As First Order sisters, the CSF is an autonomous part of the Society of St. Francis (First Order brothers),
which also includes the Order of St. Clare (Second Order sisters), and a Third Order of secular members living as a dispersed community. Living under a Franciscan Rule, the sisters’ primary vocation is prayer, study, and work in the context of community life. Some sisters serve as priests, and others live a solitary life.
The community was begun in 1905 by Sr Rosina Eleanor Rice, who left another Anglican religious order, the Society of the Sisters of Bethany, to found CSF. After a short period in Hull, the sisters moved to Dalston in East London in 1908, where they supported themselves by working in the parish, caring for the sick and dying, and running a laundry. In the late 1950s their house came under a compulsory purchase order, and in 1962 CSF moved to a house in the hamlet of Compton Durville, near Yeovil in Somerset. There they ran a nursing home for elderly women for some years, before changing their ministry to one of hospitality. CSF grew considerably, and new houses were founded in other parts of the country. In 2010 the sisters closed their house at Compton Durville.