The Collaborative International Dictionary
Mendicant \Men"di*cant\, a. [L. mendicans, -antis, p. pr. of mendicare to beg, fr. mendicus beggar, indigent.] Practicing beggary; begging; living on alms; as, mendicant friars.
Mendicant orders (R. C. Ch.), certain monastic orders which are forbidden to acquire landed property and are required to be supported by alms, esp. the Franciscans, the Dominicans, the Carmelites, and the Augustinians.
Mendicant orders refers primarily to certain Christian religious orders that have adopted a lifestyle of poverty, travelling, and living in urban areas for purposes of preaching, evangelization, and ministry, especially to the poor. At their foundation these orders rejected the previously established monastic model of living in one stable, isolated community where members worked at a trade and owned property in common, including land, buildings and other wealth. By contrast, the mendicants avoided owning property, did not work at a trade, and embraced a poor, often itinerant lifestyle. They depended for their survival on the goodwill of the people to whom they preached.
The term "mendicant" is also used with reference to some non-Christian religions to denote holy persons committed to an ascetic lifestyle, which may include members of religious orders and individual holy persons.
Usage examples of "mendicant orders".
This is why the cities favored the mendicant orders, and us Franciscans in particular: we fostered a harmonious balance between the need for penance and the life of the city, between the church and the burghers, concerned for their trade.
In that country the preachers are not like our mendicant orders of friars--they have two or three suits of clothing, and they wash sometimes.
Boniface enjoyed giving orders, and in 1290, before he was pope, told the assembled university of Paris that its teachings were trivial and poisonous, and that they were all forbidden to discuss such inflammatory subjects as the mendicant orders (like the Franciscans) in public or in private.