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?
|Title of host publication||Poverty and Devotion in Mendicant Cultures 1200-1450|
|Subtitle of host publication||Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West|
|Editors||Constant J. Mews, Anna Welch|
|Place of Publication||Abingdon Oxon UK|
|Number of pages||19|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
|Name||Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West|