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Franciscans, a Roman Catholic order of begging friars (Ordo Minoritum), was founded by Francis of Assisi (died 1226). The principle of apostolic poverty was carried into the later Middle Ages with a reforming effect by the stricter party, the Observants. It was especially effective through the creation of the Tertiary order, which formed a transition to the laity, in addition to the first order and the order of St. Clara, and which supported these orders. Occasionally there was some fanaticism in connection with the prophecies of Joachim of Fiore and some opposition to the papacy.

In his "Prolegomena zu einer Geschichte des Pietismus" (Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte, II, 29), Albrecht Ritschl interprets the Anabaptist movement as a revival of the reformation of St. Francis, produced by jealousy toward Luther and Zwingli, proceeding from the Tertians, particularly the Observants. The supposition of a direct descent of the Anabaptists from the Tertians has been rejected by research, and even by Ritschl himself in his Geschichte des Pietismus. On the other hand, the assumption of a certain connection between the Anabaptists and the late medieval—indeed strongly Franciscan—piety has found some acceptance.


Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon, 4 vols. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe: Schneider, 1913-1967: v. I, 686.

Ritschl, Albrecht. Geschiche des Pietismus. Bonn, 1880: I, 30.

Theolo­gische Zeitung 5 (1880): Col. 311 (Weizsäcker); in the same place, 8 (1883): 369 (Kolde).

Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte Gotha, 1878: II,  29.

Author(s) Ernst Crous
Date Published 1956

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Crous, Ernst. "Franciscans." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 24 Jun 2024.

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Crous, Ernst. (1956). Franciscans. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 June 2024, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, p. 363. All rights reserved.

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