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The Alexians, Alexian Brothers or Cellites are a Catholic religious institute or congregation specifically devoted to caring for the sick which has its origin in Europe at the time of the Black Death. The order follows the Augustinian rule.


The order has traced their origin in the early 12th century, as the male counterparts of the Beguines, the order of women mendicants. These men did not get much attention until this order made a great contribution in history as they arose in the city of Mechelen, in the Duchy of Brabant (in central Flanders, now Belgium), sometime in the fourteenth century, during the terrible ravages of the "Black Death." Certain laymen united under the guidance of a man named Tobias to succor the plague-stricken, without taking any vows or adopting a rule of life. One of their most obvious actions was the care of those stricken with the Bubonic plague along with their families and the burial of those who died. These laymen lived in little rooms or cells (from Latin "cella," a cell that became their early name "Cellites") and they were able to support themselves by begging for food, (thus, they derived their pre-Alexian name "Beghards.") The plague victims became the outcasts of the society and were thrown outside the city walls, along with the other marginalized folk, to die. But these laymen, who were moved by compassion, came together and vowed to take care of these victims that were abandoned by not...
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