Medieval Friar

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.

  • What was a Medieval Friar?
  • What did a Medieval Friar do?
  • Status of a Medieval Friar
  • Medieval Friars role in the Church
  • What Clothes did a Medieval Friar wear?
  • Where did a Friar Live?
Medieval-Friar-In-Robe-Writes-with Goose-Feather

Medieval Friar in robe and hood writes with a goose feather, black background, secret ritual in dark cape.

Medieval Friars Duties

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.


Medieval Friars Daily routine

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.

Religion leader of different confession isolated set

Medieval Friars Status in the Church

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.

  • Medieval Friars were travelling religious men
  • Friars Could only accept food and Clothing and were very poor
  • Apostolic Colleges decided where to send Medieval Friars
  • Medieval Friars taught music and religion to children
  • Medieval Friars were sent on mendicant orders such as Dominicans.


Medieval Friars role in society

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.


Clothes of a Medieval Friar

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.


Pope, cardinal and bishop. Supreme catholic priests in cassocks.

Medieval Friar Summary

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.

  • A Medieval Friar was basically a travelling preacher who worked for the Church
  • Medieval Friars were sent on important religious missions
  • Friars were very poor and led a simple lives and lived a humble life
  • Medieval Friars wore long robes that were tied at the waist with a cord
  • For prayer a Medieval Friar would use beads and a cross that he always had with him

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.