Custos (Franciscans)

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Custos (English: guardian) means a religious superior or an official in the Franciscan Order. The precise meaning has differed over time, and among the Friars Minor, Conventuals, and Capuchins.

The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an order of friars within the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Roberto Genuin.



Francis of Assisi sometimes applied the word to any superior in the Order - Guardians, Ministers Provincial, and even to the Minister General. [1] Sometimes he restricts it to officials presiding over a certain number of friaries in the larger provinces of the Order with restricted powers and subject to their respective Ministers Provincial. It is in this latter sense that he refers [2] to the custodes as having power, conjointly with the Provincials, to elect and to depose the Minister General.

Francis of Assisi Catholic saint and founder of the Franciscan Order

Saint Francis of Assisi, born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally named as Francesco, was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon and preacher. He founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.

An ecclesiastical province is one of the basic forms of jurisdiction in Christian Churches with traditional hierarchical structure, including Western Christianity and Eastern Christianity. In general, an ecclesiastical province consists of several dioceses, one of them being the archdiocese, headed by metropolitan bishop or archbishop who has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over all other bishops of the province.

The friaries over which a custos (in this latter sense) presided were collectively called a custody (Latin : custodia). The number of custodies in a province varied according to its size. Already at an early period it was deemed expedient that only one of the several custodes of a province should proceed to the General Chapter with his respective Minister Provincial for the election of the Minister General, although the Rule of St. Francis accorded the right of vote to each custos.

This custom was approved by Pope Gregory IX in 1230 [3] and by other popes, evidently with the view to prevent unnecessary expense. The custos thus chosen was called Custos custodum, or, among the Observants until the time of Pope Leo X, [4] discretus discretorum. This ancient legislation, which has long since ceased in the Order of Friars Minor, still obtained in the Order of Friars Minor Conventuals, in their Constitutions confirmed by Pope Urban VIII.

Pope Gregory IX 178th Pope

Pope Gregory IX was Pope from 19 March 1227 to his death in 1241. He is known for issuing the Decretales and instituting the Papal Inquisition in response to the failures of the episcopal inquisitions established during the time of Pope Lucius III through his papal bull Ad abolendam issued in 1184.

Pope Leo X Pope from 1513 to 1521

Pope Leo X, born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was Pope from 9 March 1513 to his death in 1521.

Pope Urban VIII 17th-century Catholic pope

Pope Urban VIII reigned as Pope from 6 August 1623 to his death in 1644. He expanded the papal territory by force of arms and advantageous politicking, and was also a prominent patron of the arts and a reformer of Church missions.

In the Capuchin Order there are two kinds of custodes: Custodes General and Custodes Provincial. Two Custodes General are elected every three years at the provincial chapters. The first of these has a right to vote at the election of the Minister General should a General Chapter be held during his term of office. Besides, he has the obligation of presenting to the General Chapter an official report on the state of his province. The Custodes Provincial, on the contrary, have no voice in the General Chapters, and their rights and duties are much restricted and unimportant.

In the Constitutions of the Order of Friars Minor there is also mention of two kinds of custodes: one called custos provinciae, the other custos regiminis. The former is elected at the provincial chapter and holds office for three years. Besides having a voice in all capitular acts of his province he takes part in the General Chapter, should his Minister Provincial be impeded. The custos regiminis is a friar who rules over a custody, or sub-province. He possesses ordinary jurisdiction and has all the rights and privileges of a Minister Provincial. The number of friaries in a custodia regiminis ranges from four to eight.

The Custodian of the Holy Land is an appointed office in the Franciscan Order, which is approved by the Vatican.

Holy See episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, is the apostolic episcopal see of the bishop of Rome, known as the Pope, ex cathedra the universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, and a sovereign entity of international law. Founded in the 1st century by Saints Peter and Paul, by virtue of Petrine and Papal primacy according to Catholic tradition, it is the focal point of full communion for Catholic bishops and Catholics around the world organised in polities of the Latin Church, the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches, and their dioceses and religious institutes.


  1. See Rule:Chapters IV & VIII, and his Testament.
  2. Rule, VIII.
  3. "Quo elongati", Bull. Rom., III, 450, Turin edition.
  4. "Ite et vos", Bull. Rom., V, 694.

PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "article name needed". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.

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<i>Catholic Encyclopedia</i> English-language encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic Church, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States and designed to serve the Roman Catholic Church. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index volume in 1914 and later supplementary volumes. It was designed "to give its readers full and authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine".

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