Today is the feast of St. Alessio Falconieri and the founders of the Servants of Mary, or "Servites" who are mendicants (e.g., Franciscans, Dominicans, Carmelites, etc.). The Servites were founded as a Confraternity in Florence in 1233. Seven lay men first gathered in their project and then escaped the city to the top of Mount Senario which is where the HQ of the Servites still is. They followed the Rule of Augustine. Bl. Pope Benedict XI granted the Order of Servites full approval in 1304. The founders were canonized in 1888. The patronal feast of the order is Our Lady of Sorrows (15 Sept).
Beatorum fratrum, Domine,
pietatem nobis benignus infunde,
qua et Dei Genetricem sunt devotissime venerati,
et tuum ad te populum provexerunt.
There is nothing mysterious about the grammar of this prayer, nor most of the words. One of the most difficult words we can encounter in Latin prayers is here, however. Pietas.
Pietas, which gives us the famous Italian pietà and English (through Norman French "pity"), has various meanings according to the period of Latin and the context. The mighty Lewis & Short Latin Dictionary shows that pietas means "dutiful conduct towards the gods, one’s parents, relatives, benefactors, country, etc., sense of duty". It never really loses that connotation. However, it also comes to mean in the Vulgatee "love and duty towards God. Logically it comes also to mean "gentleness, kindness, tenderness, pity, compassion". The liturgical Latin dictionary by Blaise stresses goodness and mercy when applying the word and its derviatives to God. There are times when we can translate it is "mercy". I think it is good never to lose sight of the dimension of "duty".
Kindly pour into us, O Lord,
the dutiful love of the blessed brethren,
by which they most devotedly venerated the Mother of God
and they guided to You Your people.
St. Alessio Falconieri, uncle of St. Giuliana Falconieri and a Guelph, one of the original founders, felt himself unworthy to be a priest and so remained a lay brother his whole life. He was the only original founder alive when Benedict XI approved the Order in 1304. Recompense?