The Servite Order is one of the five original Catholic mendicant orders. Its objects are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows. The members of the Order use O.S.M. (for Ordo Servorum Beatae Mariae Virginis) as their post-nominal letters. The male members are known as Servite Friars or Servants of Mary.
The Order of Servants of Mary (The Servites) is a religious family that embraces a membership of friars (priests and brothers), contemplative nuns, a congregation of active sisters and lay groups.
The Servites lead a community life in the tradition of the mendicant orders (such as the Dominicans and Franciscans). The Servite Order was founded in 1233 AD, when a group of cloth merchants of Florence, Italy, left their city, families and professions to retire outside the city on a mountain known as Monte Senario for a life of poverty and penance. These men are known as the Seven Holy Founders; they were canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888.
These seven were: Buonfiglio dei Monaldi (Bonfilius), Giovanni di Buonagiunta (Bonajuncta), Amadeus of the Amidei (Bartolomeus), Ricovero dei Lippi-Ugguccioni (Hugh), Benedetto dell’ Antella (Manettus), Gherardino di Sostegno (Sostene), and Alessio de’ Falconieri (Alexius). They belonged to seven patrician families of that city. As a reflection of the penitential spirit of the times, it had been the custom of these men to meet regularly as members of a religious society established in honor of Mary, the Mother of God.
From the beginning, the members of the Order dedicated themselves to Mary under her title of Mother of Sorrows. Dedicating their devotion to the mother of Jesus, they adopted Mary’s virtues of hospitality and compassion as the order’s hallmarks. The distinctive spirit of the order is the sanctification of its members by meditation on the Passion of Jesus and the Sorrows of Mary, and spreading abroad this devotion.
The bishop of Florence approved the Friar Servants of Mary as a religious Order sometime between the years 1240 and 1247. The Servants decided to live by the Rule of St. Augustine, and added to the Rule their own expression of Marian devotion and dedication. By 1250 there were a number of Servants who were ordained to the priesthood, thus creating an Order with priests as well as brothers.
Pope Alexander IV, favored a plan for the amalgamation of all institutes following the Rule of St. Augustine. This was accomplished in March 1256, and about the same time a Rescript was issued confirming the Order of the Servites as a separate body with power to elect a general. Four years later a general chapter was convened at which the order was divided into two provinces, Tuscany and Umbria, the former of which St. Manettus directed, while the latter was given into the care of St. Sostene. Within five years two new provinces were added: Romagna and Lombardy.
St. Philip Benizi
Suppression and expansion
St. Philip Benizi was elected general on June 5, 1267, and afterwards became the great propagator of the order. The Second Council of Lyons in 1274 put into execution the ordinance of the Fourth Lateran Council, forbidding the foundation of new religious orders, and suppressed all mendicant institutions not yet approved by the Holy See. In the year 1276 Pope Innocent V in a letter to St. Philip declared the order suppressed. St. Philip proceeded to Rome, but before his arrival there Innocent V had died. His successor lived but five weeks. Finally Pope John XXI, decided that the order should continue as before. It was not definitively approved until Pope Benedict XI issued the Bull “Dum levamus” (February 11, 1304). Of the seven founders, St. Alexis alone lived to see their foundation raised to the dignity of an order. He died in 1310.
Pope Boniface IX granted the Servites the power to confer theological degrees on January 30, 1398, and the order established the Marianum in Rome.
The new foundation enjoyed considerable growth in the following decades. Even in the thirteenth century there were houses of the order in Germany, France, and Spain. Early in the fourteenth century the order had more than one hundred convents including branch houses in Hungary, Bohemia, Austria, Poland, and Belgium; there were also missions in Crete, the Philippines (St. Peregrine-Philippine Vicariate) and India.
The disturbances during the Protestant Reformation caused the loss of many Servite convents in Germany, but in the south of France the order met with much success. The Convent of Santa Maria in Via (1563) was the second house of the order established in Rome; San Marcello al Corso had been founded in 1369. Early in the eighteenth century the order sustained losses and confiscations from which it has scarcely yet recovered. The flourishing Province of Narbonne was almost totally destroyed by the plague which swept Marseilles in 1720. In 1783 the Servites were expelled from Prague and in 1785 Emperor Joseph II desecrated the shrine of Maria Waldrast. Ten monasteries were suppressed in Spain in 1835. A new foundation was made at Brussels in 1891.
After the Risorgimento in 1870, the government of Italy closed the Marianum along with many other papal institutions. The institute was re-founded as the College of Sant Alessio Falcioneri in 1895. At this period the order was introduced into England and America, chiefly through the efforts of Fathers Bosio and Morini. The latter, having gone to London in 1864 as director of the affiliated Sisters of Compassion, obtained charge of a parish from Archbishop Manning in 1867. His work prospered; besides St. Mary’s Priory at London, convents were opened at Bognor Regis (1882) and Begbroke (1886). In 1870 Fathers Morini, Ventura, Giribaldi, and Brother Joseph Camera, at the request of Bishop Joseph Melcher of Green Bay, Wisconsin, took up a mission in America, at Neenah. Father Morini founded at Chicago (1874) the monastery of Our Lady of Sorrows. A novitiate was opened at Granville, Wisconsin, in 1892. The American province was formally established in 1908.
Pope Pius XII, through the Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, elevated the Marianum to a pontifical theological faculty on 30 November 1950.
After the Second Vatican Council, the order renewed its Constitutions starting with its 1968 general chapter at Majadahonda, Madrid, a process which was concluded in 1987. In the same year, Prior General Michael M. Sincerny oversaw the creation of the International Union of the Servite Family (UNIFAS).
Friday after Ash Wednesday
The Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Servants Of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Confessors
Double – White vestments
Missa ‘Justi Decantaverunt’
INTROIT – Wisdom 10: 20-21; Psalm 8: 2
Justi decantaverunt, Domine, nomen sanctum tuum, et victricem manum tuam laudaverunt pariter: quoniam sapientia aperuit os mutum, et linguas inflantium fecit disertas. Ps. Domine Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in universa terra. Gloria Patri.
The just sang to Thy holy name, O Lord, they praised with one accord Thy victorious hand. For wisdom opened the mouth of the dumb, and made the tongues of infants eloquent. Ps. O Lord our God, how admirable is Thy name in the whole earth. Glory be to the Father.
The just sang…
O Lord Jesus Christ Who, in order to renew the memory of the sorrows of Thy most holy Mother, hast through the seven blessed fathers enriched Thy Church with the new Order of Servites; mercifully grant that we may be so united in their sorrows as to share in their joys: Who livest and reignest.
FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY – Feria of Lent
May Your kindly favour, we beseech You, O Lord, accompany the fast we have begun, that we may be able to practice with a pure mind what we perform bodily. Through our Lord.
EPISTLE – Ecclus. 44: 1-15
Let us now praise men or renown, and our fathers in their generation. The Lord hath wrought great glory through His magnificence from the beginning. Such as have borne rule in their dominions, men of great power and endued with their wisdom, showing forth in the prophets the dignity of prophets, and ruling over the present people, and by the strength of wisdom instructing the people in most holy words. Such as by their skill sought out musical tunes, and published canticles of the Scriptures. Rich men in virtues, lovers of beautifulness: living at peace in their houses. All these have gained glory in their generations, and were praised in their days. They that were born of them have left a name behind them, that their praises might be related. And there are some of whom there is no memorial; who are perished, as if they had never been, and are born as if they had never been born, and their children with them. But these were men of mercy, whose godly deeds have not failed. Good things continue with their seed. Their posterity are a holy inheritance, and their seed hath stood in the covenants. And their children for their sakes remain for ever; their seed and their glory shall not be forsaken. Their bodies are buried in peace, and their name liveth unto generation and generation. Let the people show forth their wisdom, and the Church declare their praise.
GRADUAL – Isaias 65: 23; Ecclus. 44: 14
My elect shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth in trouble, for they are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their posterity with them. Their bodies are buried in peace, and their name liveth unto generation and generation.
TRACT – Psalm 125: 5-7
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Going they went and wept, casting their seeds. But coming they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves.
GOSPEL – Matthew 19: 27-29
At that time, Peter said to Jesus: Behold we have left all things and have followed Thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen I say to you, that you, who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of His majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold and shall possess life everlasting.
OFFERTORY – Isaias 56: 7
I will bring them into My holy mount, and I will make them joyful in My house of prayer; their holocausts and their victims shall please Me upon My altar.
Lord, the sacrifice we offer up to Thee, and do Thou grant that, through the prayers of Thy Saints, being inflamed with love for the sorrowing Virgin, Mother of Thy Son, we may serve Thee with a free mind. Through the same our Lord.
FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY – Feria of Lent
Grant, O Lord, we beseech You, that as we offer the sacrifice of Lent, our hearts may be made acceptable to You; and the sacrifice may give us greater willingness for self denial. Through our Lord.
It is truly meet and just, right and for our salvation that we should at all times and in all places, give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord. Through Whom the Angels praise Thy Majesty, Dominations worship, Powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the Heavenly hosts together with the blessed Seraphim in triumphant chorus unite to celebrate it. Together with them we entreat Thee, that Thou mayest bid our voices also to be admitted, while we say in lowly praise…
COMMUNION – John 15: 16
I have chosen you from the world that you should go and bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain.
Quickened anew by the heavenly mysteries, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that following the example of the saints whose feast we are keeping, we may steadfastly abide at the foot of the cross of Jesus with Mary His mother, and merit to partake in the fruits of His redemption. Through the same our Lord.
FRIDAY AFTER ASH WEDNESDAY – Feria of Lent
Fill us, O Lord, with the spirit of Your love, to unite in charity those whom You have filled with one and the same heavenly Bread. Through our Lord.
PRAYER OVER THE PEOPLE
Watch over Your people, O Lord, and mercifully cleanse them from all their sins; for no harm can come to them if no evil has power over them. Through our Lord.