Capuchin History

The Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), in its attempt to remain faithful to the intentions of the founder, St. Francis of Assisi, went through many difficulties in the course of its history, which led to disagreements and divisions. The three major branches of the First Order for Religious men, the Franciscan Friars Minor, the Conventual Friars Minor and the Capuchin Friars Minor have their own organization and legal structure, but share Francis as their Father and Founder. The Capuchins are the youngest branch, going back to 1525, when some Friars Minor in the Marches wanted to live a stricter life of prayer and poverty to be closer to the original intentions of St. Francis. Thanks to the support of the Papal Court the new branch received early recognition and grew fast, first in Italy, and since 1574 all over Europe.

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Capuchins in India

The Order of the Friars Minor Capuchin took root in Indian soil some 380 years ago, and bore fruit abundantly. It started like a small mustard seed when a band of six French Capuchin missionaries from Syria joined a group of French sailors to East India and arrived at Pondicherry, a small ham1et on the Tamil coast on January 8, 1632. This was the principal arrival of the Capuchins in India followed by the subsequent establishment of missions in Surat (1639) and in Madras (1642). The spiritual thirst of this ancient land, India, attracted other missionary endeavours as well.

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Capuchins in Tamil Nadu

The Capuchin history of Amala Annai Province goes back far earlier than 1972. Tamil Nadu enjoys a special privilege in the history of Christian tradition and Capuchin presence in India.

Tamil Nadu is a land of exceptional culture and tradition dating back to 5000 years of civilization, and its language "Tamil" is one of the living languages of antiquity like Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. The Christian tradition holds that 51. Thomas, one of the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, preached the Good News and was martyred at Mylapore, Madras, now known as Chennai in AD 72.

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Province History

The steady and vibrant growth of the Order in Tamil Nadu during the past 40 years has now come to the moment of bearing further fruits. The idea of the province’s bifurcation was initiated and reflected upon extensively from 2005 in various forums of chapters and provincial meetings. In view of a possible bifurcation of the Province, the General Definitory approved a pastoral visitation of the Province by Br. Peter Rodgers, the General Definitor and Br. Francis Christi Vattakuzhy. After consulting extensively, with individuals and groups at diverse levels, the General Definitory of the Order decided to establish two new circumscriptions (Prot. N. 00953/ 10, dated April 05, 2011).

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