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Frans Floris : Caritas

Karitas (from the Latin caritas = dearth of prices , respect, devoted love, unselfish benevolence) is the term used in Christianity for active charity and charity . Appreciative, helping love has been a Christian virtue since the beginning of Christianity . Charity is an attitude that is substantiated in the basic church mandate of diakonia .


In a broader sense, charity is therefore also understood as the concrete helping activity that is supported by attitudes of mercy , patience and charity. The areas of activity are in particular care of the sick and the elderly , help for families in need, visiting prisoners and solidarity with outcasts.

In the early Church, the deacons were the bearers of the ministry of charity. This care for the sick and those in need brought the young Christian Church very quick popularity. This is seen as one of the reasons that most rulers, even if they did not become Christians themselves, at least tolerated Christian missionaries and sometimes even supported them themselves.

Charitable organizations

Charitable organizations are mostly church relief organizations that provide humanitarian aid and social issues, hospitals , old people's homes , nursing homes , orphanages , schools , and disaster and development aid . Some examples are: Caritas , Diakonisches Werk , Malteser Hilfsdienst , Johanniter , Salvation Army and the non-denominational organizations Red Cross , Arbeiterwohlfahrt and Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband .

Charitable religious orders are those that are particularly dedicated to charity, in contrast to the more contemplative or pastoral orders. Examples are the Brothers of Mercy , Sisters of Mercy, and the Missionaries of Charity .


  • The French spelling Charité (mercy) is also the name of one of the largest Berlin hospitals, the Charité University Clinic .
  • In Herman Melville's Moby-Dick , the sister of the captain is called Bildad Karitas. Aunt Karitas is described here as "[...] always ready to work with heart and hand for everything that promised to contribute in the slightest to the safety, comfort and calm of everyone on board the ship [...]".

See also


  • Maria Fuerth: Caritas and Humanitas. On the form and transformation of the Christian thought of love. Stuttgart 1933.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Quantity - Güthling , Langenscheidts Großwörterbuch Lateinisch , 18th edition, Berlin 1973.