Bascio, Matteo Serafini da

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First vicar-general of the Friars Minor Capuchin; b. Bascio, near Pesaro, c. 1495; d. Venice, Aug. 6, 1552. Bascio joined the Friars Minor Observants of the Province of Ancona c. 1511 and was ordained c. 1520. Restless for reform, Matteo left his friary at Montefalcone secretly in 1525, went to Rome, and there obtained from Clement VII verbal permission to observe the Rule of St. Francis to the letter, to wear a habit more in accordance with the type thought to be worn by Francis, and to preach wherever he wished without any fixed residence, provided that he presented himself to his provincial once each year. Once when obeying the last injunction, Matteo was confined in the friary at Forano as a fugitive, but was freed through the intervention of Caterina Cibo, Duchess of Camerino.

The purely personal privilege that Matteo had obtained encouraged like-minded confreres to join him, and thus, unsuspectingly, he became the herald of a movement that resulted in the foundation of a new branch of the Franciscan family, the Friars Minor Capuchin. This new congregation received canonical approbation with the granting of the bull Religionis Zelus, July 3, 1528.

The following year, Matteo, elected first vicar-general of the new order, accepted office with reluctance, resigning shortly afterward. He then continued his wandering apostolate first as a Capuchin, then from 1536, apparently, under the minister general of the Observants. Preaching with great success, he played a notable part in the Italian Catholic reformation. In 1546 he accompanied the papal troops that Paul III sent to Germany to assist Charles V against the members of the schmalkaldic league. At Mühlberg in April 1547, Matteo, crucifix held aloft, encouraged the Catholic soldiers to a decisive victory. He then continued his apostolate in Venice, where he was venerated for his holiness.

Bibliography: father cuthbert, The Capuchins, 2 v. (London 1928). m. a pobladura, ed., Monumenta historica Ordinis Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, (Assisi 193740; Rome 1950). Lexicon Capuccinum (Rome 1951) 107576, gives general bibliog. f. spruck, "Matteo da Bascio," Round Table of Franciscan Research 7 (194142) 123146. d. da portogruaro, "Il processo dei Miracoli del P. Matteo da Bascio," Collectanea Franciscana (Rome 1931) 15 (1945) 92116. g. abate, "Fra' Matteo da Bascio e gli inizî dell'Ordine Cappuccino," ibid. 30 (1960) 3177.

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