Page:A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages-Volume I .pdf/280

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260
THE MENDICANT ORDERS.

that the ministers (as the provincial superiors were called) could do so for the care of the sick and for provision of clothing, especially in rigorous climates. Labor was strenuously enjoined on all those able to perform it, but wages were not to be in money, but in necessaries for themselves and their brethren. The clause requiring absolute poverty caused, as we shall see, a schism in the order, and therefore is worth giving textually: "The brethren shall appropriate to themselves nothing, neither house, nor place, nor other thing, but shall live in the world as strangers and pilgrims, and shall go confidently after alms. In this they shall feel no shame, since the Lord for our sake made himself poor in the world. It is this perfection of poverty which has made you, dearest brethren, heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven. Having this, you should wish to have naught else under heaven." The head of the Order, or General Minister, was chosen by the Provincial Ministers, who could at any time depose him when the general good required it. Faculties for preaching were to be issued by the General, but no brother was to preach in any diocese without the assent of the bishop.[1]

This is all; and there is nothing in it to give promise of the immense results achieved under it. "What gave it an enduring hold on the affections of the world was the spirit which the founder infused in it and in his brethren. No human creature since Christ has more fully incarnated the ideal of Christianity than Francis. Amid the extravagance, amounting at times almost to insanity, of his asceticism, there shines forth the Christian love and humility with which he devoted himself to the wretched and neglected — the outcasts for whom, in that rude time, there were few indeed to care. The Church, absorbed in worldliness, had outgrown the duties on which was founded its control over the souls and hearts of men, and there was need of the exaggeration of self-sacrifice taught by Francis to recall humanity to a sense of its obligations. Thus, of all the miseries of that age of misery, the hardest lot was that of the leper — the being afflicted by God with a loathsome, incurable, and contagious disease, who was cut off from all intercourse with fellow-men, and who, when he wandered abroad for alms from the lazar-house in which he was herd-


  1. B. Francisci Regul. ii