A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Franciscans
FRANCISCANS, an order of friars founded in 1209, by St Francis of Assini, who had led a dissolute life, but a fit of sickness produced an entire change in his method of living; and at the age of twenty one he solemnly determined to practise the most rigorous self-denial; and had the courage to support that resolution, without the least deviation, during a life of forty six years. Absolute poverty was his fundamental rule, which he rigorously enjoined on all his followers. Some years afterwards, this rule was relaxed by the indulgence of several popes; but this occasioned a schism in the order and divided them into two parties. Those who adhered strictly to the austere rules of their founder were called Fraticelli, or Little Brothers, which name Francis himself had assumed out of humility, and prescribed it to his followers. They were also called Spiritual, while the others were styled Brethren of the Community. This religious order acquired great reputation and influences and it is said that previous to the death of St. Francis it amounted to more than fifty thousand persons. The Franciscans maintained that the Virgin Mary was born without original sin, which the Dominicans denying, occasioned a contention, which ended much to the disgrace of the latter. See Dominicans.
- Mosheim, Eccles. Hist. vol. iii. p. 192. Eustace's Classical Tour through Italy, vol. ii. p197.