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2010 | 9 | 29-59

Article title

ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE FIRST FRANCISCAN ORDER ON POLISH TERRITORY (13TH - 21ST CENTURY) (Struktury organizacyjne I Zakonu Franciszkanskiego na ziemiach polskich (XIII - XXI w.))

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Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), saint and founder of the Order of Friars Minor (Ordo Fratrum Minorum) went to Rome with his first companions in 1209, where Pope Innocent III orally approved their forma vitae; this event is considered to be the beginning of the Franciscan Order. The Order was divided in geographic zones called provinces, which quickly extended into all of the European countries - and later into other parts of the world. The differences in the interpretation of the vow of poverty gave way to the formation of reformist movements, and in 1517, Pope Leo X acknowledged the division into two groups: the Order of Friars Minor Observants (Ordo Fratrum Minorum Regularis Observantiae) and the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (Ordo Fratrum Minorum Conventualium). In the sixteenth century yet another group was formed, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (Ordo Fratrum Minorum Cappucinorum - 1523, 1619). Within the Observant Friars, three observant sub-groups were additionally formed, among which were the so-called reformists (Ordo Fratrum Minorum Strictioris Observantiae Reformatorum - 1532). The Friars Minor's first convent on Polish territory was founded in Wroclaw in 1236, followed by one in Krakow in 1237. The Observants founded their first convent in Krakow in 1453, while the reformists began to establish themselves in Poland in 1621, and the Capuchins in 1681. Until 1772 each group successfully progressed throughout Poland; the Conventuals were divided into three provinces, while the Bernadines and reformists each had four provinces, and the Capuchins just one. The division of Poland at the end of the 18th century, and later its loss of independence, provoked the annulment of all religious orders. Only the provinces in Galizia remained (under Austro-Hungarian domain), which after Poland's reconquest of independence (in 1918) gave way to the rebirth of Franciscan life. Currently in Poland (2009) there are 10 Franciscan provinces: five are that of the Friars Minor (with a total of 1,309 friars), three are provinces of the Friars Minor Conventuals (with a total of 1,172 friars) and two provinces are that of the Friars Minor Capuchin (created from 610 believers).



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