THE PROVINCE OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI - ITALY
The Little Church of
San Rocco, Montefalco
The "Portiuncula" of the Third Order Regular
of Saint Francis of Penance
Province is the heir of all the history of the Third Order Regular in Italy since it is
the direct descendant of the Provinces of Umbria-Piceno, The Marches and of all the
fraternities of central an northern Italy. The province also has houses in Rome and Milan.
( p. 23 resource manual.)
Francis and his first companions lived the first years, after their conversion in the
penitential habit with the status of Penitents: "We are Penitents .... they said....
and we come from Assisi.
also find among the followers of Francis those Penitents living, with his approval, as
solitaries or living with companions in hermitages. Already by 1221 Pope Honorius III and
later Gregory IX in 1227 defended those "who had retired to solitary places to do
was the situation of Bartolomeo Barono of Gubbio to whom St. Francis himself had sent some
companions and had authorized to receive others, and of Praxides, a Roman recluse, of
Verdiana of Castel Fiorentino, of Gerard of Villamagna and many others.
communities of Franciscan Penitents, living in obedience, poverty and chastity, were
approved by Pope John XXII with the document Altissimo in divinis of November 18, 1323.
Among these are found the names of Antonio Collamazio of Gubbio, Bartolomeo Giovino of
Spoleto, Andrea Bonamico of Perugia.
1447, Pope Nicholas V authorized the Penitents of the Third Order (of Italy) to elect a
Visitator General, to draw up Statutes, and to adopt a habit which would distinguish them
from simple hermits. Gathered in a General Chapter at Montefalco in Umbria in July of 1448
they elected Fra Bartolomeo Bonamati of Perugia as the Visitator General. Fra Francisco di
Antonio of Genoa, Fra Antonio "de Urcis Novis," Fra Onofrio of Pesaro, Fra
Pietro of Pisa were elected Definitors. Fra Andrea Franceschini of Milan was elected as
The Province of the Marches (Ancona)
and of the Duchy of Umbria.
the following years, the previously mentioned Fra Bartolomeo Benamati appears as Minister
Provincial of most of Umbria. The center of the Order seems afterward to have shifted to
the north of Italy so much so that the entire Order by 1476 was known as the "Third
Order of St. Francis called of Penance of Regular Observance in the Eremitical Habit"
of the Lombardy Congregation.
the General Chapter of 1546 we find listed: the Province of Lombardy, of Venice, of
Romagna and the Roman Province to which was united the Provinces of the Marches of Ancona,
the Duchy of Umbria, and that of Abruzzo. It is not known when these latter provinces were
united and when they were again separated. We do know that at the General Chapter held in
Rome in 1619 in the list of the twelve Provinces participating, the Province of St.
Francis of Umbria is listed in second place and that of the Marches in eighth place.
1652 Pope Innocent X ordered the close of all convents with less than 5 religious. This
severely affected the Province of the Marches whose convents were almost entirely small
hermitages. So it came about that of the 17 convents of that Province, 15 were suppressed
with only the convents of San Ginesio and of Monte Giorgio remaining open. Of the 8
Convents of the Umbrian Province, only 4 were spared: Assisi, Massa Martana, Collescipoli
and San Gemini.
The Union of the Two Provinces.
the General Chapter of 1653, held in Assisi, (at which the famous Fr. Francesco Bordoni
was elected General), the Provinces of Umbria and the Marches were united in a single
Province which was called "The Umbrian Province of St. Francis," and later the
Province of Umbria and the Marches, or also "The Province of Umbro-Picena. " In
the act of establishment it was stated that the Provincial for two terms of three years
would be from Umbria and then the next triennium from the Marches while the Custos would
be from the Province different from the Provincial. This arrangement began in June of
1656. In 1760, since the number of convents and Friars in the region of the Marches had
increased, at the request of both Provinces it was decreed that the Provincials would
alternate between the two regions. With the passage of time, such distinctions between the
two ancient provinces were no longer made since a complete unification had taken place.
From the time of the union, the Province was reinvigorated and then began to flourish in
coincidence with the collapse of others!
The Various Suppressions,
the Rebirth and Expansion.
various civil suppressions of the 19th century destroyed different Provinces of the Order
in Italy and were strongly felt also by our Province. Convents were closed and the friars
were dispersed. Only in 1884, through the efforts of the newly elected Provincial, Fr.
Emidio Maricotti of Francavilla d'Ete was it possible to gather the more willing friars to
reopen the Novitiate in the Convent of San Francesco in San Ginesio.
Maricotti (1834-1897), elected the following year Minister General of the Order, may
rightly be called the restorer of the modern Province, above all by his reconstruction and
opening of the Seraphic Seminary of St. Anthony at Francavilla d'Ete (1897). The young
friars formed at San Ginesio and Francavilla were the ones who would give life to the
Order in Italy and a little later to the Province of the Immaculate Conception in the
United States of America.
in ideas and energy, the Province left its territorial limits and directed itself towards
1943, it returned to the historic sanctuary of the Madonna of Piratello on the outskirts
1950, our first missionaries left for Paraguay and the beginning of the Commissariate
which would form part of the future Vice-Province of St. Anthony of Padua in 1992.
it extended into Rome and the Lazio, accepting the Parish of S. Achille, Monte Sacro Alto
and, in 1973, the definitive acceptance of the Convent of Sts. Quirico and Guilitta in the
historic center of Rome. In 1975, the Parish of San Gordiano in Civitavecchia was
accepted. This parish was returned to the diocese as the result of the Provincial Chapter
of 1979, when the Province accepted the care of the Parish of the Madonna della Salute in
was a return in 1960 of the Order to Milan, the capital of Lombardy where the late Fr.
Giovanni della Vecchia directed the building of the parish complex of the Holy Patrons of
1971 the Province took over the pastoral care of the Parish of St. Thomas in Newark, N.J.
in the United States of America.
the background of this new historic context, by 1957 it seemed opportune to abandon a
title which seemed somewhat restrictive (Umbria-Picena Province) to assume the present
title of the "Province of St. Francis of Assisi".
Tradition of the Province.
comparison with the other Provinces of the Order, down through the centuries the Province
of Umbria and the Marches have had as the special note of the eremitical life: small
convents without pastoral responsibility for the Faithful, oases of peace and serenity
where the friars attended to prayer in poverty and ftanciscan humility in an apostolate
among ordinary and simple people. Perhaps, just because of this, the Province managed to
emerge from the various external difficulties such as the different civil suppressions
which caused the extinction of other Provinces noted for more impressive works and
type of humble and poor environment has greatly favored a more family style of life in
fraternities always made up of very few friars among whom everything necessarily was
shared. Only the Convent of St. Anthony in Assisi stands out from the others by its
importance and by its religious and literary activities. The Office of Vicar of the Holy
Office was usually assigned to one of the friars of this house.
Friars of the Province.
the more important authors we recall Gregory Alberti of Massa Matana (1637), Tomaso
Capponi di Urbisaglia (1649), Giacinto Salibeni di Collescipoli (1669), Alessandro Pardini
of Assisi (1751), Domici Venarucci of Assisi (1809), Emidio Maricotti of Francavilla d'Ete
(1897), Rainero Luconi of Tolentino (1957) Pietro Chioccioni of Assisi (1970). Actually,
the Province has a fine reputation for the work of some of its members in the study of the
history and spirituality of the Order.
Generals - Province of Assisi
the first General of the Order, Friar Bartolomeo Bonamati, the Province has given the
Order the following Minister Generals:
Matteo Stuzi da Montefano 1616-1622
* Gregorio Alberti da Massa Martana 1634-1637
* Francesco Girolamo Fonzi da Massa Martana 1665-1668
* Bonaventura Guglieri da Assisi 1701-1707
* Ludovico Paoli da Lucca 1791-1797
* Guiseppe Galgani da Lucca 1804-1814
* Corrado Polimanti da Monte S. Pietro Morico 1849-1855
* Raffaele Rampichini da San Ginesio 1864-1868
* Emidio Maricotti da Francavilla d'Ete 1885-1897
* Felice Pio Cecca da Collescipoli 1897-1903
* Angelo de Mattia da Francavilla d'Ete 1903-1912
Several members have done valuable research on the
history and spirituality of the Order.
Fathers Raffaele Pazzelli, Lino Temperini and Vittorio continue the tradition of Father
Franceso Bordoni, the famous 17th century historian of the Order. The Province has also
dedicated itself to the works of the apostolate. In 1950 it sent three friars to continue
the evangelization of the people of Paraguay. In 1957 the province formally adopted as its
title "The Province of St. Francis of Assisi." In the 60's it began to do
pastoral ministry in parishes in Milan and Rome. In 1997 three friars assumed pastoral
care of a parish on the island of Mindinao in the Philippines.
For further information:
Convento S. Antonio di Padova
Via S. Paolo 2, 06081