By the example of my lord St Nicholas she will secretly send gifts to these good people by her almoner, without even the poor themselves knowing who is sending them the alms....She will speak to the poor and to the sick; she will visit their bedsides and will comfort them sweetly, making her excellent and welcome gift of alms. For poor people are much more comforted and accept with more pleasure the kind word, the visit, and the comfort of a great and powerful person than of someone else. The reason fo rthis is that they think that all this world scorns them, and when a powerful person deigns to visit them or to comfort them they feel that they have recovered some honour, which is naturally a thing that everyone desires.
Christine de Pisan, The Treasure of the City of Ladies, or the Book of the Three Virtues. Penguin (New York: 1985) 53.