Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A recent study

Bernardino Ochino, the general superior of the Capuchins at the time, left Italy for Switzerland in August 1542. News of the "flight" of the famous preacher spread rapidly throughout Italy and was a great scandal. The existence of the Capuchins, a new branch within the Francsican family, was still the matter of debate. The behaviour of its superior cast a shadow of doubt over the new congregation.

Shortly after his departure, within a few weeks, Pope III received a startling letter from his former friend Bernardino. The harsh contents of the letter startled and angered Paul III and that shadow lengthened over the future of the Capuchin Friars.

Another letter was published later, and circulated in manuscript form also. That letter was attributed explcily to Bernardino. As that letter had some circulation it was probably the one that the first Capuchin chroniclers knew about when, from 1565 onwards, they began to compose their accounts of the first years of the Capuchin reform. It is quite plausible to believe that this published letter shaped the image of Ochino transmitted in these Chronicles. In turn, that poor image was underlined by Capuchin apologia within the context of the Counter-Reformation.

After some indecision - and waiting for replies from possible publishers - I present the study on the site for the first time today.

"Fixing a footnote" - as a title for this work- would adequately situate scale of the importance of the study. Nothing earth-shattering, yet one significant tile in the mosaic of Church and Capuchin history.

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