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Discalced Orders


Discalced orders signifies religious orders in the Christian Church whose members, both men and women, are barefooted or who wear sandals with or without covering for the feet (Lat., Discalceati; It., Scalzi; Fr., Déchaussés; Ger., Barfüsserden). in the Old Testament bare feet symbolized reverence for the divine presence (Ex3.5), humiliation (Dt 25.9), poverty and shame (Is 20.24), penance and supplication (2 Sm 15.30). The significance of bare feet in the mystery religions of antiquity seems to have been similar, and perhaps influenced the early Christian barefooted ascetics of the desert as much as did the Hebrew tradition. The Egyptian monks removed their shoes before receiving the Holy Eucharist, and in the Coptic (Ethiopian) rite priests still celebrate Mass in bare feet. Western monasticism did not follow the tradition of the East, as much perhaps by reason of temperament as of rigorous climate. Not until the 12th century did monks of the West appear unshod, joachim of fiore and St. Norbert being among the earliest. The discalced order par excellence, however, is the Order of Friars Minor, founded by St. francis of assisi, who saw in bare feet a symbol of the imitation of Christ and of the apostolic life, as well as penance, poverty, and humble social status. St. clare and her nuns at San Damiano at first went barefooted, but later adopted sandals. Many of the religious institutes founded during the 16th century and the reformed branches of the older orders were discalced. The Franciscan Friars of the Alcantarine Reform (1590) were completely barefooted. of the three branches of the Order of Friars Minor now in existence, the Conventuals wear shoes and stockings and the Franciscans and Capuchins wear sandals on bare feet. Among the discalced religious that have survived to the present time are the Minims (1493), the Camaldolese monks (1522), the Augustinians of St. Thomas of Jesus (1532), the Servites (1593), the Discalced Carmelites (1568), the Feuillants (1575), the Trinitarians (1594), the Reformed Mercedarians (1604), and the Passionists (1741). Modern usage, which is based more on expediency than symbolism, permits members of discalced orders to wear shoes, especially when appearing in clerical garb rather than the religious habit.

Bibliography: bonaventure, De sandaliis Apostolorum in Opera omnia, ed. d. fleming, 10 v. (QuaracchiFlorence 18821902) 8:386390. l. gougaud, "Anciennes traditions ascétiques," Revue d'ascétique et de mystique 4 (1923) 140156. m. bihl, "De Tertio ordine S. Francisci in provincia Germaniae superioris sive argentinensi syntagma," Archivum Franciscanum historicum 17 (1924) 237265. f. j. dÖlger, "Das Lösen der Schuhriemen in der Taufsymbolik des Klemens von Alexandrien," Antike und Christentum 5 (1936) 8794; "Das SchuhAusziehen in der altchristlichen Taufliturgie," ibid. 95108; "Das Verbot des Barfussgenhens und der kultisch reine Schuh der Täuflinge in der Oktav nach der Taufe," ibid. 109115. w. lampen, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 1:1244.

[p. f. mulhern]

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