Capuchins (kăpˈyōchĭnz) [key] [Ital., = hooded ones], Roman Catholic religious order of friars, one of the independent orders of Franciscans, officially the Friars Minor Capuchin [Lat. abbr., O.M.Cap.]. The order was founded (1525–28) in central Italy as a reform within the Observants, led by Matteo di Bascio. It is one of the largest orders. Born, like the Jesuits, at the beginning of the Counter Reformation, the Capuchins became a major force in church activity, especially in preaching and in missions. With the Jesuits they did much to revive Catholicism in the parts of Europe where Protestantism had prevailed. The Capuchins have been very important in foreign missions; they were early arrivals in French Canada.
See study by Father Cuthbert (1928, repr. 1971).