Sastre Palmer, TOR - History of the Third Order Regular
|By: Fr. Nicholas Sastre Palmer,
Province of the Immaculate Conception - SPAIN
By way of introduction, I would like to present this
work with a brief explanation as to what it is and what it hopes to accomplish.
It should not be considered as a Manual of the history of our Order and still less as a
research project. It simply offers some points of our history for the private use of the
friars of the order. It is more like a dossier or a reworking of some texts, monographs
and brief articles dealing with the history of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of
It lacks footnotes and citations due to the haste in preparing it for publication
and these will be added in a later edition. I am conscious of gaps and errors and am open
to suggestions and advice that its readers might be able to offer me. I will be very
grateful for their response.
Basically, this dossier has been compiled from the following texts:
Archives of the General Curia T.O.R. "Various Documents ... "
Via dei Fori Imperiali, 1 Rome
de Villapadierna. Vida Comunitaria de Los Terciarios Franciscanos de Espana en el siglo
XIV, en Prime manifestazione de vita comunitaria maschile e femminile nel movimiento
francescano della penitenza (1215-1447). ed. R. Pazzelli - L. Temperini, CRI-TOR, Rome,
Pazzelli, Rafaele. II Terz'Ordine Regolare di S. Francesco attraverso i secoli. Curia
General TOR, Rome, 1958
Sastre Palmer, Nicholas. La espiritualidad penitencial a traves de la historia. Thesis for
the Master's Degree, Antonianum, Rome. 1978.
-------- Origens de la provincia espanyola del Tercer Orde Regular de Penitencia de Sant
Francesc d'Assis a Mallorca. a COMUNICACIO, n. 23, Palma, 1982, pp. 23-30.
(Translated by Fr. Seraphin Conley, TOR)
A General Outline of Our
A. THE PENITENTIAL
TRADITION OF THE CHURCH
AND THE PENITENTIAL MOVEMENTS
"Do penance, the Kingdom of God is at
hand" (Mt.4, 17, Mk 1, 15). Penance or conversion of heart is a basic and
preliminary requisite in order to enter the Kingdom which Jesus Christ preached.
This penitential attitude is also lived and
preached by His disciples. Penance/Conversion is a fundamental element of Christianity.
In the early Church there was a gradual
development of a penitential discipline as the means of reconciliation within the
Community and, at the same time, as an ascetical path of spirituality.
1. The Fathers and
The Fathers of the Church present us with the
spiritual aspect of penance under these ideas:
2. The penitential discipline of the
and voluntary penitents
The era of persecution, that period of heroism in which
Christians showed themselves willing to sacrifice their lives to affirm their faith and
fidelity to Christ, finally ended. There arose new forms of "witness" (martirio)
and voluntary heroism. One of these forms was the choice of entrance into the "Ordo
Poenitentiae" or the acceptance of the public "Penitential Discipline.
In other words, we find a number of Christians willingly
embracing the program of penance which the Church had prepared for public sinners. They
did this as their way of striving towards personal perfection.
St. Cyprian (3rd cent.) speaks of those Christians who,
without deserving it, by their own free choice, accept the public penances established for
repentant sinners before their re-admittance to the Eucharist.
Those who sought perfection by means of the penitential state
were called "conversi," "continents," "virgins,"
In actual practice, the life-style of such
voluntary penitents became characterized, among other things, by a celibate life or, in
the case of married Christians, the renunciation of their marital rights or of re-marriage
in the case of widows. (N.B. In the 13th century we find a certain mitigation in this
matter whereby married penitents are held to observe only a periodic continence.) They
were required to wear simple clothes, avoiding any type of elegance in dress. They were to
be abstemious in their meals and also were held to frequent fasts. They were to practice a
life of intense prayer and to observe a certain withdrawal from worldly social events
which might be harmful to Christian living. Preferably, they were to dedicate a great deal
of time to charitable activities in favor of the needy.
These "converted ones" or
"voluntary penitents" followed various styles of life.
3. Styles of life
among the Penitents:
a. Those who withdrew "to do
penance" in solitude. These were the hermit penitents or anchorites.
b. Those who lived in the vicinity of
monasteries so as to participate in the monastic life to some extent.
c. Some continued to live at home with their
families but accepting the obligations of a penitent, especially, a life of continence.
d. From about the 4th century groups of
penitents united in fraternities, more or less homogeneous, serving in hospitals or
leprosaria and dedicating themselves generally to works of charity. These groups of
penitents very often also adopted a definite Propositum of life.
This penitential movement reached its peak in
the 13th century. In southern Europe we find the "Humillados," the
"Disciplined," and the "Flagellants." A little while later there will
be found the (Third) Order of Penance of St. Francis, of St. Dominic, and of Mt. Carmel.
In central Europe the movement of the Beguines and Beghards will be strongly represented.
Greatly influenced by the preaching of the
Mendicant Orders, the penitential movement continued to group together and to unite. They
gravitated around the Orders and these not only influenced the penitential movement but,
also integrated them into their respective "Third Orders." At the same time that
the Mendicant Orders were absorbing these movements, they were also sharing in their
spread and growth.
B. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
PRODUCT OF THE PENITENTIAL MOVEMENT
FRANCIS AND THE VOLUNTARY PENITENTS
1. Francis, the
The vocation of Francis of Assisi was born
and developed in this penitential environment which flourished in 13th century Italy.
Francis, during the first years of his conversion, lived as a penitent (a member of the conversi)
in the outskirts of Assisi. But, in a certain moment, Francis felt himself called by
God to begin an itinerant, apostolic life, living a radical form of poverty. Gradually he
discovered his special charism based on a radical living of the Gospel. With his first
companions he founded the Order of Friars Minor (Ist Order). Francis felt called to live
the Gospel completely and radically, emphasizing "minority" (poverty),
fraternity and evangelization (an itinerant apostolate).
|2. The relationship of
Francis of Assisi
to the penitents or tertiaries
In spite of the originality of the charism of Francis, a penitential
foundation always remained in his spirituality. And it may be supposed that he continued
his relationship with the penitential movement although we do not know of any of his
writings directed exclusively to these penitents. Although the great Franciscan scholar,
Fr. Kajetan Esser, OFM considers the I Letter to All the Faithful as written by St.
Francis to the penitents, we find ourselves in the realm of a "working
hypothesis." Therefore, it is my belief that we cannot affirm so absolutely, as has
often been the case, that Francis of Assisi and his first followers are the Founders of
the Third Order of Penance. Rather, we should speak of them as the propagators or
promoters of this penitential movement which in its second phase (some 50 years later)
became the Franciscan "Third Order" of Penance.
cf. Fr. Lino Temperini's essay: St. Francis of Assisi:
Father and Teacher of the Third Order in the following.chapter. See especially page 49.
Let us recapitulate the preceding material in four points:
I . St. Francis and his companions labored to
promote the state of penance among Christians. As a result of their penitential preaching
and influence, many new groups of penitents arose. This promotion logically brings along
with it a certain "franciscanization. "
2. Franciscanism, in its beginnings, scarcely
changed the spirituality and internal structure of the pre-existing penitential movement.
3. Francis and his companions must be
considered "preachers of penance" and not simply "voluntary
4. It cannot continue to be held that among those faithful
close to St. Francis, first there arose groups of Christian lay people desiring to live in
penance (T.O.F.), and only later, from these arose the "regular, or religious
Franciscan penitents" (T.O.R.) as the more or less "traditional"
explanation had it.
Nowadays, as the result of serious studies carried out, we
must speak of simultaneous origins. There co-existed during this period starting from the
12th-13th centuries, lay groups and "regular" groups of penitents (i.e. groups
which lived together in community with a rule of life or "propositum").
3. THE FRANCISCAN PENITENTIAL
OR THE THIRD ORDER OF ST. FRANCIS
Since this aspect of the relationship of St. Francis with the
penitents and that of the first Franciscans with the penitential movement has been so
little studied, it must be remembered that here we are in the realm of theory or
"working hypothesis" as stated above.
Nevertheless, in the year 1289, 63 years after the death of
St. Francis (+ 1226), the first Franciscan Pope (Girolamo de Ascoli), Nicholas IV,
approved the Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis of
Assisi with the Bull Supra Montem (1289) calling St. Francis of Assisi the
"Institutor" of the "Order of Penance."
a. When did the Penitential Franciscan Movement begin to be
called the Third Order of St. Francis?
This is not known exactly but there are some
Friar Thomas of Celano, in his first Life
of St. Francis (n.37) uses the expression "the threefold army."
Friar Bernardo de Bessa, a Franciscan and
the secretary of St. Bonaventure, already uses the term "Third Order" in his
book "Liber de Laudibus bti. Francisci" (chap.viii) written in 1287.
Cardinal G. Buccamuzzi, during the
"sede vacante" of 1287-1288, speaks of the Fratres et Sorores de
Poenitentia vel, ut superinducto utamur vocabulo, de Tertia Regula bti. Francisci.
In this way, gradually it became the custom
to use the title of Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance.
Editor's note: However, as
Fr. Gabriele Andreozzi TOR points out in his Storia delle Regole e delle Constituzioni
dell'Ordine francescano secolare this title was not pleasing to the Friars of
Penance, very conscious of their autonomy, and so was never used in their official
documents. However, the name "third order" became more and more commonly used by
the Minors and, consequently, in papal documents inspired by them.
b. The growth and
unification of the groups of penitents or ternaries
The number of persons belonging to the
Franciscan Order of Penance rapidly increased. Since they followed the most varied forms
of religious life then permitted, they found themselves involved in a serious problem. The
Church at that time was struggling with all its might against the various groups of
heretics demanding reforms. Due to the similarity of life-styles and desire for reform
among both the heretical groups and the fraternities of penitents/tertiaries, the
hierarchy did not always know how to separate the wheat from the chaff! For an example of
the problem, we might examine the "penitent communities" of Belgium and Holland.
The communities of brothers felt the full force of these difficulties both from persons
and groups within the Church desirous of either the suppression of any type of community
or eremitical life or their absorption into the first Franciscan Order.
c. Examples showing the existence of
communities and fraternities of Franciscan tertiary penitents in Europe (13th-14th
We can find any number of these groups
throughout Europe during this period.
1289. At Montecasale, Tuscany, there
existed a community of Tertiary Hermits. (Cfr. ANDREOZZI, G., Monte Casale nei Fioretti
e nella nostra storia. en Analecta TOR, V, 813-814).
- 1295. In Montefalco, the Bishop of Spoleto approved a
community of Tertiary Sisters professing the Rule of Nicholas IV. (Cfr. ANDREOZZI, G., S.
Rocco en Montefalco, La Porziuncula del TOR. Analecta TOR, IV, p.220ff.)
|In Spain (Majorca):
"Favorably approved by the Regent, Phillip, and under James III, the Beguines were
able to establish themselves in Majorca. Like their companions. in Catalonia and Valencia,
they are called and are members of the Third Order of St. Francis. They are in charge of
hospices ... "
There was a community of Beguines in Palma
which was connected to the one in Valencia. Some "Beguinas" of the Order of the
Third Rule of St. Francis lived in Puig de Pollence before 1345, They had an excellent
rapport with the pious faithful and were favored by the King himself. Later, they united
in order to follow their common life in a new convent dedicated to St. Elisabeth of
Hungary. (Cfr. Comunicacions, n. 23).
1242: There is documentation for a
fraternity of Beguine brothers in Wiener Neustadt connected with the Franciscans.
1255: In a chronicle of the
Franciscans of Vienna, it is related that 5 of the tertiary brothers had moved from Linz
to Switzerland at the invitation of Hartmann the Elder who built for them the Monastery of
Bernberg unter Winterthur.
1302: A house of religious women
living near the Franciscan Friary is mentioned in the relation. The document also speaks
of a "meisterin" or lady teacher of the Order of Penance of St. Francis. (Cfr.
PASTOR, B. Analecta TOR... )
4. The evolution towards the
formation of T.O.R. congregations
The first official document on behalf of the "Tertiaries
Regular," properly so called, is the Bull Altissimo in divinis of Pope John
XXII in 1324 which recognizes the existence of the community form of life of the friars or
In regards to the female branch of the Third Order Regular,
in 1397, Blessed Angeline of Marsciano established her first monastery of Tertiary
Franciscan Sisters who were especially dedicated to the instruction of youth.
Editor's note: In 1241, Graf Hartmann IV of Dillingen
(Diocese of Augsburg, Germany) endowed a small group of pious women with a house by the
city wall to ensure their livelihood. In 1303, the Bishop of Augsburg gave them the
recently approved Rule of Nicholas IV and some Statutes which defined their community
style of life, thereby distinguishing them from the Third Order Seculars. The Dillingen
Franciscan Sisters seem to have the earliest date of existence among all present day TOR
Franciscan congregations. (cfr. "TAU-INFO,"vol. 6,1991 - CFI, Rome.
During the first half of the 15th century there began the
process of unification of the communities of the Third Order Regular in the various
countries of Europe resulting in the formation of national TOR Congregations.
- 1401: Union of the Tertiaries Regular of Utrecht.
- 1413: The communities in Flanders unite.
- 1427: Union of the Tertiaries Regular of Cologne.
- 1436: Union of those in Belgium. (cfr. the Bull of Eugene IV Ad
- 1442: Union of the Tertiaries Regular of Spain. (cfr. Bull of
Eugene IV Injunctum nobis).
- 1447: Union of Tertiary Friars of Italy with the Bull of
Nicholas V Pastoralis Officii.
- 1473: Union of the Tertiary Friars of Dalmatia.
1521: Pope Leo X promulgated a Rule for the
Tertiaries Regular which was accepted by those communities associated with the Ist Order.
1568: Pius V, with the Bull Ea est
officii nostri suppressed the offices of Minister, Vicar and Visitator General of the
Third Order Regular of both male and female branches "in universum orbem. "
1586: The Conventual Franciscan Pope Sixtus
V with the Bull Romanis pontificis providentia of March 29, 1586 authorized
the Tertiaries Regular of Italy to again hold a General Chapter and elect their own
The Dalmatian and Croatian Congregation of
Friars united with the Italian Congregation of the Third Order Regular in 1601.
The other national TOR congregations began to
disappear due to local problems, or the increasing old age of their members or absorption
into the First Order.
There is need to highlight the flourishing of
apostolic institutes of men and women, but especially the latter, which adopted the TOR
Rule for their Congregations, although this was often for legal rather than charismatic
motives. These Institutes arose for specific purposes such as assistance to children, the
elderly, the poor, immigrants, orphans, the sick, for both popular and professional
teaching, assistance to juvenile delinquents, etc.
In this period, the ancient Spanish TOR
Congregation (Terceros) approved in 1413 was suppressed by the civil laws of
exclaustration of 1835.
In the year 1927, the Holy Father Pius XI approved an
"aggiornamento" of the Rule of the Third Order Regular. This remained in effect
until the new TOR Rule was approved by Pope John Paul II with the Apostolic Letter Franciscanum
Vitae Propositum dated December 8, 1982.
THE JURIDICAL ASPECT:
THE EVOLUTION OF THE TOR RULES
Admitting that even if St. Francis of Assisi and his first
companions were only the "Promoters" and not exactly the Founders of the
Franciscan Penitents, we can agree that "Francis allowed those Penitents who wished
to follow him, while remaining in the world, to adopt as their rule the Memoriale
Propositi (Thesis, n. 66). In this way, we may consider Francis and his friars as the
teachers, the formers, the inspirers of these fraternities of penitents.
cf. Fr. Lino Temperini's essay: St. Francis of Assisi:
Father and Teacher of the Third Order in the following chapter. See especially page 49.
A. THE RULES OF THE THIRD ORDER
I . The Memoriale Propositi
There are 3 Latin editions of the Memoriale which have
come down to us:
- The Capistrano edition published by Paul Sabatier
- The Koenisberg edition by L. Lenunens
- The Venetian edition by B. Bughetti
This last dates from 1228 and is the oldest.
The Propositum which the
penitents used in 1221 is preserved for us in a memorial of May 20, 1228. There are at
least two additions to this edition of 1228 (which contains the text assumed to date from
1221): no. 17 which is an allusion to the Bull of May 21, 1227 and the final paragraph no.
39 of Dominican inspiration regarding the legal obligation of observing the Propositum.
A summary of the 39 articles of the Memoriale
Articles I to 15: Personal Ascetical
- 1- 4: Regulations about the style of clothing
- 5: Prohibition of attending
banquets, dances and immodest shows
- 6-11: Concerning fasts and abstinence
- 12-15: Prayer, the recitation of the Divine Office or the
24 "Paters. " Obligation of confession 3 times annuall and reception
of Communion on Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost
Articles 16 to 28: Social Obligations-Works of charity
- 16-18: Prohibition against bearing arms and swearing oaths.
Here we enter into the duties to the community, the promise of mutual peace and the
promise to preserve a just relationship with one's neighbor
- 19-22: The obligation to assist at the monthly meeting in
order to attend Mass, listen to a conference by a learned brother regarding the
penitential way of life, of sharing of material goods and offering mutual assistance
- 23-24: Duties towards the deceased members: Attendance at the
funeral, the suffrages for each deceased member. The Priest is to offer 3 Masses for both
the living and the dead.
- 25: The obligation to make a Will so as to avoid lawsuits
among the members of one's family
- 26: They must be reconciled among themselves and, if involved
in lawsuits with nonmembers, should follow the counsel of the Ministers. The Peace-making
Mission of the Penitents.
- 27: When harassed by laws, privileges, or by civil authorities
they shall take counsel with the Ministers and the Bishop
- 28: Let each one accept the duty which he has been called to
Articles 29 to 39: Internal Organization and Administration
of the Fraternity
- 29-33: The requirements for those seeking admittance to the
"Order of Penance." The Ministers are to examine them and oblige them to fulfill
certain duties and promises. These duties will be amplified in the Rule of Nicholas IV.
- 34-36: Penalties which are to be imposed by the Visitator or
by those in authority
- 37: The power of the Minister to dispense
- 38: The election of other ministers for
organization and administration
- 39: The penance imposed by the Visitator and the obligation to
This last article dealing with the Visitator is an
interesting point as the possible connection between the Penitents and the Friars Minor
which will be examined in the evolution of the Rule of Nicholas IV:
In the Memoriale it is not stated
whether the Visitator must be a priest, a religious or a Friar Minor.
In the Rule of Friar Caro of Florence
(1284) we find that the Visitator must be a priest.
In the Rule of Nicholas IV it is stated
that the Visitator is to be a priest of the Friars Minor.
Another interesting aspect of the Memoriale is that it
expresses the raison d'etre of this movement, or the spiritual and ecclesial basis for the
"Continual penance, mercy and the works of charity
represent and encompass the specific purpose of the "Order of Penance" and its
reason for existing in the Church" (69).
Let us briefly explain this statement:
continual penance: its "vertical"
obligations. Conversion to God is expressed in a simple and modest style of clothes, the
refusal to attend indecent shows and recreations, the fasts and abstinences, frequent
prayer and participation in the sacraments, attendance at the monthly meeting, and being
present at the funerals of departed brothers and sisters.
mercy and the works of charity: its
"horizontal" obligations or relations with one's neighbour. The penitent is to
live peacefully with one's neighbour, to respect the property and rights of others, to pay
one's taxes, not to bear arms nor to take oaths, to be apostles to one's family, to assist
financially the poorer brothers and the sick to visit and to care for the sick brothers,
to make a will so as to avoid disputes and legal controversies, not just to be peaceful
but to be peace-makers.(79)
2. The Rule of Friar
Caro of Florence (1284)
In 1284, two fraternities of Penitents in
Florence compiled a single Rule with the intention of unifying and reconciling the
"grey" (Franciscan oriented) and the "black" (Dominican oriented)
penitents. This Rule is attributed to the Florentine Friar Minor Caro (or Claro, or
Chiaro). This new Rule contained 20 chapters and essentially reproduced what was contained
in the Memoriale, amplifying it and modifying it with a reference to the First
Order. The visitator should be a priest of any approved Order, a pious man, well
instructed in the Word of God. (cfr. Peano, Le religiose franciscane .... p.
3. The Rule of
Nicholas IV (1289)
On the 18th of August, 1289, the first
Franciscan Pope Nicholas IV (Girolamo Massi de Ascoli-Picena) issued the Bull Supra Montem
which gave a new Rule to the Brothers and Sisters of Penance.
This Rule of Nicholas IV consists of 20
chapters and 60 articles. It seems to have been substantially taken from that of Friar
Caro of Florence with some changes. It proclaimed St. Francis of Assisi as the
"Institutor of this Order" and advises that the Visitators be chosen from the
members of the Ist Franciscan Order.
This Rule seems to have been the canonical
response of the Holy See to the numerous requests of the penitents, whether living in
their own homes or in communities, for some official recognition of their way of life.
With this official approbation of the Church, many movements and associations ....
penitents and Beguines welcomed this document as a means of legalizing their situations
and became Franciscan ternaries. (cfr. Pazzelli, passim).
Here we should review the state of the
juridical situation of the penitents or ternaries of the 13th century from the Memoriale
on to the Rule of Nicholas IV:
We do not have the original text of the Memoriale
We do have various manuscripts giving us
the Rule as it was from 1228 until that of Nicholas IV (1289).
The oldest text we have is that published
by Fr. Bughetti and the oldest commentary that of Fr. Oliger.
We do have texts of the Rule as published
by Nicholas IV and later elaborations by Fr. Mariano of Florence.
In the manuscripts we find the title as the
"Rule of the Penitents," or "of the Continents." Very rarely is found
the addition "of St. Francis."
- Finally, we know that the Rule of the Penitents was modified
in 1284 by the Friar Minor Caro of Florence. It is this Rule, with some minor alterations,
which was approved in 1289 by Nicholas IV, a Franciscan, as the "Rule of the
Franciscan Penitents." (Thesis n. 72).
4. The Rule of Leo X
The 5th Lateran Council (1512-1517) had
insisted on a thorough reform of the Church in its institutions and its members. As a
response to this need, two editions of a revised Rule were drawn up which should be of
interest to every member of the Third Order Regular.
With the Bull Inter Cetera Nostro
Regiminis, (Ann. Minorum, an. 1521,n. 19,t.XVI, Quaracchi, 1933, pp. 147-150) Pope Leo
X promulgated, on Jan. 20, 1521, a revised Rule for Regular Tertiaries but without
specifying exactly for whom it was destined, nor how obligatory was its acceptance. The
Pope took the Rule of Nicholas IV and adapted it to religious life by removing all those
articles which referred to lay people and by adding guidelines for religious perfection.
This Rule has 10 chapters, very brief, with
the following titles:
1. The Reception of Novices
II. Of that which the Religious must promise at their Profession
IV. The Divine Office and Prayer
V. The Election of Superiors and Officials
VI. The Manner of External and Interior Comportment
VII. Visiting and Caring for the Sick
VIll. Visitation of the Religious by the Superiors
IX. Suffrages for the Deceased
X. The Obligation to Observe the Rule
The Italian Congregation did not accept this
revised Rule but continued to observe the Rule of Nicholas IV along with the "General
Statutes" issued at the General Chapter of Florence in 1472. The Leonine revision of
the Rule only mentioned Local Ministers (the offices of the Provincials and the Visitator
disappearing) since these Local Ministers were to be under the authority of the Ministers
General and Provincial of the Friars Minor. Therefore, the Rule was not acceptable to the
Friars of Italy since this would have meant renouncing the privilege of autonomy and
having their own Minister General, privileges which the Pope had not suppressed.
5. The TOR Rules of
Pope Paul Ill (1547)
Pope Paul Ill approved a Rule with the Bull Ad
fructus uberes dated July 3, 1547 (cfr. BORDONI, Archivium .... Parmae, 1658,
pp.444-482). Actually, this was a triple Rule meant for religious men, women, and laity
respectively who lived in the Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal. Each text of the Rule is
composed of 10 chapters after the model of the 10 Commandments.
6. The TOR "Rule" of Fr.
Bonaventure Da Vicenza (1549)
With the passing of time, the necessity of revising the Rule
of Nicholas IV and the adjustments of the "Statutes" of 1472 was recognized.
Therefore, Friar Bonaventure da Vicenza, the Minister General, decided to undertake a
revision of the TOR Rule for the Italian Congregation. He arranged and codified the
Statutes of 1472 so that, in 1549 with the consent of his Definitory, he petitioned and
received the approval of this "Rule" with the apostolic authority of Cardinal
Rodolfo Pio da Carpi, the Protector of the Order. This revision is written in the elegant
Latin of the Renaissance and consists of 30 chapters. This revised Rule was the one
professed by the friars of the Italian congregation until the Rule of Pius XI in 1927.
7. The TOR Rule of
Pius XI (1927)
In the year 1925, Pope Pius XI named a
commission to draw up a new Rule for the Third Order Regular and all the numerous Tertiary
Franciscan Congregations which had arisen in the 19th century. This new Rule took into
account the Franciscan spirit and the legislation contained in the new Code of Canon Law.
It was approved with the promulgation of the Bull Rerum Conditio on October 4, 1927
(AAS. 19/1927/ 361-7). Essentially, it was an adaptation of the Rule of Leo X and it
became the official text for all congregations of the Third Order Regular.
It has eight chapters with these titles:
I. Summary of Religious Life
II. Novitiate and Profession
Ill. Charity towards God and Neighbour
IV. The Divine Office, Prayer and Fasting
V. Manner of Interior and External Behaviour
VI. The Care of the Sick
VII. Work and the Manner of Working
VIll. The Obligation to Observe Everything Contained in the Rule
8. The TOR Rule of
Pope John Paul 11 (1982)
Following the Second World War (1939-1945)
with all that this meant in the change of mentality and in society, even before Vatican
II, the religious orders desired an adaptation in their way of life. The Council, besides
the changes proposed for the Church, also insisted very strongly on the need for religious
institutes to return to their roots and to deepen their own charism. Logically, all of
this affected the many congregations of men and women which professed the Rule of the
Third Order Regular approved in 1927.
In 1965 twenty-five congregations of
Franciscan Sisters of France and Belgium joined together in a project of forming a Rule
meant only for TOR women. The resulting document of 12 chapters was entitled "The
Rule of Life of the Franciscan Religious (Sisters)" and was published in 1972.
In 1967 nineteen Dutch congregations joined
in a similar project and composed "The Dutch TOR Rule" in 6 chapters.
The Franciscan congregations of Germany also
prepared a text of 6 chapters entitled "The German TOR Rule."
In 1974, the IV Interobediential Congress of
the Third Order Regular met at Madrid and prepared a project on the Rule in 6 chapters
entitled "An Understanding of Franciscan Penitential Life." This later became
known as "The Madrid Document."
Each of these projects came about
independently of the others and was based, at times, on different or even contrasting
The promoters of the French Project organized
an International Congress of Franciscan Sisters, or The Assembly of 1976, which took place
in Assisi. Although the French Project served as the basic text, the Dutch, the German and
the Madrid documents were also presented. The representatives of masculine congregations
of the TOR noted two omissions that should be avoided in the future: any proposed Rule
should be the same for both masculine and feminine congregations in accord with the TOR
tradition from its origins, and that the penitential spirituality, so characteristic of
TOR spirituality should not be so completely ignored!
The International Franciscan Meeting at
Assisi, October, 1979. In this meeting the collaboration and participation of male TOR
congregations was invited and 4 delegates representing the OFM Conv., the OFM, the OFM
Cap., and the TOR were named. Two international organizations were also established: the
International Franciscan Bureau (BFI) composed of 6 general superiors of TOR
congregations, and an International Franciscan Commission (CFI) composed of 9 members. In
the votation on the various projects, the French text received 92 votes out of a possible
The Grottaferrata Meeting was held from March
8-10, 1980 between the members of the CFI, the BFI, and the 4 delegates of the Franciscan
Friars. At this meeting, it was decided that:
1. The projected text should be the same for
men and woman Franciscan groups.
2. The text should take into account the
basic principles of Franciscan spirituality and the fundamental values which had inspired
the various congregations.
3. The basic text would be the one which had
received the most votes at the Assisi meeting.
4. A group would be set up to work on the
The working team met at Reute, Germany from
the Ist to the 10th of September, 1980. The members of the BFI and CFI met on the 11th-
13th and then sent on the text to alI the congregations so that these could examine it and
propose possible changes before April 15, 1981. The members of the working team met again
May 10-20th, 1981 in Brussels to review the 205 observations received. The text was again
recast and became known as "The Brussels Text" and was sent out to all the
congregations so that the General Councils could approve it officially in the name of each
A General Assembly took place at the "Domum Pacis"
in Rome from March 1-10, 1982. It was the most important and most attended of all the
meetings and assemblies to that date. Some 192 General Superiors or their delegates were
present so that the number of participants was more than 260 persons representing 285 TOR
congregations from 37 countries and the 5 continents. The 8 days of meetings and prayer
brought the participants to a deeper understanding of what it means to form part of the
Third Order Regular Family. In spite of a variety of origins, apostolates, and styles of
life there were common fundamental values (the Rule) at the same time as a rich and
precious diversity (Constitutions). The text was voted upon and approved by the Assembly
and was presented by the BFI to the Sacred Congregation of Religious. The Prefect of the
Congregation, Cardinal Pironio announced on April 30, 1983 the solemn papal confirmation
of the Rule with the Brief Franciscanum Vitae Propositum dated December 8,
1982. His Holiness Pope John Paul II had confirmed this latest text of "The Rule and
Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of
Assisi." (cfr. Pazzelli, R. ... Commentario pp.43-53; Morelli,R.A., La Nueva Regla
... en Seleciones de Franciscanismo, n. 37, 1984. pp.31-38.
B. THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE ITALIAN
CONGREGATION OF THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR
Until 1638, the Friars of the Third Order Regular
Congregation of Italy did not have their own Constitutions separate from the Rule.
1. The Urbanite Constitutions of 1639
These were drawn up at the General Chapter held at Rome in
1638 with the Cardinal Protector Francesco Barberini presiding. They were approved by Pope
Urban VIII on July 8, 1639 although they were not printed until 1648. (cfr. Pazzelli, R.,
2. The Clementine Constitutions of
By the end of the century the internal and external
conditions had so changed that a new adaptation of our legislation was needed. The General
Chapter of 1725 began the revision of the Urbanite Constitutions. This revised text of the
Constitutions was approved by Pope Clement XII on January 26, 1734.
3 . The Constitutions of Pius XI of
In the Chapter of 1920, a revised text of the Constitutions
was presented but was not approved. In the General Chapter of 1926 another text, adjusted
to the requirements of the new Code of Canon Law (1917), was edited. The text was approved
by the Sacred Congregation of Religious on March 7, 1929. This text was updated during the
term of the Minister General, Fr. John Parisi (1936-1947).
4. The Constitutions of the Special
Chapter of 1969
An Extraordinary General Chapter was held at Sts. Cosmas and
Damian, Rome from January 2 - March 6, 1969 to update the Constitutions in the light of
Vatican II. This text was approved "ad experimentum" on April 30, 1969.
In the years following the promulgation of the new Rule by
Pope John Paul II in 1982, an International Commission was appointed to edit a complete
revision of the Constitutions.
Editor's note: This new revision of the Constitutions and
also a text of the General Statutes were approved at the General Chapter of 1989. These
texts were approved by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies
of Apostolic Life on Feb. 2, 1991.
THE NATURE AND
OF THE TERTIARIES REGULAR
OF ST. FRANCIS OF PENANCE
As can easily be deduced from the previous
material drawn from history, we are not dealing with an Order which is compact and unified
in its organization and, even less is this true of its activities. The "Family"
of the Third Order Regular embraces diverse life-styles and apostolates.
Present day styles of life
Presently we find that the congregations
which profess the TOR rule comprise the following ways of life:
1. The contemplative life: This way of life
is lived in monasteries or hermitages by nuns of the Third Order Regular.
2. Active or apostolic life: This describes
the life-style of congregations dedicated to charitable apostolates such as operating
reformatories, hospitals, hospices, schools and colleges, missions, parish work, etc.
Numbered among these congregations, whether
male or female, there are those of PONTIFICAL right and those of DIOCESAN right.
Among the male congregations, there are those
institutes which are simply LAY (no priest members) and some few CLERICAL institutes
(composed of priests and brothers).
The Monasteries of TOR Cloistered Nuns number
approximately 70 in Europe and North America. There are Federations of TOR nuns in Spain
and Mexico and three Monasteries in Italy which are associated with the Friars of the
Third Order Regular.
There are approximately 18 male TOR
congregations, while the number of female congregations which follow the TOR is more than
400 (415 known).
There are nearly 200,000 religious women and
5,000 religious men professing the TOR Rule. It follows then that one cannot speak of a
specific, clear and uniform nature for all Congregations of the Franciscan Third Order
Regular. One could envision any possible Confederation only in the distant future.
All these institutes of Franciscan Tertiaries
Regular, masculine or feminine, form a very broad spiritual family with a great diversity
of activities and ways of life; nevertheless, they are united in professing one and the
same "Rule of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of
PROJECTS TOWARDS A
CONFEDERATION OF THE TOR FAMILY
At the initiative of the Minister General of the Third Order
Regular of St. Francis of Penance, Fr. John Boccelia (1947-1965), Interobediential
Congresses of the different congregations of TOR friars were held.
Their purpose was to come to know one another better and to investigate the possibility of
a Confederation. The idea of such a Confederation had been proposed by Pope Benedict XV in
his Letter Tertii Ordinis a Poenitentia February 20, 1921 directed to the then Minister
General, Fr. Arnaldo Rigo, T.O.R.
First Interobediential Congress
This meeting was held from the 14th-16th of
September, 1950, at the Convento dei Ss. Cosma e Damiano, Rome, the seat of the T.O.R.
General Curia. (cfr. Actas in ANALECTA TOR, V.pp. 560-606). Representatives from 6
congregations were present. Besides getting acquainted with one another and the
apostolates of each institute, they agreed to a "spiritual alliance" among
Five years later, at the same locale, from October
24th-27th, the second meeting took place. To the original 6 representatives were added 2
more. At this congress, the idea of a possible federation or confederation of the
different Congregations was examined. The purpose would be to collaborate in different
areas of the apostolate to arrive more easily at their common goals. This Congress was
followed with much interest and approval by the Sacred Congregation for Religious (cfr.
Pazzelli, Historia..... pp. 244-357).
This meeting was held from August 25th-28th, 1961,
again at Ss. Cosma e Damiano, Rome, with representatives of the 8 TOR Congregations
attending. The representatives decided to establish a Permanent Secretariate of the
Interobedential Congress (IOC). Bro. Joseph Schieffer of the Congregation of the Poor
Brothers of the Seraphic St. Francis, Aachen, Germany was elected the first secretary. The
Secretariate was charged with publishing a semi-annual bulletin of information about the
various congregations: articles, bibliographies, professions, necrology. It was also to
publish a DIRECTORY of the Congregations participating in the Interobediential Congress.
(cfr. ANALECTA TOR, IX, 1961, pp. 294ff.)
This meeting took place at the "St. Peter the
Martyr Center" in Madrid, Spain from April 16th-19th, 1972. There were
representatives from 10 TOR Congregations of men and, for the first time, 6 Congregations
of Franciscan Sisters participated. Further, an Anglican Franciscan Congregation, the
Society of St. Francis attended the congress. The central business of this congress was
the proposal of a projected new Rule for the Third Order Regular of St. Francis entitled
"The Understanding of Franciscan Penitential Life." This project was to be sent
for study and comment to all the members of the Third Order Regular Franciscans. Bro. Paul
Mc Mullen, T.O.R. was elected as the Secretary of the IOC (cfr. ANALECTA TOR, XIII, 1974.
From this date various informal meetings took place
among the members to prepare the text for a new TOR Rule.
In October of 1985, Bro. Allen Von Kobs, CFP was
named General Secretary of the Interobediential Congress (IOC).
At the TOR Convent of San Antonio, Assisi,
October 7th-9th, 1987 the 5th Interobediential Congress was held. Of the 15 TOR
Congregations of Franciscan men invited, 12 sent representatives. At this meeting, it was
decided to dissolve the Interobediential Congress since almost all the Congregations now
formed part of the International Franciscan Conference founded at Assisi in 1985 following
the approbation of the new TOR Rule. For the sake of unity, it was judged inopportune to
multiply federations of Tertiaries Regular.
b. The International
At a gathering in Assisi, October 16th-26th,
the Assembly of the Congregations of Brothers and Sisters following the Rule of the Third
Order Regular of St. Francis formed the International Franciscan Conference. 159
Franciscan Institutes having the right to vote participated at this Assembly with a total
number of 230 persons coming from 28 countries.
The Purpose of the
To examine the situation of the TOR
Institutes in the modern world, and the problems and challenges which faced them,
2. To discuss, to edit, and to approve the
Statutes which were to direct the operation of the International Franciscan Conference of
3. To elect a Permanent International Council composed of a
President, 5 Councillors, and a Secretary.
The office of the C.F.I. Secretariate was to be located at
the Convent "S. Paolo alla Regola, Rome.
|The Little Church of San Rocco, Montefalco.
The "Portiuncula of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of Penance."
On July 25, 1448, in a scene reminiscent of
the Chapter of Mats, some 300 friars of the Franciscan Order of Penance came together
around the little Church of San Rocco on the outskirts of Montefalco. They were
representatives of the fraternities of Italy. They were responding to the Bull Pastoralis
Officii of Pope Nicholas V to hold the first General Chapter of the Order under the
presidency of Bishop Antonio Severini of Gubbio, Bishop Venturino Marni of Cremona, and
the Abbot of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome.
Fr. Bartolomeo Bonamati of Perugia was
elected the first Minister General. In this place were also held the 2nd (August 3, 1451)
and the 10th (May 15,1476) General Chapters of the Third Order Regular of St.Francis of
THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR
OF ST. FRANCIS OF PENANCE
(The Congregation of the TOR originating in
General Curia at the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, Rome)
1 . Origin and Development
At this point we begin entering the
specific history of one of the many groups or federations of Tertiaries Regular, namely,
the Third Order Regular which originated and developed in Italy. Through the centuries the
other national Congregations disappeared or were united to this Congregation. In fact,
this process continues and the majority of the Provinces originated in independent
national or local TOR congregations.
The canonical approbation of the unification and central organization of the previously
existing Fraternities of Third Order friars living as hermits or in Community was given by
Pope Nicholas V in 1447 with the Bull Pastoralis Officii.
On July 25, 1448, the first General Chapter took place at the Church of San Rocco,
Montefalco, with delegates from communities throughout Italy. Friar Bartolomeo Bonamati of
Perugia was elected the first Minister General.
Fr. Antonio de Sillis of Bergamo, Minister General from 1607-13 states that at the
beginning of the Union there were 20 TOR Provinces, although not all of them had their own
The 16th Century
In the year 1512, during the pontificate of Julius II, through the good offices of
Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, the Roman TOR Province received the Diaconal Basilica of Sts.
Cosmas and Damian located in the historic center of Rome in the Imperial Forum.
In 1549, the Rule was codified by Fr. Bonaventura da Vicenza and approved by the Cardinal
Protector, Rodolfo Pio da Carpi. This Rule was observed by the Italian TOR until that of
Pius XI in 1927.
In 1568, Pope Pius V suppressed the office of Minister General and placed the Order under
the jurisdiction of the major superiors of the Friars Minor. This suppression lasted 18
years until the office of Minister General was restored by the Conventual Pope, Sixtus V,
By the end of the 16th century the number of provinces was reduced and restructured so
that there were 11 Provinces: Milan, Brescia, Venice, Bologna, The Marches, Umbria, Rome,
Abruzzo, Naples, Calabria and Sicily.
A statistic from the year 1625 lists the Italian TOR Congregation as having 124 convents
and 2250 friars. In the 17th century, which was a time of splendour for the Italian
Friars, we might highlight:
Many new convents were founded in all the
Provinces. In 1605, the Provinces of Umbria and Piceno were united. In 1619, the masterful
Commentary of Fr. Antonio de Sillis on the Rule of Bonaventure da Piacenza was published.
The Constitutions of the Order were approved by Pope Urban VIII in 1639.
The notable friar of this time was
certainly Fr. Francesco Bordoni da Parma, theologian, jurist, historian (42 printed works
and 15 unedited), theological consultor for the City of Parma and Synodal Examiner, and
later Minister General of the Order (1653-1659), Marian Doctor and zealous defender of the
and 19th Centuries
We know very little about the 18th and 19th centuries because of the many suppressions,
exclaustrations and persecutions which the TOR suffered along with most other religious
institutes. One unfortunate result of all this was that most Provincial and Friary
archives have been destroyed, or "lost," or have ended up in the civil archives
or public libraries. However, concerning the 18th century, we might say that, as was the
case with most religious orders of that era, the history was one of "decadence."
It is enough to mention that, at the beginning of the century, the Order consisted of 12
Provinces and at the end there were only 4, which were in a sorry condition.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the Order was confined to the limits of the Papal
States, Dalmatia and Sicily. In 1810, the time of the Napoleonic invasion, all religious
orders were suppressed and this forced exclaustration lasted until 1814. From this time
on, there was a serious effort to restore the Order, which began to have good results
during the second half of the century. These would probably have been even more notable if
it had not been for the further suppressions of 1861 and 1873. In 1878, Fr. Salemi, in a
Provincial Congregation, tried to regroup the dispersed friars belonging to the Provinces
of Umbria-Piceno and The Marches. By 1882, the Community at Assisi was re-established.
During the tenure of Fr. Emidio Maricotti as Minister General (1885-1897) there was a
great effort towards fostering the growth of the Order in Italy. This brought forth its
fruits during the Generalate of Fr. Angelo de Mattia (1903-1912) with the unification of
other Tertiary Congregations outside of Italy and their establishment as Provinces of the
2. Unification and
of the Provinces of the Order 15th Century
The Province of St.
Francis of Assisi
This Province is the heir of all the
history of the Third Order Regular in Italy since it is the direct descendant of the
Provinces of Umbria-Piceno, The Marches and of the fraternities of central and northern
Italy. The Province also has houses in Rome and Milan.
In 1950, the Umbria-Piceno Province (which
in 1957 adopted the ancient title of the Umbrian Province: "Province of St. Francis
of Assisi"), responding to the petition of the Papal Nuncio to Paraguay, Mons.
Federico Lunardi, established a mission in that country with its central house in the
small city of San Estanislao.
The Province of
Sts. Joachim and Anna, Sicily
Very little is known about the history of
the TOR in Sicily before its unification with tile Order. There is information about a
convent in Messina in 1437, another in Ferracane (today's Giarratana/Siracusa) and still
another in Palermo before 1461. According to Bordoni, Sicily was united to the Order since
its centralization in 1447. It seems certain that in 1478 it celebrated its first
provincial Chapter. In the 14th until the middle of the 16th century, the Province seems
not to have been very vital and there was little growth. However, in the mid 1500s, the
restorer and animator of the TOR in Sicily, Friar Giacomo da Gubbio, OFM Cap. began his
work. He had entered the Capuchin Reform in 1525 and had gone to Sicily with the intention
of continuing on to Africa to evangelize the peoples of that continent. Nevertheless, he
energetically dedicated himself to an apostolate of preaching in the Sicilian towns of
Trapani, Marsala, and Monte Giuliani. The people pressed him to establish a religious
community and so he decided to promote the Third Order Regular of St. Francis still
sparsely spread throughout Sicily. He himself made the profession of the Rule of the Third
In 1540, he founded the Convent of Our Lady
of the Angels at Martogna. Imitating the Capuchins in many of their observances, these
Tertiary Friars of Friar Giacomo were called in Sicily "The Discalced. " Friar
Giacomo suffered much misunderstanding and persecution. In 1565, aided by the Cardinal
Protector, Charles Borromeo, he petitioned Pope Pius IV to grant that only the Minister
General of the Conventuals could make the Canonical Visitation of the Congregation. This
concession caused him many difficulties with the Friars Minor of the Observance. In 1570,
the Tertiaries of Sicily were authorized to celebrate their Provincial Chapter at which
Friar Girolamo Rizzo, a disciple of Friar Giacomo, was elected as the Minister. Friar
Giacomo died in Rome, having put off the TOR habit in obedience to the command of Pius V
and again being vested in the Capuchin habit.
Fr. Francesco Bordoni da Parma, in 1655,
during his term as Minister General of the Third Order Regular, made a visitation of all
the convents of Sicily. He wrote that the Sicilian Province numbered 35 convents and 256
friars, of whom 172 were priests.
The 17th Century.
The Province of St. Jerome, Croatia
In 1602, the TOR Congregation of Dalmatia-Croatia was
united with the Italian Congregation of the Third Order Regular.
The ancient Croatian TOR Congregation seems
to have originated around 1215 judging from a document which states that around this time
some Hermits of St. Francis lived in Zadar. (cfr. Zec, D. "Ititium Provinciae
Dalmatiae et Histriae, " Analecta TOR, 1, p.210) Various hermitages of tertiaries
were founded on the islands of the Adriatic. Thanks to the labors of Friar Mateo de
Bosnia, these fraternities were united into a Congregation in 1473 by an Apostolic Brief
of Sixtus IV. This Province was characterized from its beginnings by its eremitical style
of life and also by the use of the Old Slovanic language in its Liturgy and preaching.
Pope Clement VIII, with the Bull Pro
Nostri Pastoralis Muneris of September 2, 1662 united the Croatian-Dalmatian
Congregation to that of the Third Order Regular of Italy as a Province.
Province (No longer in existence)
In 1650, the TOR Congregation of Flanders
was united to the Order. However, after 1695, delegates from this Province no longer
participated at the General Chapters celebrated in Italy.
The series of suppressions of religious
institutes decreed by Liberal governments throughout Europe decimated the male branch of
the Franciscan Third Order Regular. Nevertheless, the Italian Congregation barely managed
to survive. At the start of the 20th century, it numbered only 4 Provinces and scarcely
The 20th Century
|The Province of the
Immaculate Conception - Spain
In 1906, a
small congregation of Regular Tertiaries of Mallorca, comprising both priests and
brothers, was united to the Order to form the Spanish Province of the Immaculate
The Ancient Spanish Congregation
The Kingdom of Castille: The phenomenon of a religious
community form of life following the Third Rule of St. Francis is recorded around 1370 in
the northwestern region of Spain (Galicia and Leon), also in the south (Andalusia). In
Castille, these Brothers and Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis were called:
"frayres," "freyles" and "freyas" or "freylas."
The founder of these Tertiaries of community life is said to have been a Canon of St.
James of Compostela, Juan "el Cardenal, " who, according to legend was received
into the Order of Penance in 1214, by St. Francis himself. Thereafter, this person is
supposed to have established both male and female congregations of Tertiaries of common
life. (cfr. SOTO, J.L. Proyecto espafiol. in A.I.A., II, 40/1980/37-72).
In the Kingdom of Castille, these communities of Tertiaries
established by different founders make one think of immediate and concrete origins linked
to the reform movement which arose throughout europe in the mid-14th century (the
beginnings of the Observant Reform, the Benedictine Reform at Subiaco, etc.)
In the southern region of Spain, the movement of Franciscan Tertiaries towards community
life seems to have been rooted, although this is unproven and unclear, in the eremitical
life of Friar Tomasuccio da Foligno. This reformer had various Spanish followers, among
them, Rodrigo the Logician who after the death of his master, withdrew into the mountains
The origins of these diverse groups indicate that the community form of life on the
Iberian Penisular was not necessarily an evolution from the Third Order Secular. The
founders of these fraternities may or may not have been secular tertiaries previously.
What is certain is their adoption of the Third Order Rule of St. Francis as the most
suited to their purpose whether charitable, pastoral or, simply, the eremitic-cenobitic
The Galician Group
In 1372 we discover the first Franciscan Tertiary community
at Mellid (Province of Coruna, the diocese of Mondonedo) under the title of the Holy
Spirit. Fernan Lopez, the Notary, and his wife gave to Friar Alfonso some houses for a
church and convent to serve the hospital for the poor and pilgrims. (cfr. PERARNAU, Nuevos
datos ... ). This donation and the foundation was confirmed by the Avignon Pope Benedict
XIII in a Bull of February 26, 1396.
In 1392, outside the walls of Mondonedo in Villaorente, we
find the house of St. Martin in reconstruction and a document dated September 21st in
which Clement VII granted indulgences to anyone visiting the church and helping this work
Around 1382, Fernan Gomez de Andrade established the Convent of Sta. Catalina de Montefaro
near the seashore. Benedict XIII ratified the foundation of a Church dedicated to St.
Catherine. With another Bull of 1403, he approved the incorporation of the parish church
of Sta. Maria del Nino to the house at Montefaro. Moreover, the Hospital of Puentedueme
with its church and hospice was placed under the house of Sta. Catalina. It is evident
that here we are dealing with a center of pastoral and charitable activities. Sta. Maria
la Nueva, or "of Marcarelos" in Santiago was founded by Friar Alfonso of Mellid
through the donation of some houses on May 13, 1390.
The Community of Valparaiso, located in the Diocese of Tuy
near the border with Portugal, was not connected with the group at Mellid and Montefaro.
It was founded by Friar Juan de Esteban with his own resources and donations from
benefactors. The chapel was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The Roman Pontiff, Boniface IX,
on May 21, 1401, ratified this foundation and the conventual buildings and granted
permission to establish another house, Sta. Catalina, for Tertiary women. Both these
foundations seem to have been of the cenobitic-contemplative type.
Another foundation, that of Avargia, whose exact location
within the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela has not been identified, was also not
connected to the Tertiary foundations of Mellid or Montefaro. The founder was Paul Nicolas
de Sicilia who petitioned the granting of indulgences for this Hermitage on the Feast of
the Most Holy Trinity. This petition was granted by Pope Boniface IX in a Bull of October
The Leon-Castile Group
The Community at Holy Spirit, outside the walls of Astorga,
was established canonically by the Pope on September 13, 1403. This leads one to suppose
that the actual date of its foundation was somewhat earlier (c. 1383). This Community
seems to have followed a contemplative and eremtical style of life.
The Convent of Santa Maria de Val, or Valle, in Benavente, Province of Zamora, Diocese of
Astorga, was probably established in 1392 under Bishop Pascasio (1390-93). Pope Benedict
XIII in a Bull dated September 9, 1403, confirmed this foundation and granted indulgences
to whomever contributed to its charitable works.
The Convent of San Juan del Monte in Mayorga, near the
Diocese of Valderas (Leon) is mentioned by Pope Benedict XIII in a Bull addressed to the
Archdeacon of Tricastela (Lugo). This document of September 9, 1403 confirmed for the
community the same privileges granted to Santa Maria de Val.
Santa Maria del Soto, in the Diocese of Zamora of the
ancient Kingdom of Leon, is mentioned in a Bull of September 9, 1403. Pope Benedict
directed the Archdeacon of Zamora to confirm the possession of the church and residence of
the tertiary community.
A house in Villapando, province of Zamora, Leon is known
only from the granting of a plenary indulgence "in articulo mortis," on
September 9, 1403, to a tertiary, Friar Juan del Mercado. Santa Maria de la Mejorada, some
5 kms. from Olmedo in the Province of Vallodolid, Diocese of Avila, is known to have been
the residence of tertiaries for several years. It was a hermitage having houses, gardens,
a poplar grove and vineyard granted "in perpetuum" to the tertiary friars about
the year 1378 by Diego de Roeles, the Bishop of Avila (1378-85). This convent would be the
cause of a lawsuit with the Jeronimites who began at this time and closely resembled the
Santa Maria de los Valles, Diocese of Burgos, whose
founders Francisco de Roa and his six companions, went to Valencia and received the
permision of Pope Benedict XIII to build a convent at this hermitage in a Bull dated
January 31, 1415.
The Andalusian Group
Approximately during the same period as the foundations in
Galicia, there also arose in the south of Spain communities of tertiaries living a common
life, although of a more contemplative style.
Holy Spirit Hermitage, Osuna. This hermitage was
constructed in a mountainous place around 1373 on land donated by Alfonso Gonzalez. These
religious lived exclusively by their own manual labor as is seen from the Bull of
September 15, 1395 in which Benedict XIII exempts the Community from the duty of paying
The Community of Casafuerte, Diocese of Seville, is
mentioned in a Bull of May 30, 1396 in which Pope Benedict XIII granted to the local
Minister the power to absolve and to administer the sacraments to the friars and servants
of the house.
It was probably this same Minister, Fray Juan, who
exchanged the hermitage of Our Lady of Cuevas for the former parish church of San Juan de
Arznalfarache and another rural place near Bollulos par del Condado (Huelva) with
Archbishop Gonzalo de Mena of Seville on January 16, 1400. Benedict XIII, in a Bull dated
February 2, 1409, directed the Patriarch of Constantinople, Alfonso de Egea, Administrator
of the See of Seville, to confirm in favor of the tertiaries, the transfer of the Church
of San Juan Aznalfarache outside the walls of Seville.
Thus, around the year 1400, the tertiaries in the south of
Spain had at least 4 houses (2 dedicated to pastoral activity and 2 of a contemplative
life style). Generally, this is true of the organization and lifestyle of the known
communities of tertiary friars: the service of God in the loneliness of a hermitage or,
near urban centers, in houses dedicated to the service of the poor and infirm, or to the
faithful in the churches they staffed.
Houses dedicated to charitable
assistance located at:
Santa Catalina de Penha
Santa Maria la Nueva
Houses dedicated to pastoral activity:
Santo Espiritu de Astorga
Santa Maria del Soto
San Juan de Aznalfareche
San Juan de Moranina
Houses dedicated to a contemplative
or eremitical life:
Santa Maria de la Mejorada
Santa Maria del Valle (Benavente)
San Julian del Monte
The Convent at Montefaro was involved in
both pastoral and charitable activities.
In all the papal documents, the religious of these
communities are uniformly designated as "Brothers of the Third Order of St.
Francis." In the Bull Humilibus precibus September 9. 1403, Pope Benedict XIII adds
to this title the equivalent: Brothers called of Penance ... (fratrum de Poenitentia
Each house and fraternity was independent, except for those
affiliated to the principal house as, for example, to Mellid or to Montefaro. In charge of
each house was a Minister with faculties similiar to those of the Ministers Provincial of
the Ist Order.
In 1423, there is evidence for the existence of a Sevillian
Province of the Third Order (cfr. BFr, Vii, 594 ii. 1574-1575). It is possible that the
Castillian and Leon group formed a regular province which was later called the Province of
Leon. In 1509 this Province was placed under the Observant Province of Santiago de
Compostela. (cfr. VILLAPADIERNA,I. OFMCap., Vida Comunitaria de los Tertiarios de Espana,
in Primi Manifestazioni di vita .... Convegno Assisi, 1981, pp. 91-111).
15th Century and the Unification
of the Tertiary Communities of Spain
(cfr. Pazzelli, pp.304-318)
For good order and the avoidance of useless problems, Pope
Martin V ratified many acts of the anti-pope, Benedict XIII. In this way, he confirmed all
the concessions granted to the Spanish Tertiaries with the Bull Apostolicae Nobis of July
Pope Eugene IV, on February 6, 1442 with the Bull Injunctum Nobis granted the definite
approval to the entire Spanish Congregation of the Third Order Regular and authorized the
friars in the dioceses of Castille and Leon to hold a chapter every three years for the
election of a Visitator General.
Relations between the
Spanish Third Order Regular and the Friars Minor
From 1289 until 1471 there seems to be no papal document
referring to relations of the Third Order Regular with the Friars Minor. In 1471, some
difficulties arose from a Bull of Sixtus IV concerning the right of the Friars Minor to
visitate secular and regular communities not affiliated with any Congregation
(Franciscan?) approved by the Holy See. The legal battles continued until 1526 with some
periods of calm.
In 1526, Fray Antonio de Tablada, Minister General of the
Tertiaries of Castille, Leon and Andalusia petitioned the Roman Curia to clarify these
legal questions and so end the controversies. Clement VII in his famous Bull Dum
uberes fructus (cfr. BORDONI: Archives of the TOR, pp.397-413) confirmed all the
privileges previously granted to the tertiaries of Spain. Among these was the right to
elect their own Minister General and to be exempt from any dependence on the Friars Minor.
A later Bull of Paul III Exponi Nobis Desuper modified some concessions of Clement VII.
On July 3, 1547, with the Bull Ad fructus uberes Paul III
approved a triple Rule for the tertiaries in Spain. (cfr. BORDONI, Archives of the TOR,
444-482) At this time the Spanish Regular Tertiaries extended throughout the entire
territory of Spain and Portugal.
In 1567, Pius V, with the Apostolic Brief Superioribus sensibus suppressed the Tertiaries
Regular of Spain and submitted them to the Order of Friars Minor Observants. This papal
decision was very much influenced by the King of Spain, Phillip II, and by Cardinal Diego
de Espinoza, Inquisitor and President of the Royal Council of State. However, the
following year, the ministers of some 6 convents forcefully insisted on presenting their
case to the Pope and they were not suppressed.
At the end of the 16th century, the Franciscan Tertiaries
Regular obtained from the Cardinal Protector with the approval of the Pope, Clement VIII,
the authorization to be governed by their own Visitator Provincial, chosen from among the
Friars Minor and always with the permission of the OFM General. This same Cardinal
Protector decreed on January 18, 1600 that the convents of the Tertiaries Regular within
the Kingdom of Granada would constitute the Bethica Province of the Third Order Regular.
By 1625 we find re-established 3 flourishing Provinces:
Portugal, Bethica (Andalusia?) and Galicia-Leon.
About the middle of the 17th century, the Spanish Tertiary
Friars tried to unite with the Third Order Regular in Italy. They were unsuccessful since
they were never able to obtain the "beneplacitum" of the Friars Minor.
The civil suppressions of the years 1834-5 were the cause
of the disappearance of all religious orders in Spain, among them the Congregation of the
Third Order Regular of St. Francis.
The Spanish TOR in modern times
The re-founding of the Third Order Regular in Spain was due
to Fr. Antonio Ripoll Salva, born at Lluchmayor, Mallorca on September 8, 1844, the Feast
of the Nativitiy of Mary to whom he was especially devoted.
As a young man he gathered some companions and formed a
confraternity under the patronage of Mary Immaculate. They rented a room where they held
conferences on spiritual themes and taught catechism to the neighborhood children.
In 1872, Antonio, Juan Garau and Mattia Cardell took steps
towards the formation of a tertiary community dedicated to the Virgin Mary. With the
permission of the pastor, they moved into some rooms attached to the Church of St.
Bonaventure. The small community hoped to be approved as a Congregation of the Third Order
Regular. Aided by his pastor, Fr. Gabriel Mir, Antonio was able to undertake studies for
the priesthood and was ordained on August 14, 1887. The small community hoped to be
approved as a Congregation of the Third Order Regular. Various major superiors of the
Friars Minor were approached to this end but without success. Finally, in 1893, the Bishop
authorized the formation of a diocesan congregation of the Third Order Regular. The
Commissary General of the Friars Minor, Fr. Serafin Linares delegated the Vicar Provincial
of Catalonia to formally establish the small Franciscan fraternity.
On June 11, 1883 the 3 priests: Frs. Antonio Ripoll,
Bartolomeo Salva, Antonio Puigserver and the 3 brothers: John Garau, Bartolomeo Cler and
Miguel Canyelles were invested with the grey habit of the Third Order Regular. Unaware of
the existence of the TOR in Rome, contact had been made with the Third Order Regular
Congregation of Albi. A modified form of the Albi Congregation's habit was adopted: gray
color, heelreaching tunic with cord, the capuce ending in a blunt point in the front and
sharp pointed at the rear. The new fraternity professed the Rule of Leo X and followed the
Constitutions of the French TOR Congregation.
The Congregation continued to grow and desirous of making
the profession of solemn vows, made their petition to the Minister General of the Friars
Minor, Dionysius Schuyler. He was well disposed but wanted to restore the ancient system
which had led in the past to the assimiliation of the TOR friars into the Order of Friars
Minor. After some difficulties with the Minister Provincial of Catalonia, who wanted them
to form part of his province, they sent representatives to Rome to present their case to
the General. Fr. Schuyler suggested that they first become Friars Minor and when they had
increased in numbers an OFM Province might be re-established on Mallorca. They went to the
Spanish Cardinal Vives y Tuto, a Capuchin to seek his advice. He directed them to their
"own Order" at the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian.
They were received by the Minister General, Fr. Angelo de
Mattia who welcomed their petition to be incorporated into the Order as a Province. The
various canonical formalities were quickly expedited by Cardinal Vives y Tuto who
personally wrote the petition of Union and suggested that the new Province be dedicated to
the Immaculate Conception of Mary. On May 7, 1906 the Decree of Union was issued by the
Sacred Congregation of Religious. On May 13th, Fr. Bartolomeo Salva and Francisco Fornes
had the joy of making their solemn profession into the hands of the Minister General at
the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian.
The new Province was blessed by God and enjoyed a steady
growth in numbers of friars and convents. Friars were sent forth to labor in Mexico and
among the Spanish speaking people of the United States. In 1961, responding to the plea of
the Holy Father, John XXIII, the Province accepted a difficult mission in the Andes of
The Prelacy of Huamachuco is located 3,000 metres above sea
level, covers an area of 8,000 sq. kms. comprising 3 provinces of the Department of La
Libertad and has a Catholic population of more than 200,000. Two friars of the Province
have been ordained bishops and ministered as Ordinaries of the Prelacy of Huamachuco:
Mons. Damian Nicolau Roig (1963-81) and Mons. Sebastian Ramis Torrens (1991-).
The Province of the Immaculate Conception in Spain also has
had the honor of giving two of its sons to serve as Minister General of the Third Order
Regular of St. Francis:
Fr. Arnaldo Rigo (1920 - 1932)
Fr. Jose Angulo Quilis (1983 - 1994)
The Province of
the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus (U.S.A.)
In the years 1908-1910 a similiar process
as the union of the Spanish friars took place in the United States of America. An
Irish-American Congregation of teaching Brothers was united to the Order to form the
Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Ancient TOR
Congregation of Ireland
The origins of the American communities of
Tertiaries Regular are to be found in western Europe or, more exactly, in Ireland. In this
country the communities of Franciscan Tertiary Friars formed a Congregation about the year
1456. This Irish Congregation flourished from the 15th to the 17th centuries only to
disappear almost entirely towards the end of the 18th century as the result of the
religious persecution which took place on the island. Two friars, Bonaventure Lee and
Michael Dillon, who seem to be the only surviving members of the ancient tertiary
congregation, decided to found at Mount Bellew, the first house of the restored
congregation. They were encouraged by the bishop(s) to devote themselves to the teaching
of children. (N.B. This seems to have been the characteristic of the early Irish TOR
fraternity which had both clerical and non-clerical members.) Gradually other houses were
founded in different places of the diocese. From 1819-1830 the brothers were under the
jurisdiction of the Friars Minor as established in the Rule of Leo X. In 1830 they
received approval of the Sacred Congregation of Religious to transfer to the jurisdiction
of the diocesan ordinaries. In 1898 there was an attempt at union with the Third Order
Regular in Rome but this was unsuccessful due to the opposition of the bishops.
In 1847 some of these brothers were sent to
the United States to collect alms from the Irish immigrants there. In Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, they were invited by the Bishop of that Diocese to establish a school for
the education of youth. In 1847, some brothers were sent for this purpose to the United
States where they established their first Friary at Loretto, Pennsylvania under the
patronage of St. Francis. In that same year, they opened there the College of St. Francis.
After 25 years, the community in the United
States numbered 75 brothers and had founded other schools in Pittsburgh, Altoona and
Philadelphia. From 1848 until the date of their union with the Order in 1908, the brothers
were under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Pittsburgh.
By 1858, another group of brothers from
Ireland had founded the College of St. Francis in Brooklyn, N.Y. This Community also
enjoyed a rapid growth so that, after 25 years, they had established more than 25
Union with the
Third Order Regular of Rome
Brother Linus Lynch, the superior of the
Brooklyn TOR Congregation, in 1906 contacted the General Curia of the Third Order Regular
at Sts. Cosmas and Damian with the desire to unite with the Order. Due to the disapproval
of the American hierarchy, this first attempt was not successful. In 1907, the Community
of Franciscan Brothers at Spalding, Nebraska was joined to the Order thanks to the concern
and effort of Bro. Raphael Breheny. In 1908, the Community at Loretto entered into union
with the Order. In 1910, the communities at Loretto and Spalding were joined to form the
Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. Jerome Zazzara was named as the first
Minister Provincial. For many years, Sacred Heart Province emphasized the apostolate of
education and, besides The College of St. Francis and The University of Steubenville,
directed several high schools. In the 1940s friars from this province accepted missionary
work in India and helped establish what would become the Province of St. Thomas the
Apostle. In the early 1960s the friars also accepted missions in Brazil.
Province of the Immaculate Conception
Fr. Arnaldo Rigo, Vicar General of the
Order, was sent by the General Curia to preside over the Provincial Chapter of the Sacred
Heart Province in 1919. He ascertained the necessity of establishing a new foundation,
whether Province or Commissariate. The General Curia approved his proposal and, after
reviewing the consultative vote of the friars in favor of the new foundation, authorized
the creation of a new Commissariate. The Commissariate of the Immaculate Conception was
established on March 15, 1920 with Fr. Jerome Zazzara being named the first Commissary
Provincial. The Commissariate was raised to the status of a Province on August 25, 1925.
Fr. Jerome Zazzara was elected the first Minister Provincial. For many years, the
principal work of the friars of this Province was the parochial ministry among Italian
immigrants at the parishes confided to them, or established by them, in the Diocese of
In 1960, the Province accepted a Mission in
the Latin American country of Paraguay which developed into the Prelacy, then Diocese of
Coronel Oviedo. Mons. Jerome Pechillo, TOR was named the first Ordinary.
The Province joined with the Province of
Assisi in 1979 to establish an Inter-Provincial Novitiate, and later a Clericate, as steps
towards a future Paraguayan Province.
of the Assumption of Our Lady - France
In the Marian Year of 1954, The French Congregation of the Third Order Regular was united
to the Order as a Province under the Patronage of Our Lady of the Assumption.
The Ancient TOR Congregation in
In the year 1287 at Tolouse, France,
there already existed fraternities of brothers and sisters of the Third Order observing a
community form of life. These Tertiaries were to be found throughout Aquitania and
Normandy. The TOR Congregation was left in a weakened condition due to the Huguenot
unrest. However, Fr. Vincent Mussart, after his election as Minister Provincial in the
Chapter of 1604 began a reform among the houses and friars which remained. A Bull of
Clement VIII in 1603 had placed this Congregation under the jurisdiction of the Friars
Minor and they were considered almost as a province. Pope Paul V restored the office of
Visitator General to the French Congregation in 1610 and Fr. Mussart was elected to this
position. These Friars professed the Rule of Leo X. In 1731, there was an attempt to be
united to the Italian Congregation but this was not successful.
In 1792 this Congregation of the Franciscan Third Order Regular disappeared during the
fierce persecution of the French Revolution. It was privileged to give to the Church the
witness of Blessed Severin Girault TOR, who was among the first to be killed during the
Massacre at the Carmelite Monastery on September 2, 1792. He was formally beatified in
Rome in 1926.
Thanks to the zeal of a diocesan priest, Fr. Francois Marie Clausade of Albi, the
Congregation was re-born at the Monastery of Notre Dame, Ambialet. On April 15, 1864, Pope
Pius IX authorized its re-establishment under the spiritual guidance of the Capuchin
Friars. In 1873, it was approved as a TOR Congregation professing simple vows and having
its own Superior General. Until 1894, Fr. Francois Marie directed the Congregation giving
it an orientation towards mission work in France and in foreign lands. In 1903, the
government of France began another persecution of the religious orders. Because of this,
some friars went to Brasil and there founded a mission in the difficult region of Mato
Grosso. The work of the Friars developed into the Dioceses of Caceres (1915) and the
Prelacy of Guajara-mirim (1931). The Friars also established the beautiful Church of Our
Lady of Fatima in the Sumare district of Sao Paulo.
The Union of the French
Congregation with the Order
The French TOR Congregation had been a part of the
Interobediential Congress from the start of this organization. The Congregation and the
Order had also worked together in a mission project in Brazil. These cooperative efforts
resulted in the union of the Congregation of the Third Order Regular of France to the
Order on November 3, 1954 during the Generalates of Fr. Henri Maynadier of Albi and Fr.
John H. Boccella, T.O.R. It formed a Province under the patronage of Our Lady of the
With the creation of the Vice-Province of Nossa Senhora
Aparecida in Brasil and the scarcity of vocations in France, in 1993 the status was
changed to that of General Delegation with a special relationship to its former mission in
of St. Thomas the Apostle - India
The Minister General, Fr. John Parisi sent a circular letter dated March 12, 1937 to the
whole Order inviting the Provinces to be open to new apostolates, especially the
acceptance of foreign missions. The first Province to respond to this call was
the Province of the | Most Sacred Heart of Jesus | in
the United States of America. The Province offered to establish a mission in India. The
"Propaganda Fidei" assigned it a vast territory cut off from the Diocese of
Patna (Bihar) in the easternmost part of which dwelled mostly the people of the Santal
tribe. In 1938, the first group of missionaries departed for India accompanied by Fr.
Eugene George, the Minister Provincial. 8 more missionary friars were sent out in 1940.
The mission was under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Patna. In 1947 the
work of preparing for a province and forming a native clergy was begun. In 1956-7, the
first 4 Indian priests of the Order were ordained. Pope Pius XII, on August 3, 1956 raised
the mission to an Apostolic Prefecture with Fr. Urban McGarry TOR of Sacred Heart Province
named the Apostolic Prefect. The Prefecture was elevated to a Diocese on January 11, 1965
and Monsignor McGarry was ordained Bishop on May 10, 1965. He served as the local Ordinary
until his retirement in 1987 and continued to serve the diocese as professor and spiritual
director of the seminarians.
The Commissariate of India became a Province of the Order in 1971 under the title of St.
Thomas the Apostle. Friars from this Province have served on the General Curia, and lent
assistance to the Provinces of France, Sicily and to the first friars of Bangladesh. The
Province has also helped prepare the union of the TOR Congregation of Sri Lanka to the
Order and Fr. Anthony Ramanattu served as the first Provincial in Sri Lanka.
of Our Lady Aparecida - Brazil
On June 22, 1959, 10 friars of the Brazilian Commissariate dependent on the | French
Province of the Assumption | petitioned for recognition as an Independent Commissariate
(ViceProvince). After reviewing the situation, the General Curia established on April 19,
1960, that the Brazilian Commissariate be dependent on the General Curia itself in accord
with the experimental period of 5 years directed by the Sacred Congregation of Religious
before complete autonomy be granted. The first Commissary Provincial was Fr. Luis Roberto
Gomez de Arruda. In 1966 he was ordained a bishop and named Prelate-Bishop of
Guajara-Mirim until his resignation in 1978. (In 1991, with the permission of the Sacred
Congregation, Bishop Gomez accepted the request of his friars to again serve as the
On March 14, 1966, the General Curia established the Independent Commissariate
(ViceProvince) of Nossa Senhora Aparecida after receiving the required rescript from the
Sacred Congregation on March 8, 1966, The new Vice-Province had its provincial residence
at the Convent of Our Lady of Fatima, Mogi-Mirim and had responsibility for the Prelacy of
Guajara-Mirim. At that time, the Vice-Province numbered 17 professed friars of whom 2 were
bishops, 8 were priests, 5 student-friars and some 50 minor seminarians.
With a decree of October 7, 1992, all the friars of the Order working in Brasil in the
French and American Commissariates were joined into the one Vice-Province of Our Lady
Aparecida. Fr. Alain Hervin was elected the first Minister of the unified vice-province.
The Vice-Province of St. Joseph
Republic of South Africa
On January 16, 1982 the Congregation of the Franciscan Familiars of St. Joseph was united
to the Order in a ceremony presided over by the Minister General, Fr. Roland Faley, TOR.
The Former Congregation.
The Franciscan Familiars of St. Joseph were founded as a diocesan congregation of priests
and brothers on December 20, 1923 by Bishop Albert Fleischer,CMM (1874-1963) the Vicar
Apostolic of Marianhill from 1922-1950. The Bishop had founded the congregation for the
purpose of providing for religious vocations to the priesthood and brotherhood from among
Zulu men. The Holy See granted its approval for the canonical establishment on July 16,
In its beginnings the formation of its members and the direction of the Institute was
confided to the Marianhill Missionaries. In 1928, the fraternity was affiliated
spiritually with the Order of Friars Minor. The specific purpose of the Congregation was
pastoral and missionary activity in the parishes and missions of the Marianhill Diocese.
The apostolate of these friars is quite varied. At the time of the union there were 18
religious of whom 5 were priests, 11 brothers, 2 student friars and 3 novices.
The Union with the Third Order Regular
On January 16, 1979, Fr. Roland Faley,TOR then Minister General, wrote a circular letter
to the whole Order announcing that the first steps had been taken towards a possible
union. The Holy See approved the proposed union of the Franciscan Familiars of St. Joseph
with the Third Order Regular in a decree dated September 26, 1981. The official ceremony
of union took place on January 16, 1982 at the Monastery of St. Joseph, the central house
in the Diocese of Marianhill, Republic of South Africa. The congregation became an
Independent Commissariate or Vice-Province under the patronage of St. Joseph.
The first Commissary Provincial was Fr. Robert Dunstan Sisk of the Province of the Most
Sacred Heart of Jesus. Several friars of this province and Fr. Cyprian Mercieca of the
Immaculate Conception Province (USA) have assisted the African fraternity in various
capacities. On November 13, 1990, Fr. Cosmas Mdladla was elected Provincial of the
The Vice-Province of Our Lady
of Sri Lanka
The Congregation of the Franciscan Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul was formally united to
the Order on November 13, 1982.
The Former Congregation
This diocesan congregation began as the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception in
1870. It was established by Fr. Luigi Picenelli (born at Rion, France in 1823) who had
been named Vicar Apostolic of Colombo in Ceylon (as it was then known) in 1866. The
purpose of this pious association was the teaching of Christian Doctrine, the education of
young boys, and the care of orphanages. With the decree of October 20, 1891 granted by the
Archbishop of Colombo, Mons. Christopher Bonjean, OMI, the Confraternity was raised to the
status of a diocesan religious congregation with the title of the "Congregation of
St. Vincent de Paul." The Institute was spiritually affiliated with the Order of
Friars Minor in a rescript dated September 1, 1910. A later Archbishop of Colombo,
Cardinal Thomas Cooray, OMI, changed the title of the Congregation to that of "The
Franciscan Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul. "
On August 22, 1949, a group of Tamil speaking brothers officially withdrew from the
Congregation to form an independent Institute called the "Franciscan Brothers of
In the year 1971, the Congregation of Franciscan Brothers of St. Vincent de Paul numbered
35 members and was established throughout the Archdiocese of Colombo and in the Dioceses
of Chilaw and Galle.
An interesting fact is that the first initiatives towards a union with the Order took
place in 1928 during the generalate of Fr. Arnaldo Rigo, TOR. Fr. Arnaldo welcomed the
petition of the brothers and sent it on for approval by the Holy See. However, the project
could not be realized for reasons originating in the local Church of Sri Lanka.
Union with the Third Order Regular
In spite of their original unsuccessful project of union, the Brothers continued to
maintain contact with the Order by means of the Interobediential Congresses. In 1978, they
again presented the matter of a possible union and concrete steps were taken by Fr. Roland
Faley, the Minister General. He and Fr. Anthony Ramanattu, General Definitor, accepted the
invitation of Bro. Thomas Tissera, the Superior General of the Congregation to visit Sri
Lanka. Later, Fr. Michael Edamanapadavil, Master of Novices for the Province of St.
Thomas, was sent to prepare the Congregation for the union with our Order. When the 2
years of preparation were finished, the vote of each brother, together with the
"beneplacitum" of the Archbishop of Colombo, Mons. Mark Fernando and the formal
consent of the TOR General Curia given on July 2, 1982, were sent to the Holy See. The
Sacred Congregation of Religious published the Decree of Union dated September 8, 1982.
The official ceremony took place in Sri Lanka on November 13, 1982 and the new fraternity
of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis is known as the Vice-Province of Our Lady of Sri
At the time of the union, there were 40 professed members, of whom 23 were in perpetual
vows, 17 in temporary vows, 5 novices, and 28 young men in the pre-novitiate program. Fr.
Anthony Ramanattu was named as the Commissary Provincial (1982-1984) to guide the first
steps of this new fraternity of the Order. Bro. Mark Fernando, a Sri Lankan friar, was
elected Vice-Provincial in 1984.
In August of 1992, the friars celebrated the centennial of their foundation with the
presence of the Minister General, several members of the General Curia and the Ministers
Provincial of Spain, Sicily and India.
The Vice Province of St. Anthony of
Padua - Pagaruay
On September 17, 1992, with the consent of the Provincial
Councila of the Province of St. Francis and the Province of the Immaculate Conception, USA
a decree was issued by the Minister General establishing the Vice Province of St. Anthony
of Padua. The Vice Province is composed of the Paraguayan friars of the former
commissariates of those Italian and American friars who opted to remain. Very Rev. Luis
Tosiani was elected the first Vice-Provincial.
The General Delegation of the
The Fraternity of St. Clare of Assisi
This fraternity, located at San Damiano Friary in the
parish of St. Augustine, Bronx, NY began as a way of moving out from the usual large
educational and charitable complexes to a simple life style of service in a poor
neighborhood. This vision of Bro. Giles Naedler of the Sacred Heart Province was
shared by some other friars. Permission was received from the Minister General, Fr. Roland
Faley to initiate the fraternity under his jurisdiction, and eventually to begin a
formation program for new members. The brothers are very much appreciated by the people of
the parish and have received civic recogonition for their effective social service.
The General Delegation of St.
John the Baptist - Sweden
Attracted by the life of St. Francis, two Lutheran men, the one a native of Sweden and the
other an American of Swedish extraction began their Franciscan journey in 1973 as novices
with the Anglican Society of St. Francis in England. They took this step on the advice of
the Lutheran Bishop of Gothenburg, who had encouraged them to get several years of
training in a religious community with solid experience of religious life before
attempting the project of establishing a fraternity in Sweden.
In the Fall of 1973, a house was established in the greater Gothenburg area and eventually
a third brother came to test his vocation and stayed. The life of the fraternity and their
ecumenical contacts with Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox necessitated a process of
deepening theological reflection. Gradually, they became more aware that their
convictions, particularly with regard to the Holy Eucharist, the Priesthood, and the
Magisterium were Catholic and that they could not expect to make these convictions
credible either to the people encountered in their evangelistic endeavors or to candidates
interested in their life if they themselves remained outside the Catholic Church. This was
a painful decision since many others within the Church of Sweden shared the same
convictions and yet were strongly committed to working and waiting for the corporate
reunion of Lutheranism with the Catholic Church. During this period the advice and counsel
of the Friars Minor at Linkoping was a great help. In 1983 the Brothers were received into
the Catholic Church but were allowed by Bishop Hubertus Brandenburg of the Diocese of
Stockholm, which includes all of Sweden, to continue their life in community as a diocesan
"consociatio publica. " The continued help of the Dutch Franciscans greatly
speeded the integration of the brothers into the Diocese and the Franciscan Family of
Orders and Congregations.
In 1988 the community was affiliated with the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of
Penance (T.O.R.) with its General Curia located at the Basilica of Sts. Cosmas and Damian,
Rome. In 1991 the the Swedish fraternity was permanently united to the Order as the
Delegation of St. John the Baptist directly subject to the General Curia. On the Feast of
the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the Minister General, Fr. Jos6 Angulo Quilis received
the solemn profession of Brothers Frans-Eric, Ingmund and Stefan. At Vespers of the same
day, a young man was admitted as a Postulant.
In union with their brothers of the Order throughout the world, the Friars in Sweden try
to live out the penitential charism of the Franciscan Third Order Regular understood as
repentance or conversion of life. The fruits of penance are to be found in their
dedication to community life and apostolic work. The works of mercy as well as the
evangelical and pastoral work undertaken by the friars are accomplished in harmony with
the rhythm of conventual life. The TOR Franciscan fraternities are composed of ordained
and non-ordained members who are "Friars" or "Brothers" equal in all
things not pertaining to the celebration of the Sacraments and the proclamation of the
Word in a sacramental context. Actually, the Delegation uses the title "brother"
for its members, including the ordained priest of the fraternity. None of the friars is
exempted from doing humble manual work except on account of illness or weakness. The dark
gray habit is used as the normal daily garb both inside and outside of the house.
The primary apostolate of the fraternity is the operation of St. Francis House as a long
or short term home for people in need of a supportive environment. To the friars come both
men and women, elderly and young people, who are in need of physical or social support or
seeking spiritual help. Ordinary lay folk are also often guests at the House which has
maintained a distinctly ecumenical character. Whether believer or non-believer, all are
welcome to assist at the community's Liturgy, to spend time in private prayer or just
enjoy themselves in the quiet. The friars share all their meals with their extended family
of residents or guests. Everyone is invited the share in the work of cooking and cleaning,
doing repairs or looking out for the vegetable garden.
The Friars know that they really do not fit into the scheme of things in modern,
secularized Sweden where less than half the population acknowledges the existence of God ,
much less the possibility of consecrating one's life to Him in this manner. However, they
firmly believe that the very existence of their Fraternity raises questions and this is
the essence of their prophetic witness. Not by chance have the brothers chosen St. John
the Baptist as the Patron of this Delegation of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of
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