The popular tradition linked to Franciscanism has remained deeply rooted over the centuries. It is still alive thanks to another important event that took place in Cannara during the historic passage of St. Francis in the Spring of 1221: the conception of the Third Order dedicated to laypeople, the so-called Third Order of the Penitents today Secular Franciscan Order (SFO).

It is a tradition dating back at least to 1645, as attested by a document kept in the Archives of the Parish of St. Matthew of Cannara. It takes place every year five Sundays after Easter as this is the day on which in the spring of 1221 St. Francis passed through the castle of Cannara. Here took place – according to the Fioretti – the Miracle of the Swallows, the sermon to the inhabitants of Cannara, the conception of the Third Order, the Preaching to the Birds in Piandarca.

The Procession

The procession starts at the church dedicated to St. Francis in the historic centre of Cannara, moves along the historical path, reaches the memorial stone of the preaching, and ends at a shrine erected as an ex-voto about a century ago by a local family, which then became a place to celebrate Mass. The SFO of Cannara, the SFO of Umbria, and the parish together with the municipality and the Pro Loco organize the Procession.

Every year, hundreds and hundreds of people from the SFO Fraternities of the region and the local population participate in the procession, which is presided over by a religious world figure: Bishops, Custodians of the Sacred Convent of Assisi, Provincial Fathers of the First Franciscan Order, and National Assistants of the SFO.
Finally, on the Preaching to the Birds site, professional actors play the episode in medieval costume with musical accompaniment at the psaltery, while dozens of white doves, a symbol of peace, are released into the air.