Confraternities of the Cord are ancient associations of Catholics who wear cords, cinctures or belts in devotion to a saint whom they wish to honour and emulate.
The oldest and most celebrated of them is the Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Consolation, but there are also the Archconfraternity of the Cord of St Francis, the Archconfraternity of the Cord of St Joseph and the Confraternity of the Cord of St Thomas (Aquinas).
The practice of wearing a cincture, a rope-like belt, has its origins in the early Church, when virgins used them to signify their maidenhood. But by the Middle Ages, with the rise of the great religious orders, it had spread to honour particular saints.
The main aims of the four confraternities sanctioned by the popes are to practise prayer, piety and works of charity.
They have their own rules and obligations, mostly around devotions and prayer life, and also admission. Generally this includes registration and enrolment and a professed commitment, but it varies from one confraternity to another.
Thanks to the internet, it is probably easier to join a confraternity than it has been for generations, as they each have websites that can assist any Catholic interested in becoming a member.