Historie – Otázky – Problémy

The Role of Clergymen in the Care for the Poor and Foundlings


Abstract: This paper concerns the role of priests in the social welfare and the care of foundlings. The Enlightenment brought the idea of the usage of priests as the extended hand of the state. One of the reforms of Josef II. was the establishing of the Parish poor institutes. The vicar was entrusted with the leading of this institute. The priest was obligated to make a list of poor people living in his region. He then had had to pay out sums of money to the poor people. He had to cooperate with the Maternal and foundling hospital in Prague. He helped to find good foster mothers, who had to nurse the infants who were born in the maternal hospital in Prague. The priest was also used as the examiner of foster care. Some priests did not control the foster family, either because they lacked time or were too old.

Key words: Enlightenment, Priests and clergymen, Social care and welfare, Poor, Foundlings