Heard of the Capuchins?

- A brand of Franciscans

Cappuccino coffee is currently a popular hot drink shared by many to accompany friendship and conversation. Interestingly though, it was so named originally because Italians saw its colour resembling the familiar brown robe of the CAPUCHIN friar.

In recent years some Australian Catholics have become familiar with the spiritual calibre of a visiting Capuchin preacher Fr Raniero Cantalamessa. He is the humble, joyful, prayerful and gifted Capuchin chosen by Pope John Paul II to fill the office of Preacher to the Papal Household - a position he's held now for almost 30 years! This preaching office has been exclusively reserved to Capuchin Friars since 1743!

Most people also, have heard of Padre Pio. This Capuchin mystic and stigmatist, who died in 1968, bore the marks of Christ's wounds in his hands, feet and side for over 50 years. Though confined most years to the one friary of San Giovanni Rotondo near Foggia, Italy, his gift of miracles, bi-location, and the ability to read the heart of his penitents, were only a few of the ways in which the Lord used him to touch with conversion the lives of innumerable pilgrims drawn to see him and scores of others in distant lands unable to journey there. An unforgettable privilege, which perhaps many still alive can never forget, was to be present at the celebration of one of his daily Masses. Padre Pio, during that one and a half hours, in the presence of a packed church of people, witnessed to, in the flesh, and re-lived the moments of Christ's bitter sufferings and death. The reality of this fact was evidenced by the atmosphere of reverent silence during which you could hear a pin drop - a surprising and amazing point to one who is accustomed to the boisterousness of Italians even when in church.

What is not so well known to present day Australian Catholics is that the Capuchin sons of St Francis did pioneering work here in Australia in the late 1800's. Elzear Torreggiani, a Capuchin, was the second bishop of Armidale (NSW). To read more on this go to: Prior to World War II

A second wave of Capuchins arrived in 1945 and have since established the Order here and have now been serving the Australian Church for more than sixty years. To read more on this go to: Post World War II

Next: St Francis and the Capuchin Beginnings