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873
CHARITY AND CHARITIES

effect. And in the East monasticism seems to have produced no firmness of purpose such as led to the organization of the church and of charitable relief under St Gregory.

Another movement of the Byzantine period was the establishment of the endowed charity. The Jewish synagogue long served as a place for the reception of strangers—a religious ξενοδοχεῖον. Probably the strangers referred to in “the Teaching” were so entertained. The table of the bishop and a room in his house served as the guest-chamber, for which afterwards a separate building was instituted. In the East the Jewish charitable inn first appears, and there took place the earliest extension of institutions. There was probably a demand for an elaboration of institutions as social changes made themselves felt in the churches. We have seen this in the case of the ἀγάπη. Similar changes would affect other branches of charitable work. The hospital (hospitalium, ξενοδοχεῖον) is defined as a “house of God in which strangers who lack hospitality are received” (Suicerus, Thesaur.), a home separated from the church; and round the church, out of the primitive ξενοδοχεῖον of early Christian times and the entertainment of strangers at the houses of members of the community, would grow up other similar charities. In A.D. 321 licence was given by Constantine to leave property to the Church. The churches were thus placed in the same position as pagan temples, and though subsequently Valentinian (A.D. 379) withdrew the permission on account of the shameless legacy-hunting of the clergy, in that period much must have been done to endow church and charitable institutions. In the same period grew to its height the passion for monasticism. This affected the parish and the endowed charity alike. Under its influence the deacon as an almoner tends to disappear, except where, as in Rome, there is an elaborate system of relief. Nor does it seem that deaconesses, widows, and virgins continued to occupy their old position as church workers and alms-receivers. Naturally when marriage was considered “in itself an evil, perhaps to be tolerated, but still degrading to human nature,” and (A.D. 385) the marriage of the clergy was prohibited, men, except those in charge of parishes, and women would join regular monastic bodies; the deacon, as almoner, would disappear, and the “widows” and virgins would become nuns. Thus there would grow up a large body of men and women living segregated in institutions, and forming a leisured class able to superintend institutional charities. And now two new officers appear, the eleemosynarius or almoner and the oeconomus or steward (already an assistant treasurer to the bishop), who superintend and distribute the alms and manage the property of the institution. (In the first six books of the Apost. Constit., A.D. 300, these officers are not mentioned.) In these circumstances the hospitium or hospital (ξενών, καταγώγιον) assumes a new character. It becomes in St Basil’s hands (A.D. 330–379) a resort not only for those who “visit it from time to time as they pass by, but also for those who need some treatment in illness.” And round St Basil at Caesarea there springs up a colony of institutions. Four kinds principally are mentioned in the Theodosian code: (i) the guest-houses (ξενοδοχεῖα); (2) the poor-houses (πτωχεῖα), where the poor (mendici) were housed and maintained (the πτωχεῖον was a general term also applied to all houses for the poor, the aged, orphans and sick); (3) there were orphanages (ὀρφανοτροφεῖα) for orphans and wards; and (4) there were houses for infant children (βρεφοτροφεῖα). Thus a large number of endowed charities had grown up. This new movement it is necessary to consider in connexion with the law relating to religious property and bequests, in its bearing on the rule of the monasteries, and in its effect on the family.

The sacred property (res sacra) of Roman law consisted of things dedicated to the gods by the pontiff with the approval of the civil authority, in turn, the people, the senate and the emperor. Things so consecrated were inalienable. Apart from this in the empire, the municipalities as they grew up were considered “juristic persons” who were entitled to receive and hold property. In a similar position were authorized collegia, amongst which were the mutual aid societies referred to above. Christians associated in these societies would leave legacies to them. Thus (W. M. Ramsay, Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia, I. i. 119) an inscription mentions a bequest (possibly by a Christian) to the council (συνέδριον) of the presidents of the dyers in purple for a ceremonial, on the condition that, if the ceremony be neglected, the legacy shall become the property of the gild for the care of nurslings; and in the same way a bequest is left in Rome (Orelli 4420) for a memorial sacrifice, on the condition that, if it be not performed, double the cost be paid to the treasury of the corn-supply (fisco stationis annonae). No unauthorized collegia could receive a legacy. “The law recognized no freedom of association.” Nor could any private individual create a foundation with separate property of its own. Property could only be left to an authorized juristic person, being a municipality or a collegium. But as the problem of poverty was considered from a broader standpoint, there was a desire to deal with it in a more permanent manner than by the annona civica. The pueri alimentarii (see above) were considered to hold their property as part of the fiscus or property of the state. Pliny (Ep. vii. 18), seeking a method of endowment, transferred property in land to the steward of public property, and then took it back again subject to a permanent charge for the aid of children of freemen. By the law of Constantine and subsequent laws no such devices were necessary. Widows or deaconesses, or virgins dedicated to God, or nuns (A.D. 455), could leave bequests to a church or memorial church (martyrum), or to a priest or a monk, or to the poor in any shape or form, in writing or without it. Later (A.D. 475) donations of every kind, “to the person of any martyr, or apostle, or prophet, or the holy angels,” for building an oratory were made valid, even if the building were promised only and not begun; and the same rule applied to infirmaries (νοσοκομεῖα) and poor-houses (πτωχεῖα)—the bishop or steward being competent to appear as plaintiff in such cases. Later, again (A.D. 528), contributions of 50 solidi (say about £19, 10s.) to a church, hostel (ξενοδοχεῖον), &c., were made legal, though not registered; while larger sums, if registered, were also legalized. So (A.D. 529) property might be given for “churches, hostels, poor-houses, infant and orphan homes, and homes for the aged, or any such community” (consortium), even though not registered, and such property was free from taxation. The next year (530) it was enacted that prescription even for 100 years did not alienate church and charitable property. The broadest interpretation was allowed. If by will a share of an estate was left “to Christ our Lord,” the church of the city or other locality might receive it as heir; “let these, the law says, belong to the holy churches, so that they may become the alimony of the poor.” It was sufficient to leave property to the poor (Corpus Juris Civilis, ed. Krueger, 1877, ii. 25). The bequest was legal. It went to the legal representative of the poor—the church. Charitable property was thus church property. The word “alms” covered both. It was given to pious uses, and as a kind of public institution “shared that corporate capacity which belonged to all ecclesiastical institutions by virtue of a general rule of law.” On a pia causa it was not necessary to confer a juristic personality. Other laws preserved or regulated alienation (A.D. 477, A.D. 530), and checked negligence or fraud in management. The clergy had thus become the owners of large properties, with the coloni and slaves upon the estates and the allowances of civic corn (annona civica); and (A.D. 357) it was stipulated that whatever they acquired by thrift or trading should be used for the service of the poor and needy, though what they acquired from the labour of their slaves in the labour houses (ergastula) or inns (tabernae) might be considered a profit of religion (religionis lucrum).

Thus grew up the system of endowed charities, which with certain modifications continued throughout the middle ages, and, though it assumed different forms in connexion with gilds and municipalities, in England it still retains, partially at least, its relation to the church. It remained the system of institutional relief parallel to the more personal almsgiving of the parish.

Monasticism, in acting on men of strong character, endowed them with a double strength of will, and to men like St Gregory it seemed to give back with administrative power the relentless firmness of the Roman. In the East it produced the turbulent soldiery of the church, in the West its missionaries; and each mission-monastery was a centre of relief. But whatever the services monasticism rendered, it can hardly be said to have furthered true charity from the social standpoint, though out of regard to some of its institutional work we may to a certain degree qualify this judgment. The movement was almost of necessity in large measure anti-parochial, and thus out of sympathy with the charities of the parish, where personal relations with the poor at their homes count for most.

The good and evil of it may be weighed. Monasticism working through St Augustine helped the world to realize the mood of love as the real or eternal life. Of the natural life of the world and its responsibilities, through which that mood would have borne its completest fruit, it took but little heed, except in so far as, by creating a class possessed of leisure, it created able scholars, lawyers