This spiritual movement included the religious orders of the Catholic Church that today are known as the Augustinians, Carmelites, Franciscans, Dominicans, Sack Friars, and many more.
The notion of begging also had special significance in the social and economic climate of Europe in the thirteenth century.
Europe was just discovering the exclusive use of money as a means of exchange. Up until then most of the world used the barter system, with the use of money as only a secondary option.
Italy in the thirteenth century had become fascinated by the use of money.
Francis of Assisi showed that the brothers could have peace and happiness even without it. Francis denounced the use of money, and made "holy poverty" a special keynote among his followers.
Much of the historical material above is drawn from John Michael Talbot, a highly-regarded musician and Catholic layman in the Franciscan tradition.
The Mendicant Orders
The mendicant orders are marked by two characteristics: poverty, or ownership practised in common; and the "combined life", i.e., the combination of prayer in community and the work of spiritual ministry (preaching, giving the Sacraments, and attending to sick and poor people).
Moreover, the mendicant orders were a "flying squad", an army of religious soldiers who - unlike the Benedictines - could be moved about by their leaders because they were not permanently attached to any one particular place.
The mendicant order, or at least each particular province within it, took the place that the monastery afforded to the Benedictine monk.
Through the limits finally imposed by the Vatican, any mendicant order had to receive the approval of the Pope, who did this by imposing the requirement of papal approval of their Rule or Constitutions.
Most of the popes did more than place legislation around the early mendicant orders, and had the wisdom and innovative spirit to realise the potential and willingness of the mendicants to assist in the reform of the Church.
For example, a man like Cardinal Richard Annibaldi, the Cardinal Protector of the Augustinian Order for the decades between 1256 and his death in 1276 throughout the terms of office of the first five Augustinian Priors_General, was a powerful and effective force for the continuation and expansion of the new Order
Photos (at right):
Picture 1: Priest and people, Parish of Saint Augustine, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Pictures 2 & 3: A group walk by members of the Parish of Saint Augustine, Buenos Aires, Argentina.