The Hermits of Brettino - the "Brettini" (3)
Yet when the rapid expansion of the Brettini demanded a more energetic collection of alms, this difference of opinion came into the open. In 1240 Pope Gregory sent no less than four mandates to the bishops of the March of Ancona to force the Gianboniti (Zanbonini) and all other hermits similar to them to wear either a white or black habit, but the bishops did not bother the Brettini because the Pope had not been mentioned them by name.
when the rapid expansion of the Brettini demanded a more energetic collection of alms, this difference of opinion came into the open. In 1240 Pope Gregory sent no less than four mandates to the bishops of the March of Ancona to force the (Zanbonini) and all other hermits similar to them to wear either a white or black habit, but the bishops did not bother the Brettini because the Pope had not been mentioned them by name.
When the letters — despite their sharp language — had failed to bring the desired results, Rome realized that the majority of hermits in the March of Ancona was not constituted by the Gianboniti (Zanbonini) but by the Brettini, and demanded of them an immediate change of habit.
The prior general of the Brettini, Andrew of Francavilla, however, demanded a hearing in this matter and when it was refused, he did not budge from the Papal Curia.
This annoyed Pope Gregory so much that he forgot the usual calm language used in official documents and sharply criticized such effrontery, but in the end he gave in and demanded only such a change in their habit which would distinguish it from that of the Franciscans, and no longer insisted on either a white or black habit, long sleeves and the wearing of the staff. It was the wearing of the staff in particular to which all hermits objected, because it made the populace regard them as robbers.
Pope Innocent IV did not continue the policy of his predecessor, but favored the Brettini in every respect. Between 1247 and 1252 he granted indulgences to at least fifteen of their houses in order to support their building program and in various disputes as with the Franciscans over Mount Geoffrey or the bishop of Bologna over St Mary Magdelene's in Valle Petrae he decided in favor of the Brettini.
The pope also approved their Constitutions and renewed their many privileges. The only decision against their wishes concerned their intention to leave Brettino, which both the citizens of Fano and probably some of the brethren themselves opposed.
Pope Alexander IV resumed the question of habit in February 1256, when he commanded the bishops of the March of Ancona to excommunicate all who would not obey, but even after the Great Union had to give them another chance by setting as final date the feast day of All Saints on 1st November 1256 and then extended it to Easter 1257.
This was the last reference from papal sources about the stubborn fight of the Hermits of Brettino for their habit, which they had probably worn before the Franciscan Order had been founded. For the Brettini, after their participation in the Grande Union they had to lay aside their former habit and use that of the Order of St Augustine which they had just joined.
(Continued on the next page.)