Parroquia de San Antonio de Padua – History

Capuchin Brothers (the third biggest Franciscan family) stemmed from the Order of Friars Minor, previously known as the Observant branch in 1525, and in 1528, Pope Clement VII issued the papal bull “Religionis zelus,” approving the Capuchin Order. Among the things the Pope conceded to the Capuchins, they had to wear a brown habit with the distinctive large, pointed hood reaching to the waist, as well as beards as a sign of poverty, simplicity and austerity.

Along their Franciscan history, Capuchins have represented the most rigorous and austere line. They are the only order that drew out rules regarding church and convent construction in order to avoid contradictions. “Churches must be small, poor and honest… according to the holiest poverty… To this end, a small model has been made under which they will be built.”

They are known as the «friars of the people» for their way of living and working. Their charitable and social apostleship has allowed them to be appreciated by the humblest of people.

On October 23, 1848 the Capuchin order arrived in Chile. Their arrival is closely linked to the Araucarian evangelization.

The government of president Manuel Bulnes considered those missions as a way of pacifying mapuche people, and through his minister, Ramón Luis Irarrázabal, who attended a meeting at the General Curia, where he asked missionaries for the Araucanía.-

Few months later, 12 Italian Capuchins boarded a ship in Genoa bound for Chile. They were entrusted with the Araucanía missions located south of the Cautín River.

In 1853, other 40 brothers arrived from Italy. Apart from supporting the Araucanía missions, they founded convents in Santiago (1853), Concepción (1855), Quillota (1856), La Serena (1857) and Valparaíso (1860). These last three did not last long, because no more Capuchins from Italy were sent.

These Italian missionaries learned the mapudungun language and opened regular schools and boarding schools in the Araucanía. For over 50 years, they tried to pacify mapuche people.

Due to the political situation Italy faced in mid-19th century, no more missionaries were sent to Chile. Authorities ask Spain for help in the Chilean missions. In 1889, the first 10 Spanish Capuchins disembarked in Chilean coasts. They were invited to do mission work in the central valley of the Bío Bío Region.

By late 10th century, there were few Italian Capuchins left in the Araucanía, and Spanish Capuchins were already settled in the north, so there was an urgent need to bring more missionaries. In 1886, the first German Capuchins from Bavaria arrived to Valdivia. They were welcomed by their Italian brothers.

By 1901, German Capuchin brothers took over the mission in the Araucanía, founding other regular schools and boarding schools.

In 1955, Dutch Capuchins settled mainly in Quilacahuín and San Juan de la Costa. In 1960, Belgian Capuchins settled in Osorno. Later, some of them moved to Talcahuano.

Capuchin vocation grew very slowly; it was not until 1955 that there were over 50 Chilean Capuchins. Some missionaries thought that Chileans, for its affectionate and sensitive nature, were not eligible for an austere and penitent life style.

On February 15, 1982, the Capuchin Order gathered in a single province in order to join forces and work together towards forming Chilean Capuchins. Thus, German, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian, Swiss and Chilean Capuchins established the Capuchin province called San Francisco de Asís.

The San Antonio de Padua parish was opened in 1861. It was an important milestone in the sector comprising Cumming and Catedral streets, where numerous worshippers converge, most of them devoted to Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.

This parish per se is not declared a Historical Monument, but it does belong to the Barrio Yungay and Brasil neighborhoods, which were declared a Typical Zone by the Council for National Monuments.




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