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Catholic Dictionary




One of three autonomous branches of the Franciscans, founded in 1525 by Matteo di Bassi of Urbano (d. 1552), an Observant friar who wished to return to the primitive poverty and simplicity of the order. Its members wear a pointed cowl (capuche), with optional sandals and beard. They were one of the most powerful instruments of the Counter-Reformation. Although the severity of the original rule has been mitigated, their life is still austere and they have gained wide respect as popular preachers, confessors, and missionaries.