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Confraternity of Penitents


Our charism  is to live the original rule for Franciscan laity, the Rule of 1221 for the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, as close as possible to its original intent. Other Franciscan Third Order groups are living the Leonine Rule from 1889. The Order of Franciscans Secular (Secular Franciscan Order) is living the Pauline Rule of 1978. Some Franciscan First Orders have Third Order (lay members) associated with them whose rule reflects the charism of the First Order. Those discerning a life as a Franciscan tertiary are encouraged to study and pray about various rules and their constitutions and to discern where God is calling them and which will most help them progress spiritually. 

The Confraternity of Penitents Rule and Constitutions are prescriptive; that is, they clearly define the prayer life, fasting and abstinence, possessions, and dress of its members, as did the Rule which St. Francis accepted in 1221 for the original penitents, then called the Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Saints were made through the living of this Rule.


The 1221 Rule has been updated with modern constitutions, accepted by the Church, so that it can be lived today with the same intent and results as in 1221. 

What are you seeking?

Are you a faithful Catholic? Looking for more? More discipline? More prayer? More joy? More  God time?  Are you willing to give up some of what you don't want to get more of what you do want? Make every day a way to holiness through living the Rule of the Confraternity of Penitents.

Prayer. Penance. Fasting. Simplicity of Life. Works of Mercy. Community. Just what Our Lady is calling for today. Saint Francis knew the heart of lay people. That is why he accepted this Rule of life for his lay followers.


Our Rule of life also works well for those who would like to be in religious life but who are not able to enter or remain in religious life at this time. 


Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
Your holy and true command.
(St. Francis' Prayer before the San Damiano Crucifix)

We are the original Franciscan Third Order because as married and single lay men and women, we live, in our own homes, the original religious Rule for lay people , given in 1221 by Saint Francis of Assisi. Canonically approved Constitutions  enable us to live this Rule in the modern world. As a lay person, you, too, can live this freeing way of life!



"You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind, (and) you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Jesus's words as recorded in Matthew 22:37-38)


See our monthly prayer list on this link.


Saint Francis Third Order Confraternity of Penitents shows Jesus on original crucifix of San Damiano in Assisi

To give glory to God and surrender to His Will through the living of a medieval, penitential Rule of Life, the Rule of 1221. This Rule is lived as closely as possible to its original intent, and in one's own home, in peace with all others, and in obedience to the Roman Catholic Church, its Pope, and its Magisterium.


How to Join

Go to the Formation Page and complete the Inquirer Application.


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Religious Rule for Catholic Lay People


Welcome, and thank you for visiting the Confraternity of Penitents! Around the world, our members live, in their own homes as Catholic married and single men and women, a religious Rule of Life for the laity, given originally by Saint Francis of Assisi to the people of his day. Our Constitutions, canonically approved by the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, enable us to live this holy and freeing Rule of Life as closely as possible to its original intent.



"Go and repair My House which, as you can see, is falling into ruin." (The message given to St. Francis in a voice from the San Damiano Crucifix. This scene is pictured above in the painting by Giotto.) We believe that, in order to bring God's love to the world, we must first be surrendered to God ourselves. Our Rule and Constitutions enable us to give ourselves more completely to our Lord and Savior so that we can follow His Will, not our own, in our lives.

People Ask -- Section 32 of CFP Rule and Constitutions 

Section 32 of our Rule and Constitutions: "no person who does not adhere totally to all that the Catholic Church teaches through its hierarchy and Magisterium...." shall be admitted to the CFP.


"To whom shall we go?" We need to stick with the Church that Jesus founded. --CFP Minister General


Correct, there is no other option. It is easy and pleasant to be Catholic when everything is going well. The Church is our mother; when our mother is in crisis or struggling, do we abandon her or do we double down on defense and protection through prayer, fasting and penance. --Fr. Joseph Tuscan, CFP Spiritual Guardian


"[N]o person who does not adhere totally to all that the Catholic Church teaches through its hierarchy and Magisterium...." shall be admitted." Adhere does not mean agree with.  "Teaches" means a matter of doctrine. --CFP Minister General


That is exactly correct. People in official positions in the Church have been in error before in the long history of the Church. Doctrinal infallibility doesn't mean personal opinions are infallible, even if such ideas are printed in a document that is part of the ordinary magisterium.  --Fr. Joseph Tuscan, CFP Spiritual Guardian


The hierarchy and Magisterium mean Pope and Bishops. These directives were from the Pope who did not claim the doctrine of infallibility nor did the Magisterium discuss and vote on these decisions. --CFP Minister General


Precisely, the Pope himself chose not to make certain statements and documents binding under papal infallibility. – Fr. Joseph Tuscan, CFP Spiritual Guardian

In a small book, Letter to a Suffering Church, Bishop Barron writes, "to stay and fight" Obviously, not with weapons for a battle, but with prayer, fasting, and penance. As mentioned, we don't abandon the church, our mother, at anytime.  What I also have learned in formation is detachment from this world. As I took a step back, God in his mercy, helped me to realize that I was listening too much to social media instead of placing my trust in his Church which will never lead us astray. In my devotions, I need to better understand Church teaching regarding infallibility. "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Although we will all be tested and have disagreements, or different opinions, we are reassured that the Church will stand forever. A scripture passage which I have read numerous times, Romans 5:20, affirms that sin does not stop God's grace from flowing and will be far greater. "The law entered in so that transgression might increase but, where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. [Romans 5:20-21] - Thoughts by a CFP member

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Keep up with the Confraternity in  spiritual insights, humor, poetry, saint of the month, and photos.​

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The Confraternity of Penitents On Line Holy Angels Book and Gift Shop helps support our mission.​

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We have no dues or fees, but, if you wish to help, we appreciate all donations to our mission of spreading the message of conversion (penance) worldwide.

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Daily Prayers of the Confraternity of Penitents.

Saint Francis Third Order Confraternity of Penitents prays daily prayer office and also prays for intentions on a weekly prayer list.
Order? Confraternity?


The Confraternity of Penitents is both like a Franciscan Third Order and like a Confraternity. Here's how:


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