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(Also called the HERMITS OF ST. DAMIAN or HERMITS OF MURRONE).

This Benedictine congregation must not be confused with the Franciscan congregation of the same name. The order was founded in 1254 by Pietro di Murrone, afterwards Celestine V. At first the saint gave no written rule to his monks, but by his own life he provided an ideal for them to strive after. In 1264 Urban IV confirmed the order, and gave to it the Rule of St. Benedict. It was again confirmed by Gregory X in 1274. Celestine himself confirmed the constitutions drawn up by Abbot Humphrey, and also granted many privileges to his order. Among other things he ordered the general chapter to be held every year, thus departing from the Decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council. The administration of the order was carried on somewhat after the pattern of Cluny, that is all monasteries were subject to the Abbey of the Holy Ghost at Sulmona, and these dependent houses were divided into provinces. The ruling body of the congregation or, as it was called, "The Definitorium", was chosen as follows: all the priors of the province and a delegate from each house elected the provincial and five definitors, the provincial and the five definitors chose the priors of the various houses. The Celestines had 96 houses in Italy, 21 in France, and a few, most of which unfortunately joined the Reformers, in Germany. The order became extinct in the eighteenth century. The choir dress of the monks was a black cowl and hood ; the working habit consisted of a white tunic with a black scapular and hood, the lay brothers wore a brown habit with the badge of the order -- a cross with the letter "S" entwined round the foot -- embroidered on the scapular.


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