«Con il drappo tricolore cinto intorno al saio»: i francescani salernitani nel processo di unificazione

Autore: Alfonso Conte
In: Meridiana. 78, 2013
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«Con il drappo tricolore cinto intorno al saio»: The Salernitan Franciscans in the Unification Process
Among the religious orders in the Southern Italy during the Risorgimento, Capuchins friars represent a peculiar study case, because of the special relations they regularly had with the lower classes in those rural areas, as well as for the pro-liberal positions they took during the liberal insurrections of 1848. After the Italian unification and the extension of the Piedmontese law to the whole newborn Kingdom (namely, the strictly extensive application of those decrees concerning the suppression of the Religious Orders), just few of these liberal friars, commonly labeled as plotters within the Roman Curia, shifted to pro-Bourbonic positions, while the most part kept pro-unity feelings. This essay analyzes in detail the figure of Giovanni da Pescopagano, a Capuchin friar operating in Sala Consilina, within the Province of Salerno. Similarly to other friars in this area, like the Franciscan Romualdo da Sanseverino, Giovanni da Pescopagano deeply supported the «national struggle» since 1848. Despite the opposition coming from the Vatican circles, as well as from the Order General Friar, but thanks to the support of the civil authorities, he was made Provincial Friar for Salerno and Basilicata in 1861, carrying out a strategy of fruitful cooperation with the State, and becoming a landmark for those clergymen who contrasted the reactionary attitude of the Vatican. Therefore, this «case» constitutes a vivid example of the cleavages provoked, within the Catholic Church, by the «civil war» fought for the unification; as well as, the marginalization that Giovanni da Pescopagano was subject in the second half of the 1860s, demonstrates how the realignment which followed the «Convenzione di Settembre» took place under the auspices of the political and ideological moderatism.