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A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.


Friars and monks

Friars differ from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) in service to a community, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. Whereas monks live cloistered away from the world in a self-sufficient community, friars are supported by donations or other charitable support.


The name Friar is derived from the French word frère ("brother" in English), and dates from the 13th century. The French word frère in turn comes from the Latin word frater, which also means "brother".

St. Francis of Assisi called his followers fratres minores, which G. K. Chesterton translated as "little brothers". However, another interpretation of fratres minores is "lesser brothers", because the Franciscan order stresses minority or humility.


There are two classes of order known as friars, or mendicant orders: the four "great orders" and the so-called "lesser orders".

Four great orders

The four great orders were mentioned by the Second Council of Lyons (1274), and are:

  • The Dominicans, founded ca. 1216. The Dominicans are also known as the "Friar Preachers", or the "Black Friars", from the black mantle ("cappa") worn over their white habit. The Dominicans were founded by St. Dominic and received papal approval from Honorius III, in 1216 as the "Ordo Praedicatorum" under the Rule of St. Augustine. They became a mendicant order in 1221.
  • The Carmelites, founded ca. 1155. The Carmelites are also known as the "White Friars" because of the white cloak which covers their brown habit. They received papal approval from Honorius III in 1226 and later by Innocent IV in 1247. The Carmelites were founded as a purely contemplative order, but became mendicants in 1245. There are two types of Carmelites, the Calced and Discalced Carmelites.
  • The Augustinians, founded in 1244 (the "Little Union") and enlarged in 1256 (the "Grand Union"). The Augustinians are also known as the "Hermits of St. Augustine", or the "Austin Friars". Their rule is based on the writings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinians were assembled from various groups of hermits as a mendicant order by Pope Innocent IV in 1244 (Little Union). Additional groups were added by Alexander IV in 1256 (Grand Union).

Lesser orders

The lesser orders are:

  • the Minims, established in 1474

Other name use

Friars have been used as a mascot. Several schools and colleges use Friars as a mascot. Friar is also the mascot for the San Diego Padres, an MLB franchise.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Friar" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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