Carmelite Chronicles
The Quarrel with the Mantuan Congregation

September 13, 2012 |

Audet’s reforms were not total successes. Some parts of the Order had become stubborn, especially the Mantuans.

Having completed his visitation and reform of the provinces, Audet, on May 18, 1532, summoned a general chapter at Padua, which reelected him and took further initiatives in the matter of reform. To complete his initial work of reform Audet set out to visitate the Mantuan Congregation.

He had become familiar with the Mantuan way of life during his studies at Parma, and his brother John had been a member of the congregation. Late in 1524, he had visitated Mantua, Ferrara, Florence, and Viterbo, and for part of the journey had had as his companion John Baptist Granelli, vicar general of the congregation. With the years, the congregation had fallen into the same bad habits, especially regarding possessions, as had the unreformed part of the Order. Audet considered it his responsibility as superior to remedy these defects also. But before he could do so he would have to attack the barrier of papal privileges behind which the congregation was entrenched.

He proposed a six-point plan to regulate his relationship to the congregation. The Mantuans predictably were not about to surrender their precious privileges. A long drawn-out suit before the Rota ensued, the details of which need not detain us here. Suffice it to say that the quarrel ended in a stalemate, and on March 22, 1538, was finally settled outside of court. The general is recognized as the true head of the Order in whose name all make profession. He has the right to visitate, but under such restrictive conditions as practically to nullify his effectiveness.

From The Mirror of Carmel by Joachim Smet, O. Carm.

Fr. Joachim Smet O.Carm.
Fr. Joachim Smet, O.Carm. (1915-2011) was one of the leading historians of the Carmelite Order. In addition to being a founding member and President of the Institutum Carmelitanum in Rome and editor of Carmelus, a journal of Carmelite Studies, Fr. Joachim was a gifted writer. he is well-known for his four-volume work The Carmelites and his Life of Saint Peter Thomas. Among his other works: Familiar Matter of Today-Poems (2007), The Mirror of Carmel: A Brief History of the Carmelite Order, (2011), various publications on Carmelite Nuns, Carmelite Liturgy, Carmelite Libraries of Spain and Portugal and the Carmelites of Medieval England.
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