Papal Bull “Cum nulla”
“Nicholas, Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God.
For perpetual memory.
No one can organize, without the permission of the Supreme Pontiff, any group of faithful, under whatever form of religion. Any group of female religious, virgins, widows, “beguines,” “mantellati” or other similar groups, which exist under the title and protection of the Order of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel, or who in the future offer to commit themselves, may not continue without the approval of the apostolic authority. By means of these letters, we decree that with regard to the reception, mode of life, admission and protection of the aforementioned, we decree that the Order and the Master General and the Priors Provincial enjoy and may use the same identical privileges given to the Order of Preachers and to the Hermits of St. Augustine. With these privileges the aforementioned virgins, widows, “beatas” and “mantellati” live in chastity and honestly, keeping fast and fulfilling all other duties, as they already do, according to the statutes of the virgins, “beguines,” and “mantellati” of the other Orders, who also live in chastity and honesty. Let no one dare to interfere and contravene our decree. However, if someone presumes to contravene it, let that person know that he will incur the wrath of God and of his holy apostles, Peter and Paul.
Given in Rome, in St. Peter’s, in the year 1452 of the Incarnation of Our Lord, the 7th day of October, in the six year of our pontificate.
The Papal Bull “Cum nulla” – what it means for Carmelites
With the Bull “Cum nulla” Pope Nicholas V officially approved our cloistered nuns, the Third Order, and the laity of the Carmelite Confraternities.
From the earliest times in Italy there had been men and women associated with the Order. The “conversi” or “conversae” consecrated themselves to God with three private vows, similar to the religious, putting themselves under obedience to the superiors of the Order. The “conversi” lived as “semi-brothers,” outside the cloister. The oblates and the members of the Confraternities that participated in the spiritual benefits of the Order, wore a habit that consisted of a white mantle, hence the name “mantellati.”
The women who were affiliated to the Order lived in their own houses. The Order had no monasteries for the enclosed nuns at this time. Blessed John Soreth, the Prior General, to whom the Bull was addressed, undertook this project. On May 10, 1452, he admitted the “beguines” of Ten Elsen in modern day Geldern, Germany to the Order. There was a similar case in Florence. In 1450 various female “mantellatae,” some living in their own houses, formed a community. The prior of the house in Florence, Bartolomew Masi, obtained the papal bull “Cum nulla” from Pope Nicholas V, dated October 7, 1452. This gave authority to the Prior General and to the Provincials of the Order to receive, admit, and protect the female virgin religious, widows, “beguines,” mantellatae, who, individually or in groups (convents) were living, or in the future would ask to live, under the habit and protection of the Carmelite Order. This bull is considered as the institution of the Carmelite cloistered nuns, of the Third Order and of the Carmelite Confraternities.
Since then great nuns and seculars have made Carmel shine: Blessed Francis d’ Amboise (France – XV century), Blessed Arcangela Girlani (Italy – XV century), Blessed Joan Scopelli (Italy – XV century), St Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi (Italy – XVI century), St Teresa of Jesus (Spain – XVI century) who started the Discalced Carmelites who have borne much fruit for the Church, and many others. Among the Lay and Third Order Carmelites are Blessed Joan of Toulouse (France - XIV and XV century), Liberata Ferraron and Carmen de Sojo, Blessed Isidoro Bakanja, and Blessed George Preca, a Maltese priest of the Third Order.
The original test of the bull “Cum nulla” may be found in the State Archives of Florence at number 400, page 145v-146r, Vatican Reg. This is directed to “The Most Rev. General of the Order of St. Mary of the Carmelites, Rome.