Discalced is a term applied to those religious congregations of men and women, the members of which go entirely barefoot or wear sandals, with or without other covering for the feet. These congregations are often distinguished on this account from other branches of the same order. The custom of going unshod was introduced into the West by Francis of Assisi for men and Clare of Assisi for women.
After the various modifications of the Rule of St. Francis, the Observants (who existed as an independent branch of the Order prior to 1897) adhered to the primitive custom of going unshod. The Minim friars and Capuchins followed in this practice. The Discalced Franciscans of Spain (known as Alcantarines, who formed a distinct branch of the Franciscan Order prior to 1897 ) went without footwear of any kind. The followers of St. Clare of Assisi at first went barefoot, but later came to wear sandals and shoes.
The Colettine and Capuchin nuns returned to the use of sandals. Sandals were also adopted by the Camaldolese monks of the Congregation of Monte Corona (1522), the Maronite Catholic monks, the Poor Hermits of St. Jerome of the Congregation of Blessed Peter of Pisa, the Augustinians of Thomas of Jesus (1532), the Barefooted Servites (1593), the Discalced Carmelites (1568), the Feuillants (Cistercians, 1575), Trinitarians (1594), Mercedarians (1604), and the Passionists.