The Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) is papally sanctioned (Seraphicus Patriarcha, Paul VI, 1978), and fully recognized by and faithful to the Catholic Church. The Tau is usually considered as the symbol of Franciscan orders due to St. Francis' love for it, symbol of the redemption and of the Cross. In the book of Ezekiel (9:4), an angel (traditionally believed to be St. Gabriel) is instructed by God to go and mark the foreheads of the faithful with the Tau symbol.
There are about a million and a half Secular Franciscans today, living in many countries throughout the world. They form a unique branch of the Franciscan family tree with whom they share a common heritage. They are, in fact, the most numerous of all the different types of Franciscans within this family. Secular Franciscans throughout the ages have constantly sought to live the Gospel in the footsteps of St. Francis within the secular state in society.
Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) local communities--of which there are 688 in the USA--are called fraternities. We are a global community, in turn, since our fraternities are organized into regions, which belong to a national fraternity, which is part of the international fraternity, based in Rome. As we live out our Franciscan lives, our Region draws inspiration from its Patron, St. Clare, who said: "Love God. Serve God. Everything is in that." (If you look closely at many pictures of St. Clare, you will see a cat near Clare's feet. This short biography of her will tell you why!)
We welcome and appreciate your inquiries and comments concerning our Order, our Region, and our Fraternities! For a prompt reply, please contact email@example.com.