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Members of religious orders who are forbidden to own property in common, are therefore required to work or beg for their living, and are not bound to one monastery by a vow of stability. Originally the name was restricted to the Franciscans and Dominicans. Later on the name and privileges were extended to the Carmelites (1245), the Hermits of St. Augustine (1256), and the Servites (1424). Other orders received the same title later on. According to the Church law, mendicant friars are allowed to beg for alms where their houses are located, given the permission of their own superiors. In other places they must also obtain the permission of the bishop of the diocese. (Etym. Latin mendicus, beggar; and infirm, wretched, miserable person.)
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.