St. Francis welcomed a married couple, Luchesio and Buonadonna, into the Franciscan movement and wrote a rule from which they could draw inspiration and order for the Franciscan life. They were called Brothers and Sisters of Penance and lay Catholics for nearly 800 years have made a life commitment and become members of what is called the Secular Franciscan Order ('secular' meaning that we are embedded in world'). There are some 15,000 Catholic Secular Franciscans in the US, and about 400,000 around the world. Episcopalians formed the Third Order Society of St. Francis in 1950, and other Christians have joined the Franciscan movement since then.
The ecumenical lay Franciscan family:
- Catholic: www.nafra-sfo.org
- Episcopal: www.tssf.org
- Lutheran: www.lutheranfranciscans.org
- Ecumenical: www.franciscans.com
Lay Franciscans have made a mark on history for social justice along with many amazing sisters and friars. Anyone interested in learning more can call 1.800.FRANCIS to be directed to the nearest fraternity. Our Lay Franciscan Champions of Justice Series currently features Matt Talbot among a list of lay Franciscan women and men that include Dante, St. Thomas More, St. Elizabeth of Hungary and St. Elizabeth of Portugal.