Almoner (from the Greek ελεημοσύνη, westernized as eleemosyna, 'alms' via Latin "Almosunartius" and French, known in English since circa 1300) is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing charity.

Historically, almoners were Christian religious functionaries whose duty was to distribute alms to the poor. Monasteries were required to spend one tenth of their income in charity to the poor (a "tithe"). Bishops kept their own almoners and almoners were attached to the courts to the Kings of France. Charles VIII of France had a Grand Almoner in his employ.

Today one of the most prominent such offices is that of the Anglican "Lord High Almoner". The High Almoner (currently Rt Rev Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester) is responsible for organising the Queen's annual distribution of Maundy money on Maundy Thursday.

The "Almoner of His Holiness," the pope's official almoner, continues in office even after the pope dies. He "continues to carry out works of charity in accordance with the criteria employed during the pope's lifetime" ("Universi Dominici Gregis", 22).

The name almoner was also used for a hospital official who interviews prospective patients to qualify them as indigent, and was later applied to the officials who were responsible for patient welfare and after-care. This position is now usually filled by Medical social workers.

The title "almoner" has fallen out of use in English, but its equivalents in other languages are often used for many pastoral functions covered by chaplains or pastors.

The Almoner remains an active and important office in Masonic Lodges in England. His duty is to oversee the needs of the Brethren within his Lodge. He is the contact for Charity and looks after the welfare of the members, including visits to the sick, aged and infirm.

ee also

*Grand Almoner of France
*Medical social work

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Almoner — Al mon*er ([a^]l m[u^]n*[ e]r), n. [OE. aumener, aulmener, OF. almosnier, aumosnier, F. aum[^o]nier, fr. OF. almosne, alms, L. eleemosyna. See {Alms}.] 1. One who distributes alms, esp. the doles and alms of religious houses, almshouses, etc.;… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • almoner — index contributor (giver) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • almoner — (n.) official distributor of alms on behalf of another, c.1300 (mid 13c. as a surname), from O.Fr. almosnier (12c.; Mod.Fr. aumônerie), from V.L. *almosinarius, from L.L. elemosinarius (adj.) connected with alms, from eleemosyna alms (see ALMS… …   Etymology dictionary

  • almoner — [al′mən ər, ä′mənər] n. [ME almoiner < OFr almosnier < almosne, act of mercy < LL(Ec) * alemosyna < eleemosyna: see ALMS] a distributor of alms, as for a church, royal family, etc …   English World dictionary

  • almoner — /al meuh neuhr, ah meuh /, n. 1. a person whose function or duty is the distribution of alms on behalf of an institution, a royal personage, a monastery, etc. 2. Brit. a. a hospital official who determines the amount due for a patient s treatment …   Universalium

  • Almoner — Almosenier (auch Almosener oder Almosner, lateinisch eleemosynarius, französisch aumônier, englisch almoner, italienisch elemosiniere, elemosiniero, spanisch limosnario, limosnero) ist die Bezeichnung eines weltlichen oder kirchlichen Amtsträgers …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Almoner — An official who dispensed Alms for some other person or institution, e.g. the king and queen each had an almoner, as would a religious house; an alms giver. Robert Mannyng (c.1330) uses aumenere in Handlyng Synne: Seynt John, the aumenere . [< …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • almoner — noun /ˈæl.mə.nɚ/ a) one who distributes alms, especially the doles and alms of religious houses, almshouses; b) one who dispenses alms for another, as the almoner of a prince, bishop <! material copied from Websters Revised Unabridged… …   Wiktionary

  • almoner — [[t]ɑ͟ːmənə(r), AM æ̱lm [/t]] almoners N COUNT In Britain, an almoner is a social worker who works in a hospital. [OLD FASHIONED] …   English dictionary

  • Almoner — corded purse of silk or leather attached to a girdle or belt used to keep alms ♦ Official appointed to distribute alms. (Gies, Joseph and Francis. Life in a Medieval Castle, 299) Member of the priest’s staff in court or in a castle, responsible… …   Medieval glossary

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