Begging Sōtō monk.
Mendicant monk at base of Potala Palace, Lhasa, Tibet, 1993.

The term mendicant (from Latin: mendicans, "begging") refers to begging or relying on charitable donations, and is most widely used for religious followers or ascetics who rely exclusively on charity to survive.

In principle, mendicant orders or followers do not own property, either individually or collectively, and have taken a vow of poverty, in order that all their time and energy could be expended on practising or preaching their religion or way of life and serving the poor.

Many religious orders adhere to a mendicant way of life, including the Catholic mendicant orders, Hindu ascetics, some dervishes of Sufi Islam, and the monastic orders of Jainism and Buddhism. In the Catholic Church, followers of Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Dominic became known as mendicants, as they would beg for food while they preached to the villages.

While mendicants are the original type of monks in Buddhism and have a long history in Indian Hinduism and the countries which adapted Indian religious traditions, they didn't become widespread in Christianity until the High Middle Ages. The Way of a Pilgrim depicts the life of an Eastern Christian mendicant.


  • Women of the Streets, Early Franciscan Women and Their Mendicant Vocation, by Darleen Pryds, Franciscan Institute Publications, 2010. ISBN 9781576592069

See also

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mendicant — Men di*cant, a. [L. mendicans, antis, p. pr. of mendicare to beg, fr. mendicus beggar, indigent.] Practicing beggary; begging; living on alms; as, mendicant friars. [1913 Webster] {Mendicant orders} (R. C. Ch.), certain monastic orders which are… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mendicant — ► ADJECTIVE 1) habitually engaged in begging. 2) (of a religious order) originally dependent on alms. ► NOUN 1) a beggar. 2) a member of a mendicant order. ORIGIN from Latin mendicus beggar …   English terms dictionary

  • mendicant — [men′di kənt] adj. [L mendicans (gen. mendicantis), prp. of mendicare, to beg < mendicus, needy: for base see MENDACIOUS] 1. asking for alms; begging 2. of or characteristic of a beggar 3. designating or of any of various religious orders… …   English World dictionary

  • Mendicant — Men di*cant, n. A beggar; esp., one who makes a business of begging; specifically, a begging friar. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • mendicant — index parasite Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • mendicant — mendicant, o mandiant, a mandiant, o fr. n. mendiante. « Li fa pas lo botèu ben fach, au mandiant, que tres còups per an arribe en Uròpa de bastiments cargats d òr de la Californiá. » V. Gelu …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

  • mendicant — /men di keuhnt/, adj. 1. begging; practicing begging; living on alms. 2. pertaining to or characteristic of a beggar. n. 3. a person who lives by begging; beggar. 4. a member of any of several orders of friars that originally forbade ownership of …   Universalium

  • mendicant — {{11}}mendicant (adj.) late 14c., from L. mendicantem (nom. mendicans) prp. of mendicare to beg, ask alms, from mendicus beggar, originally cripple (connection via cripples who must beg), from menda fault, physical defect (see MENDACIOUS (Cf.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • mendicant — UK [ˈmendɪkənt] / US noun [countable] Word forms mendicant : singular mendicant plural mendicants very formal someone who belongs to a religious group that lives by asking the public for food, money etc Derived word: mendicant UK / US adjective …   English dictionary

  • mendicant — noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French, from Latin mendicant , mendicans, present participle of mendicare to beg, from mendicus beggar more at amend Date: 14th century 1. beggar 1 2. often capitalized a member of a religious order (as… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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