The distribution of alms at funerals is an ancient one, as we know from Saint Chrysostom, who says they were bestowed to secure rest to the soul of the departed. Saint Ambrose says in his funeral oration on his brother Satyrus: “The poor also shed their tears, precious and fruitful tears, that washed away the sins of the deceased. They let fall floods of redeeming tears.” Pope directed that poor men should bear his pall. The old Catholic gentry in England always had alms distributed at their funerals, as the Earl of Salisbury in 1397 ordered twenty-five shillings to be given daily to three hundred poor people while his body lay un buried. The old Saxons observed the “Mynding Days,” as the Venerable Bede calls them, such as the Month’s Mind, the Year’s Mind, etc, on which dirges or other obsequies were performed for the dead. Sir Robert Chichely, twice lord mayor of London, ordered when he died in 1439 that upon his Mynde Day a “good and competent dinner” should be given to twenty-four poor men of the city, to whom twenty pounds were also distributed.
- “Doles for the Dead”. , 1880. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 January 2017. Web. 28 March 2017. <>