FREE Catholic Classes
(C AMALDOLITES, C AMALDULENSIANS ).
A joint order of hermits and cenobites, founded by St. Romuald at the beginning of the eleventh century. About 1012, after having founded or reformed nearly a hundred unconnected monasteries and hermitages, St. Romuald arrived in the Diocese of Arezzo seeking place for a new hermitage. It was here, according to the legend, that he was met by a certain count called Maldolus. This man, after describing his vision of monks in white habits ascending a ladder to heaven (while he had slept in one of his fields in the mountains), offered this spot to the saint. The field, which was held by Maldolus in fief of the Bishop of Arezzo, was readily accepted by St. Romuald, who built there the famous hermitage afterwards known as Campus Maldoli or Camaldoli. In the same year he received from the count a villa at the foot of the mountains, about two miles below Camaldoli, of which he made the monastery of Fonte Buono. This latter house was intended to serve as infirmary, guest-house, and bursary to the hermitage, in order that the hermits might not be distracted by any worldly business.
Camaldoli and Fonte Buono may be considered as the beginning of the Camaldolese Order; the former foreshadowing the eremitical, the latter the cenobitical, branches. It is true that this opinion has been gravely contested. The Camaldolese writers are naturally inclined to place the date of the foundation of their order as early as possible, and their judgment is further influenced by their views on the birth-date of St. Romuald. But they differ considerably among themselves, their estimates varying from the year 940, chosen by Blessed Paolo Giustiniani, to the year 974, that commends itself to Hastiville. They point out that St. Romuald founded many monasteries and hermitages, and was many times surrounded by disciples before he came to Camaldoli; and they argue that in founding Camaldoli he did not intend to begin the order, but merely a new hermitage; that the order was called the Romualdine until the later years of the eleventh century, and then received the name Camaldolese, not from its origin at Camaldoli, but from the fact that the Holy Hermitage had always retained its first fervour and had been an exemplar to all other houses. It seems probable, however, that St. Romuald before 1012 was rather a reformer of Benedictine houses and a founder of isolated monasteries and hermitages, than the originator of a new order. Indeed it is doubtful if he had ever any intention of founding an order, in the modern sense, at all. But at Camaldoli the Rule, which later appeared in modified form as the "Constitutions of the Blessed Rudolph", is first heard of; at Camaldoli the distinctive white habit first appears; at Camaldoli are first found in combination the two cenobite and hermit branches that are afterwards so marked a feature of the order. Strictly, perhaps, the order did not come into existence till the Bull "Nulli fidelium", of Alexander II, in 1072. But, as all its distinctive features are first found together at Camaldoli in 1012, it may not be unwarranted to asign the foundation of the Camaldolese Order to that date.
THE FIVE CAMALDOLESE CONGREGATIONS
For six centuries the order grew steadily as one body, recognizing the Holy Hermitage as its head. But in process of time it became divided into five separate congregations, viz.: (i) The Holy Hermitage, (ii) San Michele di Murano, (iii) Monte Corona, (iv) The Congregation of Turin (San Salvatore di Turino), (v) Notre-Dame de Consolation. The history of these congregations had better be considered separately, after which something will be said of the Camaldolese Nuns.
(i) The Congregation of the Holy Hermitage
Little need be said here of this great congregation, for throughout the centuries it has changed but little, and its history is mostly to be found in its relations with the congregations to which it gave birth. Before the separation of San Michele di Murano, the Holy Hermitage had given four cardinals and many bishops to the church, and was famous throughout Europe for the sanctity and austerity of its members. Gratian, the great canonist; Guido d'Arezzo, the founder of modern music; Lorenzo Monaco, the painter ; Niccola Malermi, the first translator of the Bible into Italian, are all claimed as sons of this great congregation. To the present day, in spite of persecution and spoliation, the hermits of Camaldoli and the cenobites of Fonte Buono remain examples of austerity and monastic fervour.
(ii) The Congregation of Murano
In the year 1212 the Venetian Republic, anxious that a hermitage should be founded within its borders, sent a request to this effect to Guido, Prior of Camaldoli. By him were sent Albert and John, hermits, and two lay brothers. To these was made over the little church of San Michele, on an island (now known as the Cemetery Island) between Venice and Murano, where tradition asserts St. Romuald to have lived with Marinus. The church was partly under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Castello, partly under that of the Bishop of Torcello. It was, however, at once released from the jurisdiction of both and handed over to Albert as representing the Prior of Camaldoli. At first a hermitage was started; but soon, on account of the rapid influx of novices, it was found necessary to adopt the cenobitical manner of life. The church was rebuilt and was consecrated by Cardinal Ugolino, and by 1227 the house is included by Gregory IX in his enumeration of the monasteries subject to Camaldoli. In 1243 another attempt to found a hermitage near Venice was made, John and Gerard, hermits of Camaldoli, being sent by Guido, the prior-general, to take possession of the house and church of San Mattia in Murano, which had formerly been a nunnery and had been given to Camaldoli by the Bishop of Torcello. This hermitage prospered greatly, and, six years after its foundation, was granted a much-mitigated form of the rule by Martin III, prior general of Camaldoli. Within twenty years this hermitage already possessed a subject house, and by the middle of the fourteenth century we find the Prior of San Mattia making a visitation of his suffragan monasteries, and the hermitage itself adopting the cenobitical life.
Meanwhile, about the end of the thirteenth century, the Priory of San Michele had developed into an abbey, and in 1407 its monks were allowed to elect their own abbot, subject only to the confirmation of the Prior of Camaoldoli. Two years later Paolo Venerio, Abbot of San Michele, was appointed by the pope one of the visitors and reformers of monasteries in Venice. In 1434 Camaldoli asserted its authority, when Ambrogio Traversari, the prior general, suddenly made a visitation of San Mattia di Murano and deposed the prior for contumacy. At the same time he exempted San Michele from the jurisdiction of the vicar, and subjected it immediately to the prior-general. But in another ten years came a further impulse towards independence, when Pope Eugenius IV suggested that the Camaldolese abbeys should form a congregation similar to that of Santa Giustina di Padova. The times, however, were not opportune, and though a union of nine abbeys was attempted in 1446 (called the Union of the Nine Places) it was soon abandoned, and for twenty years the matter rested. But in 1462 Pius II granted to Mariotti, prior general, and to his successors the right of appointing all superiors under his jurisdiction ad nutum . At once the question of separation became again important, and twelve years later it was solved. The Abbeys of Santa Maria dei Carreri, at Padua, and of San Michele di Murano and the Priory of San Mattia di Murano formed a new congregation. To escape the danger of commendam it was arranged that the superiors of these houses should be elected for only three years at a time, and a semblance of connexion with Camaldoli was maintained by requiring confirmation of their election by the prior general. The new congregation was confirmed by Sixtus IV , and soon showed signs of vigour. In 1475 the two great abbeys of Sant' Apollinaire and of San Severo at Classe were united to it; and in 1487 Innocent VIII confirmed and extended the privileges granted by his predecessor. By 1513, however, the life tenure of office by the prior general was found to be inconvenient by others as well as by the new congregation, and a general chapter of the whole order was held at Florence. It was decided to form a new united congregation "of the Holy Hermitage and of San Michele di Murano", with a prior general elected annually (afterwards triennially), and alternately from the hermits and the "regular" cenobites. The "conventuals" were expressly excluded from the generalship and were forbidded to take novices. This congregation was confirmed and was granted extraordinary privileges by the Bull "Etsi a summo" of Leo X. The reunion lasted, in spite of many disputes between the hermits and the cenobites, for more than a century. In 1558 the conventuals were separated from all privileges of the order, and eleven years later (1569) were finally suppressed by Pius V.
In the same year the congregation was much strengthened by the suppression of the hermit order of Fonte Avellana, which, with all its possessions, was united to the Camaldolese Order. Four years later, in 1573, the great Abbey of San Gregorio on the Cœlian Hill in Rome was united to the congregation. The whole order was, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, at the summit of its fortunes. In 1513 there had been seventeen "groups of monasteries " and four nunneries in the order, and since then had been added Fonte Avellana with its dependencies, the congregations of Monte Corona and of Turin, and several great historic abbeys. But the disruptive tendencies in the order were fatal to its continued prosperity. In 1616 the differences between the hermits and the cenobites of the great Congregation of the Holy Hermitage and San Michele resulted in their separation again into two congregations, and in spite of an attempt at reunion in 1626 this separation was final. The Congregation of San Michele di Murano had its own general, styled "the general of all the Camaldolese monks and hermits ". It possessed at one time about thirty-five monasteries (including Sant' Apollinaire at Ravenna, San Michele and San Mattia at Murano, Santa Croce at Fonte Avellana, Santi Angeli at Florence, and San Gregorio at Rome ), as well as eight nunneries. The houses subject to the congregation were divided into the four provinces of Venice, Tuscany, Romagna, and The Marches and Umbria, each with its "house of profession", whose abbot was the vicar of the province. At each of the quinquennial chapters, the four great offices of the general, the two visitors, and the procurator general were distributed in turn among the four provinces, so that each province every twenty years had possessed all these dignities. Under this organization the congregation attracted many devout and intelligent subjects, and its reputation both for learning and for strictness was widespread. Romano Merighi (1658-1737), one of the founders of the Accademia degli Arcadi; Guido Grandi (1670-1742), historian of the order and famous mathematician, friend and correspondent of Newton; the two brothers Collina; Angelo Calogerà (1699-1768), the historian of letters; Claude Frommond (1705-65), physician and chemist; Benedetto Mittarelli (1708-77) and Anselmo Costadoni (1714-85), authors of the "Annales Camaldulenses"; Mauro Sarti (1709-66), historian; Isidore Bianchi (1733-1807) and Clemente Biagi (1740-1804), archæologists; Ambrogio Soldani (1736-1808), naturalist–these are but a few of the illustrious names that adorn the congregation. It has also produced four cardinals : Andrea Giovannetti (1722-1800), for twenty-three years Archbishop of Bologna; Placido Zuria (1769- 1834), Vicar of Rome under three popes ; Mauro Cappellari (1765- 1846), who in 1831 was elected pope and assumed the name of Gregory XVI ; and Ambrogio Bianchi, who was also general of the order till his death in 1856. It was Mauro Cappellari to whom the Camaldolese Order is indebted for its survival. The great catastrophe of the French Revolution resulted in 1810 in the general suppression of religious orders in Italy. Fonte Avellana was spared in recognition of the scientific attainments of the titular abbot, Dom Albertino Bellenghi. But the Venetian houses were involved in the general ruin. S. Mattia was deserted and ultimately demolished. But Mauro Cappellari, who was at that time Abbot of S. Michele di Murano, succeeded in retaining house and community, by clothing the latter in the habits of secular priests, and by turning the former into a college for noble youths. The magnificent library was confiscated, and, after its chief treasures had been placed in public libraries, the remaining 18,000 volumes were sold by public auction. In 1813, after the blockade of Venice by the Austrians, the Commune made a public cemetery of the island of San Michele, thus destroying the vineyards of the abbey. In 1829 the same body gave the monastery and island into the custody of the Friars Minor Observant, who still possess them. Meanwhile, in 1825, Cappellari had been created cardinal by Leo XII, and it was owing to the strenuous opposition of the former and of Cardinal Zuria that that pope relinquished his intention to suppress the now enfeebled order. And when Cappellari mounted the pontifical throne as Gregory XVI, he not only materially assisted the finances of the order, but in every way furthered its attempts to regain something of its former prosperity. At his death, in 1846, it had recovered several of its historic houses and had hopes of regaining all. But these hopes have not been realized.
(iii) The Congregation of Monte Corona
If we except Camaldoli itself, all the houses of the order may be said to have abandoned, by the end of the fifteenth century, the eremetical mode of life so dear to St. Romuald. The establishment of hermitages in the neighbourhood of towns had rendered the solitary life of the hermit almost impossible, and the munificent benefactions which at various times had been made to the order had caused it to lose not a little of its primitive spirit and to abandon many of its stricter observances. It was reserve to Paolo Giustiniani, a member of the illustrious Venetican family of that name, to restore to the order the observance of St. Romuald's ideal of a life of silence and solitude. At an early age he left Venice, where he had been born in 1476, to study philosophy and theology in the famous schools of Padua, and at the end of a brilliant career there he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On his return to Italy he entered religion at the age of thirty-four, becoming a hermit at Camaldoli. His promotion to high offices in the order was rapid. Shortly after his profession he was sent on an embassy to the court of Leo X to obtain papal protection against a certain abbot of S. Felice at Florence, who seems to have been lavishly spending the revenues of Camaldoli, and whom the prior of Camaldoli, general of the order, was unable himself to deal with. The result of the embassy was a Bull from the pope ordering restitution to be made to Camaldoli and forbidding to the Abbot of S. Felice any further interference. On Giustiniani's return from Rome, the general of the order, Pietro Delphino, invited his co-operation in the difficult task of suppressing the abuses which had grown up. All authority in the order, which by right belonged to the prior of Camaldoli, was now possessed by the superiors of the regulars and conventuals. The discipline and observance of the former seem to have been strict, but the case of the conventuals left a great deal to be desired. Their superiors were perpetual, and apparently independent of one another. Recourse was had to Leo X, who, in 1513, ordered a general chapter to assemble. The results of its deliberations have been given above in the history of San Michele di Murano.
In 1516 Paolo Giustiniani was elected Prior of Camaldoli, and on the expiration of the three years of office, he again journeyed to Rome on business concerning the order. After the lapse of another three years spent in seclusion at Camaldoli, he was re-elected to the office of prior and once again approached the court of Leo X, to obtain permission from that pontiff to attempt an extension of the order. Leo, who appears to have had a great respect for Giustiniani, not only encouraged him in his project, but allowed the foundation of an entirely new congregation, exempt from the jurisdiction of the general and possessing its own peculiar constitutions. Returning from Rome to Camaldoli, he read the Brief from Leo to the assembled hermits and monks, and proceeded to resign the office of prior. Accompanied by a single companion he travelled on foot to Perugia to seek advice and spiritual direction from a solitary (of the Third Order of St. Francis) who dwelt at Monte Calvo. With this latter and a member of the Order of St. Dominic, he betook himself to a retreat in the Apennines–a dismal and solitary rock known as Pascia Lupo. A ruined chapel appears to have been the sole shelter for the three wanderers, and their right to possess even this was disputed by the priest of the neighbouring village so vigorously that it required papal authority to settle the question. Paolo was soon forsaken by his Dominican and Franciscan companions, who were aggrieved at the idea of adopting St. Romuald's rule, he himself remaining at Pascia Lupo with the companion whom he had brought from Camaldoli and two others who had joined him. He was not destined, however, to remain long in this lonely spot, for, acceding to an earnest request from the hermits of Camaldoli to live near them, he came, with his original companion, to a place near Massaccio, and was there joined by some of the religious from Camaldoli. Such were the first beginnings fo the congregation founded by Paolo Giustiniani. Soon it was increased by the addition of two famous monasteries, viz. that of St. Leonard, situated on the summit of Monte Volubrio, in the Diocese of Fermo, and that of St. Benedict, near Ancona. The former was given to the order by its commendatory abbot , Gabrielli, nephew of the Cardinal of Urbino. Massaccio was given over entirely to the new congregation by Camaldoli in 1522. In the same year Giustiniani drew up his constitutions. No important additions to previous legislation seem to have been made. The rule of life was to be kept with the greatest rigour, as in St. Romuald's time. The hermits' food was rarely to consist of anything better than dry bread, and wine was very seldom allowed. The form of the monastic habit was considerably altered: the tunic and scapular were so shortened as to come only a few inches below the knee, and in place of the cowl the new hermits were given a capuce with a hood attached to it, and a short cloak fastened with a piece of wool at the throat.
There were now in all four hermitages belonging to the congregation, and in January of the year 1524 the first general chapter was held in the monastery of St. Benedict near Ancona. In this chapter Paolo Giustiniani was elected general of the congregation, priors were chosen for the different monasteries, and the constitutions were confirmed. In the same year Cardinal Giulio dei Medici, the friend and helper of Giustiniani, succeeded to the papacy as Clement VII. Giustiniani immediately repaired to Rome to obtain from the new pontiff confirmation of the acts of Leo X and full possession of the monasteries which Gabrielli, holding in commendam, had given over to the congregation when he joined it. Clement readily gave the necessary confirmation and at the same time granted the congregation certain dispensations from canon law.
This confirmation of Gabrielli's gift did not imply that the monasteries would remain in the possession of the congregation after Gabrielli's death. Giustiniani, anxious that the gift should be made perpetual, once more set out for Rome, accompanied this time by Gabrielli. It was the month of May, 1527, the very time at which the soldiers of the Emperor Charles V were occupying Rome. Giustiniani and his companion on their arrival were made prisoners, but, having nothing in their possession, were released, and travelled first to Venice and then to Massaccio. In 1528 Giustiniani went to Rome for the last time. He saw Clement in the Castle of S. Angelo and obtained the confirmation he had sought in the preceding year. Besides this he received confirmation of a gift previously made by the Abbot of St. Paul's, of the monastery of San Silvestro on Monte Soracte. On his way to this monastery, which was about twenty miles distant from Rome, he was seized by his last illness, and died at his newly acquired monastery on the 28th of June, 1528.
On the death of the founder, a new general was chosen for the congregation in the person of Agostino di Basciano, who died shortly after. His place was taken by Giustiniano di Bergamo, formerly a Benedictine monk. He summoned a general chapter to decide which of the then existing houses was to be considered as the chief of the congregation. Many preferred Massaccio, as being the first-founded, but precedence was finally given to the monastery of Monte Corona.
In 1540, reunion was effected between the Congregations of Monte Corona and Camaldoli, with the prior of Camaldoli as general. It was arranged that a general chapter was to be held yearly at Camaldoli, at which the prior was to be chosen. This state of things only lasted for a year; the congregations were again separated and remained so till the year 1634, when they were again united by Pope Urban VIII. This union lasted till 1667, when they were finally separated by a Bull of Clement IX.
(iv) The Congregation of Turin
The Congregation of Turin owes its foundation to Alessandro Ceva, a member of a noble Piedmontese family. Born in 1538, he went to Rome in 1560 to study for the priesthood, and there placed himself under the spiritual direction of St. Philip Neri. Eight years later, with the saint's advice, he determined to join the Camaldolese, and we find him becoming prior general of the order in 1587. From 1589 to 1595 he was in perpetual dispute with the order concerning the reformation of the Breviary ordered by Popes Pius V and Clement VIII. In 1596 he was sent to Turin as prior of the Camaldolese monastery of Puteo Strata, with authority to found hermitages of the order in Piedmont. Two years later a terrible plague visited Turin, during which the Camaldolese monks undertook the care of the sick, which the secular clergy , whose numbers had been terribly reduced by the pestilence, were scarcely able to perform. Alessandro Ceva, in the midst of his ministrations in the afflicted city, was called away to assume the priorship of the monastery of San Vito at Milan, and we find him writing from this place in 1599 to the Archbishop of Turin, begging him to ask Charles Emmanuel, Duke of Savoy, to make a solemn vow to God to found a Camaldolese hermitage, that the plague might be arrested. The vow was made publicly by the Duke of Savoy and the people of Turin, and the foundation of the new hermitage after much delay was laid in July, 1602, at a lonely spot between Turin and Peceto. The church of this new hermitage was finished in 1606, and endowed by the Duke of Savoy as the chapel of the Order of the Knights of the Annunciation (see M ILITARY O RDERS ), of which order the hermits were to be regarded as chaplains. Little is known about this congregation, which seems to have been reabsorbed into the congregation of Monte Corona in the eighteenth century.
(v) The Congregation of Notre-Dame de Consolation.
In the year 1626 there entered the Congregation of Turin Boniface d'Antoine, a French priest belonging to the Diocese of Lyons. Almost immediately he was sent to France by the general of the congregation, to solicit from Louis XIII authorization for the founding of Camaldolese hermitages in France. His first monastery was in his native Diocese of Lyons, near a town named Bothéon. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Consolation and was founded and endowed by Balthassar de Gudaigne de Hostun, Marquis do Baume, in 1631. His second foundation was at Mont Peuchant in Le Forez, thanks to the help and munificence of the Archbishop of Lyons, Cardinal de Marque Mont. The Archbishop of Vienne, Pierre de Villars, was also friendly to the new order, authorizing the foundation of the hermitage of Notre Dame de Grâce at Sapet: and testifying at the same time to the sanctity and austerity of d'Antoine. Another foundation in the Diocese of Lyons was made in 1633, when Père Vital de Saint-Paul, an Oratorian, and his sister presented the two churches of St.-Roch and Val-Jésus, situated in the parish of Chambre, to d'Antoine. In the following year Louis XIII gave his formal consent by letters patent to the establishment of the Camaldolese in his dominions, on the condition that their general should always be French. He also prevailed upon the reigning pontiff, Urban VIII, to form the French Camaldolese into a separate congregation, with the title of "Notre-Dame de Consolation", which was effected by a Bull dated 8 October, 1634. They were to observe the constitutions of Monte Corona, to which congregation they were affiliated. The new order seems to have been popular in France. In 1642 Charles de Valois, almoner of the Duc d'Angoulême, founded a hermitage at La Flotte, in Vendôme, and in 1659 the order was presented with another house in Vendôme, at La Gavalerie, in the parish of Bessé. A foundation was made in 1674 by the Comte de Guénégaud and his wife, Elizabeth de Choiseul, on their estate at Rogat, in the parish of Congard, in Brittany. In 1671 the new congregation took possession of the hermitage of Mont-Valérien, near Paris, whither they had been invited two years previously by a lay religious community. This foundation, however, was abandoned two years later. In 1679 a Camaldolese community was introduced into the old Benedictine abbey at Ile Chauvet, in Lower Poitou. This abbey had been held in commendam by various persons, some of whom had been laymen. In 1654 Henri de Maupas, Abbot of St.-Denis at Reims and afterwards Bishop successively of Le Puy and Evreux, became commendatory abbot, and fifteen years later introduced the Camaldolese, with the consent of the Bishop of Luçon, in whose diocese the abbey was situated. This was the only foundation of any importance made in France after the death of Boniface d'Antoine in 1673. Henceforth the history of this congregation is closly connected with the history of Jansenism. Throughout the congregation there were many obstinate adherents of the new heresy, and in 1728 a pamphlet, entitled "Le Témoignage", defending their position, appeared in answer to the punitive measures taken against them by the General Chapter of 1727. No amount of repression could remove all traces of this persistent heresy, and the whole Congregation was suppressed in 1770.
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
The first house of Camaldolese Nuns, San Pietro di Luco in Mugello, near Florence, was founded by Blessed Rudolph, in the year 1086. It is true that St. Romuald himself had founded houses for nuns in 1006 and 1023; but there is no evidence that they followed the Camaldolese rule, and the Camaldolese writers almost unanimously assign the beginning of the houses for women to Blessed Rudolph. By 1616, when the congregation of San Michele di Murano was finally separated, there were eight houses subject to that congregation, besides many others under the jurisdiction of the bishops in whose dioceses they were situated. The nuns follow the rule of Camaldoli. They wear a white habit, veil, scapular, and girdle, to which the choir nuns add a black veil. In choir the choir nuns wear a white cowl, but the lay sisters a white cloak.
RULE AND CONSTITUTIONS
St. Romuald has left no written rule; the austere manner of life led by his hermits was transmitted by oral tradition. His great ideal was to introduce into the West the eremitical life led by the Eastern monks and the Fathers of the Desert. In the words of St. Peter Damian, his endeavour was "to turn the whole world into a hermitage, and make all the multitude of the people associates of the monastic order" ( totum mundum in eremum convertere, et monachico ordini omnem populi multitudinem sociare ). He introduced into Western monasticism a system hitherto unknown, and attempted a blending of the cenobitical life of the West with the eremitical life of the East. The rule was of the utmost severity. The brethren lived each in their separate cells, in the midst of which stood the oratory or chapel, where they met for the Hours of the Divine Office, the whole Psalter being recited daily. There were two Lents during the year, one in preparation for Christmas, the other for Easter. During both these periods every day of the week except Sunday was an abstinence day, that is to say, really a fast of the most rigorous kind on bread and water. During the remainder of the year this abstinence was to be kept on all days except Thursdays and Sundays, when fruit and vegetables might be eaten. The ideal of St. Romuald was one of absolute asceticism, and there was little room in his system for the "nothing harsh, nothing burdensome" ( nihil asperum, nihil grave ) which is so striking a feature in the Rule of St. Benedict , with its broad comprehensiveness and wise power of dispensation. This rule of life remained unrelaxed at Camaldoli till the year 1080, when the fourth prior, Blessed Rudolph I, gave the first written constitutions to the order. Besides a mitigation of austerity, there had become necessary a definite written code which everyone who joined would be bound to follow. The abstinence on bread and water, which had hitherto been observed on all days except Sundays during the two Lents, was now dispensed on Thursday as well, and also on the feasts of St. Andrew, St. Gregory, St. Benedict, the Annunciation, Palm Sunday, and Maundy Thursday. On these days fish and wine were to be allowed. On feasts of twelve lessons, if these were not days of abstinence, the hermits were allowed to take their meals together in a common refectory. The observance of silence which was continual under St. Romuald , was slightly relaxed in Rudolph's constitutions. It was to be observed throughout both Lents and on all abstinence days. At other times it was to be observed from Vespers till after the conventual Mass. An important change in the character of the order was made by Rudolph's extension of the cenobitical life. Fonte Buono, from being merely an adjunct of Camaldoli, now became a separate monastery, and henceforth the Camaldolese Order is distinguished by this twofold character. In his legislation for cenobites Rudolph built carefully on St. Benedict's Rule. The interpretation which adhered closely to the letter and rigour of this rule, without consideration of circumstances of time, place, and national characteristics, was that which naturally appealed most strongly to the monastic reformer, and it was this aspect of the rule, if anything, intensified, which Rudolph chose for his monks, who were regarded by their contemporaries, and have ever since been regarded, as forming one of the many branches of the great Benedictine tree. In 1085 and 1188 further constitutions were given, more mititgated than those given in 1080; and as time went on the tendency was ever towards greater relaxation. In 1249 and 1253 Blessed Martin III gave his constitutions, and others again were promulgated in 1328. When the hermits of Camaldoli were united with the monks of the Congregation of San Michele di Murano, in 1513, special constitutions were drawn up, and when the first union was made between the Congregations of Camaldoli and of Monte Corona, in 1540, separate constitutions were given to the former.
With regard to the rule observed at Camaldoli today, it may be said with truth to retain some of the early rigour and austerity. Meat is never allowed except to the sick, and the severe abstinence on bread and water has to be observed on every Friday throughout the year. Meals are always taken in the seclusion of the cell, except on the great feasts, and even then in silence. The two Lents are still observed, and during these periods eggs, milk, butter, and cheese are strictly forbidden. All the Hours of the Divine Office are said in common in the hermitage church, a building which practically consists of one long and spacious choir. The hermits rise all the year round at half an hour after midnight for Matins, Lauds, and Meditation, which last for an hour and a half. A rest is then allowed till sunrise, when they betake themselves again to the church for the Office of Prime, and then return to their separate oratories to celebrate Mass. A slight collation is then taken, and the time between that and Tierce is spent in spiritual reading. Tierce is sung at nine, followed immediately by the conventual Mass and Sext. The remainder of the morning till the Office of None, at eleven, is passed daily in study and manual labour, each hermit having his own little garden and workship. Dinner is taken at half-past eleven and is followed by recreation, during which the hermits are allowed in summer to take a siesta. Vespers are sung at sunset, and a slight collation is taken later on. The day is closed by Complin, Meditation, and the Rosary. Twice a week in winter, and three times a week in summer, talking is allowed during recreation time, and walks may be taken through the woods surrounding the hermitage. The monks at Fonte Buono live a life somewhat similar, though, of course, without the solitude of the hermits' life, and a walk beyond the monastic enclosure is allowed daily. Their hospice is now an hotel, and their forests have been appropriated by the Government. Speaking generally, the Camaldolese cenobites today may be said to follow the Benedictine rule in its ordinary interpretation.
The habit of the Camaldolese is now but little changed from that worn in the earliest days of the order. A white tunic reaching to the ankles, with scapular, girdle, and hood of the same colour. The cowl, worn only during the Divine Office, is also white, and of the same shape as the ample cowl of the Benedictines. A cloak is worn when walking abroad in cold weather, and the hermits also have another very ample cloak in which the whole body can be wrapped when hurrying to the midnight Office from their cells in severe weather.–Camaldoli, it should be remembered, stands on a range of the Tuscan Apennines at an altitude of 3680 feet above the sea.
An aspirant to the solitary or to the cenobitical life at Camaldoli has to undergo a long and severe probation. He is at first regarded as a guest for some days, and is then summoned before the community, assembled in chapter, and formally received. Placed immediately in the novitiate, he continues to wear his secular dress for forty days, after which period he is clothed in the novice's habit and begins a novitiate of two years. If he should persevere he is admitted to simple vows, which may, if necessary, be dispensed during the three following years. During these three years the young religious does part of his ecclesiastical studies, and then, unless his superiors think a longer period necessary, he is admitted to solemn or final vows and to Holy orders. A lay brother's probation is different. He remains one year in the novitiate, and then becomes an "oblate" for seven years; another year's novitiate is then gone through, at the end of which he is called conversus, and his simple vows are taken for three years. If all is satisfactory, at the end of this period he is allowed to take solemn vows.
PRESENT STATE OF THE ORDER
There are at the present date (1907) three congregations in the Camaldolese order: the Congregation of Cenobites, which possesses four monasteries, with about fifty subjects; the Congregation of Hermits of Etruria, which possesses two hermitages and three monasteries, with nearly sixty subjects; the Congregation of Hermits of Monte Corona, which possesses ten houses, with about one hundred and thirty subjects. All these houses are in Italy, except the monastery of Bielany in Poland, belonging to the Congregation of Cenobites, and the hermitage of Nuova Camaldoli, near Caxias in Brazil, belonging to the Congregation of Hermits of Etruria. This last was founded from Camaldoli in 1899, by Dom Ambrogio Pierattelli and Dom Michele Evangelisti, and one lay brother, Ermindo Dindelli. In 1900 these were joined by three more hermits and two more lay brothers from Camaldoli. Dom Ambrogio was elected prior in 1903, and the first Camaldolese hermitage in the New World shows many signs of rapid and fruitful growth.
There are also five houses of nuns in existence, with about 150 inmates. These are all in Italy.
- Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Unfailing Prayer to St. Anthony
- Evening Prayer
- The Apostles' Creed
- Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary
- Ave Maria - Hail Mary
Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.