FIOR (Franciscan Institute Outreach - Malta)

7. History of the Franciscan Movement (10)

THE THIRD ORDER REGULAR

7.82. In 1295 Boniface VIII permitted to the brothers of penitence (Tertiaries) of Northern Germany, to live in community and have oratories in their houses in order to celebrate the divine office. The aim of these fraternities was normally that of taking care of hospitals.

7.83. During the 15th century various fraternities asked for a proper autonomy. This was the case of the fraternities of Utrecht (1401), Flanders (1413), Köln (1427), Spain (1442), Liege (1443), Italy (1447), Ireland (1456) and Dalmatia (1473).

7.84. In the case of female fraternities of the Third Order Regular we have the case of Blessed Angelina of Marsciano (+ 1435) who founded a monastery of female Tertiaries in Foligno in 1397. Many of these monasteries were under the care of the Observants. The most known saint among the female members of the Third Order Regular is Giacinta Mariscotti (+ 1640) of the Viterbo monastery.

7.85. In the meantime the male fraternities of Tertiaries were moving towards a full commitment of religious life. Historians note that the Third Order Regular for men was approved by the Bull of Nicholas V (20 July 1447) which united the communities of brothers of the Third Order Regular in Italy. But the most important move towards the constitution of a unified Order was made by Leo X who gave a Rule to the Third Order Regular in the Apostolic Constitution "Inter cetera", in 1521, with the duty to make solemn vows.

7.86. The history of the Third Order Regular during the 16th century was marked by efforts at autonomy on the part of the Congregatio Longobarda and of other fraternities in Spain. This alternated with their being placed under the jurisdiction of the First Order family of the Regular Observance and their autonomy from this jurisdiction.

7.87. The Congregatio Longobarda embraced all the Italian peninsula and was divided into 11 provinces. To it Paul III added the congregations of Sicily, and in 1650 Dalmatia and Flanders were also incorporated. The Spanish congregation had 3 provinces. There were other congregations in France, Germany, Bohemia, Hungary, Ireland and England.

7.88. The Third Order Regular was given another Rule by Pius XI, in the Apostolic Constitution "Rerum conditio" of 4 November 1927. In our times it has been given a new Rule by the Apostolic Constitution "Franciscanum Vitae" of Pope John Paul II, on 8 December 1982.

7.89. The female Institutes of the Third Order Regular, dedicated to the apostolic life, were born mainly during the 19th century. It is impossible to name them all, let alone give a history of each one. Among the most widely known, there are the sisters of St. Angela Merici (+ 1540), who was a Franciscan Tertiary, and the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, founded in 1877 in Ootacamund, India, by Mother Mary of the Passion. There are over 450 female Franciscan Congregations in all countries, among which the United States of America.

© copyright FIOR-Malta
Text by Fr. Noel Muscat ofm


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