SISTO V PAPA
In perpetual memory
Of all the works of Christian charity, by which by God’s grace eternal health is provided for, more than any other we deem pleasing to our Redeemer Jesus Christ are those which are directed to the help of Christ’s poor infirm, who are hospitalized in Hospitals, in their spiritual and bodily needs.
- Origin of the Institute.
Our beloved son Camillus de Lellis, presbyter of the Theatine Diocese, and other of his Companions, understanding how much this was pleasing to God and necessary for the health of souls, have given witness in our days about this kind of service, devoting themselves to Christ’s poor hospitalized in the hospitals of our city, with affection no less than that of a mother toward her only son.
Such witness they renew every day, exhorting the sick, with all due gentleness and charity, to patience, inviting them to receive the Sacraments of the Church, consoling those whose lives are in danger, and supporting them to the end, day and night, to die well.
The same thing they are willing to do even in times of pestilence (which we hope will not come).
- The name and purpose of the Institute.
Therefore, Camillus and Associates proposed to live together and in common, in poverty, chastity and obedience-not, however, bound by vow-and to dedicate themselves to the service of God and His poor.
With our blessing and that of the Holy Apostolic See, they started a Company or Congregation, which has the title or name of “Ministers of the Infirm,” whose main purpose is to serve the aforementioned infirm with ardor of charity.
They trust by this to remedy the many inconveniences and dangers in which such infirm persons often incur for lack of such servants, and to be able to offer the Christian faithful health of soul and body and many other services.
- Approval and confirmation.
We are well disposed to their request, and being fully informed,
also through the reports we have had from our beloved sons Cardinals of H.R.C., deputed to the Consultation and Causes of Bishops and Regulars and to the Apostolic Visitation, on their pious purpose and the way of life they intend to lead, for our certain knowledge, we hereby approve and confirm the Congregation called “Company of Ministers of the Infirm.”
This shall be governed and governed by Apostolic authority by a Senior Minister or Superior, who shall be a priest, elected from triennium to triennium by majority vote.
We intend to make up for any and all defects in law and fact that there may be in this act.
- Privilege of being able to accept alms.
Since the said Congregation has determined to renounce the right of ownership of material goods, we grant to Camillus and his Companions and to those who will enter the Congregation, and to others deputed by them and to be deputed by them, that they may collect alms, to be destined for the common use of the said Congregation, in any locality, except within the Churches, Monasteries and Pious Places, without the need to ask permission from the Vicar of Urbe or from any other.
We hereby grant and grant such authority, which they may freely and lawfully make use of.
- Faculty to exercise works of charity.
We grant and approve that the Companions of the Congregation of the Ministers of the Infirm may exercise the aforementioned works of charity towards all the sick, in any Hospital or other Places in the City, at the call or with the permission, or consent of the respective Prefects or Administrators.
- Faculty to receive confessions of the sick.
The Superior or Senior Minister, who, as mentioned above, must be a priest, and the other presbyters of the same congregation, provided they are already recognized as suitable for other places and approved by the Vicar of Urbe, may freely and lawfully receive the confessions of the sick in the aforementioned Hospitals and Pious Places, without prejudice to the same or their Officials or Administrators.
- Added condition.
Let both the Superior and the other Companions of the Congregation live in common life, with the said alms of pious persons, according to the statutes and ordinances of the same, already made or to be made hereafter, (provided that these, until they have the approval of the Apostolic See, are reviewed and approved by the Protector of the same Congregation).
- Waiver clause and date.
All this applies, notwithstanding any Apostolic Constitution and Ordination, or any other provision to the contrary.
Given at Rome near St. Peter’s, under the ring of the Fisherman, on the 18th day of March 1586, the first year of Our Pontificate.
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