Founding Anniversary of the Clerics Regular Minor

Today we celebrate the 432nd founding anniversary of the Clerics Regular Minor commonly known as Adorno Fathers. On July 1, 1588 Pope Sixtus approved the new Order established by Augustine Adorno, Fabrizio Caracciolo and Francis Caracciolo.

The Order came into existence in the 16th century and was one of several approved by the Church, before and after the Council of Trent, under the general name of Clerics Regular. The first inspiration to establish the new Religious Order came to the Genoese, Augustine Adorno, who in the city of Naples, found other collaborators: Fabrizio Caracciolo and Francis Caracciolo. With them, he wrote a Rule and presented it to the Pope, Sixtus V, who approved it in 1588.

Even though our three men came from different geographical, social and religious backgrounds, they brought together a common desire to reform their lives, and they shared the vision to renew the Church in the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation. In starting a new Institute about 25 years after the Council of Trent had officially closed and more than half a century after the Theatines, the Jesuits and a number of other Institutes had been established, our Founders drafted laws based on what they had seen and what they felt would bring a deeper renewal in the Church.

For them, certain elements of spirituality, present in ancient Institutes, needed to be taken up again and re-expressed in the Clerics Regular. The new Order was to be more ascetic and contemplative than the other Clerics Regular by stressing and practicing more prolonged times of prayer, such as the obligation of the Liturgy of the Hours in common, the centrality of the Eucharist in their apostolate and the importance of penance and restraint in one’s life.

By the middle of the 18th century, the Order had grown into five Provinces (3 in Italy and 2 in Spain) and about 50 communities with a total membership between 700 to 800. The Order worked in parishes and taught in Colleges and universities. It had consulters in various Congregations of the Holy See, and some of its members were given special and delicate assignments in the Far East to investigate and report on the difficult controversies of the Malabarian Rites. Others, like Nicola Tomacelli, reached as far as the Court of the Emperor of China in Peking.

Unfortunately, the next century dealt a serious blow to all religious Orders and to the Clerics Regular Minor in particular. Napoleon, the Revolutions and Europe Nationalistic spirit of the time contributed to a general disarray and deterioration. Many houses were suppressed, a number of members were secularized, and entire Provinces disappeared.

With the coming of the 20th century, however, the Order has experienced a remarkable recovery. Its presence has widened and diversified for what it does and where it operates. Today it is present in several places in Italy, especially those which remind it of its Founders. It has lost the traces of its one-time glorious presence in Spain, but Divine Providence has called it in other countries: The United States, Germany, in the Republic of Congo, Kenya, India, and The Philippines.

If we look at the difficult journey of our Order in more than four centuries, we must acknowledge as true the tradition of a promise made by the Blessed Mother to Father Adorno: that the Institute would be under her special protection. It must have been her maternal hand that has spared us from shipwreck. We want to be worthy of this special protection of Mary, and, in the renewed will of fidelity to the charism of the Founders, we feel sustained by the friendship and charity of so many people, who praise and thank the Lord with us for all that He has granted us in the past, and we want to implore His benevolence on our future always For The Greater Glory of the Risen Christ! Happy Anniversary.