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Religion Library: Roman Catholic Orders
Formed547
AdherentsUnknown
DeityGod (Trinity)
Sacred TextBible, Moral Rules (Basil), Rule of Saint Benedict
OriginItaly / Mediterranean / Europe
HeadquartersVarious

Roman Catholic Orders are associations of men and women within the Roman Catholic Church who are dedicated to lives of prayer, service, and devotion. Many of these members commit themselves to specific communities in which they live a common life following a specific religious rule (a collection of guiding rules ordering community life and devotion) and under the direction of religious leaders. Religious Orders can include both clergy and laity. Most members of religious orders also make public vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity as acts of devotion and in imitation of Jesus. Many Roman Catholic Orders are monastic, but many others are not. The Roman Catholic Church recognizes three different types of religious Orders: Monastic, Mendicant (Friars), and Canons Regular (priests living in a community and active in a particular parish). The largest Monastic Order is the Benedictines and two of the most common Mendicant Orders include Dominicans and Franciscans.  Female Orders usually have fewer numbers in their communities than their male counterparts, but more female communities exist. Many of the female Orders are dedicated to teaching and service. Even though many Roman Catholic Orders trace their origins to the Middle Ages, some go as far back as the 6th Century C.E. (the Benedictine Order). Religious Orders all follow a particular religious rule. The most common include the Rule of St. Benedict, St. Augustine, or St. Basil, each of which stresses different aspects of religious life.

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