A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.
Friars and monks
Friars differ from monks
in that they are called to a life of poverty in service to a community, rather than cloistered asceticism
and devotion. Whereas monks live cloistered away from the world in a self-sufficient community, friars are supported by donations or other charitable support.
The name Friar
is a corruption of the French
("brother" in English), and dates from the 13th century. The French word frère
in turn comes from the Latin
, which also means "brother".
St. Francis of Assisi called his followers fratres minores, which G. K. Chesterton translated as "little brothers". However, another interpretation of fratres minores is "lesser brothers", because the Franciscan order stressed minority or humility.
There are two classes of orders known as friars, or mendicant orders: the four "great orders" and the so-called "lesser orders".
Four great orders
The four great orders were mentioned by the Second Council of Lyons
(1274), and are:
- The Dominicans, founded ca. 1215. The Dominicans are also known as the "Friar Preachers", or the "Black Friars", from the black mantle ("cappa") worn over their white habit. The Dominicans were founded by St. Dominic and received papal approval from Honorius III, in 1216 as the "Ordo Praedicatorum" under the Rule of St. Augustine. They became a mendicant order in 1221.
- The Franciscans, founded in 1209. The Franciscans are also known as the "Friars Minor" or the "Grey Friars". The Franciscans were founded by St. Francis of Assisi and received oral papal approval by Innocent III in 1209 and formal papal confirmation by Honorius III in 1223.
- The Carmelites, founded ca. 1155. The Carmelites are also known as the "White Friars" because of the white cloak which covers their brown habit. They received papal approval from Honorius III in 1226 and later by Innocent IV in 1247. The Carmelites were founded as a purely contemplative order, but became mendicants in 1245. There are two types of Carmelites, the Calced and Discalced Carmelites.
- The Augustinians, founded in 1255. The Augustinians are also known as the "Hermits of St. Augustine", or the "Austin Friars". Their rule is based on the writings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinians were assembled from various groups of hermits as a mendicant order by Alexander IV, from whom they obtained papal approval in 1255.
The lesser orders are:
Other name use
Friars have been used as a mascot
. Schools using Friars as a mascot include Bishop Lynch High School
, Fenwick High School
in Oak Park
, Providence College
, Rhode Island
, St. Anthony's High School
in Long Island
, New York
, Malvern Preparatory School
, and Monsignor Bonner High School
in Drexel Hill