The 1577 statute
Of the compagnia laicale di San Niccolò
As the tradition reported on the manuscript number 608 that is preserved in the Civic Library of the Etruscan Academy of Cortona goes, the Compagnia di San Niccolò was founded on 15th August 1440 by sixteen students aged under 16 according to the will of San Bernardino from Siena, who was staying in Cortona, and followed the spiritual guide of a Franciscan friar of Santa Margherita. The original statutes have been unfortunately lost: the first one was approved by Bishop of Cortona Matteo di Lorenzo Ughi or by his successor Rimbertini, another one was approved in 1481 by Bishop Petrella, a third one was approved in 1517 by Bishop Sernini. The 1577 Statute is however very important for the history of the Compagnia, since it is the final act of the renewal of the brotherhood, thanks to Marcantonio Laparelli, an erudite and pious person and son of famous military architect Francesco, who designed the city walls of Valletta, the capital of Malta. This statute, which is preserved in its unabridged text in spite of the loss of the original document after the flood in Florence in 1966, opens with a foreword telling the first episodes related to the formation of the brotherhood. Then the rules regulating the life of the brotherhood are listed in different sections: Foundation, State and Government of the Compagnia, Care of poor people, Proxy to marry poor young girls, Observance, intelligence and interpretation of all the rules of the statute to be respected in every congregation.
All these elements make you understand how the activity of the Compagnia is completely addressed to social causes and relief works towards the weakest classes, in addition to a general and fundamental religious activity.
After the 1577 statute, we only have evidence of partial modifications during the 18th century; the Compagnia continued its commitment for over two centuries, until the merger with the Compagnia del Gesù and the definitive suppression established by Grand duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1784.
After the re-establishment of the Compagnia Laicale, in 1952, a final statute was approved in 1954 by Bishop Giuseppe Franciolini; in this one, according to the new circumstances and the evolution of society, it is stated that the preservation and protection of the church of San Niccolò and its works of art are the Compagnia’s fundamental aims.