Through the analysis of the beneficiary structure of the diocese, the author reconstructs the connections between religious life and economical weakness in the Bergamo area between the 18th and 19th centuries in a variety of local cases. Except for some scattered areas, there was no lack in the plain dominated by poor and illitterate wage-earners, of hired parsonages - that is with a wage-earning parson with no adequate beneficiary endowment, of humble origin and with some hundreds of believers or little more. They were more numerous in the mountains and in the valleys, as a result of the local people’s tendency to make the religious service wide-spread, building places of worship also in the most isolated hamlets. In these parishes the communities, which also held old rights of patronage for the pastor’s appointment, had felt obliged to enter into proper "time contracts", with priests with no regular ecclesiastical investi-ture. Economic weakness made it difficult in the Napoleonic age to apply the parish refor-mation in its economical and disciplinary aspects, that is in the matter of beneficiary endow-ments, priestly ordinations, episcopal competitions.
Keywords: parishes, ecclesiastical institutions, reformation of the Church, the Bergamo area, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries