Capuchins, a religious congregation belonging to the Franciscan order, instituted by Mat-teo Baschi about 1525. Believing that he was divinely commissioned to revive the old spirit of his order, and learning that the modern habit of the brethren was different from that of St. Francis, he appeared in a garb consisting of a coarse garment without any scapulary, and a capuche, or hood shaped like a sugar loaf; hence the name of the order. This being condemned by his superiors as a novelty, he had recourse to Pope Clement VII., who gave him permission to wear the hood, and also permitted those who wished to imitate him to form a congregation. In 1526 Clement VII. gave them further permission to wear the habit and also a beard; and in 1528, by a new bull, he confirmed the new order, which took the name of Capuchins. They were to reside in solitary places, and live as hermits. The rules of the order are very strict; they are obliged to recite the canonical hours without singing, and the matins are to be said at midnight; an hour is to be spent every morning and evening in mental prayer and in silence; their food is of the simplest kind, one kind of meat only being allowed, and on fast days they are only allowed a kind of cheese called cotta.
In 1624 Urban VIII. caused a new church to be built for them at Rome, near the Barberini palace, and in 1631 the Capuchins took possession of it. The church contains the famous painting of St. Michael the archangel, by Guido. This order has been established in various countries of Europe, and also in Egypt, Turkey, Persia, and India. It was introduced into France in 1574, and extended rapidly, many persons of rank entering it. Cardinal Richelieu was a great protector of the order. It sent out missionaries to Brazil, the West Indies, Acadia (now Maine) and the adjacent British provinces, and also to Louisiana. Their institutions in Europe were broken up by the French revolution and its consequent movements, but have been renewed from time to time. In the United States they have houses at Milwaukee, Utica, Syracuse, New York, and Trenton; and the archbishop of Halifax is a member of the order. Among its eminent men are St. Felix of Cantalice, F. Joseph du Tremblai (baron de Maflai), founder of the nuns of the congregation of Calvary, F. Ange de Joyeuse (duke de Joyeuse), and F. Bernardin de Pequigny, author of a highly esteemed commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul. The members of the order generally write after the name 0. Min. Cap. (Ordinis Minorum Capuccinorum). Nuns of this rule were first established at Naples in 1538 by Mother Maria Lorenza Longa.