FREE Catholic Classes
Third Orders signify in general lay members of religious orders, i.e. men and women who do not necessarily live in community and yet can claim to wear the habit and participate in the good works of some great order.A. Origin
The general idea of lay people affiliated to religious orders, as seen in the Benedictine Oblates (q.v.) or confraters ( Taunton, "Black Monks of St. Benedict", London, 1897, I, 60-63; for Norbertines cf. Hurter, "Papst Innocenz III", Schaffhausen, 1845, IV, 148), is too natural for there to be any need to seek its origin. Founders and benefactors of monasteries were received in life into spiritual fellowship, and were clothed in death in some religious habit. So too the Templars had a whole system whereby layfolk could partake in some sort in their privileges and in the material administration of their affairs (English Hist. Rev., London, April, 1910, 227). But the essential nature of the tertiary is really an innovation of the thirteenth century. At that date many of the laity, impatient of the indolent and sometimes scandalous lives of the clergy in lower Europe, were seized with the idea of reforming Christendom by preaching. This admirable intention caused the rise of the Vaudois under Valdez of Lyons ("Anecdotes Historiques tirés du Recueil inédit d'Etienne de Bourbon, O.P.", ed. by Lecoq de La Manche, Paris, 1878, 290-314), and under somewhat more curious conditions the Fratres Humiliati. The Vaudois were at first welcomed by the pope, Alexander III, who authorized their preaching, but as they were unacquainted with theological teaching and had pursued no clerical studies, their sermons were not seldom dogmatically inaccurate and eventually defiantly heretical. The Humiliati also soon became suspect and were forbidden by Lucius III to preach, till in 1207 Innocent III gave a section of them permission to resume their work, provided that they limited themselves to moral questions and did not venture on doctrinal subjects ("De articulis fidei et sacramentis ecclesiae", cf. Denifle, O.P., "Archiv für Litteratur und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters", I, 419). Moreover some became priests, were gathered into a cloister, and took up religious life. The others remained outside, yet spiritually dependent on the clerical portion, and now for the first time in history called a Third Order, Tertius Ordo (Mandonnet, "Les Origines de l'Ordo de Pœnetentia"; the Bull is to be found in Tiraboschi, "Vetera Humiliatorum monumenta", II, Milan, 1766-68, 139).
The Third Orders can each be divided into (a) regulars, i.e. living in convents, and (b) seculars, i.e. living in the world. Of these the first take vows, the latter can only make a solemn promise (except that Carmelite Tertiaries apparently take some sort of vows of obedience and chastity, cf. Angelus a S.S. Corde, O.C.D., "Manuale juris communis Regularium", Ghent, 1899, q. 1067), which, however, distinguishes them from members of mere confraternities and constitutes them legally a religious order (Constitution of Leo XIII, "Misericors Dei Filius").C. Members
Any Catholic may join a Third Order, but may not at once belong to more than one, nor may he without grave cause leave one for another. The laying aside of the distinctive sign or prayers for any space of time does not in itself put an end to membership with a Third Order, but the deliberate wish to dissociate oneself from it is sufficient to produce that effect (S. Cong. Indulg., 31 Jan., 1893).D. Privileges
The Regular Third Order participates in all the indulgences granted to the First and Second Orders (S. Cong. Indulg., 28 Aug., 1903), but not in those granted to the Secular Third Order (ibid.). This latter no longer participates in any privileges save those directly granted to itself (S. Cong. Indulg., 31 Jan., 1893; S. Cong. Indulg., 18 July, 1902; S. Cong. Indulg., 28 Aug., 1903).
II. THIRD ORDER OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
Soon after the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was established in Europe in the thirteenth century, lay persons, not bound by religious vows, seem to have attached themselves to it more or less closely. There is evidence of the existence of a "Confrairie N.-D. du Mont-Carmel" at Toulouse in 1273, and of a "Compagnia di Santa Maria del Carmino" at Bologna in 1280, but the exact nature of these bodies is uncertain owing to a lack of documents. Somewhat later mention is frequently made of trade-guilds having their seat in churches of the order, members of which acted as their chaplains. Thus the master-bakers, innkeepers and pastry-cooks at Nîmes, the barbers and surgeons of the same town, who were also connected with the Dominicans, the goldsmiths at Avignon. Benefactors of the order received letters of fraternity with the right of participation in the privileges and good works of the friars. Others, under the name of bizzoche and mantellatoe , wore the habit and observed the rule, e.g. "M. Phicola nostra Pinzochera" at Florence in 1308. Others again became recluses in the anchorages attached to Carmelite churches, and made profession under the form: "Ego frater N. a Spiritu Sancto ad anachoreticam vitam vocatus offero me, coram Deo, Patri et Filio et Spiritui Sancto, et promitto me in servitio Dei secundum Scripturam sacram Novi et Veteris Testamenti more anchoreticae vitae usque ad mortem permansurum." Among the tertiaries not living in community must be mentioned Blessed Louis Morbioli of Bologna (d. 1495).
The canonical institution of the third order dates from the middle of the fifteenth century, when a community of Beguines at Guelders sought affiliation to the order, and Blessed John Soreth, General of the Carmelites, obtained a Bull (7 Oct., 1452) granting the superiors of his order the faculties enjoyed by the Hermits of St. Augustine and the Dominicans of canonically establishing convents of "virgins, widows, beguines and mantellatae". Further legislation took place in 1476 by the Bull "Mare magnum privilegiorum", and under Benedict XIII and his successors. The rule observed by the tertiaries, whether living in the world or gathered into communities, was originally that of the friars with modifications as required by their status. Theodor Stratius, General of the Calced Carmelites, composed in 1635 a new rule, revised in 1678, which is still observed among the tertiaries of the Calced and the Discalced Carmelites. It prescribes the recitation of the canonical office, or else of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, or, in its place, of the Pater noster and Ave Maria to be said thirty-five times a day, five times in lieu of each of the canonical hours ; also half an hour's meditation every morning and evening; fasting on all Fridays and also on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 14 September till Easter, abstinence during Advent and Lent, and various works of mortification, devotion, and charity. Superiors may in their discretion dispense from some of these obligations.
It is impossible to estimate even approximately the number of tertiaries living in the world. Besides these there are numerous corporations of tertiaries established in different countries, viz. two communities of tertiary brothers in Ireland (Drumcondra and Clondalkin near Dublin ) in charge of an asylum for the blind and of a high-school for boys; eighteen communities of native priests in British India belonging partly to the Latin and partly to the Syro-Malabar rites ; four houses of Brothers of Christian Education in Spain. Far more numerous are the communities of nuns, namely twenty-three in India (Latin and Syro-Malabar rites ) for the education of native girls, and four convents in Syria in connection with the missions of the Order; two congregations of tertiaries in Spain with nineteen and forty-eight establishments respectively, and one unattached, for educational work. In Spain there are also tertiary nuns called "Carmelitas de la caridad" engaged in works of charity with 150 establishments. The Austrian congregation of nuns numbers twenty-seven houses, while the most recent branch, the Carmelite Tertiaries of the Sacred Heart, founded at Berlin towards the end of the last century for the care and education of orphans and neglected children, have spread rapidly through Germany, Holland, England, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, and Hungary, and have twenty houses. In Italy there are three different congregations with thirty-two convents. There are smaller branches of the tertiaries in South America with two houses at Santiago, Chile, in Switzerland with four convents, and in England with one.Download Now >
III. THE THIRD ORDER SECULAR OF THE ORDER OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT CARMEL
The Third Order Secular of the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel has been introduced into the United States. There are at present two congregations, with 125 members.
IV. THIRD ORDER OF ST. DOMINIC Origin
This was one of the earliest developments of St. Francis's Ordo de Poenitentia. It was not indeed the primal organism from which the Friars Preachers evolved, but rather represents that portion of the Order of Penance which came under Dominican influence. At first vaguely constituted and living without system or form, its members gradually grew more and more dependent on their spiritual guides. The climax was reached, and the work of St. Francis received its final perfection, when Muñon de Zamora, the seventh master-general of the Friars Preachers , formulated a definite rule in 1285. By this the Ordo de Poenitentia was to be ruled in each local centre by a Dominican priest (Federici, "Istoria de cavalieri Gaudenti", Venice, 1787, Codex Diplomaticus, II, 35) and was to be subject to the obedience of the Dominican provincials and master-generals. No longer were there to be any of those vague transitions and extravagant vagaries (ibid., 28) which disfigured in history these Orders of Penance. Henceforward this branch was linked to the fortunes of the Friars Preachers, wore their habits of black and white (with few minor differences varying according to time and country), and was to participate in all their good works. They were not called a third order indeed until after the thirteenth century (Mandonnet, "Les règles et le gouvernement de l'ordo de Poenitentia", Paris, 1902, p. 207) but continued to be known as "Brothers and Sisters of Penance" with the addition "of St. Dominic ", that is "The Brothers and Sisters of the Penance of St. Dominic ".
Simultaneously with them there came into being another and very different institution which, however, subsequently amalgamated with the Ordo de Poenitentia to form the Dominican Third Order. This was a military order, called the Militia Jesu Christi (soldiery of Jesus Christ ) created for the defence of the Church against the Albigenses. It owed its origin to Bishop Foulques of Toulouse, Simon de Montfort (Federici, "Istoria de cavalieri Gaudenti", Codex Diplomaticus, I), and not improbably to St. Dominic, then a canon of St. Augustine. This connection with the founder of the Friars Preachers is first definitely propounded by Bl. Raymund of Capua, who became a Dominican about 1350. But the truth of this assertion is borne out by several other indications. As early as 1235, Gregory IX confided the Militia to the care of Bl. Jordan of Saxony, second master-general, by a Bull of 18 May (Federici, op. cit., 10); and in the same year he decreed for the knights a habit of black and white (op. cit., 14). Further, when the Militia was brought across the Alps and established in Italy it is found to be always connected with some Dominican church (op. cit., I, 13). Lastly, it was very largely influenced by a famous Dominican, Fra Bartolomeo of Braganza, or of Vicenza, as he is sometimes called (op. cit., I, 12, 42, etc.). Originally working side by side and independent of each other, owing to the fact that both received the same spiritual administration of the Friars Preachers, they appear to have been merged together at the close of the thirteenth century. This is what Raymond of Capua implies as the result of his researches. So too their ultimate coincidence is hinted at by Honorius III in 1221 when he designates the Militia "nomine poenitentiae" (Federici, Codex Diplomaticus), and a comparison also of the rules of the two institutions: that of Gregory IX for the Militia in 1235 (op. cit., 12-16) and that of Muñon de Zamora for the Order of Penance of St. Dominic in 1285 (op. cit., 28-36) would lead one to the same conclusion. The only considerable difference that could be cited against this identify is that Muñon de Zamora expressly forbids the carrying of arms. But this is in reality but a further proof of their approximation, for he allows for the one exception which could possibly apply to the Militia, viz. in defence of the Church (ibid., 32). This amalgamation is admitted by the Bollandists to have become general in the fourteenth century (Acta Sanctorum, Aug., I, 418-422). From this double movement therefore, i.e. from the Ordo de Poenitentia S. Dominici and the Militia Jesu Christi, was born the modern Third Order of St. Dominic . Though its source is therefore anterior to the First Order, its full perfection as an organized society, with a distinctive habit, a definite rule, and a declared ethos or spirit, is due to the genius of the children of St. Dominic. They took up the work of St. Francis, and, with their characteristic love of order and systematic arrangement, brought it into something compact and symmetrical. From them this idea of subjection to a First Order was taken up by the Franciscans and has been adopted by all subsequent Third Orders.
Primarily the work of the Third Order and its definite spirit may be summed up by saying that it was established first to help in reform of church discipline. Its initial purpose was the preaching of penance; but under Dominican influences it rather leaned to the intellectual aspect of the Faith and based its message to the world on the exposition of the Creed ; it was to reform church discipline by the more wide-spread knowledge of the mysteries of faith. Secondly, to defend the Church. Originally this was a military necessity, demanding physical force with which to restrain equally material opposition. Thirdly, to develop the communion of prayer. The medieval ideal of Christ's Mystical Body which has captivated all spiritual-minded people implies a harmony of prayer. To achieve this end the contemplative and monastic orders were begun; and the Third Order of St. Dominic endeavours to link pious souls to this great throng of religious (Proctor, "The Dominican Tertiary's Daily Manual", London, 1900, 15-20).Reformation
Only for one period in its history was there any real fear of suppression. Many held that the condemnation passed on the Beguines and Beghards at the Council of Vienna in 1312 applied no less to the Orders of Penance. In consequence the master-general petitioned Pope John XXII in 1326 to settle definitely the difficulty. As a result he answered by a Bull of 1 June, 1326 (Cum de Mulieribus), which is a long eulogium on the work of the Dominican Third Order. After the plague of 1348, a great deal of laxity and disorganization crept into the Third Order, but a wonderful throng of saints soon caused its rejuvenation. The influence of St. Catherine of Siena gave a powerful impetus to the movement in Italy and her work was carried on by Bl. Clara Gambacorta (d. 1419) and Bl. Maria Mancini (d. 1431). This new spiritual vigour reached across the Alps to the sisterhoods of Germany, where the effect was almost abnormal (Heimbucher, "Die Orden und Kongregationen der katholischen Kirche", Paderborn, 1907, II, 169-177). But there has never been any reform in the sense of a separate organization with a change of rule or habit. As in the First Order, there has been a peculiar gift of unity which has enabled it to last undivided for seven hundred years.Divisions
The Third Order as it exists today can be divided into two categories: regular, i.e. comprising Tertiaries, whether men or women, who live in community and wear the habit externally; and secular, i.e. whether married or single, cleric or lay, who live their lives like others of their profession, but who privately take up practices of austerity, recite some liturgical Office, and wear some symbol of the Dominican habit. The origin of the conventual women Tertiaries has never been very clearly worked out. It is usual to trace them back to Bl. Emily Bicchieri, about the year 1255 ("Manual of Third Order of St. Dominic ", London, 1871, 9). But if the view taken above of the origin of the Third Order in the Ordo de Poenitentia be correct, we are forced to the conclusion that the communities of women established by St. Dominic at Prouille, S. Sisto, etc. were really of this Third Order. Their constitutions, approved first for S. Sisto, though previously observed at Prouille, expressly speak of the nuns as "de Poenitentia S. Mariae Magdalenae" ("Analecta Ord. Praed.", Rome, 1898, 628 sqq.). It would seem then that the Ordo de Poenitentia did not exclude convents of enclosed nuns from its ranks, and this was due probably to St. Dominic himself. Very much later came a conventual order of men, originated by the genius of Père Lacordaire. He considered that the democratic spirit of the Dominican Order fitted it especially for the task of training the youth. But he knew how impossible it was for his preaching associates to tie themselves down to schoolwork among boys; as a consequence, he began, in 1852, a Third Order of men, wearing the habit, living in community yet without the burdens of monastic life. The rule was approved provisionally in 1853 and definitely in 1868 (for the rule cf. "Acta Capituli Generalis Ord. Praed.", Rome, 1904, 106 sqq.). But by far the greatest portion of the Third Order consists of secular Tertiaries. These are of every rank of society, and represent the old Ordo de Poenitentia and the old Militia. In certain countries they are grouped into chapters, having a lay prior and sub-prior or prioress and sub-prioress, and hold monthly meetings. Since the Rule of Muñon de Zamora (1285), they have always been subject to a Dominican priest appointed by the Dominican provincial. For the actual reception of the habit, the master-general can give faculties to any priest. The full habit is the same as that of the members of the First and Second Orders, but without the scapular (granted, however, to communities since 1667). Though the habit is not worn during life many procure it so that they may be buried in the recognized dress of St. Dominic's children.
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
It is practically impossible to obtain, even in a vague way, the number of the secular Dominican Tertiaries. No general register is kept, and the records of each priory would have to be searched. From the time of St. Louis &151; who wished to join the Dominican and Franciscan Orders (Acta Sanctorum, August, V, 545), and is represented in old illuminations, sometimes in the habit of one, sometimes in the habit of the other (Chapotin, "Histoire de dominicains de la province de France", Rouen, 1898, p. 497), but probably never joined either—to our own time, it can be stated only that with the rise and fall of the First Order's greatness rose and fell the number of the Tertiaries. In England during the thirteenth century very many are said to have become Tertiaries. But of this nothing for certain can be specified. At the time of St. Catharine of Siena and the Mantellate (women secular Tertiaries ) made difficulties about receiving her to the habit as they included at the date only widows (Gardner, " St. Catherine of Siena ", London, 1907, II), and there were no men at all in the Third Order in Italy at that date (Acta Sanctorum, April, III, 1881). Under Bl. Raymund of Capua, her confessor and, after her death, twenty-third master general, attempts were made to re-establish the order and no doubt much was done (Mortier, "Maîtres généraux", III, 605-606). But by the time of St. Antoninus (d. 1450) the numbers had again dwindled down to insignificance ("Summa Moralis", Verona, 1750, III, 23, 5, 5, pp. 1291-2). Just previous to the Reformation there are a few isolated notices; thus Bl. Adrian Fortescue , the martyr, notes in his diary: "Given to the Black Friars of Oxford to be in their fraternity 12d" ("Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII", London, 1883, Rolls Series , VII, 101). But these give us no ground at all for any surmise as to statistics. In America the first canonized saint ( St. Rose of Lima, d. 1617) and the first beatified negro (Bl. Martin Porres, d. 1639) were both Dominican Tertiaries, and later in France were men like M. Olier and Bl. Grignon de Montfort.
Then came the influence of Lacordaire, from whose time there dates a new enthusiasm in the Third Order ("Année Dominicaine", Paris, 1910, 149-65). Of the regular Tertiaries it is easier to speak more definitely. The numbers of all the sixteen approved congregations existing in 1902 are given, and they amount to some 7000 nuns ("Analecta Ord. Praed.", Rome, 1902, 389). To these must be added another 7000 of congregations not yet definitively authorized by Rome. But every year fresh convents are opened and the numbers continually increase. In England they began under Mother Margaret Hallahan (d. 1868) in 1842, and now in all the separate groupings there are 22 convents with some 500 sisters ; in the United States their success has been remarkable. Founded in 1846 by Mother Amalie Barth (d. 1895), the congregation in 1902 included 34 convents and over 2000 nuns. In 1876 they passed into California, where they are rapidly increasing. In Ireland they have many establishments, especially for educational purposes, for their work is as varied as the needs of humanity require. Some are enclosed, others teach, visit the sick, nurse the lepers, look after old people, take care of penitent girls, work among the poor in the slums, etc. As for the congregation of teaching men, they have been greatly disorganized since their expulsion from France. At present they comprise but a half-dozen colleges in Fribourg, San Sebastian, and South America, and do not amount to more than 100 members in all. Finally, a citation from Faber's "Blessed Sacrament" (2nd ed., p. 565) may be made: "Those who are conversant with, indeed who find the strength and consolation of their lives in, the Acts of the Saints well know that there is not a nook in the mystical Paradise of our heavenly spouse where the flowers grow thicker or smell more fragrantly than this order of multitudinous child-like saints. Nowhere in the Church does the Incarnate Word show His delight at being with the children of men in more touching simplicity, with more unearthly sweetness, or more spouse-like familiarity than in this, the youngest family of S. Dominic."
V. THIRD ORDER REGULAR OF ST. DOMINIC, IN THE UNITED STATES Congregations of Women
A. Sisters of St. Dominic
(1) Congregation of St. Catherine of Siena , with mother-house at St. Catherine of SienaConvent, Springfield, Kentucky. Founded in 1822 by Rev. Thomas Wilson, O.P. Sisters, 300; novices, 30; postulants, 7; academies, 6; schools, 13; pupils, 5000. By this congregation were founded: (a) Congregation of Dominican Tertiaries of the Blessed Virgin, with mother-house at St. Mary's of the Springs, Sheppard, Ohio, in 1830. Sisters, 195; novices, 28; academies, 3; schools, 12; pupils, 4493. From this congregation were founded (i) Congregation with mother-house at Sacred Heart Convent, Galveston, Texas. Sisters and novices, 81; postulants, 3; schools, 6; pupils, 1130. (b) Congregation with mother-house at the Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, West Springfield, Illinois, in 1873. Sisters, 120; schools, 19; pupils, 4000, academy, 1.
(2) Congregation with mother-house at St. Cecilia's Convent, Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1860 by sisters from St. Mary's, Somerset, Ohio. Sisters, 98; novices, 15; academy, 1; orphan asylum, 1; institute for young ladies, 1; schools, 6; pupils, 1042.
(3) Congregation of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, with mother-house at San Rafael, California. Founded in 1850 by Most Rev. Joseph Alemany, O.P., Archbishop of San Francisco, at Benicia, California. Sisters, 135; academies, 3; schools, 6.
(4) Congregation of the Holy Rosary, with mother-house at St. Clara's Convent, Sinsinawa, Wisconsin. Founded in 1847 by Rev. Samuel Ch. Mazzuchelli, O.P. Sisters, 650; college, 1; academies, 9; schools, 46; pupils, 14,800.
(5) Congregation of the Holy Cross , with mother-house at Holy Cross Convent, Brooklyn, New York. Founded in 1853 by 4 sisters from Holy Cross Convent, Ratisbon, Bavaria. Sisters, 518; novices, 25; postulants, 17; training school, 1; academies, 3; schools, 33; hospitals, 2; sanatorium, 1; infirmary, 1; orphan asylums, 6. From this congregation were founded: (a) Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary with mother-house at Mission San José, California, in 1876. Sisters, 193; novices, 20; postulants, 16; academy, 1; orphan asylum, 1; schools, 9; pupils, 2926. (b) Congregation of the Immaculate Conception, with mother-house at Great Bend, Kansas, in 1902. Sisters, 17; novice, 1; postulant, 1; hospital, 1; school, 1; pupils, 194.
(6) Congregation with mother-house at Holy Rosary Convent, Second Street, New York City. Founded in 1859 by sisters from Holy Cross Convent, Ratisbon, Bavaria. Sisters, 600; academies, 8; hospitals, 2; schools, 60; pupils, 25,000. From this congregation were founded (a) Congregation with mother-house at Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1877. Sisters, 187; novices, 50; postulants, 15; high school, 1; academies, 2; orphan asylum, 1; schools 32; pupils, 5000. (b) Congregation with mother-house at St. Dominic'sConvent, Blauvelt, New York. Sisters, 139; novices, 11; postulants, 3; schools, 8; asylum, 1. (c) Congregation with mother-house at St. Dominic's Academy, Jersey City, New Jersey , in 1882. Sisters, 215; academies, 3; schools, 21; pupils, 4427. From this congregation was founded: (i) Congregation with mother-house at St. Thomas Aquinas Convent, Tacoma, Washington, in 1888. Sisters, 52; schools, 3; pupils, 300.
(7) Congregations with mother-house at St. Joseph's Convent, Adrian, Michigan. Sisters, 180; novices, 28; academies, 3; schools, 29.
Help Now >
(8) Congregations with mother-house at St. Catherine of Siena's Convent, Racine, Wisconsin. Founded in 1862 by Mother Benedicta Bauer and Sister Thomasina Gincker from Holy Cross Convent, Ratisbon, Bavaria. Sisters, 286; postulants, 24; academies, 2; home for ladies, 1; schools, 38; pupils, 6307.
(9) Congregation with mother-house at St. Mary's Convent, New Orleans, Louisiana. Founded in 1860 by sisters from Cabra, Dublin, Ireland. Sisters, 57; academies, 2; schools, 2; pupils, 565.
(10) Congregation with mother-house at Reno, Nevada; founded by sisters from New Orleans, Louisiana. Sisters, 4.
(11) Congregation with mother-house at St. Catherine of Siena Convent, Fall River, Massachusetts. Founded in 1891 by sisters from Carrollton, Missouri. Sisters, 52.
B. Dominican Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic
Congregation with mother-house at the Convent of Our Lady of the Rosary, 63rd Street, New York City. Founded in 1867 by Father Rochford, O.P. Sisters, 160; novices, 10; postulants, 5; academy, 1; orphan asylums, 2; schools, 11; pupils, 4000.
C. Third Order Secular of St. Dominic
Introduced into the United States by the early Dominican missionaries. There are at present congregations of Dominican Tertiaries in almost all the churches in charge of Dominican Fathers, numbering from 100-600 members, and many hundred tertiaries throughout the country not belonging to any congregation.
VI. THIRD ORDER OF ST. FRANCIS (REGULAR AND SECULAR; MALE AND FEMALE)
A branch of the great Franciscan family . We deal here: A. with the secular Third Order; B. with the regular.A. Origin, Development, and Present State of the Secular Third Order
It has been believed for some time that the Third Order of St. Francis was the oldest of all Third Orders, but historical evidence is against such an opinion. For, besides similar institutions in some monastic orders in the twelfth century, we find, before the foundation of St. Francis, a Third Order, properly so called, among the Humiliati, confirmed together with its rule by Innocent III in 1201 (see text in Tiraboschi, "Vetera Humiliatorum monumenta", II, Milan, 1767, 128). But if the Third Order of St. Francis was not the first of its kind, it was, and still is, undoubtedly the best known and most widely distributed and has the greatest influence. About its origin there are two opposite opinions. According to Karl Müller, Mandonnet, and others, the Secular Third Order is a survival of the original ideal of St. Francis, viz. a lay-confraternity of penitents, from which, through the influence of the Church, the First and Second Orders of the Friars Minor and the Poor Clares have been detached. According to others, St. Francis merely lent his name to pre-existing penitential lay-confraternities, without having any special connection with or influence on them. The two opinions are equally at variance with the best texts we have on the subject, such as Thomas of Celano, "Vita prima", I, 15; Julian of Spires, "Office of St. Francis: Third Antiphon at Lauds "; Gregory IX, Bull of 7 June, 1230 ( Bull. Franc., I, 65); St. Bonaventure, "Leg. Maior", IV, 6; Bernard of Besse, in "Anal. Franc.", III, 686. According to these sources, St. Francis really founded a Third Order and gave it a Rule. If we complete these notices with some early papal Bulls bearing on the penitential movement and with the account given by Mariano of Florence (end of the fifteenth and beginning of the sixteenth century) we can state what follows:
The preaching of St. Francis, as well as his own living example and that of his first disciples, exercised such a powerful attraction on the people that many married men and women wanted to join the First or the Second Order. This being incompatible with their state of life, St. Francis found a middle way: he gave them a rule animated by the Franciscan spirit. In the composition of this rule St. Francis was assisted by his friend Cardinal Ugolino, later Gregory IX. As to the place where the Third Order was first introduced nothing certain is known. Of late however the preponderance of opinion is for Florence, chiefly on the authority of Mariano of Florence, or Faenza, for which the first papal Bull (Potthast, "Regesta Pontificum", 6736) known on the subject is given, whilst the "Fioretti" (ch. xvi), though not regarded as an historical authority, assigns Cannara, a small town two hours' walk from Portiuncula, as the birthplace of the Third Order. Mariano and the Bull for Faenza (16 Dec., 1221) point to 1221 as the earliest date of the institution of the Third Order, and in fact, besides these and other sources, the oldest preserved rule bears this date at its head. This rule was published by P. Sabatier and H. Boehmer (see bibliography), and contained originally twelve chapters, to which at the time of Gregory IX (1227) a thirteenth was added. It prescribes simplicity in dress (1), considerable fasting and abstinence (2-3), the canonical office or other prayers instead (4-5), confession and communion thrice a year, and forbids carrying arms or taking solemn oaths without necessity (6); every month the brothers and sisters have to assemble in a church designated by the ministers, and a religious has to give them an instruction (7); they also exercise the works of charity with their brothers (8); whenever a member dies the whole confraternity has to be present at the funeral and to pray for the departed (9); everyone has to make his last will three months after his reception; dissensions among brothers and sisters or other persons are to be settled peaceably; if any troubles arise with local authorities the ministers ought to act with the counsel of the bishop (10). No heretic or anyone suspected of heresy can be received, and women only with the consent of their husbands (11); the ministers have to denounce shortcomings to the visitor, who will punish the culprits; every year two new ministers and a treasurer are to be elected; no point of the rule obliges under pain of sin (12). On account of the prohibition of arms and unnecessary oaths, the followers of this rule came into conflict with local authorities, a fact of which we have evidence in many papal Bulls all through the thirteenth century, issued to safeguard the privileges of the Tertiaries (see list of these Bulls in Mandonnet, "Les Règles", 146-47).
Wadding ("Annales Min." ad a. 1321, n. 13) gives another longer redaction of the rule, which is almost identical with the one solemnly confirmed by Nicholas IV through the Bull "Supra montem", 17 Aug., 1289. This last form has for long been considered as the work of St. Francis, whilst Karl Müller denied any connection of St. Francis with it. If we compare the rule published and approved by Nicholas IV with the oldest text of 1221, we see that they substantially agree, slight modifications and different dispositions of chapters (here 20 in number) excepted. Through a most interesting text published by Golubovich (Arch. Franc. Hist., II, 1909, 20) we know now that this Rule of Nicholas IV was approved on the petition of some Italian Tertiaries. Another recent publication by Guerrini (Arch. Franc. Hist., I, 1908, 544 sq.) proves that there existed in the thirteenth century Third Order Confraternities with quite different rules. On the whole, it can safely be affirmed that until Nicholas IV there was no Rule of the Third Order generally observed, but besides the one quoted above, and probably the most widely spread, there were others of more local character. The same might be said as to the government of the confraternities. Besides their own officials, they had to have a visitor, who seems to have been usually appointed by the bishop. In 1247 Innocent IV ordered that the Friars Minor were to assume the direction of the Tertiaries in Italy and Sicily ( Bull Franc., I, 464), but about twenty years later when St. Bonaventure wrote his question: "Why do not the Friars Minor promote the Order of 'Penitents'?" (Op. om., VIII, 368) the contrary had practically prevailed. Nicholas IV introduced unity of rule and of direction into the Third Order, which henceforward was entrusted to the care of the Friars Minor.
If we except a few points, bearing especially on fasts and abstinence, mitigated by Clement VII in 1526 and Paul III in 1547, the Rule as given by Nicholas IV remained in vigour till 1883, when Leo XIII, himself a tertiary, through the Apostolic Constitution "Misericors Dei Filius", modified the text, adapting it more to the modern state and needs of the society. All substantial points, however, remained; only the daily vocal prayers were reduced, as also the fasts and abstinences, whilst the former statute of confession and communion thrice a year was changed into monthly communion. Other points of the modified Rule of Leo XIII are of great social and religious importance, such as the prohibition of pomp in dressing, of frequenting theatres of doubtful character, and keeping and reading papers and books at variance with faith and morals. The direction is entrusted to the three branches of the First Order: Friars Minor, Conventuals, Capuchins, and to the Regular Third Order. By delegation, confraternities can be established and directed by any parish priest. Those who for serious reasons cannot join a confraternity may be received as single tertiaries. Finally, great spiritual privileges are granted to all members of the Third Order.
The beneficent influence of the secular Third Order of St. Francis cannot be highly enough appreciated. Through the prohibition against carrying arms a deadly blow was given to the feudal system and to the ever-fighting factions of Italian municipalities; through the admission of poor and rich, nobles and common people, the social classes were brought nearer each other. How far the religious ideal of St. Francis was carried out by the secular Third Order we may judge from the great number (about 75) of saints and blessed of every condition it produced. It may suffice to mention: St. Elizabeth of Hungary ; St. Louis, King of France ; St. Ferdinand, King of Castile ; St. Elizabeth of Portugal ; St. Rosa of Viterbo ; St. Margaret of Cortona ; Bl. Umiliana Cerchi; Bl. Angela of Foligno ; Bl. Raymond Lullus; Bl. Luchesius of Poggibonsi, who passes as the first tertiary received by St. Francis; St. Ivo ; and in our times, Bl. Jean-Baptiste Vianney, the curé of Ars; of names celebrated in history for literature, arts, politics, inventions, etc., Dante, Giotto, Petrarch, Cola di Rienzo, Columbus, Vasco da Gama , Cervantes, Lope de Vega, Thomas More, Galvani, Volta, García Moreno, Liszt, and, finally, Lady Georgiana Fullerton. Popes Pius IX and Leo XIII were members of the Third Order, as also is Pope Pius X. Since the adaptation of the rule by Leo XIII the Third Order has grown more active than ever. At present the total number of members is esteemed about two and a half millions, spread all over the world. National and local congresses have been held in different countries: seven in the period from 1894 to 1908 in France, others in Belgium, some in Italy, the first general congress in Assisi (1895), many local ones from 1909 to 1911; others have been held in Spain, the last one at Santiago in 1909; in Argentina the last one at Buenos Aires in 1906; in India, Canada, and in Germany and Austria, in the last two instances in connection with general congresses of Catholics. There exist almost in all civilized languages numerous monthly periodicals which, whilst keeping up the union amongst the different confraternities, serve also for the instruction and edification of its members. The "Acta Ordinis Frat. Min.", XXVI, Quaracchi, 1907, 255-58, gives the names of 122 such periodicals. French periodicals are indicated by P. B. Ginnet, O.F.M., "Le Tiers Ordre et le Prêtre", Vanves, 1911, p. 51 sq.; German periodicals by Moll, O.M. Cap., "Wegweiser in die Literatur des Dritten Ordens", Ratisbon, 1911. In Italy even a regular newspaper was founded, "Rinascita Francescana", Bologna, 1910; another in Germany, "Allgemeine deutsche Tertiaren-Zeitung", Wiesbaden, 1911.—We may mention also the special organs for directors of the Third Order, e.g. "Der Ordensdirektor", published at Innsbruck by the Tyrolese Franciscans, "Revue sacerdotale du Tiers-Ordre de Saint François", published by French Capuchins. Both reviews appear once every two months.B. Third Order Regular (Male and Female)
(1) Its origin and general development till Leo X
The origin of the Regular Third Order, both male and female, can be traced back to the second half of the thirteenth century, but no precise date can be indicated. It was organized, in different forms, in the Netherlands, in the south of France, in Germany, and in Italy
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.