An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Franciscan Spirituality

St. Francis of Assisi (1181 or 1182-1226) initiated a form of life centered on the practice of evangelical poverty as a means and sign of a spiritual poverty that can be filled only by divine grace. Franciscan spirituality is also characterized by an attitude of reverence for God in all things and a deep appreciation of the goodness of creation as a reflection of God's love. All creatures are worthy of our respect as sisters and brothers. Francis's disciples, the Mendicant Friars (Franciscans, or First Order of St. Francis), owned no property, lived from alms, and were devoted to itinerant popular preaching. The Sisters of St. Clare (Clarists, or Second Order) practice Franciscan poverty in a cloistered life. A Third Order associates lay people in the same ideal. St. Francis's primitive rule (1210) had to be relaxed as more candidates joined the order. St. Bonaventure deepened the contemplative dimension of Franciscan spirituality in The Journey of the Mind to God (1259). Francis's “Most High, omnipotent, good Lord” (Hymns 406-407) provides a beautiful expression of Franciscan spirituality. See Francis of Assisi.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.