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Catholic Dictionary




A penitential association of the laity formed about A.D. 1150. Some of the captives taken by Emperor Henry II from Lombardy to Germany devoted themselves to works of charity and penance and were called Barrettini. When they were allowed to return to Italy, they continued their German methods of living both as to industry, calling themselves Humiliati, and also as to modes of prayer, eventually adopting the Rule of St. Benedict. In 1134 they built their first monastery at Milan. St. Charles Borromeo, attempting to eliminate some serious abuses that had crept into the group, was murderously attacked by some of them and in 1571 the order was suppressed. The wives of these Humiliati established a community under Clara Blassoni, which cared for lepers. They were known as the Hospitalers of the Observance and continued even after the Humiliati were suppressed. Some of their houses engaged in charitable nursing are in existence today in Italy.