THE ROLE OF THE POPES UPON THE MENDICANT ORDERS
Undoubtedly the most remarkable phenomenon in the creation of the mendicant orders of the thirteenth century was the decisive part taken by the Papacy (Popes) throughout the century.
In this very formal sense the popes were the true "institutors," with few exceptions, of the orders of the thirteenth century, in a way in which they were not for the orders founded during the preceding period.
Before the thirteenth century the role of the popes consisted mainly in supporting religious orders by granting them favours and exemptions, and by making requests for the use of their members in numerous projects of the universal church.
The popes had approved of their enterprises, and had fostered them. But never before had they actually called religious orders into being.
Admittedly, the popes did not create the spiritual current of lay piety and the apostolic life which kindled the initial spark in all the orders of the thirteenth century. But at least they recognised these phenomena and took initiatives to give these movements a structural and legal permanence in Catholic life.
The design of the popes directed the progressive amalgamation of fraternities of spontaneous origin into stable and legislated forms of community (conventual) life and clerical life, and ultimately into the "mixed" or apostolic mode of life (i.e., both conventual and clerical).