The Order of Clerics Regular Minor originated in Italy in the end of the sixteenth century when three Italian priests: St. Francies Caracciolo, Venerable Augustine Adorno and Fr. Fabrizio Caracciolo, were inspired by the grace of God to initiate this Order. Their main point was the spiritual renewal of the Church, especially of the priests and the religious. The special charism of our Order is the Eucharistic centred pastoral work. This Order is commonly known as the Adorno Fathers. Our motto is: “Ad Maiorem Resurgentis Gloriam” which means "For the Greater Glory of the Risen Christ".
Venerable Augustine Adorno (1551-1591)
In the middle of the 16th century, John Augustine Adorno was born in Genoa, Italy, as the fifth child of the noble couple: Michele and Nicoletta dei Campanari Adorno. His family had a fine stature in religious, political and social life. His father was a senator of Genoa and his mother was a woman of virtue and religious piety. She brought them up in love of God and sanctity. Augustine received his education in Philosophy. In 1573, his father sent him to the court of Philip II for his political and military prospects where he stayed for several years. Augustine was the envoy of Genoa to the King of Spain, attending to King’s financial affairs. He was a banker in the court of Philip II, lending money to the King and his associates. It was in Valencia, Spain, where Augustine met St. Louis Bertrand who prophesied that Augustine will establish a religious order. Two devastating events led Augustine to leave his career as the financial manager. The death of his father in 1578 and the heavy loss of money in gambling. These events led Augustine to the revelation of the 'things in heaven'. He then realized that everything on earth soon 'comes to an end.' In 1579, he returned to Genoa and began to spent long hours in prayer and then started his studies to priesthood. It was also in Genoa that Augustine thought of establishing a religious order. On September 19, 1587, at the age of 36, Augustine was ordained a priest in the Church of Saint Restituta. He was keen to reach out to the prisoners, while serving his pastoral ministry as a member of the Confraternity of the While Robes of Mercy in Naples. Augustine also frequented the Hospital of the Incurabili, where he ministered to the sick and the dying. It was in the course of Augustine's pastoral work in this hospital that he met Fabrizio Caracciolo, a relative of Francis Caracciolo. They went to Rome for getting the approval of the new Order from the hand of Holy See. Augustine Adorno died at the age of forty, September 29, 1591.
Saint Francis Caracciolo (1563-1608)
Francis Caracciolo, whose original name was Ascanio, was born on October 13, 1563 in Villa Santa Maria, Abruzzi, Italy. At twenty-two, Ascanio Caracciolo was a young man enjoying the exceedingly comfortable life available to an Italian nobleman of the sixteenth century, when he got fatally sick with a terrible skin disease. Confronting the reality of death, he vowed that if he recovered he would dedicate the rest of his life to God. He was miraculously recovered and he immediately began studying for the priesthood. He was ordained as a priest in 1587 at the age of twenty-five. Ascanio's first work was in Naples, with a confraternity that looked after the spiritual welfare of prisoners and those condemned to death.
In 1587, he mistakenly received a letter addressed to a relative, Rev. Fr. Fabrizio Caracciolo, the Abbot of St. Mary Major in Naples. From the letter, he learned that the writer, a priest called Augustine Adorno, was planning to found an association of priests whose work would combine both active and contemplative life. The project appealed to Ascanio, and he soon joined forces with Augustine Adorno.
The three priests retreated to the Camaldolese hermitage in Naples, to write the first Constitution of the Order. In addition to the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience, they contemplated on a fourth vow: the renunciation of any ecclesiastical dignity. They recruited ten companions to begin their foundation. On July 1, 1588, Pope Sixtus approved the new order, and on April 9, 1589, the co-founders took their solemn vows. Ascanio took the name ‘Francis’, the name by which he was subsequently known.
Members of the congregation, called the Clerics Regular Minor, take the general vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, plus a fourth one: not to seek any ecclesiastical office either within or outside the order. The priests have perpetual adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. They conduct missions, serve the inmates of hospitals and prisons, and establish hermitages for those who aspire for a life of contemplation. Even while being a self-effacing man, Francis was elected the order's first general, who successfully accomplished his mission. He made three trips to Spain, where he founded houses in Madrid, Valladolid, and Alcala. He was popular among people as a confessor and preacher. He came to be known as "the Preacher of the Love of God" for his fervent sermons.
In 1607, sensing the approaching death, Francis went into retirement. Since most of his adult life had been directed towards God, he now had little to do except to await God's call with confidence. His health declined rapidly, and on June 4, 1608, he passed away. Those who watched at his bedside that evening heard him murmur, "Let us Go! Let us Go!" On asking where he wanted to go, Francis replied, "To heaven, to heaven!" Scarcely had the saint uttered these words when the wish was fulfilled. Francis' body was taken to Naples, where it is now venerated.
Fabrizio was born in 1555 in Naples in a noble and rich family. He completed his studies by obtaining a degree in Law. He decided at a young age to pursue ecclesiastical career and was ordained a priest in 1580. He met Augustine Adorno and Francis Caracciolo in 1587 in Naples to join their efforts in the establishment of the Order. When Adorno invited him to join the foundation of the Order, he agreed by renouncing all his personal and family possessions. It was to help the order materially from outside that he even delayed his religious profession. Fabrizio Caracciolo worked hard for the overall growth of the Order. It was he who catered to the financial needs of the newly found Religious Order in its beginning with the income that he received as the Abbot of St. Mary Major church in Naples. He made his Solemn Profession on August 25, 1596. It was on this occasion that he changed his name to Augostino in memory and appreciation of his co-founder of the order. He died as a simple religious man on May 25, 1615 at the age of 60.
Chronological Summary of the Order
July 1, 1588:
The new Order was approved by Pope Sixtus V with the name Clerics Regular Minor and Adorno as the Superior General.
April 9, 1589:
Fr. Augustine Adorno and Fr. Francis Caracciolo were admitted to the Religious Profession in the Oratory of the Confraternity of the White Servants of Justice (I Bianchi). They chose as the motto/ coat arms of the Order: Ad Maiorem Resurgentis Gloriam (For the Greater Glory of the Risen Christ).
Fr. Augustine Adorno and Fr. Francis Caracciolo left for Spain to open a Religious House there, after a tentative time, they returned to Italy.
February 9, 1591:
The Order obtained the Church of St. Mary Major in Naples.
September 29, 1591:
Fr. Augustine Adorno, the first Founder died at the age of 40. The responsibilities were left to Fr. Francis Caracciolo.
Pope Clement VIII confirmed the Order and officially approves the Fourth Vow of the Order: Not to seek ecclesiastical honours. He also assigned, with appropriate documentation, the church of St. Mary Major in Naples to the Order.
March 9, 1593:
The General Chapter elected Fr. Francis Caracciolo as Superior General for life but he only accepted the office for three years.
April 10, 1594:
Fr. Francis Caracciolo left for the second time to Spain accompanied by Fr. Imparato and the cleric Lorenzon D’ Aponte. They finally received the permission for the foundation of the Order in Spain and obtained the Church of St. Joseph, which was eventually changed with the Church of the Holy Spirit (20-01-1599).
November 25, 1595:
The first foundation in Rome was in the Church of San Leonardo and then to St. Agnes in Piazza Navona.
May 23, 1597:
Fr. Francis Caracciolo returned to Italy and was confirmed by the General Chapter as the Superior General. He only accepted it for one year.
September 18, 1598:
Fr. Francis Caracciolo was elected Superior of the House of St. Mary Major in Naples and Master of Novice.
The third journey of Fr. Francis Caracciolo to Spain; he opened a religious house in Valladolid and Alcala. He was elected Master of Novice in Madrid.
June 11, 1606:
The Order obtained the house and the Church of St. Lawrence (Lorenzo) in Lucina, which became the Generalate House.
1607 / 1608:
He obtained an exemption for every position/ office in the Order.
Fr. Francis Caracciolo left for Loreto, Montelapiano, Villa Santa Maria and Agnone.
June 4, 1608:
Fr. Francis Caracciolo got sick and died at the age of 45 in Agnone on the Vigil of Corpus Christi.
October 8, 1612:
The revised text of the Constitutions was presented to the Holy See by the third Founder, Fabrizio Caracciolo. It was approved by Pope Paul V with apostolic letter.
May 25, 1615:
Fabrizio Caracciolo died at age 60.
The cause for beatification started.
17th and 18th Centuries:
By the end of this century, the Order has grown to five Provinces (Division of the Order in Italy- three provinces: Rome, Neapolitan and Sicilian Province. Division of the Order in Spain- two Provinces: Castillian and Andalusian Provinces) and has about 50 communities with a total membership between 700 to 800 religious. The Order is involved in parish work, teaching in colleges and universities. It has consulters in various congregations of the Holy See, and some religious are given special and delicate assignments, such as that of Father Ceru' and Father Soffietti who are sent to the far East to investigate and report on the difficult controversy of the Rites.
1717 - 1764:
Missionary activities in China.
September 10, 1769:
Fr. Francis Caracciolo was proclaimed Blessed by Pope Clement XIV.
May 24, 1807:
Blessed Francis Caracciolo was proclaimed Saint by Pope Pius VII.
1809 - 1810:
The first suppression of the Order in Italy and Spain by the Napoleonic Law which resulted in the dispersion of the religious members and the confiscation of Religious Houses.
June 1, 1843:
St. Francis Caracciolo was proclaimed co-patron of Napels.
1860 - 1870:
The second suppression of the Order by the Italian Law with other confiscation and lose of Religious Houses and dispersion of religious members.
The Order left St. Lawrence (Lorenzo) in Lucina and obtained the house of Sant’Angelo in Pescheria in Rome where the General Curia was transferred.
The Order obtained the parish of Holy Guardian Angels in Montesacro (Rome).
St. Francis Caracciolo was proclaimed protector of the Abruzzian Eucharistic Congresses.
First foundation in the United State of America- St. Joseph Church in Lodi, New Jersey followed by the house of Formation in Ramsey, New Jersey and the Immaculate Conception Church in Goose Creek, South Carolina.
Catholic Mission in Germany.
February 19, 1984:
First Missionary foundation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Ex Zaire) with Parochial Ministry in Binja in Nyamilima followed by the opening of the Seminary of St. Joseph in Goma.
First foundation in India- Adorno Ashram in Mallikassery in Kerala followed by the seminary in Bangalore, Karnataka and seminary in Kiliyanthara in Kerala.
St. Francis Caracciolo was proclaimed the heavenly Patron Saint of Chefs in Italy.
First foundation in the Philippines- the Adorno Seminary in Vinzons, Camarines Norte.
Foundation of the seminary in Nairobi, Kenya.