A medieval friar was a special kind of monk who was considerably different from the monks of the earlier times. The word “friar” is derived from the Latin word “frater” which means brother.
A medieval friar followed a certain kind of lifestyle which was based on the concept of penance as laid down in the Gospel and travelled to spread the word of God. Various orders of friars existed during the medieval times.
A medieval friar wandered from place to place delivering sermons and begging alms. Due to this culture of begging and life of extreme poverty, friars were also called mendicant orders. A medieval friar was not allowed to beg for cash and was forbidden to accept donations during preaching. Thus they would only accept food and clothing.
Since a medieval friar travelled from place to place, he did not have any set daily routine. Usually, the Apostolic Colleges sent the friars to specific location. Among the essential elements of a medieval friar’s life included teaching religion and music to children, visits to the sick and the elderly, writing letters and reports about their mission, and indulging in prayers.
A medieval friar enjoyed a unique status in the hierarchy of the Church. Of course, he did not receive material rewards like the higher officials of the church but he was considered exempt from the jurisdiction of the bishops on missions to the far flung corners of the world. Some of these major and important mendicant orders included Franciscans and Dominicans.
The status of a medieval friar in society was one of a preacher and thus he earned respect for his religions missions. His preaching activities also acquired importance in the urban centres and it was not uncommon for students educated at renowned universities to become medieval friars. Thus the spiritual status of a medieval friar in society was respectable, although their material conditions were quite modest.
The clothes of a medieval friar reflected the simplicity of the life that he led. Different orders had different colours for the clothes of the friars that belonged to them. The common clothing material was a long robe made of wool with a rope belt around the waist. A medieval friar generally wore closed toed shoes or sandals. The robes were also mostly accompanied with a hood and they could wear a cloak over their robes. Finally, for prayer purposes, a medieval friar carried a strand of wooden beads accompanied by a cross.
A medieval friar during the medieval times was similar to a wandering monk. Several orders of friars were formed during the medieval times. Their main purpose was preaching and they lived lives of extreme simplicity and poverty. They were not allowed to take money and had to rely on food and clothing that was offered to them. A medieval friar was trained in the Apostolic Colleges and some of them came from renowned educational institutions of the time.
This article on medieval Friars was written to give you an overall understanding of the life of a Medieval Friar, it is written in a simple and easy to read style, of you enjoyed reading about Medieval Friars we have although similar articles on medieval clergy, please look at the links at the end of this Medieval Friars page that will take you to other important pages about the medieval clergy.