Hi Maria Elena,
Mendicant denotes begging, but, no, I don't think we can assume
homelessness. Nineteenth century travel writers to the Azores describe the
material poverty and the custom of begging, but I don't recall reading any
accounts of homeless elderly women.
Ok, here's a quick summary of a description from one of the books I have:
Saturday was the customary day they made their rounds; the beggars the
author observed (on Sao Miguel) were all elderly impoverished women. He
says that "Mendicity [sic] is confined to the aged and infirm poor and to
the crippled and blind, for whom there is no legal provision. They are
therefore dependent on the charity of the wealthy, to whom they make a
weekly application and receive alms." "Their strength is to sit still; and
they will wait on a staircase or at a gate for more than an hour, in dismal
expectation of the smallest pittance." During the period when your Barbara
Velha lived, the monasteries and convents distributed surplus food to the
beggars as well as alms; later the religious houses were dissolved, and the
author (writing about 20 years afterwards, if I recall correctly) suggests
that added a bit more hardship to their lives.
I recall reading an obito for a man in Cedros, Flores where the priest
wrote that the man's occupation was "a beggar and nothing more". His tone
struck me as exasperated, and now I wish I'd noted where exactly I saw it
because now I'd like to look at it again.
hope that's useful for you,
On Wednesday, October 12, 2016 at 4:43:07 AM UTC-7, Maria wrote:
> Linda, thank you for clarifying. Yeah, i saw those words, "that "she had
> nothing". I looked to see if it said that in the other obits but it
> didn't. And the priest used the word " VELHA" ( as in old? I wondered )
> to punctuate her status.
> It saddens me that with grown children the mother would be homeless.
> Does mendicante also mean homeless (?)
> Maria Elena
> Barbara Velha, a widow, an aged beggar, "...died with all the sacraments
> of the sainted church; she made no will for she had nothing; she was buried
> in the churchyard near the main door of this church..."
> I've read that in the mid/late19th century, it was the custom that on one
> day of the week (Sundays, I think, but am not sure now) the poor of a
> parish would go from door to door collecting alms, and that it was the
> practice to give something if one could. The wealthier one was, the more
> obligated to give alms-- not forgetting the religious obligation as well.
> I don't know if this was the case earlier too, but I wouldn't be surprised
> if it was a centuries old tradition. Anyway, my impression is that begging
> was sort of an informal socio-religious based welfare system.
> hope that helps,
> On Tuesday, October 11, 2016 at 6:42:23 PM UTC-7, Maria wrote:
>> LEFT side first name- BARBARA VELHA
>> This is the second widowed woman in the same time frame where the priest
>> wrote "mendicante" which I think in (spanish) it's a beggar. Wow! That
>> very sad considering they had grown children. I can visualize them in rags
>> begging on the street and even though it was so long ago, it breaks my
>> heart to think they were left to beg when they were widowed. Maybe there's
>> a better translation for mendicante. Also, I couldn't figure out where she
>> was buried and wondered if someone could translate that about the burial(?)
>> please? Some municipal place.
>> Maria Elena
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