A Catholic religious order founded in the early 13th century by St. Francis of Assisi. .

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Broad term for a Roman Catholic religious order comprising several divisions; founded by St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). The rule emphasizes the vow of poverty, theology, preaching, and aid to the poor and sick. Different schools of thought among followers developed over the years; St. Bonaventure (1257-1274) founded a moderate interpretation of St. Francis' rule that bridged many of the differences. The independent branches of the order are the First Order of Franciscans: the Observants, the Conventuals, and the Capuchins; the Second Order comprises nuns established by St. Clare under the guidance of St. Francis, known as the Poor Clares; and the Third Order comprising religious and lay men and women, including the Third Order Secular (living in the world without vows) and Third Order Regular (living in religious communities under vow).

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  1. 1.  The Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, 300148096. The J. Paul Getty Trust.