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Those members of the Franciscan Order who wanted to ‘observe’ the Rule of St Francis with no relaxation. The movement started in Italy in 1368 as a protest against the decline in religious life and discipline and drew its inspiration largely from the Spiritual Franciscans and early Papal pronouncements about the Rule. In 1517 the Observantines were separated from the Conventuals and declared the true Order of St Francis. In the 16th cent. they were divided into the Reformed, the Recollects, and the Discalced, but in 1897 these were all incorporated into a single Order of Friars Minor. A fourth group, the Capuchins, broke away completely in 1528.

Subjects: Christianity.

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