The members of a brotherhood who in the Early Church voluntarily undertook the care of the sick and the burial of the dead. It has been asserted, though without sufficient proof, that the brotherhood was first organized during the great plague in Alexandria in the episcopate of Dionysius the Great (second half of third century). They received their name from the fact that they risked their lives ( paraballesthai ten zoen ) in exposing themselves to contagious diseases. In addition to performing works of mercy they constituted a bodyguard for the bishop. Their number was never large. The Codex Theodosianus of 416 (xvi, 2, 42) restricted the enrolment in Alexandria to 500. A new law two years later increased the number to 600. In Constantinople the number was reduced according to the Codex Justinianus (I, 2, 4) from 1100 to 950. The Parabolani are not mentioned after Justinian's time. Though they were chosen by the bishop and always remained under his control, the Codex Theodosianus placed them under the supervision of the Prœfectus Augustalis . They had neither orders nor vows, but they were enumerated among the clergy and enjoyed clerical privileges and immunities. Their presence at public gatherings or in the theatres was forbidden by law. At times they took a very active part in ecclesiastical controversies, as at the Robber Synod of Ephesus.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online