Everybody knows that the Clerics Regular Minor (Adorno Fathers) came to the United States in 1930 when Father Michael De Angelis accepted an invitation of the Archbishop of Newark, Thomas J. Walsh, to be chaplain of the Filippini Sisters in Morristown, New Jersey. Father Michael was followed by Father Achille Rondinara, who worked for several years as an assistant at St. Lucy’s Parish in Newark. When the Archbishop offered a parish to Father Michael in Lodi in 1936, Father Gabriel Lucarelli also came and thus the presence of the Order in the United States took a firm and visible hold.

These priests, however, were only following their founder, St. Francis Caracciolo, who long before they dreamed of establishing the Order in the new world, had come before them. HE CAME FIRST- not in person, but through the devotion and love of the faithful.
In the month of July 1960, the Jesuit Fathers in Brooklyn, New York, donated to the Adorno Fathers in St. Joseph, Lodi a beautiful painting of St. Francis Caracciolo, known as the St. Francis of the Angels. The history behind this painting is long and interesting having been sent to Mexico sometime in the 17th century.

In the year 1847, during the war between the United States and Mexico, the painting was cut from its frame and taken away by an American soldier. He then sold it to Gen Albert J. Smith of St. Louis, Missouri, who in turn sold it for $3,000 to Gen Lewis Cass of Michigan, Presidential Democratic Candidate at the convention of Baltimore in 1840. Later the painting was given back to Gen. Albert J. Smith for the same price and in 1895 he sold it to Lidgerwood Manufacturing Company for $10,000 dollars. In the same year the painting was offered for sale by the owners, who advertised it as an original of Murillo and estimated to have a value of about $65,000. The sale was never made, because Achbishop Michael A. M. Corrigan of New York opposed such a sale and maintained that the painting be returned to the Catholic Church in Mexico City, from where it had been taken by force and injustice.

In 1948, the painting was cleaned and retouched by Julius Lowry, but now the painting seemed to have lost its admirers. Critics believed that it was not an original, but only a painting of the school of Murillo. It was estimated to have a value of about $1,000 to $1,200. Maybe because of this lack of interest, the painting was given, by a friend of theirs, to the Jesuit Fathers, who readily identified it as the Founder of the Clerics Regular Minor and offered it to the Adorno Fathers in Lodi. The painting is now venerated in our house here in Ramsey.

In a strange but loving way the St. Francis of the Angels is now among his own, and we do not miss the sign that the Holy Founder is on our side as we strive to expand the Order and continue his work. (Fr. N. Capetola, crm)