September 1, 2016

All Seraphic Saints Friary

Religious houses are usually named for some heavenly patronage, either a saint or some mystery of the faith. For example, the first friary I ever lived in was the former Holy Cross Friary on Soundview Ave. in the Bronx. Right now I'm taking some vacation while staying at St. Francis of Assisi Friary, the second house to bear that title during my time in my Province of the Capuchins.

Somewhat strangely, the house where I am assigned now, in which resides the fraternity of the Capuchin General Curia, did not seem to have such a patron. It was just 'the General Curia' or, in the habit of religious to call places by their earthly location rather than by their heavenly patron, 'Via Piemonte.'

Well today we have received a letter from the General Minister in which he decrees a remedy for this situation. The house is to be dedicated to All Seraphic Saints, with the corresponding titular feast day of November 29.

The history of the question presented in the letter is interesting. It seems that in the earlier years of the Capuchin reform, i.e. in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the General Curia of the Capuchins was at a place called San Bonaventura al Qurinale, and so took St. Bonaventure as a patron. When it moved closer to the new church of the Immaculate Conception by the Piazza Barberini, the Curia gained the new, corresponding patroness.

In 1890, when the Order decided, under the leadership of the storied General Minister Bernard of Andermatt, to build a new General Curia, the fraternity stayed for a while by the church of Nicholas of Tolentino in Rome, and so had him for a patron. When the new complex was opened in 1896, Bernard brought the relics of St. Lawrence of Brindisi, and so he became a patron. But when the Capuchin International College was spun off from this Capuchin neighborhood in 1964 for its current location on the GRA (the ring road that goes around Rome), it took St. Lawrence's patronage along.

(Fun trivia: Br. Bernard concluded his earthly life as Archbishop of the titular see of Stauropolis, 'City of the Cross,' a designation that's something of a departure from the older name of the city, Aphrodisias.)

When the friars of the Capuchin General Curia arrived at our current location in 1953, the nuns who had previously lived there had called their house the monastery of the Most Holy Body of Christ, but when they left for their new place, they took the name with them.

And so the Capuchin events of 1953 and 1964 left the house/fraternity of the Capuchin General Curia without explicit heavenly patronage.

But now, in his letter dated March 31, 2016 but only shared with us today, our current General Minister, Br. Mauro J√∂hri, writes:
With this letter I decree that the Fraternity of the General Curia shall be dedicated to all the Saints of the Order and that its feast shall be held each year on November 29, the liturgical feast of All Franciscan Saints, and the anniversary of the Rule.
(That is, the anniversary of the confirmation of the Franciscan Rule by Pope Honorius III on November 29, 1223 by the bull Solet annuere.)

All Seraphic Saints, pray for us!


carl said...

A digression from your point, but it raises a question that has lurked in my mind for some time: You noted that your general minister's letter was dated March 31, but was not shared with you until Sept. 1. Such a practice seems to happen rather a lot with papal documents -- they officially bear one date, but aren't released publicly until considerably later. Do you know why this is? Why make a decision, but wait so long to make it public?

Brother Charles said...

Hi Carl, thanks for the comment. I think that in the case of our letter, it was just an oversight by the authorities of the house here. In the case of papal documents, my guess is that it is often a question of preparing translations in the various languages.

carl said...

Interesting! Thanks for your reply, Brother, and may all the Seraphic saints intercede for you.