammatica popolare, in Spicilegium Hist. SS.mi. Redemptoris 22 (1974)313-348.
  76. Cf. Litterae circulares Superiorum Generalium O.F.M.Cap. (1548-1803), published by P. Melchiodore a Pobladura (MHOC VIII), Roma 1950, 38-40.
  77. For a bibliography specifically aimed at popular, liturgical, confraternity, missionary and devotional religious practice cf. Le quarantore ieri e oggi cit., in IF 61 (1986) 434 note 190.
  78. Charles de Genève, Les trophies sacrès cit., I, 86.
  79. Ibid., 235ss.
  80. The is what Zaccaria da Milano said in his Istruzzioni already quoted.
  81. For more details cf., Le quarantore ieri e oggi cit., in IF 61 (1986) 440s.
  82. Cf. H. G. Keonigeberger – G. L. Mosse, L’ Europa del Cinquescento, trad. Ital. Bari 1969, 417.
  83. Cf. M. S. Weil, The Devotion of the Forty Hours and Roman Baroque Illusions, in Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 37 (1974) 218-248, with illustrations. Ibid, Ludovico Bimacini and the Migration of the Forty Hours Style from Rome to Vienna, in La scenografia barocca, a cura di A. Schnapper, Bologna 1982, 157-162. A. De Santi L’orazione delle Quant’ore, cit., 277-308.
  84. Cf. S. Ussia, La festa delle Quaranore e letteratura napolitana 18 (1982)253-267.
  85. With regard to this see, Le quarant ore ieri e oggi cit., 447 note 214 (bibliog.).
  86. We do not know who this religious was. Mapello is the name of a place in Bergamasca.
  87. This document is held in lArchivio Storico della Diocesi di Milano, at the Curia arcivescovile di Milano, Sex XIV, vol. 54, f. 272rv. I wish to thank Fr Fedele Merelli for transcribing it.