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The work of the mendicants in the pulpit, in the confessional, in the service of the sick and the socially weak, in the foreign missions, had no parallel in the Middle Ages.
From their apostolical ministry the mendicants derived the right of support from all Christian people: dignus est operarius mercede sua . But provision for the necessities of life was not left to chance. Francis was indebted to the Benedictines for the "Portiuncula", the first church of his order.The movement thus started in France and Italy had spread among the poorer classes at the beginning of the thirteenth century and threatened to become dangerous to the Church.By uniting utter poverty to entire subjection toward, St. Dominic the bulwark of orthodoxy against the new heretics, and the two orders of Friars Minor and Preachers proved themselves a great help both to the inner and to the external life of the Church.Mendicant Friars are members of those religious orders which, originally, by vow of poverty renounced all proprietorship not only individually but also (and in this differing from the monks ) in common, relying for support on their own work and on the charity of the faithful. There remain from the Middle Ages four great mendicant orders, recognized as such by the Second Council of Lyons, 1274, Sess. iii) granted all the mendicant orders, except the Friars Minor and the Capuchins, the liberty of corporate possession (see FRIAR).23 ( Mansi, XXIV, 96) -- the Order of Preachers, the Friars Minor, the Carmelites, and the Hermits of St. Successively other congregations obtained the privilege of the mendicants. The object of the present article is to outline (I) the origin and characteristics of the mendicants; (II) the opposition which they encountered.
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(The labourer is worthy of his hire.) It was only just that having left everything in the world in obedience to Christ's counsel ( Matthew ; ; Luke 9:1-6 ) in order to devote themselves to the well-being of the people, they should look to the people for their support. Each convent had its limit or district ( limes, terminus ), in which brothers, generally two and two, made regular visits to solicit alms. The chief opposition came from elsewhere; from the universities and from the bishops and secular clergy.