Parabolani a term applied in the ancient Christian Church to those who employed themselves in visiting the sick. The name may have been given to them because they exposed παρέβαλον themselves to danger by such services, just as the Greeks applied a kindred term (πάραβολοι from παραβάλλεσθαι τὴν ζωήν to put one's life in jeopardy; comp. Php 2:30) to those who hired themselves out to fight with wild beasts in the amphitheater; and the former office was considered, especially in times of public pestilence, as a work of similar danger. The Parabolani belonged to the inferior clergy, and consisted of a kind of brotherhood, who were under the supervision of the bishop. They seem to have originated at Alexandria. They did not confine themselves to their legitimate sphere, but took an interest in ecclesiastical matters, frequently as supporters of the bishops to whose diocese they belonged. Thus the Parabolani appeared at the Robber Synod in Ephesus (449). At Alexandria they were, during the 4th century, in a sense the bodyguard of the patriarch. By imperial edict their number was limited there to five hundred, which was, however, in 418, during an epidemic, temporarily increased to six hundred. See Julius, An Essay on the Public Care for the Sick as produced by Christianity (1825).

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