The brotherhood

The brotherhood

The decree of recognition

«Having examined the request of the Rector of the sanctuary of Castelmonte of 04/19/1990, with which he asks me to approve the statute of the ancient «Universal Confraternity of Our Lady of Castelmonte», having seen cann. 312 and following of the Code of Canon Law, with this decree we recognize the «Universal Confraternity of Our Lady of Castelmonte» and approve its attached statute. Pursuant to art. 3 of the statute we confirm the moderator of the Confraternity in the person of the P. Rector of the sanctuary.
In the lively trust that the Confraternity will favor Marian piety and promote the objectives it has set itself since its inception, I greet and bless".
Given in Udine on 25 April 1990, feast of St. Mark ev.
† Alfredo Battisti archbishop


The "Universal Confraternity of Our Lady of Castelmonte" (= CUMC) is very old. It was founded around 1480: immediately after the reconstruction of the sanctuary - which lasted ten years (1469-1479) - it was destroyed by fire. The foundation is due to the zeal of the priest Michele Zelmkih, curate of Castelmonte. The original name was «Fraterna di Santa Maria del Monte». We still have a precious handwritten register of it, bound in tables, covered in leather, with metal edges at the four corners, preserved in the chapter archive of Cividale. There is the list of the first members, mainly faithful from the villages surrounding the sanctuary; but there is no shortage of devotees from Cividale, Cormons, Gemona and other towns in Friuli. The CUMC had its own house in the village, where the leaders of the association periodically met. A fire destroyed it in 1785, together with the nearby house of the «Fraterna del SS. Sacramento», built a few decades after that of «Santa Maria del Monte». In their place, the current building was immediately erected for use as the "Casa del Pellegrino", on which in 1825 two plaques with the inscription "Casa di S. Maria" were fixed. In the history of the sanctuary of Castelmonte there is also a third Confraternity, that of the "Immaculate Conception", erected on December 8, 1859. Officially, the three Confraternities were never suppressed; in fact, however, only the CUMC is still alive.

Nature and purpose

The «Fraterna di S. Maria del Monte» had an essentially religious character. It committed the associates to a Christian life, supported by a strong devotion-imitation of the examples and virtues of the Mother of God. Furthermore, the members committed themselves to concrete gestures of charity, the first of which was to support the decorum of the sanctuary and its works. To this Confraternity, among other things, we owe the construction of the small cemetery next to the sanctuary which was blessed in 1501. The diffusion of knowledge of the sanctuary and the fact that the supreme popes Sixtus IV, Benedict XIV, Pius VII, Pius VIII and Pius IX wanted to enrich it with special indulgences and spiritual favors for the benefit of associates and pilgrims. Still thanks to her, the sanctuary of Castelmonte was aggregated and incorporated in 1748 with all the privileges granted to the Basilica of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome. Alongside the benefit of indulgences, the associates enjoyed a certain number of SS. Masses celebrated for them at the altar of the Blessed Virgin. The death of members of the Confraternity did not interrupt their membership or their right to benefit from particular suffrages.

The bulletin

With the arrival of the Capuchin Friars to the custody of the sanctuary of Castelmonte in September 1913, the «Fraterna di S. Maria del Monte» resumed vigor and vitality. The name was updated to that of "Universal Confraternity of Our Lady of Castelmonte", the number of members increased, and the Confraternity spread throughout the world wherever there was a devotee of Our Lady of Castelmonte. P. Eleuterio da Rovigo, the first Capuchin custodian of the sanctuary, created a bulletin in November 1914, which was the link between Castelmonte and the members of the Confraternity. A minimum membership fee was also established, which would allow even the poorest to be able to enjoy the spiritual benefits of the Confraternity and above all to be able to receive the bulletin. One, however, could still pay the membership fee, refusing to receive the periodical, and still remain a member of the Confraternity, thus contributing to the good of the sanctuary and its own.

Zealers and zealers
A particular word deserves this category of people, born since the foundation of the bulletin. The zealots not only subscribe to the CUMC, but they spread it, making both the Madonna of Castelmonte and the bulletin known. The work, which is done for free, is a true form of apostolate. This consists in gathering a group of at least five people (there are zealots with over one hundred associates), eager to receive the bulletin. Every month the zealer delivers the periodical to the families and, once a year, collects the membership fee from his members.

The statute

  1. First name
    The religious association that brings together all the devotees of the Madonna of Castelmonte around the world is called the "Universal Confraternity of Our Lady of Castelmonte". It is still called "Universal" due to the fact that among its associates it includes both the living and the dead, according to what Christian doctrine teaches, that death does not break the ties between those who are on pilgrimage on earth and those who have already reached the Father's house.
  2. Scope
    The main purpose is to promote a true Christian life of the associates, through a profound imitation of the life and virtues of the Mother of the Lord. Secondly, to spread the devotion of the Madonna of Castelmonte and the knowledge of her sanctuary. Finally, support the decorum and works of the sanctuary with prayer and the offer of the membership fee.
  3. Responsible
    Responsible for the CUMC is the Rector of the sanctuary, assisted by his advisers and by the director of the bulletin, who proceed in their work according to the canonical norms of the Church (CJC nn. 327, 328 and 329).
  4. Liaison body
    The link between the Sanctuary and the members of the CUMC is the monthly bulletin «La Madonna di Castelmonte», edited by the Capuchin Friars of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, which is sent to all the members themselves.
  5. Registration
    Enrollment in the CUMC takes place by paying the established annual membership fee. This, in addition to the spiritual benefits, entitles you to the monthly bulletin.
  6. Duration
    The payment of the membership fee entitles you to participate in the CUMC for one year. If upon its expiry the fee is not renewed, after a reasonable time has elapsed, the dispatch of the bulletin is suspended.
  7. Registration of the deceased
    Even the deceased can be enrolled in the CUMC and made partakers of the spiritual benefits. Their registration, however, has a perpetual duration, i.e. it is made to their advantage once and for all, by paying the required fee.
  8. Spiritual commitments
    CUMC members undertake to:
    - take the B. Virgin Mary as a model and guide in her service to the Lord, to bear witness to the Gospel in one's own environment, with the word and with an authentically Christian life;
    - participate in the liturgical life, especially in the Holy Mass on holidays, and to receive frequent Holy Communion and the sacrament of Reconciliation;
    - cultivate a life of prayer and listening to the Word of God;
    - to spread the devotion to the Madonna and the knowledge of the sanctuary of Castelmonte;
    - collaborate in the charitable initiatives of the local Churches in the service of others, with particular attention to priestly vocations, and in the defense of life.
  9. Spiritual benefits
    The members of the CUMC, in addition to the incomparable gift of their familiarity with the Mother of the Lord and the benefits that derive from it, participate in a privileged capacity in the communion of spiritual goods and in the prayers that are made in the sanctuary of Castelmonte and throughout the world from large family of members of CUMC itself.
    In addition, thirty SS are celebrated for the members. Masses per month (fifteen according to the intentions of the living and fifteen in suffrage of the deceased associates) and for them every day the friars of Castelmonte make special prayers. To these spiritual advantages is added the joy of receiving the bulletin "La Madonna di Castelmonte" every month at home with the voice of the sanctuary, which with simple and understandable reflections takes care of the Marian and Christian formation of the associates.
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