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Female Mendicancy: A Failed Experiment? The Case Of Saint Clare Of Assisi

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses that mendicancy and poverty became malleable terms in the arsenal of the hagiographers, employed for very specific ends whose apertures grew more and more focused and limited as time went on. The comprehensive hagiographical work written about Francis was the Legend of the Three Companions (L 3C) written in the mid- 1240s. This work presents a vivid figure, stark, unsettling, and sometimes even frightening in his behavior. Poverty and mendicancy are again the keynotes in this work but now their presentation has a shrill edge. It is more instructive to look at the history of mendicancy and poverty in the later Franciscan saints, to see if these really were categories intrinsic to the realization of holiness in a specifically minorite setting. The author presents the saint as animated not by the love of poverty, but by the heroic example of the Franciscan martyrs of Morocco.

Keywords:Francis; hagiographers; mendicancy; poverty; saint



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