Regulations for the good governance of the Zitelle Gasparine

Transcription of the Regulations, by M. Gasparini (original version in PDF).

Summary of the Regulations, by Monica Gasparini

The regulation provided for a composition divided into the following figures for the general government of the Collegio delle Zitelle Gasparini:

  • the Congregation, formed in 1589, on the recommendation of the founder Francesco Gasparini, of 14 Commissioners and Governors, then reduced to 6 in 1663. The President was elected from among them.
  • the Rectors of the city of Padua, who were also Vice Rectors of the house, who met for the "greater needs" of the house.
  • the Protectresses, that is the wives of the 6 governors, who had to take turns visiting the House at least once a week and inquiring with all "dexterity and diligence" how they spent their lives in the College. "If a "Zitella" complained to them about the Prioress or the Teacher for light things they had to take her back gently, exhorting her to be patient and obedient, making her capable of little reason for little things".
    The Protectresses had to make sure that the Zitelle were instructed in Christian doctrine, prayed, attended the Sacraments and obeyed the regulations of the College and the precepts of the superiors.

The management of the House was ensured by the people who were assigned by the governors the tasks of:

  • Prioress, Teacher and Concierge (on the proposal of the Protectresses): the first supervised all the activities of the house "and to carry out all those things that belong to honor", the second, chosen among the elderly Zitelle, taught the girls the jobs "and good morals instructing humility, patience, devotion and other holy virtues", the third managed the keys and ensured that no one else entered but authorized persons" Governors, Protectresses, Doctors, bakers and the like ". Mothers, sisters and other relatives accessed with prior authorization from the Prioress and only in her presence.
  • Steward, who kept the "minute" book of debts, credits and alms.
  • Notary or clerk, who was entrusted with the legal management of property, rentals and any other legal writing necessary for the House. He noted "in the inventory the burdens incumbent on their assets with the note of the writings, and instructing those due".
  • Confessor and chaplain, who provided for the spiritual needs and the health of the soul of the spinsters, "showing them with true examples how important it is to provide for the health of the soul rather than that of the body".

Such an articulated structure of government had the purpose not only of guaranteeing the young people of the House to have the daily means to live at their disposal, ensuring the preservation of their virtue otherwise in danger, but also of procuring the economic means "to marry the Zitelle or make them nuns "so that they could give way in the House to other girls in danger. And to provide these means, the Governors had the task of asking for specific alms.

The regulation also established the conditions for being admitted to the House: being over 11 years old and being a virgin.
Among those who had these requirements, priority was given to the most beautiful, poorest and orphaned young women, since, according to the founder Francesco Gasparini: "the ugly ones are in less danger than the beautiful ones, the rich ones than the poor ones, those have Father to Mother than the ones who dismissed them from every government ".
In case there was a need to admit some "well-born" young virgin, this could be granted upon advance payment of 40 ducats a year to cover expenses.
The admission procedure included a petition addressed to the Chancellor, accompanied by the faith of baptism and the favorable vote of at least two thirds of the Congregation.
Among the obligations of the Zitelle is to pray every day for the soul of Francesco Gasparini "who by creating his blessed House has fully provided for the salvation of honor, and of their souls", and above all, the obligation not to leave the house if not to get married or become a nun or to move to another place, but only with the authorization of the President and the Governors, granted after evaluating whether the place is such as to honor the House.