|1.||obsolete (Brit) a trained hospital social worker responsible for the welfare of patients|
|2.||(formerly) a person who distributes alms or charity on behalf of a household or institution|
|[C13: from Old French almosnier, from almosne alms, from Vulgar Latin alemosina (unattested), from Late Latin eleēmosyna; see |
originally, an officer responsible for distributing alms to the poor, usually connected with a religious house or other institution but also a position with some governments. In the 13th century, almoners were attached to the French court to distribute the royal alms, and in 1486 the office of grand almoner of France was established. The grand almoner was a high ecclesiastical dignitary who was in charge of the clergy attached to the court and who supervised charitable works. The office was suppressed in France in 1790, revived by Napoleon I and again by Napoleon III, and finally abolished in 1870.
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