Secular Franciscans or the Third Order, are men and women, singles and couples, young and old, living a Christian life with a Franciscan spirituality in the secular world. Members are from all walks of life, inspired to follow the same spiritual path taken by many Franciscan saints, blessed’s and other holy men and women throughout the almost 800 year history of the Franciscan Order.
Secular Franciscans have been chosen to follow the charism of their Seraphic Father, St. Francis of Assisi, to live the gospel life in their homes, communities, with those they meet and work with and to share the gift of faith that they have received from God. To learn more about Secular Franciscans, please visit their About page.
The origins of the Third Order began when, St. Francis after having received God’s message to preach, began to do so and arrived at a town of Cannara, Italy. He set out to preach to the towns people, but first he ordered the many swallows who were twittering to remain quiet until after he finished preaching and they obeyed him. St. Francis preached so fervently that, together with the miracle of the swallows, the crowd that had gathered presented themselves to St. Francis to follow his way of life.
Due to the overwhelming number of penitents, St. Francis realized that not all could join the religious communities of the first order, Order Friars Minor (priests and brothers) or the second order, Poor Clares (cloistered nuns), so St. Francis created the Third Order. This would allow people to follow Jesus in the footsteps of St. Francis and live the Gospel life in their secular state.
The first group of Secular Franciscans, originally called the Brothers and Sisters of Penance embraced St. Francis’ trust in God and chose to serve the poor. They positively impacted society of St. Francis’ time, one of much war and violence, by refusing to bear arms and in so doing, put a crimp in the war machines. They rejected violence and sought ways of reconciliation instead of revenge.
St. Francis made the Gospel with Jesus as it’s center, the guide of life for all his followers. He gave each of his three orders a written rule, which were summaries of the Gospel and guidelines to its perfect observance. To learn more about the origins of the Third Order, please visit their Origins page.