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pension and excommunication, and of privation of the dignities and offices which they might hold, to observe the regulations, that the reformers might see fit to make; to punish the delinquents in proportion to their crimes and excesses; and, should their offenses deserve it, to expel them and replace them with monks and nuns from other monasteries and convents; finally, to further do and execute-whatever else they might consider to be necessary or useful to the cause of reform 83

At the request of Philip, archduke of Austria, who complained that there were in his States many monasteries and convents, where the friars and nuns were living dishonest, lascivious lives, the Pontiff ordered an inquest and a consequent reform to be made. He addressed, on the 20th of October, 1501, a letter to His beloved sons, the Fathers, abbots, Generals, Provincials or Guardians and all other superiors of either male or female institutions of the archduchy, and gave them the charge of investigating and correcting the abuses of the religious houses. Each of these superiors was to make the canonical visitation, accompanied by two monks of the Order to which the monasteries or convents belonged, already reformed and named by the Ordinaries, provided that such companions, if they should be of the Order of Minors, must be under the obedience of the Minister general. It was stated, however, that the reformers should visit an institution but once and that no transfer of friars or nuns from one house to another should take place 84.

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Nor did pope Alexander VI content himself with appointing general reformers for the

83. Archiv. Secret. Vatic., Alex. VI. Secret., an. I, II, III. Lib. III. Regest. 869, fo 129.

various provinces of the

84. Archiv. Secret. Vatic., Alex. VI. Secret. An. 8 ad XI. Lib. II, Regest. 868, p. 139.

Church. He had also, on several occasions, his particular deputies for special cases of reform. Already on the 15th of December 1492, he had authorized a monk, named Peter, of the Benedictine monastery of Cuxan, in the diocese of Perpignan, to make, with the consent of one half of the community, some salutary statutes and regulations for the improvement of that house; and he decreed that, when so introduced, these new statutes should be considered as confirmed by apostolic authority and to be observed forever. And, to insure success, he abolished the deanery under which the community was governed, and made the zealous monk, Peter, its independent abbot 85.

He commissioned, on the 8th of April, 1494, Berthold, abbot of Adelberg, to reform the Collegiate church of Wyssenstayg. Berthold, prevented by his own affairs from executing the papal order, transmitted it to John, abbot of Bebenhusen, who, the following year, suppressed five canonries of Wyssenstayg, and awarded the patronage of the church to the count of Helfenstein 86.

On the 24th of July of the year 1496, the Pontiff delegated William de Heyck, abbot of the Benedictine house of Luxemburg, and reformer of several monasteries of his own Order and of that of Cluny, to go and examine the institution of S. Maria Rotunda of Etal and to make some regulations for the improvement of monastic discipline 87.

One of the most active agents employed by the Pontiff to restore the observance of monastic discipline in Italy was Peter Delphino, superior general of the Camaldulese Benedictine Congregation. This zealous monk wrote, on the 6th of June, 1496," To pope Alexander VI: Your Holiness has,

85. Archiv. Secret. Vatic., Alex. VI Bullar. An. I, II, t. VII, Regest. 778, fo 168.

86. Munich, Reichsarchiv. Regesta, 1494 III and 1495 II. 87. Munich, Reichsarchiv., Regest. 1496, III.

Alexander VI. —



some time ago, given me the charge of reforming the abbey of St. Felix, situated in the center of Florence. It has been done as you have commanded, Most Holy Father, and care has been taken of that place according to its need, having met with the high approval and commendation of the whole city. I have given them for abbot the one that they requested from me, and in whose activity they had the greatest confidence. This superior has soon exceeded the expectation of all, I do not say, by healing in a short time, one that was sick, but, more correctly, by calling to life again one who was dead... 88 " Delphino took also great pains to reform the Camaldulese abbey of H. Angels in Florence. He succeeded in this undertaking, and had good proofs to commend, on the 26th of April, 1501, the character of its inmates 89.

When Father Ludovico Turriano 90 was elected again Vicar General of the Cismontane province of the Franciscan Observantines, pope. Alexander VI delegated him, on the 5th of June, 1501, to expel from the Order, at the provincial chapter, and to deprive of the regular habit all friars that should prove to be incorrigible, in order not to let those corrupt members disturb or infect their community. The Pontiff also authorized him to prevent, by the threat of ecclesiastical censures and by other legal means, even by invoking the help of the temporal power, all persons, no matter what their dignity, rank or condition might be, from giving to the guilty friars, in regard to wearing the habit, any aid, advice or favor, whether publicly or privately, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever 91.

Lauredano, the doge of Venice, had made complaints to the Pope about the conduct of the Sisters of some convents of the dioceses of Venice and Torcello; that, namely, they

88. P. Delphini Epist., Lib. V. Ep. 2; Cfr. his letter to Savonarola of May 24th, 1496: Ibid, Lib. IV. Ep. 97.

89. Ibid., Lib. V. Ep. 50, 69, 80, Lib. VI. Ep. 73.

90. Turre or Tornielli.

91. Wadding, ubi supra, p. 230.

were leading a dishonest, lascivious life and that some of them, pretending to have papal permission thereto, often visited, in the house of their parents, relatives and of other persons, and, on such occasions, failed against purity and continence. The Pontiff wrote at once to the patriarch of Venice, on the 12th of May, 1502, that he should personally go and make an investigation in all those convents, taking as companions the general or other superiors of the various houses, if present, or two or three religious appointed by them; or, should it not be possible to have Fathers of the Order to which belonged the convent to be reformed, then other religious, to be named by himself honorable men of a timid conscience. The prelate was to reduce to regular observance the nuns willing to be reformed, and to those unwilling he was to assign a decent portion of the convent, where they could live, under clausure however, from a competent part of the revenues; or they should be allowed to go to other religious houses where they would be welcome. The patriarch should, with apostolic authority, provide that no applicant be admitted in the future, who was unwilling to live under regular observance. The authority of the ordinary superiors should be preserved in all cases. The Pope, finally, revoked all permissions which might have been granted to make visits outside of the convents 92.



At the same time that he commissioned both general and special reformers, pope Alexander VI was personally at work, correcting the abuses that were reported to him from the various parts of the Catholic world. To this effect he is

92. Archiv. Secret. Vatic., Alex. VI. Secret. An. VIII ad XI.

Lib. II, Regest. 868, fo 67.

sued, every year of his reign, quite a number of briefs and bulls 93 some of which are of a common character, and others apply to particular cases.

By his bull" In apostolica dignitatis specula ", given on the 27th of February 1497, pope Alexander VI stopped the misuse of certain pontifical concessions granted to friars of the Observantine Order. Some of these friars, provided with papal permission, were leaving their monasteries to discharge the duties of benefices, secular or regular, with or without the care of souls; others would go away to live in other provinces or in other houses of the same or of different Orders, sometimes under the pretext of stricter observance; other members of the Observantine family were departing for some hermitage, there to serve God for life or for a certain length of time; others yet, asserting that they could choose their residence, in virtue of faculties granted by the apostolic See to themselves or to other persons, ecclesiastic or lay, and forgetting their vows and profession, were leaving to reside in various hermitages or in places having universities, misusing papal concessions and often leading an irregular life, in danger of becoming vagabonds, of apostatizing and of doing many things to the contempt of religion. The Pontiff decreed that in the future no friar could make any further use of all such pontifical grants and permissions, unless the general or provincial vicars should have given their consent in writing. He further decided that no Observantine should henceforth, although provided with any, even papal, authority, not even under pretext of a stricter mode of life, withdraw from the obedience of his superiors, and submit to another prelate, even of the observantine Order, without first asking and obtaining allowance from the ultramontane provincial vicar or

93. Wadding relates no less than eighty-four letters of pope

Alexander VI to members of the
Franciscan Order.

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