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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. 

Saint Francis Third Order Confraternity of Penitents shows Saint Francis of Assisi praying before San Damiano Crucifix

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. 

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. 

Your Confraternity supports me a lot. In Hong Kong I cannot find a Third Order which is as holy as Confraternity of Penitents. Your Confraternity lifestyle is like a religious one. I want to be a nun. But my health is very bad. Your Confraternity fulfills my dream of becoming a member of a religious order, though i can only join a third order one. Thank you so much. I must remember you and Father Tuscan in my prayers. Thank you !! -- Christina Ming Yan Wong

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)


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.


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


We thank the Lord for a grace filled retreat. Talks on this link.


Homilies and Podcast by Fr. Dan Koehl

Father Dan Koehl is spiritual assistant to our Lady, Cause of Our Joy CFP Chapter in Fort Wayne IN. LInks to his homilies and podcast are on this link.

Newsletter Archives >

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

Gift Shop >

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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