Thursday, 28 May 2009

Portugal - 800 Years Or the Franciscan Order

Portugal - 800 Years Or the Franciscan Order - Issue date: 2009/03/11
Stamp of 0,32€

First Day Cover

Souvenir Sheet

Portugal - 800 Years Or the Franciscan Order:

"When turning 25, Francis Bernardon, who had been born in the wealthiest family in Assisi, came to the conclusion that happiness and freedom could only be authentic when inspired in evangelical poverty. And he acted accordingly. With such conversion, the young of Assisi attracted his former companions to his new way of life, and gather twelve followers around the same ideal. In 1209, they all travelled to Rome to beg of Pope Innocent III the approval of their way of life, confirmed in 1223 by Honorius III Bull. The religious institute was henceforth called the Order of the Friars Minor (OFM).

A few years later, in 1212, Clare of Assisi, a noblewoman, tempted by the achievement of her fellow citizen Francis, founded the Order of Poor Ladies. She too succeeded in requesting and gaining the “Privilege of Poverty” from the Pope, through a Rule approved in 1253, although the approval was only achieved on the eve of her death. Thus the Order of Saint Clare (OSC) was created.

In the year 1214, and in view of the growing devotion among the Christian people towards the innovative modality of this evangelic way of living, Francis wrote a letter to all the faithful, inspiring the creation of the Secular Franciscan Order (SOF), which first Rule was approved by the Holy See in 1289. In the 15th century, a movement of life in community, with both male and female branches, grew out of the Third Order. From this movement emerged, in 1521, the Rule of the Third Order Regular (TOR).

The Friars Minor came to Portugal around 1216. One of their first and most notable conquests was Saint Anthony of Lisbon (a. 1190-1231), who found enormous richness in the poverty of the Friar Minors. In 1258, the Nuns of the Order of Saint Clare also settled here, initially in the city of Lamego, but transferred shortly afterwards to Santarém. Also the Third Order of Penitence, founded to congregate all the laypeople who wished to follow the example of Saint Francisco, was exceptionally well accepted by all social classes since the 13th century.

When the Liberal Government decided, in 1834, to extinguish all the Regular Orders, the Order of the Friars Minor held more Religious Houses than all the other Orders together, on the Portuguese Mainland, on Madeira and on the Azores alone.

From 1834 to 1940 the Franciscans remained clandestine, although they continued to work in Portugal as much as they could. In 1891 they restored the Province of Portugal, from the Varatojo Convent. The branch of the Capuchin Friars Minor returned to Portugal in 1939 and the branch of the Friars Minor Conventual a few years later, in 1978. Also the Clarisse Sisters were able to re-emerge, in particular in the 1950’s. The Secular Franciscan Order, precisely because it was secular, was not extinguished in 1834 whereby it could act as an important support to the “egress” friars. The male TOR was not restored, but the female TOR multiplied after 1871, when several Franciscan Sisters’ Congregations of Consecrated Life were created.

Throughout its eight centuries of history, the Franciscan family has always been the one with the greatest number of members and of apostolate work, in Portugal as well as in the rest of the World."

Friar Henrique Pinto Rema

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