The Humiliati (Italian Umiliati) were an Italian religious order of men formed probably in the 12th century. It was suppressed by a Papal bull in 1571 though an associated order of women continued into the 20th century.


Coat of Arms of the Humiliati Order

Its origin is obscure. According to some chroniclers, certain noblemen of Lombardy, taken prisoner by the Emperor Henry V (1081–1125) following a rebellion in the area, were taken as captives to Germany and after suffering the miseries of exile for some time, they assumed a penitential garb of grey and gave themselves up to works of charity and mortification, whereupon the emperor, after receiving their pledges of future loyalty, permitted their return to Lombardy.[1]

At this time they were often called "Barettini", from their beret-shaped head-dress. Their acquaintance with the German woollen manufactures enabled them to introduce improved methods into Italy, thus giving a great impetus to the industry, supplying the poor with employment and distributing their gains among those in want.[1]

Returning to their own country, the Humiliati had contact with St Bernard. On his advice, in 1134, many of them, with the consent of their wives, withdrew into a monastery founded at Milan. Despite Bernard's best attempts, at first the Humiliati had no fixed rule. Their name "Humiliati" is said to have arisen from their very simple clothes, which were all of one colour against the fashions of the day. Around 1200, the anonymous author of the Chronicon universale of Laon described:

At that time there were certain citizens of Lombard towns who lived at home with their families, chose a distinctive form of religious life, refrained from lies, oaths and law suits, were satisfied with plain clothing, and argued for the Catholic faith. They approached the pope and besought him to confirm their way of life. This the pope granted them, provided that they did all things humbly and decently, but he expressly forbade them to hold private meetings or to presume to preach in public. But spurning the apostolic command, they became disobedient., for which they suffered excommunication. They called themselves Humiliati because they did not use colored cloth for clothing, but restricted themselves to plain dress.[2]

The fraternity spread rapidly and gave rise to two new branches, a "second order" composed of women, and a "third order" composed of priests. The order of priests, once formed, claimed precedence over the other branches, and on the model of mendicant orders such as the Dominicans or the Franciscans, was styled the "first order". They are to be seen in the context of the complex movements of penitents in the Middle Ages which gave rise to groups later successfully institutionalized, such as Francis of Assisi's Order of Friars Minor.[citation needed] Their original ashen habit was replaced by a white one.[1]

Other Languages
čeština: Humiliáti
Deutsch: Humiliaten
Bahasa Indonesia: Humiliati
italiano: Umiliati
polski: Humiliaci
português: Humiliati
русский: Гумилиаты
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Humilijati
svenska: Humiliatorden
中文: 謙卑者派