Update from Fr. Charles Reflecting on First Capuchin Saint Felix of Cantalice
Felix of Cantalice
Rome, Sunday, 9/9/2012 The Chapter did not meet today. Instead, many of us were hosted at the Immaculate Conception Friary on the Via Veneto. This is the friary where St. Felix of Cantalice is buried and where the room in which he died is preserved. (He actually died at another friary in Rome, but his room and his remains were brought to the Immaculate Conception Friary.) We were reminded by the guardian in a presentation to the Capitulars that St. Felix died during a General Chapter of the Order. We gathered in the Friars’ Chapel because the church itself was being renovated, and celebrated the Eucharist. Mauro, the General Minister was the main celebrant, and centered his homily on St. Felix. This year is the 300th anniversary of St. Felix’s canonization. He was the first Capuchin saint. Mauro spoke about Felix’s dedication to his work as the “questor” for the friars. He was the one who went out and begged food and other necessities for the friars. He went among the pagans as well as the believers in Rome as he begged and brought the joyful Good News, Mauro said. Felix was known as “Brother Deo Gratias” because of his gratefulness. Every night after his return, he brought the needs of the friars’ benefactors to God in prayer. Peter Meis and Christopher Popravak marveled at the simplicity of Felix’s room. Peter was curious about the crutch that was in the room. We gathered, as I said, in the Friars’ Chapel (or “choir”) for the Mass. After Mass we filed by the tomb of St. Felix on our way to a presentation on the history of the friary and an introduction to the new museum. Among the many displays in the museum that intrigued me were this collection of watches of the early friars and the clock that was in the friary chapel. The clock in the friary chapel kept the friars moving through their hours of meditation by reminding them to “move on” every fifteen minutes. The friars were also known for their pharmaceutical work. They provided healing medicines for the sick here in Rome as well as in Paris. The museum held a nicely displayed collection of items from the history of the Capuchins’ beginnings all the way up to the present. People enter the museum now from a new entrance that takes them through the museum and then they exit through what many remember as the “boneyard.” The technology and history along with the paintings and articles – past and present – really make it a worthwhile place to visit. It’s a “must see” in Rome, even if you aren’t a Capuchin.
Tomb of Felix of Cantalice
After going through the museum we gathered in the courtyard of the newly remodeled friary. The friary has new guestrooms and newly remodeled rooms with private bathrooms and a major facelift which really makes the place look good. In the courtyard the Roman Province of Capuchins treated us to a “major” feast. John Lager joined us right after the presentation on the history and in time to visit the museum and join in the feast. We had perfect weather for the day to eat outside in the courtyard and a marvelous meal. After the meal, John Lager joined Christopher, Mark, and myself as we took the subway to Garbetella to visit Sr. Adriana and the Capuchin Poor Clares. Christopher came “bearing gifts” from the Denver sisters for Sr. Adriana. Sister had called Mark earlier in the week asking him to come over to work on her computer. Gifts were delivered. Computer was repaired. We enjoyed the visit. After the visit, Mark, Christopher and I made our way by subway back to the Collegio while John left the subway at “Ottaviano” to make his way back to the North American College. It was a good day, but tiring. One last thing: In the Courtyard of the Immaculate Conception Friary, the Provincial of the Roman Province unveiled a plaque that commemorated the visit of the Capitulars to the newly remodeled museum and friary. It was a good day for me to remember at the Mass and to pray for our Development Office personnel and all the people who are so generous to us. In the tradition of St. Felix and asking for his intercession, I say, “Deo Gratias!”