Capuchins

Reformed branch of the Franciscan* Order. In 1525 Matteo da Bascio (1495-1552), a Friar Observant at Montefalcone, desired to return to the primitive simplicity of the order. He adopted the pointed cowl (capuce) which St. Francis wore, together with sandals and a beard. He and his companions cared for plague victims at Camerino and established themselves there with the approval of Pope Clement VII in 1528. They met much opposition from other Franciscans. Their rule (1529) emphasized the ideals of poverty and austerity, and they devoted themselves to charitable work. The movement was nearly suppressed in 1542 when their third general, Bernardino Ochino,* became a Protestant, but they survived through the influence of Cardinal Sanseverino and Vittoria Colonna, duchess of Amalfi. By dint of their missionary zeal and preaching enthusiasm they became a powerful weapon of the Counter-Reformation. In 1619 they became a fully independent branch of the Franciscan family.