Catholic Dictionary

Term

THIRD ORDERS

Definition

Associations of the faithful established by religious orders. Dating from the thirteenth century, they may be either secular or regular. If secular, they are lay persons, commonly called tertiaries. If regular, they are religious, bound by public vows and live in community. Originally, third orders were Franciscan or Dominican, but the Holy See has since approved many others, both secular and regular, e.g., the Augustinians, Carmelites, Servites, and Trinitarians.