The Bull Illius Qui Pro Gregis. Presentation and comment

bolla per articoloBy Fr. Emidio Spogli in Camillianum – books of camillian history and spirituality – no.5, 1992, pp.35-55.

On September 21, 1591, Pope Gregory XVI (Niccolò Sfondrato) signed the Bull Illius qui pro gregis with which he granted to Camillus de Lellis and his Congregation of the Ministers of the Sick the right to do solemn profession, as they had asked, «of the four vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and perpetual service of the sick, which is the fundamental purpose of their Institute”, according to the Formula of life presented to Pope Sixtus V in the previous year.

The reasons that had moved the community to seek the profession had been exposed in a request or memorial sent to Cardinal Alfonso Gesualdo, Prefect of the Congregation of Rites, to whom Sixtus V had entrusted the examination of the request.

It seems to me opportune to re-propose in this study the text of the request for a better understanding of the Gregorian Bull. The document consists of four pages of 5×18 format, of which the writing, in good handwriting, occupies the first and third pages: on the first page we find the addressee and the proposer, with a marginal annotation of the office of the Congregation. The text of the request is contained in the third page. INSERT PHOTO The document is short, but goes directly to the essential and also to a first reading, immediately reveals its great historical and theological value. It shows us, in fact, the authentic thought of the community at a decisive moment in its history: its tendencies, the horizons towards which it intends to broaden its service of charity, the practical and religious reasons that push it to ask for the profession. In five years of exhilarating, but also hard experience, the community had realized that their survival over time and perseverance in a “very repugnant” service are linked to the depth of motivations and to the sanctity of the bonds that compose it. Motivations that are exposed with clarity and passion.


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