“Franciscans of Mari” was founded in 1988 by Father Santiago Martín (Madrid, 1954), in Madrid and received its first ecclesiastic approval from the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Ángel Suquía, in 1993, as a Public Association of the Faithful of Diocesan Right. As of that moment, Franciscanos de María began to spread outside of its Diocese of origin, first throughout and then outside of Spain. Irún- in the Basque Country-, Alicante –next to the Mediterranean- and Oviedo –in the cradle of the Reconquest-, where the first Dioceses that welcomed the spirituality of gratefulness. Then came others: Valencia, Barcelona, Almeria, Seville… As of the year 2000, though previously present in America (in the Dominican Republic) Franciscanos de María begins to spread throughout this continent. Currently the “Schools of Gratitude” –the typical and distinctive work of Franciscanos de María- are open and operating in all of the nations of America, from Canada down to Chile, except for a few of the smallest islands of the Caribbean. A short time afterwards, it began to spread to Asia, though more timidly (there are “schools of gratitude” in Sri Lanka) and groups of laypersons began to form in other European countries: Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany. In 2007, Pope Benedict VXI, through the Pontific Council for the Laity –presided by Cardinal Rylko—granted the pontifical approval of this institution, in this way endorsing it as a “path to sainthood” and recognizing in it, the existence of a charisma, that of gratitude. The Pontific approval is dated March 25, 2007, day of the Incarnation of our Lord, day on which Mary says “yes”, and the official act during which the decree of approval is delivered was held at the Vatican on June 26, 2007, the feast of another Spanish founder, Saint Josemaría Escrivá. Today, Franciscanos de María are in 27 countries of three continents and the number of laypersons attending the “schools of gratitude” and that are, therefore, legally part of the Association, is approximately ten thousand.
The mission of Franciscanos de María is to personally experience and spread the spirituality of gratitude, helping others understand that that is the core of the Gospel, that which God expects and has the right to find in the heart of Christians.
This personal experience and spreading of the spirituality of gratitude comes about by imitating the Holy Virgin and St. Francis of Assisi: Imitating Mary in her availability, her divine maternity by practicing unity and in serving Christ crucified; imitating St. Francis in his poverty, his grateful love of God and his complete fidelity to the Church and, especially, to the Pope.