Parabolani

(Greek: pairabolos, reckless)

Members of a brotherhood who in the early Church voluntarily undertook the care of the sick and the burial of the dead, and constituted a bodyguard for the bishop. Probably organized during the great plague in Alexandria under Dionysius the Great, they received their name from the fact that they risked their lives in exposing themselves to contagious diseases. They had neither orders nor vows but were enumerated among the clergy and enjoyed clerical privileges and immunities. Their presence at public gatherings or in the theaters was forbidden by law. The Parabolani are not mentioned after Justinian's time.

New Catholic Dictionary

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