Our History

“As they announce peace with their lips, let them be careful to have it even more within their own hearts… All should be moved to peace, goodwill and mercy because of their gentleness. The sisters and brothers are called to heal the wounded, to bind up those who are bruised, and to reclaim the erring.” – T.O.R. Rule

In 1208, the Franciscan movement began when Francis of Assisi began to reform his life and serve God through his actions and choices. He was soon joined by a number of followers—the Penitents—who shared his beliefs and principles.

The Third Order traces its formal foundation to the year 1221, when Saint Francis wrote his “First Letter to the Penitents,” which constituted the first version of our Rule.

The Third Order movement began over a decade before the established Rule with a group of lay penitents who wanted to follow Saint Francis and to seek holiness in their daily lives. They were called the Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance.

Over the years, the Third Order Franciscan movement developed into three different Orders: Third Order Secular (now called O.F.S.) and congregations of Third Order Regular (T.O.R.) for men and women.

The Third Order Regular is one of the three Orders created by Saint Francis during his lifetime. The others are the Friars Minor and the Second Franciscan Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares). Officially recognized by Papal Decree in 1447, the Third Order Regular is today an international community.

The T.O.R. Rule

The Third Order Regular Rule is divided into chapters, which include Our Identity, Acceptance into this Life, The Spirit of Prayer, The Life of Chastity for the Sake of the Kingdom, The Way to Serve and Work, The Life of Poverty, Fraternal Love, The Obedience of Love, and Apostolic Life.


“The form of life of the Brothers and Sisters is this: to observe the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ, living in obedience, in poverty and in chastity. Following Jesus Christ after the example of Saint Francis, let them recognize that they are called to make greater efforts in their observance of the precepts and counsels of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” – T.O.R. Rule