Matteo of Bascio

Founder and first superior-general of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, born Bascio, Italy, c.1495; died Venice, Italy, 1552. He entered the Order of Observants at Montefiorentino, and in 1525 was a missionary priest at the friary of Montefalcone. His simplicity and fervor rebelling against the relaxation of the Rule, he tried to lead a life of greater austerity, following more closely the Rule of Saint Francis, and changing his habit to conform with the saint's. Meeting with many difficulties and feeling bound to observe a stricter rule, he fled to Rome and submitted himself to Pope Clement VII, 1525. From the latter he obtained permission to wear the altered habit, to observe the Rule of Saint Francis to the letter, and to go about preaching, provided he would annually present himself to the minister-provincial at the time of the Chapter. As he was unable to prove this by document he was taken prisoner the first time he presented himself. After three years, during which Matteo underwent many hardships, Clement canonically approved the new Reform and placed Matteo and his followers under the nominal jurisdiction of the Conventuals. The name Capuchin was later officially adopted. At the first Chapter of the new order, 1529, Matteo was elected superior-general, but he soon resigned his office to resume Apostolic work.

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