|The Holy Rule
Our Way Of Life: to observe the Holy Gospel
of our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience, in poverty and in chastity.
Legenda Major (manuscript 1457 Brescia)
from the Codex
Legenda Major (manuscript 1457 Brescia)
(Make selections on the left Chapters 1-9)
THE RULE AND LIFE OF
THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS
OF THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR
RULE & CONSTITUTIONS
JOHN PAUL II
as a Perpetual Memorial
as in past centuries, the Franciscan ideal of life even in our times continually draws
many men and women desirous of evangelical perfection and thirsting for the kingdom of
God. Inspired by the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, the members of the Third Order
Regular set forth to follow Jesus Christ by living in fraternal communion, professing the
observance of the evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity in public vows,
and by giving themselves to innumerable expressions of apostolic activity. To actualize in
the best way possible their chosen way of life, they dedicate themselves unreservedly to
prayer, strive to grow in fraternal love, live true penance and cultivate Christian
Since these very elements and motives for living the Franciscan ideal
are clearly present in "The Rule and Life of the Brothers and Sisters of the Third
Order Regular of Saint Francis" and since they are clearly in accord with the genuine
Franciscan spirit, We, in the fullness of our apostolic authority, determine, declare and
order that the present Rule have the force and importance to illustrate to the Brothers
and Sisters this authentic meaning of the Franciscan life, while bearing in mind what Our
Predecessors Leo X and Pius XI with the Apostolic Constitutions "Inter cetera"
and "Rerum conditio" presented on this matter in their own times.
Since We know how diligently and assiduously this "Rule and
Life" has traveled its path of "aggiornamento" and how fortuitously it
arrived at the desired convergence of different points of view through collegial
discussion and consultation, proposals and studied amendments, for this very reason with
well founded hope We trust that the longed for fruits of renewal will be brought on and be
effectively binding both in the present and in the future, everything to the contrary not
at Rome, at Saint Peter's under the ring of the Fisherman, on the 8th of December, 1982,
the fifth year of our pontificate
LETTER OF THE MINISTER GENERAL
Constitutions have been the object of a broad and profound study on the part of the friars
of the Order, during the period of renewal mandated by the Second Ecumenical Vatican
long period culminated in the Extraordinary General Chapter which took place in Rome on
the 2nd of January to the 6th of March, 1969. As a result, we received the updated text of
the Constitutions which took effect on the 30th day of April, 1969.
Father Louis Secondo, T.O.R., my predecessor, notes in the edition of 1969, the new text
had as its base the Conciliar documents and the teachings of the Church which followed.
from being anything definitive, the updated Constitutions contained the dynamic quality of
a continual renewal according to the general principles contained in the Decree
"Perfectae Caritatis": the return to the sources, the restoration of healthy
traditions, the effort to rediscover the proper identity and the characteristic mission of
each institute in the Church and in the world.
new mentality awoke an interest for study, for investigation and reflection regarding our
specific charism, sincerely searching for our identity, our historical and spiritual
patrimony as well as our place in the arena of the larger Franciscan Family.
this sense, the International Historical Commission (CSI-TOR) and the
"Analecta", the official periodical of the Order, have given light to the
treasures contained in our franciscan-penitential charism and have contributed towards
showing us our particular characteristics acquired over many centuries of history.
Deepening the knowledge of the values of our roots opens new horizons and perspectives for
our Order as a response to the challenges of our age and circumstances.
from this, there has been a significant contribution made through the preparatory work for
the renewal of the T.O.R. Rule, which was done in collaboration with numerous
Congregations of the Third Order Regular. In this sense the fourth interobediential
congress which took place in Madrid in 1974 is of special importance. The "Madrid
Document" which was the result of that congress continues to be valid as an
expression of our franciscan-penitential life.
pontifical approbation of the new text of the "Rule and Life", on 8 December,
1982, places in our hands an essential and updated document containing legislative and
the Code of Canon Law was approved in January of 1983, it was also necessary that our
Constitutions be in line with the new ecclesiastical norms.
in mind all of these circumstances, the General Chapter of 1983 issued a mandate to the
new General Curia to proceed with the work of bringing up to date the Constitutions.
international commission was thus established in which all the Provinces and
Vice-Provinces of the Order were represented. Their first task was to create an interest
in the friars as well as to listen to them. Meetings were held on various levels:
according to provinces, nations and even continents. Two international plenary meetings
took place, one in Rome (1986) and the other in Washington (1988). All of these efforts
produced, as its fruit, the present text of the Constitutions and the text of the General
Statutes which were presented, discussed, modified and finally approved by the General
Chapter of 1989. On the 2nd day of February, 1991, the new Constitutions were approved by
the Holy See and took effect on that very date.
the Constitutions of 1969, with their solid conciliar foundation and very much in line
with the principles involved for the renewal of the religious life, we have come to the
present text of our Constitutions and General Statutes. It has been a long process, rich
in discoveries, but not lacking in difficulties.
have also kept in mind the new configuration of the Order which has changed notably since
1968, given the growth of vocations in the traditional mission fields as well as the
incorporation of some groups of Regular Tertiaries present in lands not previously known
therefore presenting to you, dear brothers, our new Constitutions and General Statues.
They represent the fruits of shared efforts, of sincere searching together and of
remaining open to the Spirit and to apostolic demands.
are "our" Constitutions because all of us have had a part in their redaction and
because they reflect our image: what we have been, what we are today as well as what our
project for the future will be. In these Constitutions the feelings and the thoughts of
our diverse provinces are summarized, united by the force of the same charism, capable of
becoming a part of local churches and becoming one with very different cultures in order
to remain always close to the People of God and to serve them in franciscan simplicity.
a complex task of updating, carried out by individuals who are so diverse one from the
other and with such different possibilities to act in a world which is continually
changing, cannot be entirely perfect nor complete. But the important thing is that the
Constitutions are "our" work. The Rule is our inspirational code. The
Constitutions represent our fundamental code, that is to say, our essential and stable
law. The General Statutes are our complementary code, that is, they contain the common
directives which can be modified, referring to non essential aspects, but which assist us
to put in practice what the Constitutions specify. The Provincial Statues serve the same
purpose in each of the province and vice-provinces.
now have a new duty: that the Constitutions truly become the force which gives impulse,
animation, dynamism and stimulates the permanent renewal of each of us as well as all of
the fraternities in our Order.
this task, the direct participation of all the brothers is absolutely necessary. The
Constitutions, together with the Rule, form the book of our evangelical life and we
therefore have the obligation to read them assiduously, to meditate on them and to pray
with them. We should assimilate them so that they will lead us to fruitful creativity in
the Spirit and towards a continuous and sincere conversion, allowing the printed word to
become spirit and life.
Jose Angulo Quilis, T.O.R.
Convento dei Ss. Cosma e Damiano
24 June, 1992
Birth of Saint John the Baptist.
LETTER OF ENGLISH SPEAKING FRIARS
October 6, 1992
After the approval
of the Constitutions by the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life, the
official text which was in Latin was forwarded to the Provincials of the Province of the
Immaculate Conception and the Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The respective
Provincials appointed a committee composed of four friars who served on the Commission for
the revision of the Constitutions, namely, Fr. Giles Schinelli, T.O.R., Fr. Bonaventure
Midili, T.O.R., Fr. Aidan Mullaney, T.O.R. and Fr. Jordan Hite, T.O.R. This group revised
the English to conform to the Latin of the official text. Fr. Christopher Dobson, T. O.R.,
who also served as the secretary for the Commission computerized the text and did the
design and format. Later in the process, we received an analytical index of the
Constitutions composed by Fr. Lino Temperini, T.O.R. The index was translated for our use
by Fr. Thomas Edwards, T.O.R. Several friars of both Provinces reviewed and proofread the
text for grammar and clarity.
Speaking on behalf
of all the english speaking friars, it is with hearts full of gratitude that we express
our appreciation for the friars who worked on the english speaking edition of the
We are most grateful
to all who brought this project to a conclusion.
Rev.) Giles Schinelli, T.O.R
(Very Rev.) Jordan Hite, T.O.R.