Who are the Franciscans?
We Franciscans owe our inspiration to Francesco di Bernardone, an affluent young merchant from the Italian town of Assisi, who in 1206 renounced his wealth and social status in favor of a life dedicated to God and the least of God’s people.
St. Francis of Assisi began his life of penance as a hermit, devoting himself to prayer, working among lepers and rebuilding churches in the Assisi area. Soon others were attracted to his company. By 1209, there were 12 brothers, and so they gained approval from Pope Innocent III for their way of life “according to the Holy Gospel.” The Order of Lesser Brothers (ordo fratrum minorum) — known in English as the Order of Friars Minor — had begun.
The Gospel life of the Friars Minor has four central components: first, to be men of prayer; second, to live as lesser ones, “not making anything our own;” third, to create a brotherhood of mutual care among ourselves; and fourth, to “go about the world” entering people’s everyday lives as heralds of God’s reign and agents of Gospel peace.
Franciscans have a long history in the US. Today, in the 21st century, we are members of six US provinces moving to restructure our governance into one US province.
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