Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
The origins of the Capuchins are traced to a Franciscan monk in the Duchy of Urbino, Matteo da Bascio. An Observant Franciscan, Matteo felt that the friars strayed too far from the teachings of Francis of Assisi and attempted to introduce reforms centered on solitude and penance. The Church attempted to arrest Matteo, but the friar and his small group of followers were given shelter by the monks of Camaldolese, a Benedictine order; Matteo and his followers would adopt as part of their habit the hood, or capuccio, worn by the Camaldolese brothers, as well as beards. In 1528 Matteo received permission from Pope Clement VII to live as a hermit following the strictest interpretation of the Rule of Francis of Assisi. The congregation established by Matteo continued to grow and spread across Europe; in 1619 the Capuchins were made an independent order seperate from the Conventual Franciscans.
Capuchins practice lives of the most stringent austerity. A Capuchin possesses nothing, with all needs to be satisfied by begging and no stores of goods or supplies to be maintained in the monasteries. Capuchins go barefoot everywhere and may not travel by animal or conveyance without a special dispensation. Prayer and fasts are frequent and arduous. Their communities are small, numbering between eight and twelve friars.