CELESTINES, a religious order founded about 1260 by Peter of Morrone, afterwards Pope Celestine V. (1294). It was an attempt to unite the eremitical and cenobitical modes of life. Peter's first disciples lived as hermits on Mount Majella in the Abruzzi. The Benedictine rule was taken as the basis of the life, but was supplemented by regulations notably increasing the austerities practised. The form of government was borrowed largely from those prevailing in the mendicant orders. Indeed, though the Celestines are reckoned as a branch of the Benedictines, there is little in common between them. For all that, St Celestine, during his brief tenure of the papacy, tried to spread his ideas among the Benedictines, and induced the monks of Monte Cassino to adopt his idea of the monastic life instead of St Benedict's; for this purpose fifty Celestine monks were introduced into Monte Cassino, but on Celestine's abdication of the papacy the project fortunately was at once abandoned. During the founder's lifetime the order spread rapidly, and eventually there were about 150 monasteries in Italy, and others in France, Bohemia and the Netherlands. The French houses, twenty-one in number, formed a separate congregation, the head-house being in Paris. The French Revolution and those of the 19th century destroyed their houses, and the Celestine order seems no longer to exist.
Peter of Morrone was in close contact with the Franciscan Spirituals of the extreme type (see Franciscans), and he endeavoured to form an amalgamation between them and his hermits, under the title "Poor Hermits of Celestine." On his abdication the amalgamation was dissolved, and the Franciscan element fled to the East and was finally suppressed by Boniface VIII. and compelled to re-enter the Franciscan order. The habit of the Celestines was black.
See Helyot, Histoire des ordres religieux (1792), vi. c. 23; Max Heimbucher, Orden und Kongregationen (1896), i. § 22, p. 134; the art. "Cölestiner" in Wetzer und Welte, Kirchenlexicon (ed. 2), and Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopädie (ed. 3).
(E. C. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)