Opieka społeczna w Kościele wschodnim
Social care in the eastern Church
Languages of publication
Charitable work in the Orthodox Church on the territories of the Republic of Poland was carried on mainly on the basis of Orthodox brotherhoods set up as institutions affiliated to churches or monasteries. The brotherhoods were established on a larger scale from the beginning of the 16th century in towns situated on the Eastern lands of the Polish-Lithuanian state. Members of the brotherhoods were called „brothers of mercy”, as they practiced „mercy and pious deeds”. The brotherhoods established and maintained hospitals for the poor, they organized aid for the sick and old, gave away alms, took care of funerals, organized relief and loan associations, pupils' dormitories, and a variety of charitable funds. The most intensive development of the Orthodox brotherhoods fell on the end of the 16th and the first half of the 17th centuries. In the 18th century apart from the brotherhoods already working, Uniate confraternities were affiliated to Orthodox churches. They were modeled after Orthodox associations also conducting charitable work, albeit to a lesser degree. Besides brotherhoods social care was conducted in the Orthodox Church on the basis of hospitals–shelters. Ruthenian shelters were established in bigger towns that were centers of Ruthenian settlement movement, and at the same time of the work of Orthodox brotherhoods that controlled them. After the Brest Union of 1596 also the Uniate Church established its shelters. Moreover, in the Eastern Church charitable work was also conducted by monks in monasteries (Basilian monks), establishing hospitals at their monasteries, or giving away alms at the monastery gates. In Lvov and Zamość also believers of the Armenian rite had their hospitals.
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