The Order of Capuchin Friars Minor (in Latin: Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capuccinorum - abbreviated: O.F.M.Cap.) is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Brother Mauro Jöhri.
St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) founded the Order of the Friars Minor (the Lesser Brethren or Little Brothers). After his death (and ever since) there have been many reforms breaking the Order into different groups. In 1897, Pope Leo XIII regrouped the Friars Minor into three branches:
The Conventuals and the Capuchins were already in existence but the Friars Minor of the Leonine Union were brought together from smaller groups; they are also called quite simply “The Order of Friars Minor”, “Observants” or “Franciscans”. All three Orders are truly Franciscan; they all follow the Rule of St. Francis: they differ in their constitutions and there are slight differences in their habits, for instance the Capuchins are bearded while the others are shaven.
The Capuchins are the strictest observants of the Franciscan Rule, while the Conventuals are the most relaxed. The Observants or the Franciscans are in between but perhaps closer to the Capuchins. The Capuchins were started in 1525 in Italy by Blessed Matthew of Basci; he wanted to return Redeemed by the Precious Bloodto the pure spirit of St. Francis. Even our habit is closer to the original. The name comes from the Italian “cappuccino” (“ little hood”) : the children made fun of the new friars’ hoods which were not little but big in comparison with the other Franciscans’. Capuccino coffee gets its name from its color, which is supposed to be like our habit also.
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