Friars Minor, Capuchin (OFM Cap = Ordo Fratrum Minorum Capucinorum), independent mendicant order since 1619, live according to the rules of St. Francis of Assisi (1181/82-1226), as do the Friars Minor Conventual and Franciscans. This branch of the order was established in 1525 and, contrary to its original objective as a hermitic mendicant order, soon developed into an order for spiritual welfare work, which distinguished itself particularly with reconversions during the Counter-Reformation as well as in missionary and social work. The first Capuchins in Austria were called to Innsbruck by Archduke Ferdinand II in 1593. In the same year Capuchins also came to Salzburg, where they were responsible for the majority of Catholic reconversions, and in 1599 to Vienna, where in 1622 they were given a church and a monastery in the inner city (Kapuzinergruft). Between 1600 and 1645 they settled in all the Austrian Länder. In 1605 the Tyrolian ecclesiastic district or province was established; in 1928 the South-Tyrolian monasteries seceded, resulting in the establishment of the Brixen province and the North-Tyrolean province, which as of 2000 had 14 branches, with headquarters in Innsbruck. The monasteries established by Saint Lawrence of Brindisi in Prague, Vienna, and Graz represented the core of the former Bohemian province (1618) and the Styrian province (1619). The Austrian districts remaining after 1918 were united into the Viennese province in 1921; this province had 10 branches as of 2000.
Literature: Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, vol. 5, 1960.