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Beggars of God: The Christian Ideal of Mendicancy

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In contemporary Western societies, public begging is associated with economic failure and social opprobrium—the lot of street people. So Christians may be puzzled by the fact that an interpretation of the imitation of Christ in the late Middle Ages elevated religious mendicancy into an ideal form of life. Although voluntary religious begging cannot easily be resurrected as a Christian ideal today, the author argues that a radical attitude and practice of trust, self-abandonment, and acknowledgment of dependence on God can be a Christian ideal in any time and place. To follow this way of life, which the author calls mendicancy in attitude, is to become a beggar of God.
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Keywords: Aquinas; Bonaventure; Francis of Assisi; begging; imitation of Christ; mendicancy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-06-01

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