How to Tie a Franciscan Friar's Belt

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A Franciscan friar or brother's rope belt is called a cincture or girdle. Its practical purpose was to secure the voluminous habit and keep it from getting in the friar's way while he worked. St.

Francis turned it into a mnemonic device by tying three knots in one of the loose ends to remind him of his three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The knot that secures the belt at the waist is of no particular significance, but a special cincture knot -- also called a barrel knot -- is used for the three reminder knots.

Cut a length of rope that will encircle the waist and touch the ground on each end when tied in place.

Tie the reminder knots in one end of the rope.

Lay one end of the rope (A) across the left palm with the end of the rope below the wrist and the long end (B) over the index finger.

Extend the index and middle fingers of the left hand and curl the ring and pinky fingers.

Bring B around the underside of the extended fingers so that it crosses A.

Continue wrapping until three turns of B lie evenly across A, starting at the tops of the fingers and moving toward the base of them.

Spread the ring finger and bring B up into the space between it and the rope-wrapped fingers.

Slide the free end of B carefully through the loops of A around the index and middle fingers, keeping the wraps flat and closely spaced. This forms the barrel.

Tighten the knot by pulling gently and alternately on A and B until it is snug.

Finish both ends of the rope by knotting or whipping (wrapping with strong thread) so that they do not unravel.

Place the rope belt around the waist and secure it so that the ends hang to the right of centre between the navel and the hip and are of approximately the same length.