Secular Franciscan Order

Alongside the episode of the Preaching to the Birds, Cannara witnesses another important event in the life of St. Francis: the founding of the Franciscan Third Order, of which he conceived a primitive idea during his passage in this land.

The former Piazza IV Novembre, now dedicated to the Franciscan Third Order, is the place where, according to the tradition confirmed by Franciscan Sources, St. Francis of Assisi arrived in the spring of 1221, when, inspired by God, he decided to descend from Mount Subasio and begin the preaching of the Gospel in the world. He began right from the ancient Castle of Cannara and the people who came to listen to him were so moved that everyone wanted to follow him.
We read in the Actus Beati Francisci et sociorum eius (chapters XIV and XVI) and the Fioretti (chapter XVI) that St. Francis, at the beginning of his preaching, came to a castle called Cannarium (today Cannara). The inhabitants were so struck by his words that they desired to abandon their houses to follow him, but the Saint told them: “Be not in such haste. I will tell you what you must do to save your souls. Thereupon he founded the Third Order, which is called of the Penitents, for the universal salvation of all people” (Actus, Chapter XVI).
Thus was born the Third Order for laypeople, the so-called ‘Third Order of the Penitents’, today the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO), which currently has millions of members all over the world.
According to an ancient oral, iconographic, and literary tradition, the first tertiary accepted by the Saint was supposedly the blessed Lucio Modestini from Cannara, (see also the annotation by Pietro Rodolfo Tossignano 1586 in his ‘Historiarum Seraphicae Religionis Libri Tres’, c. 146).
The Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order of Cannara, still active, dates back to the year 1500 but, as mentioned, its origins are much more remote. The ancient castle of Cannara was in fact the place where St. Francis had the first idea of the Third Order and where he gave the grey habit to the first tertiary in history, Blessed Lucio Modestini da Cannara.
The Palazzo Landrini Maiolica overlooks the square where the Third Order originated and houses the humble hovel in which the saint dwelt and prayed as he passed through this land. The local SFO fraternity, now dedicated to Blessed Lucio Modestini, is located in this building.
The SFO fraternity is composed of men and women who, while living in the secular state, follow a Rule based on the principles of the Gospel according to the example of St. Francis. Humility, solidarity, a spirit of forgiveness and peace, respect for human life and other creatures are the cornerstones that inspire the life of the Franciscan tertiary.