Charitable credit organizations from which the poor may borrow money by depositing objects of nominal value as a security. Money is lent only to the needy cases to relieve immediate and pressing financial wants and as they are on a strictly non-profiteering basis the funds they receive are expended in maintaining the establishment and in the furtherance of charitable works. The institution was founded to combat the usurious exactions of the Jewish money lenders and Lombard travelling bankers of the Middle Ages, and the first mons pietatis was established in Perugia, Italy in 1462 through the instrumentality of the Franciscans, Michele Carcano of Milan, and Barnabò da Terni and Fortunato Coppoli of Perugia. They were disseminated throughout Italy through the efforts of this Order, particularly in the person of Blessed Bernardine of Feltre whose insistence on interest to protect the institution’s permanency raised a controversy among the theologians who considered it usury. By papal Bull, 4 May 1515, Pope Leo X declared the institution meritorious and the public expression of anti-mons pietatis sentiments incurred excommunication. Consequent to this the institution spread rapidly throughout France, Italy, and Spain.