How to prepare for the Capuchin Walk
Honourable Honorius, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his beloved sons, to Friar Francis and the other Friars of the Order of Friars Minor, health and the apostolic blessing.
The Apostolic See is accustomed to granting pious vows and to accord benevolent favour to the honest desires of the petitioners. Therefore, beloved sons in the Lord, we, accepting your pious petitions, confirm with apostolic authority, the Rule of your Order, approved by our predecessor Pope Innocent, of a good memory and transcribed here, and we confirm it with the patronage of the present document.
The Rules are as follows:
The Rule of the Friars Minor is this, namely, to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by living in obedience without anything of our own, and in chastity.
Brother Francis promises obedience and reverence to the Lord Pope Honorius and his canonically elected successors, and to the Roman Church; and the other friars are bound to obey Francis and his successors.
If any would desire to adopt this life and would come to our brothers, let them send them to their ministers provincial to whom alone, and not to others, is the permission to receive friars conceded. Let the ministers examine them very diligently concerning the Catholic Faith and sacraments of the Church. If they believe all these things and desire to observe them faithfully and firmly unto the end, and if they have no wives, or if they do, their wives have already entered a convent, or having taken a vow of chastity, permission [to enter one] has been granted to them by authority of the bishop of the diocese, and the wives are of such an age that it is not possible that suspicion arise concerning them, let them say unto these the words of the Holy Gospel, that they should go and sell all that is their own and strive to give it to the poor. If they cannot do that, their good will suffices.
Let the friars and their ministers beware, lest they be solicitous concerning their temporal things, so that they may freely do with their own things, whatever the Lord will inspired them. If however should they need counsel, let the ministers have permission to send them to other God fearing men, by whose counsel they may give their goods to the poor. Afterwards let them grant them the clothes of probation, namely two tunics without a capuche, a cord, pants, and a caparone [extending] to the cord, unless it seems to the ministers [that it should be] otherwise according to God. Having truly finished the year of probation, let them be received to obedience, promising to observe always this very life and rule. And in no manner will it be licit to them to leave this [form of] religious life, according to the command of the Lord Pope, since according to the Holy Gospel “No one putting hand to the plow and turning back is fit for the Kingdom of God.”
And let those who have already promised obedience have one tunic with a capuche and if they wish to have it, another without a capuche. And those who are driven by necessity can wear footwear. And let all the friars wear cheep clothing and they can patch these with sack-cloth and other pieces with the blessing of God. I admonish and exhort them, not to despise nor judge men, whom they see clothed with soft and colored clothes, using dainty food and drink, but rather let each one judge and despise his very self.
Clerics are to perform the divine office according to the ordo of the Roman Church, except for the psalter, for which they can have breviaries.
Laymen are to say twenty-four “Our Fathers” for matins; for lauds five ; for prime, terce, sext and none, for each of these seven, for vespers, however, twelve; for compline seven; and let them pray for the dead.
And let them fast from the Feast of All saints until Christmas. Indeed those who voluntarily fast the holy lent, which begins at Epiphany and for the forty days that follow, which the Lord consecrated with His own holy fast, let them be blessed by the Lord, and let those who do not wish [to do so] not be constrained. But they shall fast the other [lent] until the [day of the] Resurrection of the Lord.
At other times however they are not bound to fast, except on Fridays. Indeed in time of manifest necessity the friars are not bound to the corporal fast.
I truly counsel, admonish and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend in words, nor are they to judge others, but they are to be meek, peaceable and modest, kind and humble, speaking uprightly to all, as is fitting. And they should not ride horseback, unless they are driven [to do so] by manifest necessity or infirmity.
And into whatever house they may enter, first let them say: “Peace to this house.” And according to the Holy Gospel it is lawful for them to eat of any of the foods, which are placed before them.
I firmly command all the friars, that in no manner are they to receive coins or money through themselves or through an interposed person. However for the necessities of the infirm and for the clothing of the other friars, the ministers and even the custodes are to conduct a solicitous care, by means of spiritual friends, according to places and seasons and cold regions, as they see expedites necessity; with this always preserved, that, as has been said, they receive neither coins nor money.
Those brothers to whom the Lord has granted the grace of working should work faithfully and devotedly so that, having banished idleness, the enemy of the soul, they do not extinguish the spirit of holy prayer and devotion to which all other temporal things must serve. As a reward for their work they should receive the necessities of the body for themselves and their brothers, except money or sums of money, and this humbly, as befits servants of God and followers of most holy poverty.
The brothers are to appropriate nothing to themselves, neither house nor place nor anything else. As pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving the Lord in poverty and humility, they should go for alms with confidence. Nor should they be ashamed, because the Lord has made himself poor for us in this world. This is the sublimity of the highest poverty, which has made you, my dear brothers, heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven, poor in things and rich in virtue. Let this be your portion of the inheritance, the one that leads to the land of the living. And, adhering totally to this poverty, dearly beloved brethren, do not wish to possess anything else in perpetuity under heaven, for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And wherever the brothers are and will meet, let them show familiarity with one another and let each one confidently manifest his needs to the other, for if a mother nourishes and loves her carnal child, how much more carefully must one love and nourish his spiritual brother? And if one of them should fall ill, the other brothers should serve him as they would wish to be served themselves.
All the brothers are bound to have at all times one of the brothers of this Order as minister general and servant of the whole fraternity and they must firmly obey him. When he dies, the election of a successor is to be carried out by the Ministers Provincial and Custodes in the Chapter of Pentecost, at which the Ministers Provincial are always bound to be present wherever the Minister General decides; and this is to be done once every three years or within a longer or shorter period of time as the Minister General directs. And if at any time it appears to the Ministers Provincial and Custodes unanimously that such a minister is unsuitable for the service and common good of the brothers, the said brothers to whom the election is assigned are bound in the name of the Lord to elect another as their custodian. After the Chapter of Pentecost individual ministers and custodians may call their friars to a chapter once in the same year in their own territories if they wish and if they think it appropriate.
Tutti i frati siano tenuti ad avere sempre uno dei frati di quest’Ordine come ministro generale e servo di tutta la fraternità e a lui devono fermamente obbedire. Alla sua morte, l’elezione del successore sia fatta dai ministri provinciali e dai custodi nel Capitolo di Pentecoste, al quale i ministri provinciali siano tenuti sempre ad intervenire, dovunque sarà stabilito dal ministro generale; e questo, una volta ogni tre anni o entro un termine maggiore o minore, così come dal predetto ministro sarà ordinato. E se talora ai ministri provinciali ed ai custodi all’unanimità sembrasse che detto ministro non fosse idoneo al servizio e alla comune utilità dei frati, i predetti frati ai quali è commessa l’elezione, siano tenuti, nel nome del Signore, ad eleggersi un altro come loro custode. Dopo il Capitolo di Pentecoste, i singoli ministri e custodi possano, se vogliono e lo credono opportuno, convocare, nello stesso anno, nei loro territori, una volta i loro frati a capitolo.
The friars shall not preach in the diocese of any bishop if they have been forbidden to do so by the bishop himself. And no brother shall dare preach to the people at all unless he has first been examined and approved by the minister general of this fraternity and has received from him the office of preaching. I also admonish and exhort these same brothers that in their preaching their words be well-considered and chaste for the benefit and edification of the people, announcing to the faithful vices and virtues, punishment and glory with the brevity of speech, since the Lord on earth spoke in brief words.
The Friars, who are ministers and servants of the other Friars, should visit and admonish their Friars and correct them humbly and charitably, not commanding them anything that is contrary to their souls and our Rule. The brothers, then, who are subjects, should remember that for God they have denied their own will. Therefore I firmly command them to obey their ministers in all those things which they have promised the Lord to observe and which are not contrary to their soul and our Rule. And wherever there are brothers who realize and acknowledge that they are unable to observe the Rule spiritually, they must and may have recourse to their ministers. Let the ministers receive them with charity and benevolence and treat them with such familiarity that they may speak and do with them as masters speak and do with their servants; for so it must be, that the ministers may be the servants of all the brothers. I admonish, then, and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ, that the brothers beware of all pride, vainglory, envy, avarice, cares or concerns of this world, of detraction and murmuring. And those who do not know about letters, let them not concern themselves with learning them, but let them take heed that what they should desire above all things is to have the Spirit of the Lord and his holy operation, to pray to him always with a pure heart and to have humility, patience in persecution and infirmity, and to love those who persecute us and slander us, for the Lord says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute and slander you; blessed are those who endure persecution for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And whoever perseveres to the end will be saved”.
I firmly command all the Friars not to have suspicious relationships or conversations with women, and not to enter the monasteries of nuns, except for those to whom special permission has been given by the Apostolic See. Nor are godfathers of men or women to be made so that on this occasion no scandal may arise among the Friars or concerning the Friars.
Those friars who, by divine inspiration, wish to go among the Saracens and other infidels should ask permission from their provincial ministers. The ministers should not grant permission to anyone to go except to those whom they deem fit to be sent. Furthermore, I command the ministers in obedience that they ask the Lord Pope for one of the cardinals of the Holy Roman Church to be governor, protector and corrector of this fraternity, so that, being always subjects and subjects at the feet of the same holy Church, stable in the Catholic faith, we may observe poverty, humility and the holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we have firmly promised. Therefore let no one in any way is permitted to invalidate this writing of our confirmation or to oppose it with boldness and temerity. And if anyone should presume to tempt him, let him know that he will incur the wrath of Almighty God and of His blessed apostles Peter and Paul.
From the Laterang, 29 November 1223, the eighth year of our pontificate.