Campaign of the Month: August 2011
Le Ballet de l'Acier
Founded at the beginning of the thirteenth century by Francis of Assisi, the Franciscans were originally established under a rule written by its founder to preach repentence and live a life of poverty in the service of God. The joyful, devout friars of the early order made a strong impression and the number of members jumped quickly. Even before Francis’ death in 1226, the order began to experience growing pains; his devotion and energy were not matched by his administrative ability, and the order began to splinter as the a number of the friars became lax in observing the strict vow of poverty demanded by the founder, instead advocating ownership of property and fixed revenues on behalf of the order. The factions, consisting of the pauper Observantists and the property-owning Conventuals, split the order over the next century; an attempt to reunite the order in 1430 foundered when the chapter houses refused to ratify the reconciliation, and by 1517 the split between the factions was recognzied by Pope Leo X. Despire the rule established by the pope, the order continued to develop splinter factions, each firm in its belief that it was the one community true to the principles of the founder.
In France the Observant Franciscans are known as the Cordeliers, from the simple cord worn around the waist of the friars’ habit. The Récollets are Conventual Franciscans who live enclosed lives but also pursue missionary work, providing the first missionaries to the territories of New France in 1615.