Brothers of Penitence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Saccati)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Brothers of Penitence or Fratres Saccati were an Augustinian order also known as Boni Homines, Bonshommes or Bones-homes.[1] They were also known as the "Bluefriars" on account of the colour of their robes.[citation needed]


Little is known about how or when they were founded. It is known that they had a house at Saragossa (Spain) in the time of Pope Innocent III (d. 1216) and one about the same time at Valenciennes (northern France). Their rule was founded on that of St. Augustine. They had one house in Paris, in a street called after them the rue de Sachettes, and in 1257 they were introduced into England. Matthew Paris records under this year that "a certain new and unknown order of friars appeared in London", duly furnished with credentials from pope; and he mentions later that they were called from the style of their habit Fratres Saccati. Paris' notation about a "novum ordum" has led some to suggest that the Fratres Saccati were the order quite soon afterwards established at Ashridge and Edington, though this was repudiated in an article by Richard Emory in the journal Speculum (1943), who attributes the original connection to Helyot's Dictionnaire des Ordres Religieux, which was compiled in Paris in the mid-nineteenth century. There is in fact nothing to connect the Fratres Saccati with the Boni Homines of Ashridge and Edington.

They were granted an Abbey at Ashridge in Hertfordshire. They followed the rule of St. Augustine. At the foundation Edmund gave the order a phial of the Sacred Blood Of Jesus Christ he had acquired while travelling in Germany. The order was intended to be 20 brothers, but rarely achieved this.

The Black Prince, a later lord of Berkhampstead castle, became interested in the College around the time of the Black Death around 1350. A second house of the Order was established at the prince's direction at Edington, Wiltshire in 1352 by taking over an existing secular college there. There is an effigy of a Bonhomme at the Priory in Edington today.

Another house is mentioned at Ruthin in Denbighshire but little is known of this.

In 1534 at the Dissolution of the Monasteries the house was peacefully dissolved and the brothers given pensions for life.


Main article: Ashridge Priory

The priory was founded in 1283[2] and finished in 1285. The last rector was Thomas Waterhouse (1529), who surrendered the house to Henry VIII. The suppressed college was eventually granted to the Egertons, later created Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater. The church was destroyed under Elizabeth I.


Main article: Edington Priory

The only other English house of the Boni Homines was at Edington in Wiltshire,[3] although this has been disputed.[4]

Albigensian connection[edit]

There has been speculation that the order was in some way associated with the Albigensian heresy of southern France. The evidence for this is circumstantial and the conclusion contested. Edmund's mother was the daughter of Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, a protector of the heretical sect. Wall paintings in the college cloisters, now lost, were described in the eighteenth century as favouring the Albigensians. Wall paintings in a cottage at nearby Pickott's End discovered in 1953 have been similarly described. [5]

Cultural references[edit]

In the video game Drakkhen for Super NES, there are merchants called Bonhommes. They appear as friars dressed in green, accompanied with chanting voices.[6]


  1. ^ Boni Homines - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  2. ^ Boni Homines article in the Catholic Encyclopedia
  3. ^ Little, the Friars of the Sack, in The English Historical Review, 1894, 33, 121., cited in Boni Homines - Catholic Encyclopedia article
  4. ^ Edington Priory, Wiltshire, Nash Ford Publishing 2005
  5. ^ History of England The Inquisition , Note 4 , The Cathars movement did indeed come to England
  6. ^

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company.