In spring 2020 I was admitted to the Fraternity of S. Maria dell’Anima in Rome through the handwritten entry in the Fraternity Book. For this reason, here are some remarks on the history of the Anima Brotherhood and some fundamental questions regarding the admission.
History of the Fraternity
The Fraternity of S. Maria dell’Anima has been taking care of the Pontifical Institute of the same name for over 600 years, which has its roots in a hospice for pilgrims from the Holy Roman Empire in the Eternal City, founded in 1350. Since 1406, this Institute has been under the direct authority of the Holy See. This extraordinary privilege also gave the Fraternity a special status. At the Imperial Deputation of 1803, the Anima was the only ecclesiastical institute directly linked to the Empire that was not secularised and since the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 and the regrouping of its parts, the Anima, together with the Principality of Liechtenstein, remains the last remaining part of the Holy Roman Empire.
From the very beginning, the task of the Anima, as a hospice, centre of pastoral care for pilgrims and priests’ college, was to promote the bond between that vast centre of Europe, once encompassed by the Holy Roman Empire, and the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome and successor of St. Peter. The members of the Fraternity should feel connected with the Pontifical Institute of S. Maria dell’Anima and should do their utmost to promote the services of the Anima as a place of living union between Rome and the Catholics in the far centre of Europe.
From the Fraternity of the Anima also the Fraternity of Campo Santo Teutonico was founded. Various wills secured the Brotherhood of the Anima with legacies and real estate foundations. Registered members in the brotherhood book were, among others, Melchior von Meckau, Dietrich von Nieheim but also Emperor Sigismund, Emperor Friedrich III, Emperor Karl V as well as some popes like Pius X and John Paul II.
Among the almost 200 members today are Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller and other personalities from the worlds of business and politics.
Tasks and objectives of the Fraternity
The tasks and objectives of the Fraternity are:
– Co-care for the preservation of the church
– Maintenance of the archive
– Promotion of church music
– Beatification process for Pope Hadrian VI
Admission to the Fraternity
You cannot apply for membership in the Anima Brotherhood in the traditional way. Membership in the Fraternity is open to all former members of the Priestly College and qualified personalities from all walks of life. Because of its historical roots, only persons from the territory of the Holy Roman Empire can become members (Germans, Austrians, South Tyroleans, German-speaking Swiss, Liechtenstein, Luxembourgers, German-speaking Belgians, Flemings and Dutch).