|This article is missing citations or needs footnotes. Please help add inline citations to guard against copyright violations and factual inaccuracies. (September 2008)|
|This article may contain original research. Please improve it by verifying the claims made and adding references. Statements consisting only of original research may be removed. More details may be available on the talk page. (September 2008)|
|Order of Friars Minor|
|Type||Catholic religious order|
|Key people||Francis of Assisi — founder|
The term Franciscan is most commonly used to refer to members of Catholic religious orders, founded by Saint Francis of Assisi. As well as Catholic there are also small Old Catholic and Anglican Franciscan communities. It can also be applied to ideals he inspired in many movements in the modern age.
The most prominent group is the Order of Friars Minor (commonly called simply the "Franciscans"). They seek to follow most directly the manner of life the Saint led. This Order--actually divided among three separate groups--is a mendicant religious order of men tracing their origin to Francis of Assisi. The three separate groups, each considered a religious order in its own right, are the Observants, most commonly simply called "Franciscan friars," the Capuchins, and the Conventual Franciscans. They all live according to a body of regulations known as "The Rule of St. Francis",
The official Latin name of the Orders of Friars Minor is the Ordo Fratrum Minorum. St. Francis thus referred to his followers as "Fraticelli", meaning "Little Brothers". Franciscan brothers are informally called friars or the Minorites. The modern organization of the Friars Minor now comprises three separate branches: the 'Friars Minor' (OFM); the 'Friars Minor Conventuals' (OFM Conv), and the 'Friars Minor Capuchins' (OFM Cap).
The women who comprise the "Second" Order of the movement are most commonly called Poor Clares in English-speaking countries. The order is called the "Order of St. Clare" (O.S.C.).
The Third Order, or Third Order of Penance, has ten thousands of members, as it includes both men and women, both living in religious communities under the traditional religious vows, as well as those who live regular lives in society, while trying to leave the ideals of the movement in their daily lives.
Anglican Franciscan First Order (brothers and sisters) are known as the Society of St Francis (S.S.F.), the nuns of the Second Order are called the Poor Clares of Reparation (P.C.R.), and Third Order (composed of ordained and lay members, both male and female, married and single, that pursue "ordinary" lives under a rule of life) are known as the Third Order Society of St Francis (T.S.S.F.).
The beginning of the brotherhood
A sermon which Francis heard in 1209 on Mt 10:9 made such an impression on him that he decided to devote himself wholly to a life of apostolic poverty. Clad in a rough garment, barefoot, and, after the Evangelical precept, without staff or scrip, he began to preach repentance.
He was soon joined by a prominent fellow townsman, Bernardo di Quintavalle, who contributed all that he had to the work, and by other companions, who are said to have reached the number of eleven within a year. The brothers lived in the deserted lazar-house of Rivo Torto near Assisi; but they spent much of their time traveling through the mountainous districts of Umbria, always cheerful and full of songs, yet making a deep impression on their hearers by their earnest exhortations. Their life was extremely ascetic, though such practises were apparently not prescribed by the first rule which Francis gave them (probably as early as 1209), which seems to have been nothing more than a collection of Scriptural passages emphasizing the duty of poverty.
In spite of some similarities between this principle and some of the fundamental ideas of the followers of Peter Waldo, the brotherhood of Assisi succeeded in gaining the approval of Pope Innocent III. What seems to have impressed first the Bishop of Assisi, Guido, then Cardinal Giovanni di San Paolo and finally Innocent himself, was their utter loyalty to the Church and the clergy. He was not only the Pope reigning during the life of St. Francis of Assisi, but he was also responsible for helping to construct the Church Francis was being called to rebuild. Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council helped maintain the church in Europe. Francis was called to a life of poverty and to the joyful freedom that comes when the corruptible treasures of this life are not the object of our life's energies nor the measure of success. Francis was called to a life of humility, showing forth in his nonviolence, peace, and respect for creation. Francis was called to a life of simplicity, and put all of his hope in Jesus Christ. Innocent probably saw in them a possible answer to his desire for an orthodox preaching force to counter heresy. Many legends have clustered around the decisive audience of Francis with the Pope. The realistic account in Matthew Paris, according to which the Pope originally sent the shabby saint off to keep swine, and only recognized his real worth by his ready obedience, has, in spite of its improbability, a certain historical interest, since it shows the natural antipathy of the older Benedictine monasticism to the plebeian mendicant orders. The group was tonsured and Francis was ordained as a deacon, allowing him to read Gospels in the church.
The last years of Francis
Francis had to suffer from the dissensions just alluded to and the transformation which they operated in the originally simple constitution of the brotherhood, making it a regular order under strict supervision from Rome. Exasperated by the demands of running a growing and fractious Order, Francis asked Pope Honorius III for help in 1219. He was assigned Cardinal Ugolino as protector of the order by the Pope. Francis resigned the day-to-day running of the Order into the hands of others but retained the power to shape the Order's legislation, writing a Rule in 1221 which he revised and had approved in 1223. At least after about 1223, the day-to-day running of the Order was in the hands of Brother Elias of Cortona, an able friar who would be elected as leader of the friars a few years after Francis' death (1226) but who aroused much opposition because of his autocratic style of leadership. He planned and built the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi in which Saint Francis is buried, a building including the friary Sacro Convento, which still today is the spiritual centre of the order.
In the external successes of the brothers, as they were reported at the yearly general chapters, there was much to encourage Francis. Caesarius of Speyer, the first German provincial, a zealous advocate of the founder's strict principle of poverty, began in 1221 from Augsburg, with twenty-five companions, to win for the order the land watered by the Rhine and the Danube. In 1224 Agnellus of Pisa led a small group of friars to England. The branch of the order arriving in England became known as the greyfriars. Beginning at Canterbury, the ecclesiastical capital, they moved on to London, the political capital and Oxford, the intellectual capital. From these three bases the Franciscans swiftly expanded to embrace the principal towns of England.
Development of the order after the death of Francis
Dissensions during the life of Francis
The controversy about issues of poverty, which extends through the first three centuries of Franciscan history, began in the lifetime of the founder. The ascetic brothers Matthew of Narni and Gregory of Naples, a nephew of Ugolino, the two vicars-general to whom Francis had entrusted the direction of the order during his absence, carried through at a chapter which they held certain stricter regulations in regard to fasting and the reception of alms, which really departed from the spirit of the original rule. It did not take Francis long, on his return, to suppress this insubordinate tendency; but he was less successful in regard to another of an opposite nature which soon came up. Elias of Cortona originated a movement for the increase of the worldly consideration of the order and the adaptation of its system to the plans of the hierarchy which conflicted with the original notions of the founder and helped to bring about the successive changes in the rule already described. Francis was not alone in opposition to this lax and secularizing tendency. On the contrary, the party which clung to his original views and after his death took his "Testament" for their guide, known as Observantists or Zelanti, was at least equal in numbers and activity to the followers of Elias. The conflict between the two lasted many years, and the Zelanti won several notable victories, in spite of the favor shown to their opponents by the papal administration—until finally the reconciliation of the two points of view was seen to be impossible, and the order was actually split into halves.
Development to 1239
When the General Chapter could not agree on a common interpretation of the 1223 Rule it sent a delegation including St. Anthony of Padua to Pope Gregory IX for an authentic interpretation of this piece of papal legislation. The bull Quo elongati of Gregory IX declared that the Testament of St. Francis was not legally binding and offered an interpretation of poverty that would allow the order to continue to develop. The earliest leader of the strict party was rather Brother Leo, the witness of the ecstasies of Francis on Monte Alverno and the author of the Speculum perfectionis, a strong polemic against the laxer party. Next to him came John Parenti, the first successor of Francis in the headship of the order. In 1232 Elias succeeded him, and under him the order developed its ministries and presence in the towns significantly. Many new houses were founded, especially in Italy, and in many of them special attention was paid to education. The somewhat earlier settlements of Franciscan teachers at the universities (in Paris, for example, where Alexander of Hales was teaching) continued to develop. Contributions toward the promotion of the order's work, and especially the building of the Basilica in Assisi, came in abundantly. Funds could only be accepted on behalf of the friars for determined, imminent, real necessities that could not be provided for from begging. Gregory IX, in Quo elongati, authorized agents of the order to have custody of such funds where they could not be spent immediately. Elias pursued with great severity the principal leaders of the opposition, and even Bernardo di Quintavalle, the founder's first disciple, was obliged to conceal himself for years in the forest of Monte Sefro. It must be noted that St. Clare of Assisi, whom St. Francis saw as a co-founder of his movement, consistently backed Elias as faithfully reflecting the mind of their founder.
Elias had governed the order from the center, imposing his authority on the provinces (as had Francis). A reaction to this centralized government was led from the provinces of England and Germany. At the general chapter of 1239, held in Rome under the personal presidency of Gregory IX, Elias was deposed in favor of Albert of Pisa, the former provincial of England, a moderate Observantist. This chapter introduced General Statutes to govern the order and devolved power from the Minister General to the Ministers Provincial sitting in chapter. The next two Ministers General, Haymo of Faversham (1240–44) and Crescentius of Jesi (1244–47), consolidated this greater democracy in the Order but also led the order towards a greater clericalisation. The new Pope Innocent IV supported them in this. In a bull of November 14, 1245, this pope even sanctioned an extension of the system of financial agents, and allowed the funds to be used not simply for those things that were necessary for the friars but also for those that were useful. The Observantist party took a strong stand in opposition to this ruling, and carried on so successful an agitation against the lax General that in 1247, at a chapter held in Lyon, France—where Innocent IV was then residing—he was replaced by the strict Observantist John of Parma (1247–57) and the order refused to implement any provisions of Innocent IV that were laxer than those of Gregory IX.
Elias, who had been excommunicated and taken under the protection of Frederick II, was now forced to give up all hope of recovering his power in the order. He died in 1253, after succeeding by recantation in obtaining the removal of his censures. Under John of Parma, who enjoyed the favor of Innocent IV and Pope Alexander IV, the influence of the order was notably increased, especially by the provisions of the latter pope in regard to the academic activity of the brothers. He not only sanctioned the theological institutes in Franciscan houses, but did all he could to support the friars in the Mendicant Controversy, when the secular Masters of the university of Paris and the Bishops of France combined to attack the Mendicant Orders. It was due to the action of Alexander's representatives, who were obliged to threaten the university authorities with excommunication, that the degree of doctor of theology was finally conceded to the Dominican Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscan Bonaventure (1257), who had previously been able to lecture only as licentiates.
The Franciscan Gerard of Borgo San Donnino at this time issued a Joachimite tract and John of Parma was seen as favoring the condemned theology of Joachim of Fiore. To protect the order from its enemies John was forced to step down and recommended Bonaventure as his successor. Bonaventure saw the need to unify the order around a common ideology and both wrote a new life of the founder and collected the order's legislation into the Constitutions of Narbonne, so called because they were ratified by the Order at its chapter held at Narbonne, France, in 1260. In the chapter of Pisa three years later Bonaventure's Legenda maior was approved as the only biography of Francis and all previous biographies were ordered to be destroyed. Bonaventure ruled (1257–74) in a moderate spirit, which is represented also by various works produced by the order in his time—especially by the Expositio regulae written by David of Augsburg soon after 1260.
To 1300. Continued dissensions
The successor to Bonaventura, Jerome of Ascoli or Girolamo Masci (1274–79), (the future Pope Nicholas IV), and his successor, Bonagratia of Bologna (1279–85), also followed a middle course. Severe measures were taken against certain extreme Spirituals who, on the strength of the rumor that Pope Gregory X was intending at the Council of Lyon (1274–75) to force the mendicant orders to tolerate the possession of property, threatened both pope and council with the renunciation of allegiance. Attempts were made, however, to satisfy the reasonable demands of the Spiritual party, as in the bull Exiit qui seminiat of Pope Nicholas III (1279), which pronounced the principle of complete poverty meritorious and holy, but interpreted it in the way of a somewhat sophistical distinction between possession and usufruct. The bull was received respectfully by Bonagratia and the next two generals, Arlotto of Prato (1285–87) and Matthew of Aqua Sparta (1287–89); but the Spiritual party under the leadership of the Bonaventuran pupil and apocalyptic Pierre Jean Olivi regarded its provisions for the dependence of the friars upon the Pope and the division between brothers occupied in manual labor and those employed on spiritual missions as a corruption of the fundamental principles of the order. They were not won over by the conciliatory attitude of the next general, Raymond Gaufredi (1289–96), and of the Franciscan Pope Nicholas IV (1288–92). The attempt made by the next pope, Pope Celestine V, an old friend of the order, to end the strife by uniting the Observantist party with his own order of hermits (see Celestines) was scarcely more successful. Only a part of the Spirituals joined the new order, and the secession scarcely lasted beyond the reign of the hermit-pope. Pope Boniface VIII annulled Celestine's bull of foundation with his other acts, deposed the general Raymond Gaufredi, and appointed a man of laxer tendency, John de Murro, in his place. The Benedictine section of the Celestines was separated from the Franciscan section, and the latter was formally suppressed by Pope Boniface VIII in 1302. The leader of the Observantists, Olivi, who spent his last years in the Franciscan house at Narbonne and died there in 1298, had pronounced against the extremer "Spiritual" attitude, and given an exposition of the theory of poverty which was approved by the more moderate Observantists, and for a long time constituted their principle.
Temporary success of the stricter party. Persecution
Under Pope Clement V (1305–14) this party succeeded in exercising some influence on papal decisions. In 1309 Clement had a commission sit at Avignon for the purpose of reconciling the conflicting parties. Ubertino of Casale, the leader, after Olivi's death, of the stricter party, who was a member of the commission, induced the Council of Vienne to arrive at a decision in the main favoring his views, and the papal constitution Exivi de paradiso (1313) was on the whole conceived in the same sense. Clement's successor, Pope John XXII (1316–34), favored the laxer or conventual party. By the bull Quorundam exigit he modified several provisions of the constitution Exivi, and required the formal submission of the Spirituals. Some of them, encouraged by the strongly Observantist general Michael of Cesena, ventured to dispute the Pope's right so to deal with the provisions of his predecessor. Sixty-four of them were summoned to Avignon, and the most obstinate delivered over to the Inquisition, four of them being burned (1318). Shortly before this all the separate houses of the Observantists had been suppressed.
Renewed controversy on the question of poverty
A few years later a new controversy, this time theoretical, broke out on the question of poverty. The Spirituals contended eagerly for the view that Christ and his apostles had possessed absolutely nothing, either separately or jointly. This proposition had been declared heretical in a trial before an inquisitor. A protest was now made against this decision by the chapter held at Perugia in 1322, as well as by such influential members of the order as William of Ockham (Occam), the English provincial, and Bonagratia of Bergamo.
John XXII aligned himself decidedly with the Dominicans, who combated the theory, and by the papal bull Cum inter nonnullos of 1322 declared the Franciscan doctrine of the poverty of Christ erroneous and heretical. In his bull Ad conditorem canonum of the same year, John forced the Franciscans to accept property and granted an exemption from the Rule which absolutely forbade the friars ownership of property. Appealing from this decision, Bonagratia, Occam, and Michael of Cesena were imprisoned at Avignon for four years, until they escaped by the help of the Emperor Louis the Bavarian. Supported by him, they carried on a literary war against the papal and Dominican denial of the absolute poverty of Christ and his apostles. The Pope deposed Cesena and Occam from their offices in the order, and excommunicated them with the Franciscan Anti-Pope Peter of Corvara (Nicholas V) and all their adherents. Only a small part of the order, however, joined them, and at a general chapter held in Paris (1329) the majority of all the houses declared their submission to the Pope. The same step was taken in the following year by the antipope, later by the ex-general Cesena, and finally, just before his death, by Occam.
Out of all these dissensions in the fourteenth century sprang a number of separate congregations, almost of sects. To say nothing of the heretical parties of the Beghards and Fraticelli, some of which developed within the order on both hermit and cenobitic principles, may here be mentioned:
or Clarenini, an association of hermits established on the river Clareno in the march of Ancona by Angelo da Clareno after the suppression of the Franciscan Celestines by Boniface VIII. It maintained the principles of Olivi, and, outside of Umbria, spread also in the kingdom of Naples, where Angelo died in 1337. Like several other smaller congregations, it was obliged in 1568 under Pope Pius V to unite with the general body of Observantists.
The Minorites of Narbonne
As a separate congregation, this originated through the union of a number of houses which followed Olivi after 1308. It was limited to southwestern France and, its members being accused of the heresy of the Beghards, was suppressed by the Inquisition during the controversies under John XXII.
The reform of Johannes de Vallibus
This was founded in the hermitage of St. Bartholomew at Brugliano near Foligno in 1334. The congregation was suppressed by the Franciscan general chapter in 1354; reestablished in 1368 by Paolo de' Trinci of Foligno; confirmed by Gregory XI. in 1373, and spread rapidly from Central Italy to France, Spain, Hungary and elsewhere. Most of the Observantist houses joined this congregation by degrees, so that it became known simply as the "brothers of the regular Observance." It acquired the favor of the popes by its energetic opposition to the heretical Fraticelli, and was expressly recognized by the Council of Constance (1415). It was allowed to have a special vicar-general of its own and legislate for its members without reference to the conventual part of the order. Through the work of such men as Bernardino of Siena, Giovanni da Capistrano, and Dietrich Coelde (b. 1435? at Munster; was a member of the Brethren of the Common Life, died December 11, 1515), it gained great prominence during the fifteenth century. By the end of the Middle Ages, the Observantists, with 1,400 houses, comprised nearly half of the entire order. Their influence brought about attempts at reform even among the Conventuals, including the quasi-Observantist brothers living under the rule of the Conventual ministers (Martinianists or "Observantes sub ministris"), such as the male Colletans, later led by Boniface de Ceva in his reform attempts principally in France and Germany; the reformed congregation founded in 1426 by the Spaniard Philip de Berbegal and distinguished by the special importance they attached to the little hood (cappuciola); the Neutri, a group of reformers originating about 1463 in Italy, who tried to take a middle ground between the Conventuals and Observantists, but refused to obey the heads of either, until they were compelled by the Pope to affiliate with the regular Observantists, or with those of the Common Life; the Caperolani, a congregation founded about 1470 in North Italy by Peter Caperolo, but dissolved again on the death of its founder in 1481; the Amadeists, founded by the noble Portuguese Amadeo, who entered the Franciscan order at Assisi in 1452, gathered around him a number of adherents to his fairly strict principles (numbering finally twenty-six houses) and, died in the odor of sanctity in 1482.
Unsuccessful attempts to unite the order
Projects for a union between the two main branches of the order were put forth not only by the Council of Constance but by several popes, without any positive result. By direction of Pope Martin V, John of Capistrano drew up statutes which were to serve as a basis for reunion, and they were actually accepted by a general chapter at Assisi in 1430; but the majority of the Conventual houses refused to agree to them, and they remained without effect. At Capistrano's request Eugenius IV put forth a bull (Ut sacra minorum, 1446) looking to the same result, but again nothing was accomplished. Equally unsuccessful were the attempts of the Franciscan Pope Sixtus IV, who bestowed a vast number of privileges on both the original mendicant orders, but by this very fact lost the favor of the Observantists and failed in his plans for reunion. Julius II succeeded in doing away with some of the smaller branches, but left the division of the two great parties untouched. This division was finally legalized by Leo X, after a general chapter held in Rome in 1517, in connection with the reform-movement of the Fifth Lateran Council, had once more declared the impossibility of reunion. The less strict principles of the Conventuals, permitting the possession of real estate and the enjoyment of fixed revenues, were recognized as tolerable, while the Observantists, in contrast to this usus moderatus, were held strictly to their own usus arctus or pauper. The latter, as adhering more closely to the rule of the founder, were allowed to claim a certain superiority over the former. The Observantist general (elected now for six years, not for life) was to have the title of "Minister-General of the Whole Order of St. Francis" and the right to confirm the choice of a head for the Conventuals, who was known as "Master-General of the Friars Minor Conventual"—although this privilege never became practically operative.
Spread of the order in modern times
See: Franciscan Order in modern times
Although surpassed in the number of prominent and influential historical personages who are associated with the Jesuits and Dominicans, the Franciscan order nevertheless boasts a number of distinguished members. From its first century can be cited the three great scholastics Alexander of Hales, Bonaventure, and John Duns Scotus, the "Doctor of Wonders" Roger Bacon, and the well-known mystic authors and popular preachers David of Augsburg and Berthold of Regensburg.
During the Middle Ages noteworthy members included Nicholas of Lyra, the Biblical commentator Bernardino of Siena, preachers John of Capistrano, Oliver Maillard and Michel Menot, and historians Luke Wadding and Antoine Pagi.
In the field of Christian art, during the later Middle Ages, the Franciscan movement exercised considerable influence, especially in Italy. Several great painters of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, especially Cimabue and Giotto, who, though they were not friars, were spiritual sons of Francis in the wider sense, and the plastic masterpieces of the latter, as well as the architectural conceptions of both himself and his school, show the influence of Franciscan ideals. The Italian Gothic style, whose earliest important monument is the great convent church at Assisi (built 1228–53), was cultivated as a rule principally by members of the order or men under their influence.
The early spiritual poetry of Italy was partially inspired by Francis himself, who was followed by Thomas of Celano, Bonaventure, and Jacopone da Todi. Through a tradition which held him to have been a member of the Franciscan Third Order, even Dante may be included within this artistic tradition (cf. especially Paradiso, xi. 50).
Other famous members of the Franciscan family include Anthony of Padua, William of Occam, François Rabelais, Alexander of Hales, Giovanni da Pian del Carpini, Pio of Pietrelcina, Maximilian Kolbe, Pasquale Sarullo, Mamerto Esquiú, Gabriele Allegra, and Mychal F. Judge.
The Clarisses or Poor Clares
For the history of the female branch of the order, founded in the lifetime of Francis, see Poor Clares.
The Third Order or Order of Penance
The Third Order has its origins in the movement of the Penitents. These were people who desired to grow in holiness in their daily lives without joining a religious order. Eventually, a religious order grew out of the Secular Franciscan Order and which later became known as the Third Order Regular.
Secular Franciscan Order
During his lifetime, many married men and women asked St. Francis to embrace his style of life, but of course, due to their secular state, they were not able to enter into the First Order or into the Poor Clares. For this reason, he founded a Secular order to which lay and married men and women could belong and live according to the Gospel. Nowadays, this part of the Third Order is known as Secular Franciscan Order and is numerous and spread around the world. The original Rule, given by St. Francis in 1221, was slightly modified during the centuries to be adapted to the changing times, and now the last one was given by Pope Paul VI in 1978.
Third Order Regular
Within a century of the death of St. Francis, members of the Third Order began to live in common, in an attempt to follow a more ascetical way of life. Blessed Angela of Foligno (+1309) was foremost among those who achieved great depths in their lives of prayer and service of the poor.
Among the men, the Third Order Regular is an international community of priests and brothers who desire to emphasize the works of mercy and on-going conversion. The community is also known as the Franciscan Friars, T.O.R., and was originally founded in 1447 by a papal decree that united several communities of hermits, following the Third Order Rule. They strive to "rebuild the Church" in areas of high school and college education, parish ministry, church renewal, social justice, campus ministry, hospital chaplaincies, foreign missions, and other ministries in places where the Church is needed.
Following the formal recognition of the members of religious tertiary communities, the following centuries saw a steady growth of such communities, across Europe. Initially, the women's communities took a monastic form of life, either voluntarily or under pressure from ecclesiastical superiors. The great figure of this development was St. Hyacintha Mariscotti. As Europe entered the upheavals of the modern age, new communities arose, which were able to focus more exclusively on social service, especially during the immediate post-Napoleonic period. An example of this is the Blessed Mary Frances Schervier.
This movement continued in North America, as various congregations arose from one coast to another, in answer to the needs of the large emigrant communities, flooding in the cities of the United States and Canada.
Brothers and Sisters of Penance of Saint Francis
The Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis was a lay private Association of the Faithful founded in 1996 in the Archdiocese of St. Paul in the United States.
Franciscans International  is a Non-governmental organization (NGO) with General Consultative status at the United Nations, uniting the voices of Franciscan brothers and sisters from around the world. It operates under the sponsorship of the Conference of the Franciscan Family (CFF) and serve all Franciscans and the global community by bringing spiritual, ethical, and Franciscan values to the United Nations and international organizations.
Franciscans around the world run schools, hospitals, Justice and Peace offices, shelters, and specialise in many services for the poor. Programs at FI bring grassroots Franciscans to the United Nations forums in New York and Geneva, influencing international human rights standards and bringing witness to human rights violations.
Ecumenical and Non-Roman Catholic Franciscans
One of the results of the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church during the 19th century was the re-establishment of religious orders, including some of Franciscan inspiration. The principal Anglican communities in the Franciscan tradition are the Community of St. Francis (women, founded 1905), the Society of Saint Francis (men, founded 1934), and the Community of St Clare (women, enclosed). There is also a Third Order.
There is a young Order of Ecumenical Franciscans that started in the United States.
Another U.S.-founded order within the Anglican world communion is the Seattle-founded Order of Saint Francis (OSF) an open, inclusive, and contemporary expression of an Anglican First Order of Friars. There is also an order of Clares in Seattle (Diocese of Olympia), where the OSF is officially headquartered.
There is also a small Anglican order called The Company of Jesus with both Franciscan and Benedictine charisms.
There are also some small Franciscan communities within European Protestant and Old Catholic Churches, and The Saint Francis Ecumenical Society –  Ecumenical Franciscan Society from Eastern Europe (Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican and free Protestant members). There are some Franciscan orders in Lutheran Churches.
The masculine branch of the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, the Evangelische Kanaan Franziskus-Bruderschaft (Kanaan Franciscan Brothers follows a franciscan tradition.
Two of the more ecumenical Franciscan Orders within the Anglican heritage are the Order of Servant Franciscans (OSF) and the Conventual Community of Saint Francis (CCSF). The members of the Order of Servant Franciscans (OSF) are committed the process of becoming ministers of Christ's message of reconciliation and love, as demonstrated by the holy lives of Saints Francis and Clare.
Visions and Stigmata
Among the many Catholic orders, Franciscans have proportionally reported higher ratios of stigmata and have claimed proportionally higher ratios of visions of Jesus and Mary. Saint Francis of Assisi himself was one of the very first reported cases of stigmata, and perhaps the most famous stigmatic of modern times is Saint Padre Pio, a Capuchin, who also reported visions of Jesus and Mary. Pio's stigmata persisted for over fifty years and he was examined by numerous physicians in the 20th century, who confirmed the existence of the wounds, but none of whom could produce a medical explanation for the fact that his bleeding wounds would never get infected. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, his wounds healed once, but reappeared. According to the Columbia Encyclopedia  some medical authorities who examined Padre Pio's wounds were inclined to believe that the stigmata were connected with nervous or cataleptic hysteria. According to Answers.com  the wounds were examined by Luigi Romanelli, chief physician of the City Hospital of Barletta, for about one year. Dr. Giorgio Festa, a private practitioner also examined them in 1920 and 1925. Professor Giuseppe Bastianelli, physician to Pope Benedict XV agreed that the wounds existed but made no other comment. Pathologist Dr. Amico Bignami of the University of Rome also observed the wounds, but made no diagnosis.
Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land
After an intense apostolic activity in Italy, in 1219 Francis went to Egypt with the Fifth Crusade, to announce the Gospel to the Saracens. He met with the Sultan Malek-al-Kamel, marking the beginning of a spirit of dialogue and understanding between Christianity and Islam. The Franciscan presence in the Holy Land started in 1217, when the province of Syria was established, with Brother Elias as Minister. By 1229, the friars had a small house near the fifth station of the Via Dolorosa. In 1272 the sultan Baibars allowed the Franciscans to settle in the Cenacle on Mount Sion. Later on, in 1309, they also settled in the Holy Sepulchre and in Bethlehem. In 1335 King Robert d'Angiò of Naples, and his wife, Sancia di Maiorca, bought the Cenacle and gave it to the Franciscans. Pope Clement VI, by the Bulls "Gratias agimus" and "Nuper charissimae" (1342), declared the Franciscans as the official custodians of the Holy Places in the name of the Catholic Church.
The  Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land is still in force today.
The Franciscans established the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum as an academic society based in Jerusalem and Hong Kong for the study of scripture. The Hong Kong branch founded by the Venerable Gabriele Allegra produced the first complete translation of the Catholic Bible in Chinese in 1968 after a 40-year effort. The Studium Biblicum Translation is often considered the Chinese Bible among Catholics.
The early efforts of another Franciscan, namely Giovanni di Monte Corvino, who had attempted a first translation of the Bible in Beijing in the 14th century provided the initial spark for Gabriele Allegra's 40 year undertaking, when at the age of 21 he happened to attend the 6th centenary celebration for Monte Corvino.
- Association of Franciscan Colleges and Universities
- List of Ministers General of the Order of Friars Minor
- Conventual Franciscans
- Lourdes Health System
- "The rule of the Franciscan Order" from the Medieval Sourcebook
- Paschal Robinson (1913). "Order of Friars Minor". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Order_of_Friars_Minor.
- Paschal Robinson (1913). "Franciscan Order". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Franciscan_Order.
- Paschal Robinson (1913). "St. Francis of Assisi". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/St._Francis_of_Assisi.
- Chesterton(1924), pp. 107–108
- Galli(2002), pp. 74–80
- Greyfriars in England
- Franciscan Friars, TOR. "The Franciscan Orders". http://www.franciscanstor.org/orders.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-10.
- Franciscans International
- Little Brothers of Francis
- Order of Ecumenical Franciscans
- The Order of Servant Franciscans
- Padre Pio - Britannica Concise Encyclopedia - The online encyclopedia you can trust!
- stigmata. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001-07
- Padre Pio: Biography and Much More from Answers.com
- Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land
- http://www.sbofmhk.org Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Hong Kong
- A History of the Franciscan Order: From Its Origins to the Year 1517 by John Richard Humpidge Moorman, Oxford University Press, Oxford, (1968) ISBN 0-19-826425-9; reprint: Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, IL (1988) ISBN 0-8199-0921-1
- Franciscan Phylosophy at Oxford in the Thirteenth Century by D.E. Sharp, Oxford University Press, London (1930); (a more recent ed.: ISBN 057699216X)
- Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages (3rd Edition) by C.H. Lawrence, ISBN 0-582-40427-4
- The Spiritual Franciscans: From Protest to Persecution in the Century After Saint Francis by David Burr. ISBN 0-271-02128-4
- Francis and Clare: The Complete Works By Ignatius C. Brady, Regis J. Armstrong, Paulist Press, Mahwah, New Jersey, (1982) ISBN 0-8091-2446-7
- The Fraternal Economy: A Pastoral Psychology of Franciscan Economics By David B. Couturier, Cloverdale Books, South Bend (2007) ISBN 978-1-929569-23-6
- Francis of Assisi: Early Documents 3 Volumes. Edited by Regis J. Armstrong, OFM Cap., J.A. Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv., and William J. Short, OFM. New York: New City Press. Copyright 1999, Franciscan Institute of Saint Bonaventure University, Saint Bonaventure, NY. ISBN 978-1565481107.
- "The Franciscan Story" by Maurice Carmody, Athena Press Publishing Co. UK (2008). ISBN 1847481418 ; ISBN 978-1847481412
- Schmucki, Oktavian (2000) "Die Regel des Johannes von Matha und die Regel des Franziskus von Assisi. Ähnlichkeiten und Eigenheiten. Neue Beziehungen zum Islam" (pp. 219–244) in Cipollone, Giulio (ed.). La Liberazione dei 'Captivi' tra Cristianità e Islam: Oltre la Crociata e il Gihâd: Tolleranza e Servizio Umanitario. (CollectaneaArchivi Vaticani, 46.) Archivio Segreto Vaticano, Vatican City.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Franciscans|
- Official websites of the three branches of First Order
- Ordo Fratrum Minorum, official website
- Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum, official website
- Ordo Fratrum Minorum Conventualium, official website
- Official websites of Regular and Secular Third Order
- Franciscan Community of Mercy, an independent Franciscan website
- Companions of Jesus, a non-denominational Franciscan order
- Order of Ecumenical Franciscans, a non-denominational group
- Franciscan International Congregation located in the USA, Brazil, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands -- Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis of Assisi, official Franciscan website
- Anglican Franciscan links
- Online guide to the Academy of American Franciscan History Microfilm Collection, 1526-1972, The Bancroft Library
be:Францысканцы be-x-old:Францішкане bs:Franjevci br:Urzh ar Vreudeur minor bg:Францискански орден ca:Família franciscana cs:Řád menších bratří cy:Urdd Sant Ffransis da:Franciskanerordenen et:Frantsisklased eo:Franciskanoj eu:Frantziskotar ko:프란체스코회 hr:Franjevci io:Franciskano id:Fransiskan sw:Wafransisko la:Ordo Fratrum Minorum lt:Pranciškonai hu:Ferences rend ja:フランシスコ会 no:Fransiskanerordenen nn:Fransiskanarordenen pt:Ordem dos Frades Menores ro:Ordinul franciscan ru:Францисканцы simple:Franciscan sk:Františkáni sl:Frančiškani sr:Фрањевци sh:Franjevci fi:Fransiskaanit sv:Franciskanorden tl:Pransiskano th:ลัทธิฟรานซิสกัน uk:Францисканці zh:方济各会