Order of Friars Minor Conventual

Last updated
Order of Friars Minor Conventual
AbbreviationO.F.M. Conv., O.M.C.
Founder Francis of Assisi
Type Catholic religious order
HeadquartersPiazza XII Apostoli, 51
Rome, Italy
Minister General
Friar Carlos Alberto TROVARELLI
Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, the most important church of the Order, where the saint's body is preserved. Assisi San Francesco BW 2.JPG
Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, the most important church of the Order, where the saint's body is preserved.

The Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv), commonly known as the Conventual Franciscans , or Minorites, is a Catholic branch of the Franciscans, founded by Francis of Assisi in 1209.



A Conventual Franciscan Conventual Franciscan.JPG
A Conventual Franciscan

The Order of Friars Minor Conventual (or Conventual Franciscans), is a mendicant Catholic religious order. It is one of three separate fraternities that make up the First Order of St. Francis, that is, the friars. The Second Order is the Poor Clares, an order of women; members of the Third Order may be men or women, secular or regular.

It is not entirely clear how the term "Conventual" arose. In the Bull "Cum tamquam veri" of 5 April, 1250, Pope Innocent IV decreed that Franciscan churches where convents existed might be called Conventual churches, and some have maintained that the name "Conventual" was first given to the religious residing in such convents. Another view holds that word Conventualis was used to distinguish the residents of large convents from those who lived more after the manner of hermits. [1] (Although in modern usage "convents" are generally understood to mean in particular the home of female religious, just as monastery denotes that of men, originally "convent" referred to the entire community of a monastic establishment.)

The Order of Friars Minor Conventual is spread throughout the world, and as of August 2018 includes 30 provinces, 18 custodies, 460 friaries and 4048 friars. There are four provinces of Conventual Franciscans in the United States. Friars serve in parishes, schools, as chaplains for the military and for other religious orders; they serve in various types of homes and shelters, and with Catholic Relief Services. [2] Particular characteristics of the Conventuals' tradition are community life and the apostolate in the cities. [3]


Friars are different from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience) in service to society, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. In the life of the friar, the exercise of public ministry is an essential feature, for which the life of the cloister is considered as but an immediate preparation. Whereas monks live in a self-sufficient community, friars work among laypeople and were supported, at least initially, by donations or other charitable support. A monk or nun often takes an additional vow of "stability", committing themselves to a particular community in a particular place. Friars commit to a community spread across a wider geographical area known as a province, and so they may move, spending time in different houses of the community within their province. [4]

While monasteries had a tradition of assisting the poor and the sick, and provided access to religious services, as people began to move into towns, it was the friars that had the flexibility to relocate there. Even during the early days of the Franciscans a difference of opinion developed in the community concerning the interpretation of the rule regarding poverty. Towards the end of Francis' life, there was a growing trend for the brothers to live in larger communities (“convents”) and to be engaged in pastoral work, particularly in the cities. As the order grew, the literal and unconditional observance of this came to appear impracticable by the great expansion of the order, its pursuit of learning, and the accumulated property of the large cloisters in the towns. [5]

Some favored a relaxation in the rigor of the rule, especially as regards the observance of poverty, and other preferred to keep to its literal strictness. The tendency towards relaxation became more marked after the death of Francis in 1226, and was encouraged by his successor, Brother Elias. A long dispute followed in which the “Friars of the Community”, who had adopted certain mitigations gradually came to be called Conventuals, while those who were zealous for the strict observance of the rule were called Zelanti, and afterwards named Observants.

After the death of the Minister General, Bonaventure in 1274, the Order grew even more divided between the “Conventuals”, who had been given permission to have their communities in the cities in order to preach the Gospel and be of service to the poor, and that of the “Zealots” or “Spirituals”, later known as “Observants” who emphasized absolute poverty and the eremitical and ascetical dimensions of Franciscanism. [6] Notwithstanding this division in the order formally sanctioned in 1415 by the Council of Constance, both Observants and Conventuals continued to form one body under the same head until 1517. [1]

In that year Pope Leo X called a general chapter of the whole order at Rome, with a view to effecting a reunion between the Observants and Conventuals. The former agreed but requested permission to observe the rule without any dispensation; the latter declared they did not wish for the union if it entailed their renouncing the dispensations they had received from the Holy See. Leo X thereupon incorporated with the Observants all the Franciscan friars who wished to observe the rule without dispensation, abolishing the different denominations of Clareni, Colletani, etc.; he decreed that the members thus united should be called simply Friars Minor of St. Francis, or Friars Minor of the Regular Observance, and should have precedence over the Conventuals; he moreover conferred upon the Observants the right of electing the minister general, who was to bear the title of Minister General of the Whole Order of Friars Minor. Those who continued to live under dispensations were constituted a separate body with the name of Conventuals (Bulls "Omnipotens Deus", 12 June, 1517, and "Licet Alias", 6 Dec., 1517) and given the right to elect a master general of their own, whose election, however, had to be confirmed by the Minister General of the Friars Minor. The latter appears never to have availed himself of this right, and the Conventuals may be regarded as an entirely independent order from 1517, but it was not until 1580 that they obtained a special cardinal protector of their own. [1]

In 1565 the Conventuals accepted the Tridentine indult allowing mendicant orders to own property corporately, and their chapter held at Florence in that year drew up statutes containing several important reforms which Pope Pius IV subsequently approved. In 1625 new constitutions were adopted by the Conventuals which superseded all preceding ones. These constitutions, which were subsequently promulgated by Pope Urban VIII are known as the "Constitutiones Urbanæ" and are of importance, since at their profession the Conventuals vow to observe the Rule of St. Francis in accordance with them, that is to say, by admitting the duly authorized dispensations therein set forth. [1] In 1897, Pope Leo XIII reorganized the Franciscan Orders, giving each its own Minister General. [6]


The Conventuals enjoy the privilege of caring for the tomb of St. Francis at Assisi and that of St. Anthony at the Basilica in Padua, [3] and they furnish the penitentiaries to the Vatican Basilica and to the sanctuary at Loreto. [1]

The Order of Friars Minor Conventual sought to spread the ideals of Saint Francis throughout the new urban social order of the Middle Ages. Some friars settled in the urban slums, or the suburbs of the medieval neighbourhoods where the huts and shacks of the poorest were built outside the safety of the city walls. In London, the first settlement of the friars was set in what was called "Stinking Lane."

Since the suburbs were also the place where hospitals were set up, the friars were often commissioned by the city government to facilitate the care of the sick. The friars also helped to construct sturdier buildings, replacing the previous huts, and constructed churches. Robert Grosseteste, then Bishop of Lincoln, marvelled that the people "run to the friars for instruction as well as for confession and direction. They are transforming the world."

The Friars of the Community sought to take Francis's ideals to the far reaches of a universal Church. After the founder's death, they began the task of translating Francis's earthly existence into a socially relevant spiritual message for current and future generations. The Conventual Franciscans nestled their large group homes into small areas of land surrounded by poverty. They used their abilities to combat the hardships and injustices of the poverty stricken areas where they settled.


The habit of the Conventuals consists of a serge tunic fastened around the waist with a thin white cord; to the large cape, which is round in front and pointed behind, a small hood is attached. [1] The color may be either black, which was adopted during the French revolution, dark grey or light grey, which is worn by friars in East Africa. [3]

Notable Members of the Order




Servants of God

Popes and Clergy


Related Research Articles

Franciscans Group of religious orders within the Catholic Church

The Franciscans are a group of related mendicant religious orders within the Catholic Church, founded in 1209 by Saint Francis of Assisi. These orders include the Order of Friars Minor, the Order of Saint Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. They adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others.

Order of Friars Minor Capuchin

The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an religious 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 Friar Roberto Genuin.

The Fraticelli or Spiritual Franciscans were extreme proponents of the rule of Saint Francis of Assisi, especially with regard to poverty, and regarded the wealth of the Church as scandalous, and that of individual churchmen as invalidating their status. They thus claimed that everyone else in the Church were damned and deprived of powers and were declared heretical in 1296 by Boniface VIII.

Friar member of a mendicant religious order in Catholic Christianity

A friar is a brother member of one of the mendicant orders founded in the twelfth or thirteenth century; the term distinguishes the mendicants' itinerant apostolic character, exercised broadly under the jurisdiction of a superior general, from the older monastic orders' allegiance to a single monastery formalized by their vow of stability. The most significant orders of friars are the Dominicans, Franciscans, Augustinians and Carmelites.

Poor Clares Catholic order of convent nuns

The Poor Clares, officially the Order of Saint Clare – originally referred to as the Order of Poor Ladies, and later the Clarisses, the Minoresses, the Franciscan Clarist Order, and the Second Order of Saint Francis – are members of a contemplative Order of nuns in the Catholic Church. The Poor Clares were the second Franciscan branch of the order to be established. Founded by Saints Clare of Assisi and Francis of Assisi on Palm Sunday in the year 1212, they were organized after the Order of Friars Minor, and before the Third Order of Saint Francis for the laity. As of 2011 there were over 20,000 Poor Clare nuns in over 75 countries throughout the world. They follow several different observances and are organized into federations.

Ubertino of Casale Italian Franciscan leader

Ubertino of Casale was an Italian Franciscan and one of the leaders of the Spirituals, the stricter branch of the Franciscan order.

Albert Berdini, O.F.M., was a Franciscan friar and noted preacher, born in 1385 in the town of Sarteano, which lies in the Province of Siena in the Tuscan region of Italy. He was an associate of Bernardine of Siena, and a diplomatic envoy of Pope Eugene IV to the Coptic and Ethiopian Churches.

Peter de Regalado Franciscan (friar minor) and reformer

Saint Peter de Regalado was a Franciscan and reformer.

Venerable Thomas Belchiam (1508–1537) was an English Franciscan who died in Newgate Prison in the reign of Henry VIII. He is a Catholic martyr, declared venerable by Pope Leo XIII. The year of death is in question: the Victoria County History for Kent puts the events in 1534. It references Thomas Bourchier's Historia Ecclesiastica de Martyrio Fratrum..., "though the writer assigns them to 1537". Dom Bede Camm, O.S.B., places Belchiam's date of death as August 3, 1537. Notes and Queries lists him as dying in 1538.

Albert of Pisa, O.Min., was an Italian Franciscan friar. He served as minister provincial for Germany, Hungary, and England.

Matteo Serafini was the co-founder and first Superior-General of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, the principal branch of the Franciscans issued from the Reform of the Observance.

Ludovico of Casoria - born Arcangelo Palmentieri - was an Italian Roman Catholic priest and a professed member of the Order of Friars Minor. He was a renowned social reformer who founded both the Grey Friars of Charity and the Grey Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth.

Custos 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.

Pietro Caperolo was an Italian Franciscan preacher.

John Forest 16th-century English Franciscan friar and martyr

John Forest was an English Franciscan Friar and martyr. Confessor to Queen Catherine of Aragon, Forest was burned to death at Smithfield for heresy, in that he refused to acknowledge the King as head of the church.

Apostolic Vicariate of Istanbul apostolic vicariate

The Apostolic Vicariate of Istanbul is a Roman Catholic apostolic vicariate based in the city of Istanbul in Turkey. Its territory is the northwestern region of the country. The current Vicar Apostolic is Rubén Tierrablanca González, O.F.M., a Franciscan friar and native of Mexico, who was appointed by Pope Francis on April 16, 2016.

John Stowe American Conventual Franciscan friar and bishop

John Eric Stowe, O.F.M. Conv., is an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church currently serving as the third Bishop of the Diocese of Lexington in Kentucky.

Giacomo Bini Franciscan priest

Giacomo Bini was a Franciscan priest. Ordained in 1964, he worked as a missionary in Africa, and was appointed Minister General of the Order of the Friars Minor (OFM) for the period 1997–2003. He was fluent in Italian, French, English, Spanish and Kiswahili.

Michael A. Perry American friar

Michael Anthony Perry, O.F.M., is an American Franciscan friar who is the General Minister of the Order of Friars Minor.

Order of Friars Minor male order in the Catholic Church

The Order of Friars Minor is a mendicant Catholic religious order, founded in 1209 by Francis of Assisi. The order adheres to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of the founder and of his main associates and followers, such as Clare of Assisi, Anthony of Padua, and Elizabeth of Hungary, among many others. The Order of Friars Minor is the largest of the contemporary First Orders within the Franciscan movement.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 PD-icon.svg  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Robinson, Paschal (1908). "Order of Friars Minor Conventuals". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia . 4. New York: Robert Appleton. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  2. Conventual Franciscans, US and Canada Provinces
  3. 1 2 3 Our Lady of the Angels Province, OFM Conv.
  4. Cleary, Gregory. "Friar." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 22 December 2017PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. Bihl, Michael. "Order of Friars Minor". The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 21 December 2017PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  6. 1 2 "History", Curia OFMConv
  7. "Saint Peter Regalado", Franciscan Media
  8. 1 2 3 "Franciscan Saints", Conventual Franciscans, St. Joseph of Cupertino Province
  9. Donovan, Stephen. "Bl. Albert Berdini of Sarteano." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 29 December 2019PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. 1 2 Wysoczański OFM Conv, Jarosław. "Witnesses of Hope", Polish Conventuals
  11. Donovan, Stephen. "Francesco Lorenzo Brancati di Lauria." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 2. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 29 December 2019PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. Oliger, Livarius. "Nicholas Papini." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 29 December 2019PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.