This practice represents penance and reverence.
Many saints have implemented it for various religious orders.
What does it mean for an order to be “discalced”?
To be “discalced” is to go without footwear or only wear sandals. Various religious congregations practice discalceation as a penance, as a way to demonstrate their devotion to the Faith, or, like the wearing of the habit, to represent their separation from the world.
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi first introduced this practice in the West, but they were actually continuing a tradition which first began in Exodus—when God told Moses to remove his shoes in His presence because he was standing on holy ground.
Followers of St. Francis and St. Clare in the Franciscan Order either went without shoes or wore only sandals. The Capuchin Franciscans and the Minims followed this tradition and also went unshod.
There is even an order called the Discalced Carmelites who are known for going without footwear. St. Teresa of Ávila and St. John of the Cross founded this order together, and these Carmelites continue the tradition of discalceation today.
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