FIOR (Franciscan Institute Outreach - Malta)

7. History of the Franciscan Movement (6)

6) The Friars Minor Recollects

7.36. The family of the Recollects was born in France, and was encouraged by Clement VIII, who contacted the Minister General Bonaventura Secusi da Caltagirone and ordered him to put into practice the legislation favouring reform in the Order, especially the "In Suprema" of Clement VII (1532) and the "Cum illis vicem" of Gregory XIII (1579).

7.37. The first friary to embrace the reform in France was that of Nièvre, in the province of Touraine. This friary was reformed with the personal interest of Louis Gonzaga, duke of Nièvre, who asked Sixtus V permission to place this friary under the obedience of the Minister Provincial of Paris. Later on a group of Italian Riformati came to live in this place, but they proved unpopular with the local populace and had to return to Italy. The Minister General Bonaventura da Caltagirone published Constitutions to the "Belgian and Germanic Recollects" in 1595.

7.38. In 1601 four friaries of the Recollects asked Clement VIII to give them the same rights of the Riformati in Italy. The Pope acceded to their wish and also gave them an Apostolic Commissary. He also wrote to the bishops of France and asked that the Recollects be given other friaries. With the support of the Pope and of king Henry IV the Recollects acquired autonomy from the Observants. In 1602 Clement VIII declared them true sons of St. Francis.

7.39. The General Chapter of Rome, in 1612, gave the Recollects permission to form two provinces from the houses of recollection in France, namely the province of St. Bernardine in southern France and the province of St. Denis in northern France, together with the Custody of St. Anthony "in Delphinatu". In 1614 they had the province of the Immaculate Conception in Aquitaine. Later on other provinces were founded, St. Joseph in Belgium (1629), Saxony (1625), England (1630), Ireland (c. 1630), Thuringia (1633), Northern Germany (1640), Southern Germany (1640), Holland (1640). The Recollects were also missionaries in the French provinces of Canada.

7.40. The Recollects gave importance to the ascetical life, to contemplation, study, preaching and missionary activity. They were an autonomous reform, but they tended to be less centralised than the Riformati or Alcantarines. They had hermitages, but they also lived in large friaries in the cities.

7.41. The French Revolution was the cause of the diminishing of the Recollect family in France. The Recollects continued to exist as an independent family in the Order until 1897.

© copyright FIOR-Malta
Text by Fr. Noel Muscat ofm


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