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“A Vocation Story” - An original short film by the Capuchin Franciscans describing the conversion and vocation of a young friar, Fr. Joseph Mary Elder, O.F.M.Cap.

Running time: 12:22

The Capuchin-Franciscan Friars are but one part of the huge multifaceted family of spiritual children of St. Francis of Assisi, so we will try to give some idea of the various branches of the family. Other sites which treat the entire family include one in French — — and one in Spanish —

The vast majority of us, following the example and exhortation of Francis himself, promise “obedience and reverence to” the Pope and to the Roman Catholic Church.

There are three main branches of this family tree, which historically have been called the First, Second and Third orders.

Friars Minor

The First Order, the FRIARS MINOR (literally the Lesser Brothers), follow the rule written for them by St. Francis. Over the centuries, various movements, to achieve greater fidelity to the mind of Francis, have divided the First Order into a number of autonomous groups. Three of these have had papal recognition as orders for nearly a half a millenium:

Capuchin-Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.Cap.) [11,340 friars] –

Conventual-Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.Conv.) [4,464 friars] –

Franciscan Friars (O.F.M.) [17,556 friars] –

There are also several group who have recently separated from the Friars Minor and have received separate recognition, either from the papal see or various dioceses. Considered congregations rather than orders by the Church, they include:

Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (F.F.I.) –

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (C.F.R.) –

Franciscan Friars of the Primitive Observance

Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate (O.F.M.I.) –

The Poor Clares

The Second Order, the Poor Clares, follow the spirit and life of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi. They do so with a different structure than the Friars Minor. They are generally cloistered and led by an abbess. Each house is autonomous, though they are all joined into larger groups according to the rules and constitutions which they follow.

Since Vatican Council II, most of the Poor Clares follow “the Primitive Rule,” the one written by St. Clare herself and approved by Pope Innocent IV two days before Clare’s death in 1253. These include:

Capuchin Poor Clares (O.S.C.Cap.) –

Colettine Poor Clares (P.C.C.) –

Poor Clares of the Rule of St. Clare (O.S.C.) –

All other Poor Clares follow “the Urbanist Rule,” a rule first written (1219) by Francis and Clare’s friend, Cardinal Hugolino degli Segni, approved by him in 1239 (after he became Pope Gregory IX), confirmed by Innocent IV in 1245, amended by by the same pope in 1247 — all this before Clare wrote her rule. It was later amended by Blessed Isabelle of France (1225-70), sister of St. Louis IX, approved by Innocent IV in 1259, and further amended and approved by Urban IV in 1263. These include:

Urbanist Poor Clare of the Primitive Observance (O.S.C.) –

Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration (P.C.P.A.) –

The Third Order

The Third Order follows the spirit and life that St. Francis proposed for lay people. Francis’s friend, Cardinal Hugolino (later Gregory IX) wrote the first rule in 1221. This rule was slightly modified in by Nicholas IV in 1289, radically modified by Pope Leo in 1883 and again by the Third Order itself in 1978. The 1978 rule was approved by Pope Paul VI, who then abrogated the earlier rules. Now known as The Secular Franciscan Order (S.F.O.), this group is the most numerous branch of the Franciscan family – world: – national:

Since 1978, another very small group, wishing to begin following Hugolino’s rule of 1221, has organized as an association of the faithful [not an order], under the aegis of Archbishop Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis: Brothers and Sisters of Penance of St. Francis —

Over the past eight centuries, over 400 groups of Third Order lay persons have for sundry reasons decided to join together in community life as religious. The Church today recognizes these groups as Third Order Franciscan Religious Communities. They are the second largest branch of the Franciscan Family —

The makeup of this last-mentioned group is so multifaceted that we will list here only a few of them. Actually at least 35 such groups are active within Capuchin Mid-America.


Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis (C.F.P) –

Franciscan Brothers of Peace, St. Paul MN (F.B.P.) —

Franciscan Brothers of the Holy Cross –

Franciscan Friars of the Atonement (S.A.) –

Franciscan Missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (O.S.F.)

Franciscan Missionary Hermits of St. Joseph (F.M.H.J.)

Franciscan Missionaries of he Eternal Word (M.F.V.A.) –

Third Order Regular of St. Francis (T.O.R.) –


Felician Sisters (C.S.S.F.) –

Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (F.M.M.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Mary (F.S.M.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Oldenburg IN (O.S.F.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Penance and Christian Charity, Denver (O.S.F.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Colorado Springs (O.S.F.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Help, St. Louis –

Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia (O.S.F.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Millvale (O.S.F.) –

Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement (S.A.) –

Franciscan Sisters of the Martyr St. George (O.S.F.) –

Franciscan Sisters of the Poor (S.F.P.) –

Franciscan Sisters of Whealton IL –

There is also at least one Franciscan secular institute:

Franciscan Secular Institute of Missionaries of the Kingship of Christ (S.J.M.) –

Other Sites NOT in Communion with the Pope

Besides the many groups mentioned above, surfing the internet indicates the existence of many Franciscan groups who seek to follow Francis, without accepting his requirement of obedience to the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. They include:

Capuchin Friars of Morgan, France (Traditionalist) – [no site found]

Franciscan Chapter of the Company of Jesus (Anglican) –

Franciscan Order of Celi De (Anglican Celtic) (F.O.C.D.) –

Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion (Ecumenical Anglican) –

Franciscan Servants of the Holy Cross (Ecumenical) –

Korean Franciscan Brothers (Anglican) –

Order of Ecumenical Franciscans –

Society of St. Francis (Anglican) (S.S.F.) –

Sisters of the Passion and Cross (Traditionalist Poor Clare Capuchin Contemplatives) –

Society of St. Francis of Assisi of the Catholic Apostolic Church (Protestant) –

Third Order of the Society of St. Francis (Anglican) –

Other Franciscan Sites

This page is not meant to be a directory of every Franciscan web site. Such a task would be impossible, but for an unbelievably huge list of Franciscan-related sites, see The Franciscan Archive –

The Franciscan Experience [a huge history] –…

Franciscan Intellectual Tradition —

Members of many different branches of the Franciscan family have joined efforts to form Franciscans International – – a non-governmental organization (NGO) bringing Franciscan thought to bear on various issues dealt with at the United Nations.

Franciscan Web Page —

Franciscan Action Network —

The Peace Prayer often attributed to St. Francis first appeared in France in 1912 —