Fratrum Franciscanorum Immaculatae
|Motto||Ave Maria (English: Hail Mary)|
|Formation||August 2, 1970|
|Type||Clerical Religious Congregation of Pontifical Right (for Men)|
Piano della Croce, 6
Frigento (AV), Italy
|344 members (149 priests) (2014)|
The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (Latin: Congregatio Fratrum Franciscanorum Immaculatae; abbreviated FFI) is a religious institute founded in 1970 by Conventual Franciscans Stefano Maria Manelli and Gabriel Maria Pellettieri and canonically erected by Pope John Paul II in 1998. Their rule of life is the Regula Bullata of Saint Francis of Assisi according to the Traccia Mariana.
The FFI is the male branch of the Franciscan Family of the Immaculate, while the female branch is the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate. There used to be a third branch of lay people, being the Franciscan Tertiaries of the Immaculate, but this was later suppressed in 2013. An offshoot of the Tertiaries is the Third Order Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate.
On 2 August 1970, Stefano Maria Manelli and Gabriel Maria Pellettieri, two Conventual Franciscans, started the FFI in Casa Mariana, Mary Most Holy of Good Counsel at Frigento in the province of Avellino, Italy. Pellettieri was also one of the first four original Conventual friars sent by the Minister General of the Conventuals to start the mission in the Philippines.
On 23 June 1990, the Archbishop of Benevento, Carlo Minchiatti, with the express permission of Pope John Paul II, erected as the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate the approximately thirty Franciscan friars who lived at Casa Mariana as a religious institute of diocesan right. On 1 August 1993, the ordinary of Monte Cassino erected the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, a religious institute of women, also living the Regula Bullata according to the Traccia.
Pope John Paul II elevated the FFI to an institute of pontifical right on 1 January 1998, and the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate was likewise elevated on 9 November 1998.
In July 2012, Pope Benedict XVI authorized an apostolic visitation, recommended by João Braz de Aviz prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. This was stated to be due to five priests complaining that the institute had an "overly traditionalist bent". One of the priests, Alfonso Maria Bruno, welcomed the apostolic visitation, accusing the sisters of becoming accustomed to using the Extraordinary Form exclusively and that their decision had then been “exploited” by traditionalist groups.
In July 2013, the Congregation for Religious, issued a decree dissolving the General Council of the FFI and appointed Capuchin Friar Fidenzio Volpi as an apostolic commissioner with governing authority over the FFI. Volpi subsequently sent Manelli away to a home, closed the FFI's seminary, suppressed the lay movement, and suspended the ordination of all prospective priests. He also accused Manelli of a cult of personality, and other friars of embezzlement.
Bruno and as well as another priest Angelo M. Geiger initially said in July 2013 that the vast majority of members welcomed the intervention by the Holy See in the present complicated situation. However, in September 2013, the FFI and the Congregation published the results of a poll of the friars that had been conducted before assigning a commissioner, showing that only a minority wanted a commissioner. In January 2014, a further note published by the Congregation said that that, out of 350 friars, only 21 had asked for a commissioner.
The FFI follow the footsteps of Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) after the recent example of Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941), who is considered a martyr of charity in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Their habits are gray-blue, and they wear the Miraculous Medal. Like other religious communities they profess the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, but they also take a fourth “Marian” vow whereby they consecrate themselves to the Mother of God.
The Traccia Mariana
The Traccia Mariana is the way of life that the F.F.I. lives, a Marian plan for Franciscan life. The Traccia Mariana was submitted by Fr. Manelli and approved by the Minister General of the Franciscan Conventuals in the summer of 1970. It was first lived in the Casa Mariana in Frigento, Avellino, Italy. The entire Traccia Mariana formation program has been established in the Franciscan Conventual Province of Naples and the mission in the Philippines, which was then under the custody of the Province of Naples.
Today, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate are composed of about 300 professed members each. The F.F.I. is present today on most continents of the world with friaries in Argentina, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, France, Italy, Portugal, Nigeria, the Philippines, and the United States.
In the United States, the friars run a retreat center, Mount Saint Francis Hermitage in Maine, New York.
In 2006, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate in the United States developed AirMaria.com, a website which produces and hosts Catholic videos and other media.
- "Religious Life, Friars". Religious Life. Franciscans of the Immaculate. 2009. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "The Traccia Mariana: A Marian Plan for Franciscan Life". EWTN. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- "Who are we?". Francescani dell'Immacolata (Casa Mariana). Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Acosta, John Vianney M., O.F.M.Conv. (2007). "The Beginning of the Order in the Philippines". Our History. Conventual Franciscans, Philippines. Archived from the original on November 23, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Miller, Michael J., "The Vatican and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate", The Catholic World Report, July 31, 2013
- "Pope's crackdown on order alarms traditionalists". AP NEWS. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
- Magistero, Sandro (31 January 2014). "Curia non immacolata. Nemmeno sa la matematica".
- Barrett, David V. (2015-06-08). "Priest appointed by Pope Francis to investigate traditionalist order dies after stroke". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
- "Don Sabino Ardito nuovo Commissario dei Francescani dell'Immacolata – Ricognizioni" (in Italian). Retrieved 2020-10-30.
- "Franciscans of the Immaculate in the United States". Franciscans of the Immaculate. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
- Mount Saint Francis Hermitage, Maine, NY
- "Missio Immaculatae Magazine". Franciscans of the Immaculate. Retrieved 2020-10-30.
- "AirMaria.com". Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate - USA. Retrieved 6 April 2018.