The Order of Hermits of Brother John the Good - the "Gianboniti" (1)
The Order of Hermits of Brother John the Good - in the Italian language, popularly called the Gianboniti or the Bonites.
Their founder was called John the Good (1168-1249), a layman of Mantua, Italy.
He was a wandering entertainer who, after a deep religious conversion, in about the year 1209 withdrew into a cave in the isolated area of Butrioli (Bertinoro), four kilometres from Cesena in northern Italy.
He could neither read nor write, and never learned to do so. It was his strict life of penance that attracted many followers.
He had founded a hermitage (in Italian, an eremo) in 1209 at Butrioli, four kilometres from Cesana in northern Italy. By about 1217 he began attracting many followers.
Influenced by the example of the Order founded in 1209 by Francis of Assisi, his followers seem spontaneously to have adopted a life of preaching the Gospel while moving from place to place.
(One early Augustinian historian actually claimed that Francis of Assisi began as a disciple of John the Good. Henry of Freimar O.S.A., is the first Augustinian author known to have claimed that Francis of Assisi - over fifty years before the Augustinian Grand Union in 1256 - had been a member of the Augustinian hermitage of St James of Aquaviva near Pisa before he founded his own order.
Henry, who generally was a reputable historian, published this “legend” (by which he simply may have meant an unproved assertion that had come to his ears) that that Francis of Assisi had been a disciple of John the Good as a member of the Augustinian hermitage of St James of Aquaviva near Pisa before founding his own order.
(Continued on the next page.)
For further reading
Cardinal Richard Annibaldi. By Francis Roth O.S.A. A long article that appeared in English in successive issues of the scholarly historical periodical, Augustiniana, of the Augustinian Historical Institute of Louvain, Belgium in 1952-1954. Chapter 3 of the article, in Augustiniana of December 1952, specifically deals with this topic. Cf. pp. 230-247.