These spiritual children of St. Francis are taking part in their general chapter in Assisi, through Saturday. The event has attracted members from 57 chapters, in 46 countries, as well as some 30 observers and relators.
Before taking leave of the 25,000 pilgrims gathered today in St. Peter\'s Square, the Pope expressed the hope that the Secular Franciscan\'s general chapter \"will be for all of you an opportunity of renewed apostolic drive when it comes to spreading the Gospel everywhere, following the example of St. Francis of Assisi.\"
The Secular Franciscan Order comprises lay people who follow the Rule and Franciscan spirituality. Its origins go back to 1221.
Today the order has 435,000 professed members, in 99 countries.