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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Poor Mens Box

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is a chest put up usually at the church entrance for the deposit of alms (q.v.). It is found on the continent of Europe not only in the churches, but also in the synagogues. In England the Poor Men's Box (unictulus, pyxis ad oblations faciendas) is a box affixed near the high-altar, and was introduced there by archbishop Cranmer, to serve in lieu of pilgrimage. In 1559 it was enjoined in every church in England. As architectural specimens, many of these "boxes" are a curiosity. Thus there is a curious alms-box in St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, supported by the figure of a mendicant, and another at Outwell, with a grinning mouth. The idea for the style of these boxes was probably derived from such objects as the bracket of the 15th century adjoining the tomb of Edward II at Gloucester, and the oaken box with a slit for alms used at St. Richard's shrine at Chichester, which is of the 16th century, although the iron-work dates back three hundred years earlier. There is a wooden alms-box of the 14th century at Fribourg. There is a stone box at Bridlington. A flasket or box of wood for collecting alms is mentioned in England in the 17th century. At Selby there is a chest made out of the bole of a single tree. In 1292 such hutches were forbidden at Chichester, as tile oblations hitherto made at; the altar were placed in them. At St. David's, two centuries ago, old people could remember having seen basinfuls of oblations made by seamen and passengers.

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Poor Mens Box'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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