Skip to main content
Select Source:

Franciscans

FRANCISCANS

FRANCISCANS. In 1209 Saint Francis of Assisi founded the Order of Friars Minor, more commonly known as the Franciscans. Despite the wishes of his wealthy father, Francis abandoned his privileged lifestyle and devoted himself to a life of poverty and preaching in the vernacular to the masses. His mendicant order soon gained the support of powerful patrons, including Pope Innocent III, who approved of the Franciscans' respect for church authority and orthodox doctrine in a time of rampant popular heresy. Soon after, Francis's childhood friend Clare founded a female counterpart to the Franciscans, called the Poor Clares, who also lived in voluntary poverty but remained cloistered rather than wandering and begging as did the Franciscans.

In colonial times, the Franciscans were preeminent in the discovery, exploration, and settlement of Spanish North America. In the Spanish borderlands of the colonies, that is, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, they were the only missionaries to spend significant time among the Indians and to cover substantial territory. Many old missions still bear witness to the zeal and success that marked their activity. The work of bishop-elect Juan Juáres, who in 1528 journeyed to Florida with Pánfilo de Narváez's expedition, and Father José Sánchez, who in 1884 died at San Gabriel Mission, California, stand as well-known examples of Franciscan achievement.

In the sections of North America that belonged to France, where they were known as the Recollects, the Franciscans were less active. They cast their lot with Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, in the Illinois country and on the Texas coast between 1675 and 1687. Thereafter, until 1763, when French North America became English territory, the Franciscans labored in upper Louisiana, at Cahokia on the Mississippi River, at Detroit in Michigan, and at the French forts in northern Ohio, Pennsylvania (Duquesne), and New York (Niagara, Crown Point, and Saint Frédéric). In the English colony of Maryland, they joined the Jesuits in 1672 and were active there until 1720, when the last of their group died. It is probable that from Maryland they forayed into Pennsylvania.

During the half-century following the American Revolution, various provinces in Europe sent Franciscans to the United States, usually with immigrant groups. These Franciscans labored chiefly in the "new" West and Northwest. Among them, Father Michael Egan in 1810 became the first bishop of Philadelphia. Unfortunately, scholars have yet to trace and to write the history of these isolated Franciscans.

The present era of Franciscan activity in the United States, which has taken place chiefly in parishes and schools, began in about the 1850s. Since then, regularly organized into juridical entities, Franciscans have advanced steadily in both membership and foundations. At the end of the twentieth century, the Franciscan order boasted almost eighteen thousand members worldwide, with just under twelve thousand of those members serving as priests and the rest as scholastics and lay brothers. Working both in the United States and in foreign areas such as Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Japan, Peru, and the Philipines, American Franciscans have focused their efforts on friaries, schools, and Indian missions.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Galloway, Patricia K., ed. La Salle and His Legacy: Frenchmen and Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1982.

Hann, John, and Bonnie G. McEwan. The Apalachee Indians and Mission San Luis. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998.

Rabasa, Jose. Writing Violence on the Northern Frontier: The Historiography of Sixteenth-Century New Mexico and Florida and the Legacy of Conquest. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000.

Antonine S.Tibesar/a. e.

See alsoColorado River Explorations ; Exploration of America, Early ; French Frontier Forts ; Hennepin, Louis, Narratives of ; Indian Missions .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscans." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscans." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscans

"Franciscans." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscans

Franciscans

Franciscans (frănsĬs´kənz), members of several Roman Catholic religious orders following the rule of St. Francis (approved by Honorius III, 1223). There are now three organizations of Franciscan friars: the Friars Minor [Lat. abbr., O.F.M.] (the second largest order in the Roman Catholic Church; only the Jesuit order is larger), formerly called the Observants; the Friars Minor Capuchin (see Capuchins), the fourth largest of the great religious orders; and the Friars Minor Conventual [Lat. abbr., O.M.C.]. Within 50 years of St. Francis's foundation, the order had a very strong wing of zealots—the Spirituals, who advocated absolute poverty, thus deploring the convents or any settled life. They allied themselves with the anarchical monks who were preaching the teachings of Joachim of Fiore. St. Bonaventure tried to reconcile the factions of the order, but the Spirituals grew stronger and saw one of their heroes made pope as St. Celestine V. His abdication made their agitation one of the major social and religious problems of Italy. So far as the order was concerned, John XXII settled (1322) the matter by putting the Franciscans on a level with every other order with respect to owning property corporately. He also put a stop (1323) to a Franciscan boast that their way was more nearly perfect than any other. However, within the order there still remained a desire for reform, and in the following years a movement developed toward restoring primitive practice. The friars of this tendency (Observants) gained recognition within the order and eventually were made independent (1517) by Leo X. Soon afterward a movement among the Observants established the Capuchins (1525) as a still stricter adherence to the rule. All the Franciscan orders have shared in home and foreign missions; the Franciscans were in many parts of America the dominant missionaries. They have had a continuous role in education and were leaders in medieval university life. They have had a major place in preaching among Catholics: from them come the Stations of the Cross and the Christmas Crib. Since the 15th cent. the Observants have been charged with the care of Roman Catholic interests in the Holy Places in Palestine. Besides the friars, the Franciscans include the Poor Clares, the order of nuns founded by St. Clare, and countless members of the third order (see tertiary), an order consisting of both men and women, some of whom live in communities and many of whom live in the world. There are scores of religious communities of sisters of every sort of charitable mission who are regular Franciscan tertiaries. Of canonized and beatified saints, far more have been Franciscans than members of any other order. The best-known of them is perhaps St. Anthony of Padua. The Franciscans were called Gray Friars. Their habit is now typically brown. For the place of Franciscans among orders, see monasticism.

See studies by J. Moorman (1968), K. Esser (tr. 1970), and T. MacVicar (1986).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscans." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscans." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/franciscans

"Franciscans." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/franciscans

Franciscans

Franciscans (or ‘friars minor’ or ‘grey friars’) were a mendicant order founded by St Francis of Assisi (1181/2–1226), the son of a wealthy merchant, in 1209, when he gave his disciples, like him devoted to poverty, care of the sick, and meditation, the ‘Regula primitiva’, the first rule, heavily influenced by apostolic models. In 1212 a wealthy woman, Clare, joined Francis: she became abbess of a community of Franciscan nuns (‘Poor Clares’), like their male counterparts noted for their ascetic poverty. Francis was unwilling to regularize his rapidly growing band of itinerant preachers, and control soon passed from his hands. In 1223 Pope Honorius III confirmed a more institutionalized rule which emphasized total poverty. The friars were to live by their own labour or by begging. Later, following Dominican example, the Franciscans were organized into provincial and general chapters under the ultimate authority of the minister-general.

Thereafter the order expanded rapidly, appealing particularly to urban benefactors, and the Franciscans settled and preached primarily in towns, though they were also active in missionary work in the East. Tension between those who wished to follow the apostolic ideals of the founder (later known as the ‘Spirituals’), however impractical, and those who were prepared to compromise, particularly over the issues of property and corporate poverty (the ‘Conventuals’), soon emerged, bringing disunity to the order, particularly in the mid-13th and early 14th cents., when many of the more radical ‘Spirituals’ were condemned as heretics, while in 1368 a new group, the ‘Observants’, emerged in Italy demanding a return to the rule of 1223.

The first Franciscans under Agnello of Pisa were sent to England by Francis in 1224 and communities founded at Canterbury, London, and Oxford. Thereafter the Franciscans grew rapidly and there were some 60 houses by 1300. At Oxford the Franciscans soon acquired a reputation for their scholarship, first under Alexander of Hales, and were in the forefront of intellectual activity during the 13th and 14th cents., their number including Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, and William of Occam. There were also three successful houses of Franciscan nuns, of which the Minories, in London, was the most significant. At the end of the 15th cent. six houses of Observants were established, three being transfers from Conventual friaries. Observant friars were fierce opponents of Henry VIII's policies and many were executed or imprisoned during the 1530s. The English order was dissolved in 1538.

Brian Golding

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscans." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscans." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/franciscans

"Franciscans." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/franciscans

Franciscans

Franciscans Friars belonging to an itinerant religious order founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. The first order, known as the Friars Minor now comprises three subdivisions: the Observants; the Capuchin; and the Conventual, who are allowed to own property corporately. The second order, Poor Clares, an order of nuns founded by Saint Francis and Saint Clare, came into being in 1212.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscans." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscans." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/franciscans-0

"Franciscans." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/franciscans-0

Franciscan

Fran·cis·can / franˈsiskən/ • n. a friar, sister, or lay member of a Christian religious order founded in 1209 by St. Francis of Assisi or based on its rule, and noted for its preachers and missionaries. • adj. of, relating to, or denoting St. Francis or the Franciscans.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscan." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscan." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscan-0

"Franciscan." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscan-0

Franciscans

Franciscans. Christian religious orders derived from St Francis and St Clare of Assisi. Basic to them is the initial determination of Francis that they should be brothers and sisters ‘living according to the form of the Holy Gospel’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscans." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscans." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscans

"Franciscans." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscans

Franciscan

Franciscan friar of the order founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209. XVI. — F. franciscain — modL. Franciscanus, f. Franciscus Francis; see -AN.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscan." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscan." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscan-1

"Franciscan." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscan-1

Franciscan

Franciscanblacken, bracken, slacken •Sri Lankan •Alaskan, Gascon, Madagascan, Nebraskan •Aachen, darken, hearken, kraken, Marcan, Petrarchan •Interlaken •beckon, Deccan, pekan, reckon •Mencken •awaken, bacon, betaken, forsaken, Jamaican, mistaken, partaken, shaken, taken, waken •godforsaken •archdeacon, beacon, Costa Rican, deacon, Dominican, Mohican, Mozambican, Puerto Rican, weaken •quicken, sicken, stricken, thicken, Wiccan •silken •Incan, Lincoln •brisken, Franciscan •barbican • Rubicon • Gallican •Anglican •Helicon, pelican •basilican, Millikan, silicon •publican • pantechnicon • Copernican •African • American • hurricane •lexicon, Mexican •Corsican • Vatican • liken •Brocken, Moroccan •falcon, Lorcan, Majorcan, Minorcan •Balcon, Balkan •gyrfalcon •awoken, bespoken, betoken, broken, foretoken, oaken, outspoken, plain-spoken, ryokan, spoken, token, woken •heartbroken •Lucan, toucan •Saarbrücken • Buchan • Vulcan •drunken, Duncan, shrunken, sunken •Etruscan, molluscan (US molluskan), Tuscan •Ardnamurchan • lochan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Franciscan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 20 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Franciscan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscan

"Franciscan." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 20, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/franciscan