Order Province

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An order province denotes the regional subdivision of different Christian orders or congregations.


As an association of dioceses, church provinces had existed since the early Middle Ages . Since the high Middle Ages , this organizational principle has also been extended to orders. In particular, the mendicant orders (for example Dominicans , Franciscans ) and new orders such as the Jesuits were divided into regional order provinces. The provinces could be subdivided, in the case of the Franciscans, for example, into custodies . For example, the Franciscans in Germany were divided into the provinces of Bavaria , Colonia , Saxonia and Thuringia , which merged in 2010 to form the German Franciscan Province of St. Elisabeth . In the order of knights, similar structures are the balleien . In the Premonstratensian order there were circaries as regional divisions.

Within the universal community of the general order, the province is the natural living space for the individual brother, in whose traditions, problems and efforts he is embedded and in which he remains, even if he can be transferred to other convents within the province. A transfer to another province is rather rare.


Order provinces are under their own leadership, consisting of a provincial superior (also called provincial superior or provincial superior), who are often supported by a provincial council consisting of several advisors (which can be called differently and in the case of the Franciscan orders "Definitory" called). A provincial chapter forms the representative assembly of the branches or order members represented and meets at regular intervals (two, three or four years). It has pioneering competence for the order province and mostly elects the provincial.

Canon Law

The current canon law Codex Iuris Canonici from 1983 names the term province in the sense of order province in canons 620, 621, 622, 631, 634 and 636. According to this, there are three organizational levels: the religious institute, the province and the individual branches. According to can. 621 CIC bears the name "Province" an association of several branches that form part of the institute in one order.

Management and financial administration of the provinces is regulated by canon law. "Major superiors" are those who lead an entire institute or a province or a legally independent establishment ( can. 620 CIC ) and their representatives. can. 622 CIC reads: “The chief executive has authority over all provinces, branches and members of the institute, which is to be exercised according to proper law; the other superiors have authority within the limits of their office. ”According to can. 631 §3 CIC provinces can forward wishes and suggestions to the general chapter. can. 634 §1 CIC regulates that not only institutes and branches, but also provinces as legal persons are able to “acquire, own, manage and dispose of assets, unless this ability is excluded or restricted in the constitutions”. For the financial administration of provinces, according to can. 636 §1 CIC stipulates that in every province that is directed by a major superior, an economist is to be appointed who is not a major superior. He is to carry out the administration of the property under the direction of the appropriate superior.

Neither for secular institutes ( cann. 710–730 CIC ) nor for societies of apostolic life ( cann. 731–755 CIC ) there are canonical regulations regarding the division into provinces.


  • Georg Schwaiger (Ed.): Monasticism, orders, monasteries. From the beginning to the present. A lexicon (= Beck's series. 1554). Beck, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-406-49483-8 , p. 370 f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Herbert Schneider : The Franciscans in the German-speaking area. Life and goals. Dietrich-Coelde-Verlag, Werl 1988, p. 14.