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Order of Friars Minor Conventual

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Order of Friars Minor Conventual
Ordo Fratrum Minorum Conventualium (Latin)[1]
AbbreviationOFM Conv.
Formation1209; 815 years ago (1209)
FounderSt. Francis of Assisi
TypeMendicant Order of Pontifical Right (for Men)[2]
HeadquartersGeneral Curia
Piazza SS. Apostoli, 51
Rome, Italy[1]
4,076 (2,803 priests; as of 2020)[1]
Minister General
Friar Carlos Alberto Trovarelli, O.F.M. Conv.[2]
Missionary, educational, parochial works
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 (O.F.M. Conv.) is a male religious fraternity in the Catholic Church and a branch of the Franciscan Order. Conventual Franciscan Friars are identified by the affix O.F.M.Conv. after their names. They are also known as Conventual Franciscans or Minorites.

The Conventual Franciscan Friars have worldwide provinces that date to the 13th century. They dress in black or grey habits with white cords. Many friars engage in such ministries as teaching, parish ministry and service to the poor.


A Conventual Franciscan in Brazil

The Conventual Franciscan Friars are one of three separate fraternities that compose the First Order of St. Francis (with the Second Order consisting of the Poor Clares, and the Third Order being for secular or religious men and women).

Source of the name[edit]

There are several theories as to the source of the name "conventual".

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".

A second theory is that the name was given to the friars living in Conventual convents.

A third view is that the Latin word conventualis was used to distinguish the friars of large convents from friars who lived solitary lives like hermits.[3]

Today the term "convent" in English denotes a residence for nuns; however, its original meaning meant residences for either men or women.

Friar versus monk[edit]

A friar is not the same as a monk. Both take the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience).

  • The monk chooses a life of cloistered asceticism while the friar chooses a life of service in society. For 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.
  • The monk lives in a self-sufficient community, while the friar works among a wider community. The friar receives donations or other charitable support initially.
  • The monk often takes an vow of "stability", committing himself to one community in one place. The friar commits to a community spread across a province. He will move to different houses of the community within his province.[4]

Current status[edit]

OFM Conv. includes 30 provinces, 18 custodies, 460 friaries and 4048 friars worldwide as of August 2018. There are four provinces in the United States. Friars serve in parishes, schools, and as chaplains for the military and for other religious orders; they serve in various types of homes and shelters, and with Catholic Relief Services.[5] Particular characteristics of the Conventuals' tradition are community life and the urban apostolate.[6]

The Conventuals enjoy the privilege of caring for the tomb of St. Francis at Assisi and the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua,[6] and they furnish the confessors to the Basilica of St. Peter in Rome.[3]


The OFM Conv. habit consists of a tunic fastened around the waist with a thin white cord, along with a large cape which is round in front and pointed behind with a small hood attached.[3] 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.[6]


The original friars of OFM-Conv. 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."

Rule of poverty[edit]

As the Franciscan Order became increasingly centered in larger communities (“convents”) and engaged in pastoral work there, many friars started questioning the utility of the vow of poverty. The literal and unconditional observance of poverty 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.[7] Some friars favored a relaxation in the rigor of the rule, especially as regards the observance of poverty. In contrast, other friars wanted to maintain a literal interpretation of the rule.

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 what they saw as a more 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.

After the death of Francis in 1226, his successor Brother Elias encouraged more leniency in the rule of poverty. A long dispute followed in which the “Friars of the Community”, who had adopted certain mitigations, gradually came to be called Conventuals. Friars who zealously supported strict observance were called Zelanti, and later Observants.

After the death of the Minister General, Bonaventure, in 1274, the Order grew even more divided. The Conventuals received papal dispensations, or permissions, to build their communities in the cities in order to preach the Gospel and serve the poor. The Observants followed absolute poverty and the eremitical and ascetical dimensions of Franciscanism.[8][3]

Establishment of two fraternities[edit]

In 1517, Pope Leo X called a meeting of the entire Franciscan Order in Rome to end this dispute about the vow of poverty and reunite the two factions. The Observants demanded that the entire order observe the vow of poverty without any dispensation, while the Conventuals rejected any union that would require them to give up their dispensations.

Recognizing the impasse, Leo X decided to officially divide the two factions into separate fraternities:

  • Leo incorporated all the Franciscan friars who wished to observe the rule of poverty without dispensation as the Friars Minor of St. Francis, also called Friars Minor of the Regular Observance. They would have precedence over the Conventuals; he moreover conferred upon the Friars Minor the right of electing Minister General of the Whole Order of Friars Minor.
  • Those friars who wanted 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.[3]

Constitutiones Urbanæ[edit]

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 then vowed to observe the Rule of St. Francis in accordance with them, that is to say, by admitting the duly authorized dispensations therein set forth.[3] In 1897, Pope Leo XIII reorganized the Franciscan Orders, giving each its own Minister General.[8] The Urban Constitutions remained in force until 1932, when they were revised and replaced. A further substantive revision occurred in 1984, following the Second Vatican Council. The Constitutions were revised again in 2019, which remains the current version.

Notable members of the order[edit]




Servants of God[edit]




  1. ^ a b c "Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Institute of Consecrated Life – Men) [Catholic-Hierarchy]".
  2. ^ a b "Order of Friars Minor Conventual (O.F.M. Conv.)".
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainRobinson, Paschal (1908). "Order of Friars Minor Conventuals". In Herbermann, Charles (ed.). Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 4. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 22 December 2017.
  4. ^ Cleary, Gregory. "Friar." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 22 December 2017Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "Franciscan Order | Conventual Franciscans | United States". Conventual Franciscans USA. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  6. ^ a b c "Our History | Our Lady of the Angels Province, USA". www.olaprovince.org. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  7. ^ Bihl, Michael. "Order of Friars Minor". The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 6. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1909. 21 December 2017Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ a b "History", Curia OFMConv
  9. ^ "Saint Peter Regalado". Franciscan Media. 2016-03-30. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  10. ^ a b c "Franciscan Saints". Conventual Franciscans. 2016-05-14. Retrieved 2020-05-04 – via franciscanfriars.org.
  11. ^ Donovan, Stephen (1907). "Bl. Albert Berdini of Sarteano". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via newadvent.org. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. ^ a b "Franciscan Martyrs Michał Tomaszek and Zbigniew Strzałkowski". Pastoral Centre. Poland. 9 January 2017. Retrieved 2020-05-04 – via pastoralcentre.pl.
  13. ^ "Candidates for sainthood (See entry under October 2013)". Wikipedia. 2021-05-18. Retrieved 2021-05-23.
  14. ^ Donovan, Stephen (1907). "Francesco Lorenzo Brancati di Lauria". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 2. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via newadvent.org. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  15. ^ Oliger, Livarius (1911). "Nicholas Papini". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York, NY: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 29 December 2019 – via newadvent.org. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  16. ^ Madden, Charles (2013). Freemasonry: Mankind's Hidden Enemy (2nd ed.). Charlotte, North Carolina: TAN Books. ISBN 978-0-89555-816-9.


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