The history of Christianity cannot be complete without mentioning such aspect as religious orders. The religious orders throughout history had a great impact on the major historical events in general, and the flow of Christianity in particular. In terms of influence and longevity, two orders should be mentioned, the Franciscan and Dominican orders. This paper examines the aforementioned orders in terms of their foundation, differences in mission, and their success.
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The foundation of both the Franciscan and the Dominican orders might be related to visions of deficiency and problems in the Christian system that both orders sought to solve, specifically with the rise of heretical groups. The foundation of the Dominican order was traced to Domingo de Guzman (Saint Dominic), who thought that in order for the church to succeed the extensiveness of preaching should be increased, combined with apostolic life. Thus, the reason of the foundation can be seen in increasing trained and educated preachers. (Hinnebusch)
The Franciscan order, was established to promote Jesus’ way of life, which Francis followed through apostolic poverty, forming a brotherhood of followers. The brotherhood then grew into three distinct orders, “The First Order was for men (brothers and priests, called friars); the Second Order was for cloistered nuns (Poor Clares); and the Third Order was for lay men and women, married or single, and the secular clergy.” (“Brief History of the Secular Franciscan Order”)
Generally, it can be stated that the Dominican and the Franciscan orders’ mission was similar, in terms of promoting Church reforms. The Franciscan order saw this reform through observing the holy gospel of Jesus Christ, living in obedience without anything of one’s own, and in chastity. (Burr) The Dominicans also followed poverty, although among their mission was preaching, where the order put an emphasis on education as a weapon against heresy. Thus, the education the poverty of the order followers might have been adjusted to the orders mission, in order to achieve proper education; “The prelate shall have power to dispense the brethren in his priory when it shall seem expedient to him, especially in those things that are seen to impede study, preaching, or the good of souls.”(Hinnebusch)
The accomplishments of their missions can be seen in their relative reform that they presented to the Church at that time. With the introduction of commerce and trade, the orders attempted to return to the humble way of life. Nevertheless, both orders in addition to the missions of preaching had participating in the inquisition, where some of the Dominican writers, Moneta of Cremona, Bernard Gui, and Nicholas Eymeric, inquisitors themselves, prepared guidebooks for their colleagues.” (Hinnebusch) Thus, it can be seen that they achieved similar degree of success, although Franciscan goal of living in poverty might have been put in question, that led to the division of the Franciscan and ultimately declaring it as a heresy to hold the opinion that Christ and the apostles divested of proprietary rights. (Hinnebusch)
It can be seen that the Franciscan and Dominican orders had a prominent effect of the history of Christianity. The occurrence of both orders, as well as other orders was related to the situation in the Christian world at the time. The fact that both orders still exist and function in the modern life today, although with reformations and changes made through their history, is an evidence of the lasting impact of their main goals and missions.
“Brief History of the Secular Franciscan Order”. 2009. Saint Clare Fraternity Secular Franciscan Order. Web.
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Burr, David. “Medieval Sourcebook: The Rule of the Franciscan Order”. 1999. Fordham University.
Hinnebusch, William A. “The Dominicans: A Short History”. Dominican Central Province.