2 Seraphic Sparks: The Irish Franciscan and Capuchin Colleges on the Continent

In: Forming Catholic Communities


Given the persecution of their members and the destruction of their houses during the Elizabethan conquest, the Irish Franciscans had little option but to found colleges on the Continent to ensure the survival of the province. The recently founded Capuchin order, on the other hand, had to found its Irish mission on the Continent, before ever gaining a foothold in Ireland. Insomuch as the Capuchins were a reform movement that had broken away from the Franciscans, both orders viewed one another with suspicion. Furthermore, the Capuchin higher authorities were initially reluctant to initiate a mission in a country where essential external elements of the reform, such as wearing the habit and the non-use of money, could not be practised. Moreover, Francis Nugent, founder of the Irish Capuchins, was a committed Francophile, something that set him at loggerheads with the Irish Franciscans and their philo-hispanic tendencies. The continental colleges of both the Irish Franciscans and the Irish Capuchins succeeded admirably in their primary aim of training young religious for the Irish mission. It should not be forgotten, however, that this role was played out against a background both of the mutual suspicion between the two orders, and the rivalry between France and Spain as both states vied with the other to become the leading Catholic power in Europe.

Forming Catholic Communities

Irish, Scots and English College Networks in Europe, 1568–1918