For all houses no matter in what country, however, there were almost always four immediate challenges.
These were: (1) the integration of members from the different pre-1256 constituent religious orders, (2) decisions about the degree of poverty to be observed, (3) the placing aside of the eremitical (hermit) life for the sake of a more intensive and active Christian ministry within the official pastoral ministry of the Church, which would acceledrate the general movement from the countryside into the growing cities and towns, and (4) the uniform use of the same religious habit.
Regarding the first challenge, in northern Italy particularly, the question of houses of the pre-1256 constituent religious orders located near one another needed to be addressed.
A typical case was at Faenza, Italy. The Gianboniti had the convento of Saint Albert, the Brettini had the convento of St Mary Magdeline and the Tuscan Hermits (i.e., founded by the Little Union of 1244) had the convento of Saint Augustine of Malta.
Months after the Grand Union in 1256, these three houses were all closed and sold, and replaced with one house near the city gate of Faenza.
Regarding the second challenge, a response with limited flexibility was devised.
Different constituent religious orders coming to the Grand Union had different traditions regarding poverty.
For example, houses of the former hermits of Brettino ("Brettini") had between 1244 and 1256 adopted a rigorous standard of poverty after the example of the Franciscans, whereas the Augustinian Hermits of Tuscany had allowed for the community ownership of property.
In a letter dated 15th May 1257 Annibaldi decided the matter and, in the name of the Church, Pope Alexander promulgated it in his bull, Iis quae nostri, of 13th June 1257.
It was decreed that both individual and collective poverty was to be observed in all communities that were able to live by alms, and that other houses could have common ownership of whatever was necessary to continue their life as a community.
This was a satisfactory arrangement that worked well for the Order in the following centuries, when the topic of poverty (or, rather, the visible lack of it) caused concern and even division within some other religious orders.
For an Augnet page on the question of poverty, click here.
(Continued on the next page.)