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Almoner (also Almosener or Almosner , Latin eleemosynarius , French aumônier , English almoner , Italian elemosiniere, elemosiniero , Spanish limosnario, limosnero ) is the name of a secular or ecclesiastical official, originally an arms agent, who with the distribution of alms to the poor and is entrusted with the administration of the intended goods and funds.

NB: In German can Almosener , Almosner , Almoser , Middle High German almuosenære , as well as already old French almosnier , and the recipient call of charity, a beggar who lives on alms.

Eleemosynarius as an epithet or attribute in Latin of late antiquity initially only meant "benevolent, generous with alms" and was then used in the Middle Ages (with subsidiary forms such as elemosinarius , alemosinarius , almonarius ) in the monastic and episcopal area as the official designation for those persons who were responsible for that the prescribed tithe of the respective church income was distributed to the poor. In the monastery, the almsman's duties also included running the hospital , which accommodated travelers and cared for the poor and the sick who did not belong to the monastery, and which was sometimes referred to as eleemosynaria . He was also responsible for looking after the external schools connected to the monastery, which is why the school chaplain is still called aumônier in modern French . At the papal curia , the papal almsman was one of the highest prelates in the pope's court, his authority, the Eleemosynaria Apostolica , had been an established institution since the 12th century and he is still directly subordinate to the pope as the commissioner for social and charitable issues .

The European princely courts of the Middle Ages took over the almsier according to the church model as a secular court office , which was usually exercised by a noble clergy. He was responsible for charities and alms-giving, said grace at the princely table and often served as the prince's spiritual advisor and confessor. In the late Middle Ages, tasks at the French royal court were already divided between several royal Aumôniers . Since the time of Charles VIII, they had a Grand Aumônier du Roi (or de France ) who developed into one of the most influential royal officials, especially since the time of Francis I , and was given responsibility for all ecclesiastical affairs of the state. He was usually a cardinal , and his duties or rights included, among other things, the supervision of the military clergy - with the title of Évèque des armées - of the Quinze-Vingts hospital for the blind and of the Collège de France , of which he was professors Appointed in 1661. The office was abolished in the French Revolution and by Napoléon I and Napoléon III. each only temporarily (until 1890) revived. Because of their previous responsibility, the military chaplain and cleric responsible for looking after the police and the fire brigade are still referred to in French as aumônier ( aumônier militaire, aumônier des armées, aumônier des gendarmes, aumônier des pompiers ).

In England , the Royal Almonry still exists today as part of the Royal Household , managed by the Lord High Almoner . This is traditionally a bishop who previously carried out the charitable tasks of his office and had the right to certain confiscations in favor of the poor. In addition, the Margraves of Exeter did not belong to the royal household as an inheritance since 1685, the Grand Almoner , which is purely a titular office.

In Masonic lodges there is also the office of the almsman, also known in German as the gift keeper . His job is to oversee the needs in his box. He is the point of contact for alms and cares for the welfare of the members, which includes visits from the sick, the elderly and the infirm. Depending on the ritual, he also speaks the table blessing at the fraternal meals.

See also


  • Robert R. Anderson [et. a.] (Ed.): Early New High German Dictionary , Volume 1, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1989, Col. 826 f. ( almosener ), column 827 ( almosenherre ), column 828 ( almosenierer ), column 829 ( almosenpfleger ), column 830 ( almos attendant )
  • Robert Henri Bautier, Bernhard Schimmelpfennig: Aumônerie . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 1237 f.
  • Bernd-Ulrich Hergemöller: Elemosinarius . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 3, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1986, ISBN 3-7608-8903-4 , Sp. 1802 f.
  • Ludwig Vones: almsman . In: Lexicon of the Middle Ages (LexMA). Volume 1, Artemis & Winkler, Munich / Zurich 1980, ISBN 3-7608-8901-8 , Sp. 451.
  • almuosenære in MWB Online

Individual evidence

  1. Philippe Bountry: VII - pontificale Famille . In: Souverain et pontife. Recherches prosopographiques sur la Curie Romaine à l'âge de la Restoration (1814–1846) . École française de Rome, Rome 2002, margin no. 12 (French, online edition [accessed July 12, 2019]).