Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland – Third Order Regular of Saint Francis


Active. Under Simple Vows. Founded in the Thirteenth Century. Motto: Deus Meus et Omnia.

The Third Order Secular of Saint Francis, called the Order of Penance, was founded by the Saint himself for people living in the world who desired to lead a stricter life. At the end of a certain time some of the members united in community added certain rules suitable to community life to the rule Saint Francis gave the Secular Tertiaries and cut off what was unsuitable, but historians are not agreed as to the date of the foundation of the Third Order Regular.

In a short time it established itself in nearly all the countries of Europe, and with a sufficient number of members and houses to form true Congregations. The principal of these first Congregations was that of Lombardy, which held its first Chapter General in 1448, but in France the first Congregation of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis was founded so far back as 1287 at Toulouse. The rule for the French Congregations is strict; the members are bound to rise at midnight for Matins, to practise the usual mortifications of the strict Orders, and to observe silence from 7 p.m. till prime. The habit is brown with a pointed capuce; a short brown cloak is worn over the habit by some Congregations; the girdle is of black horse-hair, and a rosary with crucifix and medals is attached to it; sandals are worn instead of shoes.

At the present day there are numerous Congregations of Franciscan Tertiaries (Regular), whose work varies in different countries; their Constitutions also vary, so that it would be impossible to give a separate account of each of them.

The Irish Province was restored in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the motherhouse for the Irish Province was founded in 1818, at Mount Bellew, in the Diocese of Tuam. At first this monastery was under the Provincial of the Franciscan Order, who sent the friars to found it; but the jurisdiction was transferred by Pope Pius VIII to the Bishop of the Diocese, under whom it has since remained.

The numerous houses in Ireland and America which are affiliated to Mount Bellew are all by Papal sanction under the Bishops of the dioceses they live in, but they are entitled to all the privileges of the Order.

The habit is the same as that of the Franciscans of the First Order. Postulants should be between the ages of seventeen and twenty-five.

MLA Citation

  • Francesca M Steele. “Third Order Regular of Saint Francis”. Monasteries of Great Britain and Ireland, 1903. CatholicSaints.Info. 30 November 2018. Web. 19 April 2021. <>