The beginnings of our community
Vincent Pallotti is the starting point of our community. Adept at networking, he brought dedicated people together and with them, he formed a union, (…) “shaped in such a way that all Catholics, ecclesiastics and seculars, men and women, learned and ignorant, poor and rich, noble and plebeian, whatever may be their state, profession and fortune could be part of it.” (Pallotti)
Such egalitarianism was something new and unheard of in the church of the 19th century. Thus, the realisation of this idea was initially blocked by the Vatican.
Pallotti lived in Rome from 1795 to 1850. He came from a religious family. Due to his poor state of health, he could not become a Capuchin as he had originally intended. He remained committed to Francis of Assisi, the tradition of which the Capuchin Order follows, all his life. Pallotti became a priest. His contemporaries described him as small, slightly hunched, skinny and pale, with a bald head and a high forehead, piercing dark blue eyes and a kind demeanour. He always used to walk quickly, was usually polite and careful not to annoy anyone. He was well known in Rome. Many people were attracted to him and respected him.
In 1835 he had a vision. He recognized the necessity of bringing as many people as possible together, starting with his companions, expanding to include clergy and laypeople, in order to reform the Church, which was in a desolate state, and to assist the needy. Together they should pursue a threefold task:
* Rekindle and deepen the faith within the Church;
* Counteract global poverty;
* Give the boundless love of God to all the people of the world, which meant to follow a universal mission – in the then common language this meant to spread the Catholic faith to the whole world.
Pallotti was a personality that united great opposites: he lived in Rome and its surrounding area for all his life. Nevertheless, he had an eye on the global dimension of the Church and the needs of people globally. His political orientation was conservative, but in many ways he was surprisingly progressive and ahead of his time, which he himself was hardly aware of. Democracy as a form of government remained foreign to him, but at the same time the participation of as many, ultimately all people, in the responsibility in church and world was important to him. Pallotti was a Papal devotee and yet at the same time focused on the laity.
His image of priesthood was traditional and corresponded to his time, but he also harshly criticized the numerous deficits in the clergy. He was not one for hypocrisy. Pallotti was fascinated by the variety of the church. He regarded it as his a task to encourage this, and at the same time was entirely oriented towards the growth of unity. One flock with one shepherd was his dream for the Church and for all mankind. Many of his ideas were taken up in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), which was why he was canonized during the Council in 1963.