Daily Life: Confraternities

A confraternity is a voluntary organisation of lay people who are gathered to do good deeds (as defined by the church). Working together, they are able to accomplish greater things than they would be able to do individually. For example, the Confraternita di San Camillo sponsors a paupers' hospital in Vanzenia, and ensures that there is care available to even the very poor in the city. Others sponsor festivals, offer charity for the poor, bury paupers, pray for the souls of the living or the dead, or encourage the arts. Some confraternities are powerful social organisations, whose members reap immense benefits from the connections that they make, and may also engage in trade or other enterprises together; others have anonymous membership. A confraternity may be open to all, or it may be restricted by social class, sex, age or citizenship: however, they tend to be one of the more 'open' institutions, where people of all parts of society can work together for the public good.

One of the most peculiar types of confraternities are the 'confraternite avventurose', or adventurous confraternities. In a world where monsters may appear in the countryside, where demons and faeries and the undead may walk the streets, many people need a greater level of protection than the sbirri can provide. Adventurous confraternities are associations who deal with these sorts of problems as a public service, and an act of praise towards La Salvatrice, who slew her share of monsters in her day. The Confraternita di Santa Giovanna is a masked confraternity in Fiumenze which assembles after working hours when there is need to go on adventures and make the world a safer place. Although none of the members know one another, they know they can rely on each other when there is a manticore to battle or a ghost that must be laid to rest.

Image result for confraternity art
Image: 'Male Members of a Confraternity.' Carlo Crivelli, c. 1500.


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