Order of Friars Minor Conventual
The Order of Friars Minor Conventual (in Latin: Ordo Fratrum Minorum Conventualium, initials: OFM Conv.), is one of three male mendicant Orders of Pontifical Right, which make up the Franciscan Family today. The Religious of this Order are also called Minoriten in the German speaking countries, Greyfriars in the British areas, or Cordelier in France.
From the founding of his Order, it was the desire of Father Francis, that it would be a true fraternity; its members would come together as brothers of one family, joining in the life and work of the community according to one’s ability. Everyone had equal rights and responsibilities. St. Francis desired that his brothers be called Friars Minor, because “from their very name” they would “enter into the school of the humble Christ, in order to learn humility”. They came together in a common fraternity, with the goal of achieving greater devotion, a more ordered life, a more solemn Divine Office, a greater formation of candidates, the study of theology, and other works at the service of the Church, and thus extend the reign of Christ to all the earth under the guidance of the Immaculate. (cfr. Constitutions of the Order: Chapter I, 1-4)
St. Francis of Assisi, with his first companions, presented themselves to Pope Innocent III in 1209, seeking oral approval of their evangelical form of life. As a result of this permission, which permitted the penitents of Assisi to also preach penance, the Fraternity saw itself notably expand to become a religion of the Friars Minor of which St. Francis speaks in the final part of the Rule. Shortly after, following the Lateran Council IV, November 29, 1223, Pope Honorius III approved the definitive Rule, which is now followed.
In 1274, at the death of the Minister General, St. Bonaventure, the Order grew ever more divided between the approach of the “Friars of the Community”, also called “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”, at first, and later as “Observants” who professed ideals of absolute poverty and stressed the eremitical and ascetical dimensions of Franciscanism.
At the beginning of the XVI century, Pope Leo X, seeing the impossibility of the Observants and the Conventuals living under the same Rule and government, brought together all of the reformed groups under the Rule of the Friars Minor of the Regular Observance, with the Bull, Ita Vos of May 29, 1517: the others being brought together to form the Order of the Friars Minor Conventual, under the guidance of a Minister General. The separation of the two groups was also confirmed by Pope Leo XIII, who, with the Bull Felicitate Quadam of October 4, 1897, reorganized the Franciscan Orders into four Orders, each with its own Minister General: the Order of Friars Minor; the Order of Friars Minor Conventual; the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins; and the Third Order Regular.
The Order Today
Today the Friars Minor Conventual wear a black habit, in those countries which had undergone a suppression, while, in the mission lands, and beyond, they have begun to return to the original color of the Franciscan habit: ashen grey. They continue to care for, among other things, the Basilica of St. Francis and the Sacred Convent of Assisi, and their principal center of study is the Theological Faculty of St. Bonaventure in Rome. Among the centers of formation and culture, one also finds the Theological Institute of St. Anthony the Doctor, in Padua.
The General Curia of the Order is centered in Rome at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles.
As of December 31, 2015, the Order had 4,225 religious (of whom 21 are bishops, 2,907 are priests and 12 are permanent deacons). It had 631 friaries located in 33 Provinces and 20 Custodies. The Order was present in 67 countries (7 countries in Africa, 18 in North, Central and South America, 10 in Asia and 31 in Europe and Australia).
Witness of the Order
The family of the Friars Minor Conventual considers itself in historic and spiritual continuity with the original Order of Minors founded by St. Francis: it is inspired and feels particularly linked to all the saintly figures that the Order, even before the division, has experienced. The greatest among these is the Founder, the Saint of Assisi. Along with him, we cannot forget those who launched the Second and Third Orders: St. Clare of Assisi for the Poor Clares, and Saints Elizabeth of Hungary and Louis IX of France for the lay people, who today are called the Secular Franciscan Order (OFS).
Among the more significant Saints of Franciscan origin, and particularly linked to the Conventual tradition, one must not forget to mention: St. Anthony of Padua, the First Martyrs of the Order, Berard and Companions, St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio, the Blesseds Egidio of Assisi, Thomas of Celano, Luke Belludi of Padua, John Duns Scotus, Andrew Conti of Anagni, Oderic of Pordenone, James of Strepa, and Angelo of Monteleone of Orvieto. Following the Division of 1517, we continued to be blessed with Saints recognized and revered by the Church, as well as witnesses who have remained silent and anonymous.
The Church canonized St. Joseph of Cupertino in the XVIII century. In more recent times, Pope John Paul II elevated St. Maximilian Kolbe and St. Francis Anthony Fasani to the honors of the altar.
Among the Blesseds we recall: Bonaventure of Potenza, Raffaele Chylinski, Anthony Lucci, the Martyrs of the French Revolution, Jean-François Burté, Jean-Baptiste Triquerie, Nicola Savouret and Louis A. J. Adam, seven Polish Martyrs, and five Martyrs of the Spanish Revolution.
Taken from: http://www.sanfrancescopatronoditalia.it