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Catholic religious orders in Europe

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  1. The beginning of monarchism
  2. Military orders
  3. Mendicant orders
  4. Regular clerics, especially the Jesuits
  5. Secular congregations or societies of priests
  6. Today
  7. Conclusion

Monarchism started in Egypt during the IInd century and may have its roots in the forms of some Jewish sects. Saint Antony (236-347) created next to Alexandria what we call anachoretism. He organized a hermits' life. These men gather in communities called anchoret. They live alone but meet on Sunday's for the liturgical service. The organization is free and people can leave whenever they want. They just have to take vows of chastity, of poverty and to respect obedience to their spiritual father. This will become the three religious vows of obedience, chastity and poverty. On the last IVth century, these communities were about a hundred. In Egypt, Saint Pachomius launched the expansion of monasteries. In fact, Saint Pachomius created Coenobitism. Pachomius himself appointed the chiefs. When he died, there were 9 monasteries and 3 moniales (pour femmes). However, the system collapsed 50 years after. In a nutshell, these two forms of monastic life will remain the matrix of the future orders.

[...] The second group of them or communities with secular members and are often based on the charismatic revival, such as the Community of the New Path. In 1983, John Paul II promulgated the new code of canonical law. As a consequence, the orders are now classified in different categories : Consecrated life institutes : - religious institutes (with public vows and a communal life : Jesuits, Benedictines, Franciscans, Marianists for instance) - secular institutes (with no public vows nor communal life, often new [...]


[...] Military orders After the 1st Crusade, special religious orders have been created to protect the pilgrims in the territories won in the Holy land. They are the military orders. The best known is the order of the Templars, created in 1118 and whose rule had been written by Saint Bernard. It is run by the Great Master and there were more than knights. The order became very rich because the pope Alexander IIIrd permitted it to keep everything they conquered. [...]

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