Siamo fratelli, viviamo in fraternità, preghiamo individualmente e in comune, condividiamo insieme pasti e tempo, aiutandoci vicendevolmente a crescere, come in una famiglia. Le nostre comunità, che si chiamano fraternità, sono luoghi di gioia e di ospitalità.
Siamo una fraternità evangelica. Gesù di Nazaret è la nostra guida per condurre una vita semplice e umile in mezzo al popolo. La vita di Cristo, la sacra Scrittura, san Francesco e i suoi scritti costituiscono la nostra ispirazione.
Da Gesù siamo inviati a predicare Vangelo, prima di tutto con l'esempio della vita, in molti modi pratici: preghiera e contemplazione, lavoro pastorale, servizi sociali, ministeri di assistenza, attività missionarie, pubblicazioni e informazione...
The Capuchin Franciscans are an order of brothers, also called “friars.” The Capuchin order began as a reform of the Franciscan Observants in 1525 when several friars, disillusioned with the relaxations of the life, desired to return to a stricter observance of the rule and testament of St. Francis. In particular, they sought a more contemplative life, coupled with rigorous poverty and austerity, in accordance with the earliest traditions of the order. The Capuchins were originally persecuted for their split with the Observants, but became incredibly popular among the common people and were eventually recognized as an official, independent Order on July 3, 1528. In the papal bull, Religionis Zellus, Pope Clement VII constituted the friars as a separate family and distinct members of the sons of St. Francis.
Capuchins are perhaps most easily recognized by the brown habit and long capuche (hood) for which the order is named. Usually found in the poorer sections of towns and cities, the Capuchins have a special charism for working with the common people and taking those assignments which others refuse. Capuchins can be found working in soup kitchens and homeless shelters, serving as hospital chaplains or prison ministers. Additionally, Capuchins may be found serving as parish priests or university professors, as preachers and nurses and as missionaries to distant lands. One may even find Capuchins serving in the local shopping mall.
Capuchins build their life and ministry on two essential foundations: prayer and fraternity.
The priority of prayer and the contemplative life is at the heart of the Capuchin charism. Personal and community prayer nourishes the brothers’ relationship with God and one another and enables them to give fully of themselves to everyone them meet. The Capuchin tradition has placed great emphasis on Eucharistic devotion and veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Along with prayer, fraternity is of great importance to the Capuchin charism. A Capuchin is first and foremost a brother among brothers. This fraternal life is founded upon the Gospel in which, after washing the disciples’ feet, the Lord exhorts his followers to do the same for others. This witness to fraternity is crucial in an increasingly isolated and alienated world.
Capuchins trace their heritage back 800 years to the little poor man of Assisi, whom history knows as perhaps the most clear imitator of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi followed Jesus’ footsteps so closely and loved humanity and all creation so deeply that he is known as “the universal saint.” He began the Order of Friars Minor, literally “lesser brothers,” in 1209 and quickly gave them a Rule of Life, which he Pope orally approved that same year. With St. Clare of Assisi, Francis co-founded the Poor Clares. He also established the Secular Franciscan Order.
The Capuchin Franciscan Order (OFMCap) began in 1528 as a renewal of the Order of Friars Minor. Capuchin Franciscan friars desired more contemplative prayer and stricter poverty, but they were also fervent preachers of the Gospel and compassionate servants of the sick and suffering of their day. Attracting followers through their preaching, prayer, austerity, and ministry among the poor, the new community grew rapidly and soon spread throughout all of Europe. As of 31 December 2008, there were10,590 professed Capuchins worldwide, as well as 363 novices and 558 postulants.