Friar (Latin frater,"brother") is a term applied to members of certain religious orders who practice the principles of monastic life and devote themselves to the service of humanity in the secular world. Originally, their regulations forbade the holding either of community or personal property, and the resulting dependence of friars on voluntary contributions in order to live caused them to be known as mendicant orders. The founders of the orders used the term friar to designate members; Saint Francis of Assisi called his followers Friars Minor, and Saint Dominic used the name Friars Preachers. The larger orders were given popular names, derived usually from the color or other distinguishing marks of their habits, such as Black Friars (Dominicans), Gray Friars (Franciscans), and White Friars (Carmelites). Friars differed from monks in that the monk was attached to a specific community within which he led a cloistered life, having no direct contact with the secular world. The friar, on the other hand, belonged to no particular monastic house but to a general order, and worked as an individual in the secular world. Thus, friar and monk are not synonymous terms, even though in popular usage monk is often used as a generic term for all members of religious orders.
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Mendicant Friars (Latin mendicare,"to beg") are members of
religious orders in the Roman Catholic church, who take a vow of poverty by
which they renounce all personal and communal property. They live
chiefly by charity. After overcoming the initial opposition of the
established clergy, the chief societies were authorized in the 13th
century. They include:
We have tried to include locations and affiliations. We hope to some day add a sentence or two describing the specific focus of each Order. Assistance on all this is appreciated!
There are also non-Catholic Orders:
[From Lat. frater, through O. Fr. fredre, frere, M. E. frere; It. frate (as prefix fra); Sp. fraile (as prefix fray); Port. fret; unlike the other Romance languages French has but the one word frère for friar and brother].
A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.
USE OF THE WORD
In the early Church it was usual for all Christians to address each other as fratres or brothers, all being children of the one Heavenly Father, through Christ. Later, with the rise and growth of the monastic orders, the appellation began gradually to have a more restricted meaning; for obviously the bonds of brotherhood were drawn more closely between those who lived under the rule and guidance of one spiritual father, their abbot. The word occurs at an early date in English literature with the signification of brother, and from the end of the thirteenth century it is in frequent use referring to the members of the mendicant orders, e.g. c. 1297, "frere prechors" (R. Glouc. 10105); c. 1325, "freres of the Carme and of Saint Austin" (Pol. Songs, 331), c. 1400, "frere meneours" (Maunder, xxxi, 139); c. 1400, "Sakked freres" (Rom. Rose). Shakespeare speaks of the "Friars of orders gray" (Tam. Shr., iv, i, 148). The word was also loosely applied to members of monastic and military orders, and at times to the convent of a particular order, and hence to the part of a town in which such a convent had been located.
The word friar is to be carefully distinguished in its application from the word monk. For the monk retirement and solitude are undisturbed by the public ministry, unless under exceptional circumstances. His vow of poverty binds him strictly as an individual but in no way affects the right of tenure of his order. In the life of the friar, on the contrary, the exercise of the sacred ministry is an essential feature, for which the life of the cloister is considered as but an immediate preparation. His vow of poverty, too, not only binds him as an individual to the exercise of that virtue, but, originally at least, precluded also the right of tenure in common with his brethren. Thus originally the various orders of friars could possess no fixed revenues and lived upon the voluntary offerings of the faithful. Hence their name of mendicants. This second feature, by which the friar's life differs so essentially from that of the monk, has become considerably modified since the Council of Trent. In Session XXV, ch. iii, "De Regular.", all the mendicant orders -- the Friars Minor and Capuchins alone excepted -- were granted the liberty of corporate possession. The Discalced Carmelites and the Jesuits have availed themselves of this privilege with restrictions (cf. Wernz, Jus Decretal., III, pt. II, 262, note). It may, however, be pertinently remarked here that the Jesuits, though mendicants in the strict sense of the word, as is evident from the very explicit declaration of St. Pius V (Const. "Cum indefessæ", 1571), are classed not as mendicants or friars, but as clerics regular, being founded with a view to devoting themselves, even more especially than the friars, to the exercise of the sacred ministry (Vermeersch, De Relig., I, xii, n. 8).
ORDERS OF FRIARS
The orders of friars are usually divided into two classes: the four great orders mentioned by the Second Council of Lyons (can. xxiii) and the lesser orders. The four great orders in their legal precedence are: (1) the Dominicans (St. Pius V, Const. "Divina", 1568); (2) the Franciscans; (3) the Carmelites, (4) the Augustinians.
The Dominicans, or Friars Preachers, formerly known as the Black Friars, from the black cappa or mantle worn over their white habit, were founded by St. Dominic in 1215 and solemnly approved by Honorius III, in Dec., 1216. They became a mendicant order in 1221.
The Franciscans, or Friars Minor (Grey Friars), were founded by St. Francis of Assisi, who is rightly regarded as the patriarch of the mendicant orders. His rule was orally approved by Innocent III in 1209 and solemnly confirmed by Honorius III in 1223 (Const. "Solet"). It is professed by the Friars Minor, the Conventuals, and the Capuchins.
The Carmelites, or White Friars, from the white cloak which covers their brown habit, were founded as a purely contemplative order, but became mendicants in 1245. They received the approbation of Honorius III (Const. "Ut vivendi", 30 Jan., 1226) and later of Innocent IV (Const. "Quæ honorem", 1247). The order is divided into two sections, the Calced and Discalced Carmelites.
The Augustinians, or Hermits of St. Augustine (Austin Friars), trace their origin to the illustrious Bishop of Hippo. The various branches which subsequently developed were united and constituted from various bodies of hermits a mendicant order by Alexander IV (Const. "Iis, quæ", 31 July, 1255, and Const. "Licet", 4 May, 1256).
These four orders are called by canonists the quatuor ordines mendicantes de iure communi. The Fourth Lateran Council ("De relic. dom.", III, tit. xxxvi, c. ix) had forbidden in 1215 the foundation of any new religious orders. In face of this prohibition a sufficient number of new congregations, especially of mendicants, had sprung up to attract the attention of the Second Council of Lyons. In canon xxiii, the council, while specially exempting the four mendicant orders above mentioned, condemns all other mendicant orders then existing to immediate or to gradual extinction. All orders established since the Council of Lateran, and not approved by the Holy See, were to be dissolved at once. Those since established with such approval were forbidden to receive new members. The illustrious order of Service, founded in 1233 and approved by Alexander IV in 1256 (Const. "Deo grata"), happily survived this condemnation. Concerning the four greater orders, the council concludes: "Be it understood, however, that we do not conceive of the extension of this constitution to the Orders of Friars Preachers and of Friars Minor, whose evident service to the universal Church is sufficient approval. As for the Hermits of St. Augustine and the Order of Carmelites, whose foundation preceded the said Council (Fourth Lateran), we wish them to remain as solidly established as heretofore" (Lib. III, tit. xvii, c. un., in VI). The importance of the orders thus singled out and exempted was afterwards still further emphasized by the insertion of this canon into the "Corpus Juri" in the "Liber Sixtus" of Boniface VIII.
The so-styled lesser orders, of which the following are today the most flourishing, were founded and approved at various subsequent periods: the Minims (1474), the Third Order Regular of St. Francis (1521); the Capuchin -- as constituting a different branch of the Franciscan Order -- (1525); the Discalced Carmelites -- as constituting a distinct branch of the Carmelites -- (1568); the Discalced Trinitarians (1599); the Order of Penance, known in Italy as the Scalzetti (1781).
Publication information Written by Gregory Cleary. Transcribed by Albert Judy, O.P.. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VI. Published 1909. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, September 1, 1909. Remy Lafort, Censor. Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York
REIFENSTUEL, SCHMALZGRUEBER, and other writers on titles xxxi and xxxvi of Bk. III of the Decretals of Gregory IX; FERRARIS, Bibliotheca: Relig. Regulares (Rome, 1885-96), I, 24; SUAREZ, De Virtute et Statu Religionis (Mainz, 1604), pt. II tract. ix; BARBOSA, Juri Eccl. Universi (Lyons, 1699), I, c. xli, n. 207; VERMEERSCH, De Relig. Inst. et Personis (2nd ed. Bruges, 1907), I, 38; WERNZ, Jus Decretal. (Rome, 1908), III pt. II, 262; HEIMBUCHER, Die Orden und Kongregationen (2nd ed., Paderborn, 1907) 1, 39; alas popular works, with plates showing the different religious habits, such as MALLESON AND TUKER, Handbook to Christian and Ecclesiastical Rome, III (London, 1900); STEELE, Monasteries and Religious Houses in Great Britain and Ireland (London, 1903). HÉLYOT, Hist. des ordres religieux (Paris, 1714-19); republished by MIGNE as Dict. de ordres religieux (Paris, 1847-69).
A monk may be conveniently defined as a member of a community of men, leading a more or less contemplative life apart from the world, under the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, according to a rule characteristic of the particular order to which he belongs. The word monk is not itself a term commonly used in the official language of the Church. It is a popular rather than a scientific designation, but is at the same time very ancient, so much so that its origin cannot be precisely determined. So far as regards the English form of the word, that undoubtedly comes from the Angle-Saxon munuc, which has in turn arisen from the Latin monachus, a mere transliteration of the Greek monachos. This Greek form is commonly believed to be connected with monos, lonely or single, and is suggestive of a life of solitude; but we cannot lose sight of the fact that the word mone, from a different root, seems to have been freely used, e.g. by Palladius, as well as monasterion, in the sense of a religious house (see Butler, "Palladius's Lausiac History" passim). Be this as it may, the Fathers of the fourth century are by no means agreed as to the etymological significance of monachus. St Jerome writes to Heliodorus (P.L., XXII, 350), "Interpret the name monk, it is thine own; what business hast thou in a crowd, thou who art solitary?" St. Augustine on the other hand fastens on the idea of unity (monas) and in his exposition of Ps. cxxxii, extols the appropriateness of the words "Ecce quam bonum et quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum" when chanted in a monastery, because those who are monks should have but one heart and one soul (P.L., XXXVII, 1733). Cassian (P.L., XLIX, 1097) and Pseudo-Dionysius (De Eccl. Hier., vi) seem to have thought monks were so called because they were celibate.
In any case the fact remains that the word monachus in the fourth century was freely used of those consecrated to God, whether they lived as hermits or in communities. So again St. Benedict a little later (c. 535) states at the beginning of his rule that there are four kinds of monks (monachi):
cenobites who live together under a rule or an abbot,
anchorites or hermits, who after long training in the discipline of a community, go forth to lead a life of solitude (and of both of these classed he approves; but also
"girovagi" (wandering monks), whom he strongly condemns as men whose religious life is but a pretence, and who do their own without the restraint of obedience.
It is probably due to the fact that the Rule of St. Benedict so constantly describes the brethren as monachi and their residence as monaslerium, that a tradition has arisen according to which these terms in Latin and English (though not so uniformly in the case of the corresponding German and French works) are commonly applied only to those religious bodies which in some measure reproduce the conditions of life contemplated in the old Benedictine Rule. The mendicant friars, e.g. the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites, etc., though they live in community and chant the Divine Office in choir, are not correctly described as monks. Their work of preaching, mixing with their fellow men in the world, soliciting alms, and moving from place to place, is inconsistent with the monastic ideal. The same is to be said of the "clerks regular", like the Jesuits, in whose rule the work of the apostolate is regarded as so important that it is considered incompatible with the obligation of singing office in choir. Again members of the religious congregations of men, which take simple but not solemn vows, are not usually designated as monks. On the other hand it should be noted that in former days a monk, even though he sang office in choir, was not necessarily a priest, the custom in this respect having changed a good deal since medieval times. Besides the Benedictines with their various modifications and offshoots, i.e. the Cluniacs, Cistercians, Trappists etc., the best known orders of monks are the Carthusians, the Premonstratensians, and the Camaldolese. The honorary prefix Dom, and abbreviation of Dominus is given to Benedictines and Carthusians.
Publication information Written by Herbert Thurston. Transcribed by Barbara Jane Barrett. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York
HEIMBUCHER, Die Orden und Kongregationen (Paderborn, 1907 sqq.); HELYOT, Histoire des Ordres Religieux (Paris, 1743); SCHIEIETZ, Vorgesch. des Monchthums in the Archiv f. kath. Kirchenrecht (Mainz, 1898), 3 sqq. and 305 sqq.
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