The matter was made worse by the fact that everywhere the laity welcomed the intruders and preferred them to their own curates. The fervor of their preaching and their reputation for superior sanctity brought crowds to the sermon and the confessional. Training and experience rendered them far more skilful directors of conscience than the indolent incumbents, and there arose a natural popular feeling that the penance which they imposed was more holy and their absolution more efficacious. If the beneficed clergy complained that this was because they soothed and indulged their penitents, they were able to retort with justice that the laymen preferred them for themselves and their wives rather than the drunken and unchaste priests who filled most of the parishes. A friar would come and set up his portable altar, as he said, for a day. His preaching was attractive ; penitents aroused to a sense of their sins would hasten to confess ; his stay was prolonged and he became a fixture. If the place was populous, he would be joined by others. The gifts of the charitable would flow in. A modest chapel and cloisters would be provided, which grew till it overshadowed the parish church and was filled at its expense. Worse than all, the dying sinner would assume the robe of the Mendicant on his death-bed, bequeath his body to the friars, and make them the recipient of his legacies, leading to a prolonged and embittered renewal of the old ghoul-like quarrels over corpses. In 1247, at Pamplona, some bodies long lay unburied owing to a fierce contention between the canons and the Franciscans ; and a division of the spoils, by which a share varying from a half to a quarter, was allotted to the parish priests, only gave rise to new disputes. Whenever an open conflict arose, however much the pope might deprecate scandal, the decision would be almost certainly in favor of the friars, and the clergy saw with dismay and hatred that the upstarts were supplanting them in all their functions, in the veneration of the people, and in the profitable results of that veneration. When, in 1268, a popular uprising against tyranny occurred in Holland and Guelderland, and, encouraged by success, the rebels formulated a policy for the reformation of society, they proposed
to both Jordan and Elias, the generals of the two Orders, to let him have friars, as his diocese was large and he required help in the duties of preaching and hearing confessions. — Fascic. Rer. Expetend. et Fugiend. II. 334-5. (Ed. 1690).