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9 Religious Orders

9 of the Most Well Known Catholic Religious Orders

If you are like me, you can never remember the names of the religious orders that run your school, parish or other institution let alone who founded them, their mottos, coat of arms or characteristics of their spirituality. Well, here is a quick refresher for 9 of the most well known religious orders of the Catholic Church; Franciscans, Carthusians, Jesuits, Benedictines, Salesians, Missionaries of Charity, Dominicans, Augustinians and Carmelites. They were started by some of the most notable men and women of the Catholic faith including St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Benedict and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Or had one of the most famous female saints like the Carmelite order with St. Therese of Lisieux. So next time you forget about that religious order, come back here and refresh your memory. And let us know in the comments about one of your favorite Catholic orders.

Franciscans - Order of Friars Minor

Franciscans (Order of Friars Minor)

  • Founder: St. Francis of Assisi
  • Motto: “Pax et bonum” (Peace and the good)
  • Type: Mendicant Religious Order
  • Habit: Grey/Black (Conventional); Brown (Capuchins)
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Living the Gospel, Following Jesus Christ, Poverty, Fraternity
  • Notable Saints: St. Anthony of Padua, St. Bonaventure, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Maximilian Kolbe


Carthusians (Carthusian Order)

  • Founder: St. Bruno of Cologne
  • Motto: “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” (The Cross is steady while the world is turning)
  • Type: Monastic Religious Order
  • Habit: White
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Contemplation, Vocation of solitude, Mixture of solitary and community life, The carthusian liturgy characterized by its simplicity and sobriety
  • Notable Saint: St. Hugh of Lincoln


Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

  • Founder: St. Ignatius of Loyola
  • Motto: “Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” (For the greater glory of God)
  • Type: Religious Order
  • Habit: They do not wear a special habit or uniform
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Finding God in everything, Loving Jesus Christ, The importance of service, Spiritual discernment, Education
  • Notable Saints: St. Francis Xavier, St. Aloysius Gonzaga


Benedictines (Order of St. Benedict)

  • Founder: St. Benedict of Nursia
  • Motto: “Ora et labora” (Pray and work)
  • Type: Monastic Religious Order
  • Habit: Black habit. Some congregations us white habit.
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Prayer and daily manual work, The importance of scripture and the Divine Office, Community life and fraternal love, Obedience as a discernment of God's will
  • Notable Saints: St. Scholastica, St. Gregory the Great


Salesians (The Society of St. Francis de Sales)

  • Founder: St. John Bosco
  • Motto: “Da mihi animas caetera tolle” (Give me souls, take away the rest)
  • Type: Clerical Religious Congregation
  • Habit: They do not wear a special habit or uniform
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Pastoral charity, Joy and optimism, Work and temperance, Pastoral care of young people, The asceticism of goodness, Rootedness in Christ and life in the hands of Mary
  • Notable Saints: St. Dominic Salvio, St. Mary Mazzarello

Missionaries of Charity

Missionaries of Charity

  • Founder: St. Mother Teresa
  • Motto: “I thirst” (A motto that summarizes Mother Teresa's experience with God: He thirsts for us)
  • Type: Religious Institute of Pontifical Right
  • Habit: White sari with blue border
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Universal love, Union with Jesus, Our Lady's Presence, Radiating Christ, The mystery of Jesus in the person of the needy
  • Other branches in the Order: Missionaries of Charity Brothers, Contemplative brothers and sisters, Missionaries of Charity priests


Dominicans (Order of Preachers)

  • Founder: St. Dominic of Caleruega
  • Motto: “Laudare, benedicere, praedicare” (To praise, to bless, to preach)
  • Type: Mendicant Religious Order
  • Habit: A white capuce with a hood, a cincture and a rosary that hangs from it, a scapular and black capuce, with hood on top of everything
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Prayer, Study, Preaching, Community
  • Notable Saints: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Albert the Great


Augustinians (Order of St. Augustine)

  • Founder: Pope Innocent IV, in an effort to unite several communities of hermits in Italy. The pope gave them the rule of St. Augustine.
  • Motto: “Anima una et cor unum in Deum” (One heart and one soul in God)
  • Type: Mendicant Religious Order
  • Habit: Black
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Living the Gospel and the liturgy, Communion of life, The search for God and interiority, Apostolic activities according to the needs of the church, Study and the cultivation of knowledge
  • Notable Saints: St. Rita of Cascia


Carmelites (Carmelite Order)

  • Founder: They began as a community of hermits on Mount Carmel, Palestine, inspired by prophet Elijah. Their Rule was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247.
  • Motto: “Zelo zelatus sum pro Domino Deo Exercituum” (With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts)
  • Type: Mendicant Religious Order
  • Habit: Brown habit and a white cloak
  • Characteristics of Spirituality: Contemplation and prayer, Mary and the prophet Elijah as models, Fraternity, Service
  • Notable Saints: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Edith Stein


  1. Very useful article. Thanks. God bless

  2. thanks for these informative summaries

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