Method of Giuseppe da Ferno for the Forty Hours at San Sepolcro

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. 2959-2962.

Introduction by Costanzo Cargnoni OFM Cap

Translated by Gary Devery OFM Cap

The great apostle of the Forty Hours, Fr Giuseppe Piantanida da Ferno introduced the pious practice also in Umbria at San Sepolcro in the month of June 1538, where he left to the already existing eleven confraternities a small rule, one of the more ancient “manuals” of the Forty Hours. What immediately stands out in it is not only the Christological recalling of the 40 hours of Christ in the tomb, but also the aim of pacifying the town. A festive ringing of all the churches needs to announce the beginning of the celebration. The people then kneel before the wounds of the Crucified in devout prayer. The hours of adoration assigned to each group need to pass in total silence. In the reform of the Christian life promoted by the fervent Capuchin preacher, this popular exercise of Eucharistic devotion can be clearly seen as part of the evangelical movement of pre-Tridentine Catholic reform.

Sources: San Sepolcro, Arch. Comunale, ms. 157, serie 32: Registro cartaceo contenente gli ordini e capitoli delle Fraternite o Compagnie di Borgo San Sepolcro, riformati nel 1568, con addizioni e giunte fino al 1726 ‐ De l’origgine delle orazione delle 40 ore per. San Giovanni, cap..10, carte 4. ‐ Edito, in. AO 39 (1923) 50-53; vedi anche nel vol. II, sez. I/II, doc. 14; p. 766-68, n.2394.

6544 In the name of the most high and omnipotent God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

In this book of 199 pages is written all the instituted orders and chapters, prescribed and ordered already in the year 1538 by the reverend Father Br Giuseppe da Milano of the Capuchin Order of Saint Francis, covering all eleven fraternities and Companies, which are Saint Mary Magdalen, St Catherine, St Anthony, St Mary of Mercy, Holy Cross, the Crucified, the Good Jesus, St Mary of Graces, of the Annunciation, of the Visitation, The Holy Face of the Beaters or discipliners, of our city of Borgo S. Sepolcro. It also takes account of all of which according to such orders and chapters the visitators and advisers need to carry out between them. For these occasions they will be the Disciplinaries in their General Chapters, which is to be resumed today by order and command of our most reverend Monsignor Nicolao, Messer Donato Tornabuoni of the magnificent city of Florence, and by the grace of God our most dignified bishop. The visitators and advisers or depositary, secretary and nurse, will daily record what the General Chapters of these congregations do year by year and they will also record all the promises and rulings that their councils and chapters establish, commencing under the visit and office of the magnificent and honourable visitators Nicolao, Messer Tornabuoni and Guido di Francesco Pichi, residents for this present year of 1568.

Reform orders of the beloved in Christ brother disciplinaries of the Companies of the city of Borgo S. Sepolcro composed and established by the reverend in Christ Father Br Giuseppe da Milano, of the Capuchin Order of St Francis, and accepted by the Fraternities in the year of our health MDXXXVIII [1538].

The humble servant of Jesus Br Giuseppe da Milano, Capuchin, to all the beloved brothers in Christ, the Priors, and men of the Societies of the city of Borgo S. Sepolcro, health, blessing and peace […].[1]

[The way of carrying out the prayer. Chapter XI]

6545 Firstly, every year, fifteen days before the feast of St. John the Baptist, ring the bell of the Community every day at 5.30pm in the manner of the Ave Maria, then immediately after it being rung, ring those of the Bishop’s Palace and all the other churches in the city to that of the Ave Maria; then continue to toll all the bells, so that all the people, kneeling down, devoutly say five Pater Noster and five Ave Maria in reverence of the five wounds of our most sweetest Saviour; and within the said fifteen days, more than at any other time, let the above mentioned visitators and advisers, who having been specially ordered, together with the peacemakers elected by the Community, to seek to make peace between those among whom there is discord and enmity; and to exhort and urge everyone to universal unity and peace [in, Jesus, Christ, our most true Creator and Saviour, to him be praise, honour and glory] for ever and ever. Amen.

6546 The order of the turns at prayer in the Bishop’s palace, and the hours.

The day of the Feast of St John the Baptist in June these will go at the following hours:

The most Reverend Messer Monsignor and his vicar and canonsat 16
The chaplains of the bishop’s palace and the priestsat 17
The monks of Saint Benedict in St Nicolòat 18
Friars of the Observance of Saint Francisat 19
Conventual Friars of Saint Francisat 20
Friars of St Augustineat 21
Friars of the Servants of Maryat 22
The Lord Captain of the Fort and soldiersat 23
The magnificent Lord Commissar and councillorsat 24
The Twelve Lords of the College and salaries officials of the commune or visitatorsat 1
Society of Good Jesusat 2
Bizoghi [lay penitential associations; tertiaries] of St Josephat 3
St Mary Magdaleneat 4
St Catherineat 5
St Anthonyat 6
St Mary of Mercyat 7
Holy Crossat 8

On the day of 25th June these will go:

Society of our Lady of the bishop’s palace, first partat 9
Same Society as above, second partat 10
Same Society as above, third partat 11
Society of St Leonard the monkat 12
Society of the chapel of the Holy Archangelat 13
Our Lady in Pioveat 14
Our Lady in S. Giovanbattistaat 15
St Ursula in S. Nicolòat 16
St Margarite in S. Bartolomeoat 17
Bizoche [lay penitential associations; tertiaries] of the Observants of St Francisat 18
Bizoche of St Francisat 19
Bizoche of St Augustineat 20
Bizoche of the Servants of Maryat 21
Bizoche of St Bartholomewat 22
Bizoche of the Holy Spiritat 23
Lord knights, doctors, and notariesat 24
Priors of the Fraternity of St Bartholomewat 1
Priors of the Landeat 2
Crucifiedat 3
St Mary of Gracesat 4
Our Lady of the Annunciationat 5
Our Lady of the Visitationat 6
Society of the Holy Faceat 7

6547 The day of the 26th of June at 8am the Society of the Good Jesus and together with this last stated Society of the Holy Face accompany the Sacrament (the prayer being finished) around the piazza in procession; and the Sacrament is then put back into its place by the Chaplain, and this finishes the prayer. Likewise, at the beginning of the prayer a similar procession is made with the Sacrament around the piazza, carry it to the place of prayer; at this first procession all the religious, the Lord Commissioner, the Councillor, and only the already stated Society of the Good Jesus shall take part. The visitators, still together with their advisers, and with the above deputies for the prayer should gather for both the processions to accompany the Most Holy Body of Jesus Christ, our most true Creator and Saviour, to whom be always praise, honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

  1. What follows at this point is the letter of Father Giuseppe da Ferno, hear called “da Milano”, already published in vol. II, n. 2394.