• corruption of French frere, from Latin frater, brother, originally a form of address in general use among Christians, later among members of religious orders


From the end of the 13th century a term commonly applied to members of the mendicant orders; by extension, to members of monastic and military orders. The friar’s exercise of the sacred ministry outside the monastery distinguished him essentially from the monk, undisturbed in his cloistered retirement. Originally the friars, denied the liberty either of individual or corporate possession, lived upon voluntary offerings of the faithful; hence their name of mendicant. The Council of Trent permitted all the orders to hold property corporately, except the Friars Minor and the Capuchins. The two usual divisions of orders of friars are

1) the great orders mentioned by the Second Council of Lyons

2) the lesser orders, of which the Minims, Third Order Regular of Saint Francis, Capuchins, Discalced Carmelites, Discalced Trinitarians, and Order of Penance (in Italy, Scalzetti) are foremost.

MLA Citation

  • “friar”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 August 2009. Web. 28 January 2022. <>