Apostolic ideals in the mendicant transformation of the thirteenth century: from sine proprio to holy poverty

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The practice of identifying poverty, chastity and obedience as the three ‘evangelical counsels’ developed only during the course of the thirteenth century, through the influence of the Rule of Francis of Assisi. While they were all traditional concepts, they had never previously been signalled out in this particular way.1 Strictly speaking, the Franciscan Rule insists on a vow not of poverty, but of being without anything of one’s own (sine proprio).2 There is a subtle difference between sine proprio, a legal notion, and paupertas, understood as being a voluntary commitment rather than an involuntary state. The question needs to be asked why it was that in a period of remarkable economic transformation in thirteenth-century Europe, poverty came to assume such a symbolic importance within religious life. How did it happen that a vow of being without anything of one’s own, came to be spoken of as a vow of poverty, a condition considered as shameful when imposed by necessity?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPoverty and Devotion in Mendicant Cultures 1200-1450
Subtitle of host publicationChurch, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West
EditorsConstant J. Mews, Anna Welch
Place of PublicationAbingdon Oxon UK
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781315601755
ISBN (Print)9781472437327
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameChurch, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West

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