Franciscans are those people and groups (religious orders) who adhere to the teachings and spiritual disciplines of Saint Francis of Assisi. A term commonly used to describe the members of the various foundations of religious men or women, professing to observe the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi in any of its several forms.
Born around 1181, St. Francis of Assisi was one of several children of Pietro Bernardone, and his wife Pica, who may have come from a noble French family. Giving up his comfortable lifestyle, St. Francis, whose feast day is October 4, founded the First Order of Franciscans called the Friars Minor, in 1209. His spirit has been kept alive through the centuries by the various branches of the Friars Minor: The Friars Minor (OFM), Friars Minor Conventual and the Friars Minor Capuchin, as well as the Second Order or Poor Clares, and Third Order Regular and Secular.
Franciscan education can be traced to the 13th century, when, around the year 1224, Francis of Assisi gave permission to a young and learned Brother, Anthony of Padua, to teach theology to the Brothers “as long as such study did not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotion.” In the century that followed, a “Franciscan School” of scholars developed a Christ-centered theology and philosophy based on the life and teachings of St. Francis.
Franciscan Friars first came to California in 1769, with the arrival of a Franciscan Friar, St. Junipero Serra, in San Diego. Franciscans from Mexico and Spain continued Serra’s work, establishing a total of 21 missions from San Diego to Sonoma, north of San Francisco.
The Prayer of Saint Francis
O Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is discord, harmony;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light, and
Where there is sorrow, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand; to be loved
as to love; for it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.