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"Fra" redirects here. For other uses, see FRA (disambiguation).
This article is about members of religious orders. For the surnames, see Fryer (surname) and Fryar. For the butterflies, see Amauris.
"Frays" redirects here. For other uses, see Fray (disambiguation).
A group of friars; novices of the Order of Augustinian Recollects at the Monastery of Marcilla, Navarra, Spain

A friar, or occasionally fray, is a man who is a member of a mendicant Christian religious order. "Fray" is sometimes used in former Spanish colonies such as the Philippines or the American Southwest as a title, such as in Fray Juan de Torquemada.

Friars and monks[edit]

Friars are different from monks in that they are called to live the evangelical counsels (vows of poverty, chastity and obedience) in service to society, rather than through cloistered asceticism and devotion. Whereas monks live in a self-sufficient community, friars work among laypeople and are supported by donations or other charitable support.[1] A monk or nun makes their vows and commits to a particular community in a particular place. Friars commit to a community spread across a wider geographical area known as a province, and so they will typically move around, spending time in different houses of the community within their province.


The English term Friar is derived from the Norman French word frere ("brother"), from the Latin frater ("brother"), which was widely used in the Latin New Testament to refer to members of the Christian community.


In the Roman Catholic Church, there are two classes of orders known as friars, or mendicant orders: the four "great orders" and the so-called "lesser orders".

Four great orders[edit]

The four great orders were mentioned by the Second Council of Lyons (1274), and are:

Lesser orders[edit]

Some of the lesser orders are:

Uses by other Christian traditions[edit]

Orders of friars (and sisters) exist in other Christian traditions, including the Order of Lutheran Franciscans, the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans and the Order of Lesser Sisters and Brothers.

Although not a permanent position in the church, missionaries in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints serve in a similar way. They travel away from home, and serve the community they are called to.

Other name use[edit]

Several high schools, as well as Providence College, use friars as their mascot. The MLB's San Diego Padres have the Swinging Friar.

The University of Michigan's oldest a cappella group is a male octet known as The Friars.[3]

The University of Pennsylvania has a senior honor society known as Friars.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]