Italian: little friars

Among the Italian people, this is a designation of all the members of religious, particularly mendicant, orders founded during the 13th century, e.g., the Franciscans or Friars Minor, and especially solitaries, whether regulating their own lives or observing a definite rule; in church history, it is confined to various heretical sects which separated from the Franciscan Order during the 14th and 15th centuries on account of the disputes concerning poverty. Their early history is bound up with that of the Franciscan Celestines, a group of extreme Spirituals under the leadership of Angelo da Clareno, suppressed by John XXII in 1317. Thereupon, they professed themselves the original Friars Minor, denied the validity of the papal decrees through which, they said, John XXII had forfeited the papacy, and further asserted that all religious and prelates in the state of mortal sin were devoid of sacerdotal powers. They established themselves in southern Italy. They are not to be confounded with the Clareni, also adherents of Angelo, approved as true Franciscans by Pope Sixtus IV, 1474. After Angelo’s death (1337) the Fraticelli split into a number of groups, each with its own doctrines, causing great confusion, mainly in Italy and Sicily. Active measures taken against the sect eventually met with success, largely through the efforts of Saint John Capistran, and, by the end of the 15th century, the Fraticelli were reduced to mere remnants, so crippled as to constitute no real danger to the Church.