Unlike both a local bishop and an abbot, the mendicants lacked a geographical area under their pastoral control, but had papal permission to minister within their friary church, which could only be built after the local bishop consented to its presence.
There were also further regulations that restricted a mendicant order building within a certain distance of the house of another mendicant order in the same neighbourhood.
Furthermore, the king had to give permission for the establishment of a mendicant friary if its presence was going to mean that land previously taxable would thereby become tax exempt. Sometimes a friary could be built only upon its agreeing to recompense the king for land taxes otherwise due on the property, or to pay the local parish an agreed annual sum for the possible loss of income to the parish church by its drawing some of the parishioners to the new friary church.
A diocese had to pay taxes to Rome, which had to be collected by the bishop from the income raised by his parishes. To the bishop’s chagrin, mendicant friaries working in the diocese not only were exempt from diocesan taxes but also their ministry drew people away from the parish churches, and hence from their contributing as much to the bishop’s revenue stream.
For this reason the bishop usually reserved to the parish church those special ceremonies that generated stipends or stole fees, i.e., marriages, and baptisms; as well, the conducting of funerals in a friary church – or the burial of persons on friary property – was often a contentious topic.
On the other hand, the friars were opposed to the possessionati (an Italian word for those who possessed much land and were a major employer in the district), especially the great abbeys. This antagonism cannot be explained as a natural reaction to the constant acts of hostility on the part of the abbeys whenever friars wanted to erect a house within their territory. The cause lay deeper.
As a rule, mendicant friars more likely came from the common people, understood their misery, and knew their burdens. They helped the sick by their knowledge of medicine, the needy by their alms. The suppressed masses held no similar grievance against the friars as they did against the great abbeys.
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