Any idea what happened a few days ago? It was the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for his deeds and his humility. As you may already know, St. Francis established the Franciscan order and his influence spread throughout the world.
Here, we talk about the many different Franciscan habits worn by various branches of the order. We shall discuss the garments each one of them wear, as below.
A conventual friar
Image source: Wikipedia
Sporting ash-gray habits are those of the Friars Minor Conventual or F.M.C. The order has the most direct line to St. Francis himself. It started out in rural areas with friars wearing brown habits but later evolved to adopting ash-gray robes and serving the urban poor in cities.
The gray color helps blend in with the city environment, complementing the bleak atmosphere of the slum areas, where the friars usually dwell during missions. The pearly white girdle also symbolizes clarity, as well as hope among city-dwellers stricken with poverty.
Image source: Z Topics
The Order of Friar Minors or O.F.M. was established in 1517 to adopt a simpler, poorer life. The dirt-brown habits worn by the friars define meekness and the down-to-earth nature of the order, living out their days in rural areas where they assist the poor.
With a solid earthly tone which delicately blends, the habits consist of a soft hood and a white girdle, contrasting with the brown color of the overall garment. The entire color scheme signifies both humility (brown) and purity (white).
The Capuchin order was established in 1528 as a reformation movement adopting a more contemplative lifestyle. Capuchin friars live in smaller homes and operate in lesser numbers.
The overall habits of the order is similar to the O.F.M. habit, though less vibrant and more solid to symbolize the eschewing of worldly ways, blending with the soil of the earth.
The most distinctive feature of the Capuchin habit is the large hood or cappucio, where the name of the order comes from. During the order’s establishment, the hood was the mark of hermits who lived out their lives in prayer and isolation—much like the Capuchin order.
The key theme of the different habits of different Franciscan orders is humility: Brown habits make use of the color of dirt and ash-gray utilizes the color of urban poverty. The habits honor the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, whose unassuming nature greatly influenced many individuals to strip themselves of their worldly ways.
Thus, by simply wearing their robes, the friars preach a message of piety among the faithful.