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A Hstory Of The Councils Of The Church Volumes 1 to 5 by Charles Joseph Hefele D.D.

SEC. 10. Pretended Synod of Sinuessa (303)

IF the document which tells us of a Synod of Sinuessa (situated between Rome and Capua) could have any pretension to authenticity, this Synod must have taken place about the beginning of the fourth century, in 303. It says: The Emperor Diocletian had pressed Marcellinus Bishop of Rome to sacrifice to the gods. At first stedfast, the bishop had finally allowed himself to be dragged into the temple of Vesta and of Isis, and there offered incense to the idols. He was followed by three priests and two deacons, who fled the moment he entered the temple, and spread the report that they had seen Marcellinus sacrificing to the gods. A Synod assembled, and Marcellinus denied the fact. The inquiry was continued in a crypt near Sinuessa, on account of the persecution. There were assembled many priests, no fewer than three hundred bishops; a number quite impossible for that country, and in a time of persecution. They first of all condemned the three priests and the two deacons for having abandoned their bishop. As for the latter, although sixty-two witnesses had sworn against him, the Synod would not pronounce judgment: it simply demanded that he should confess his fault, and judge himself; or, if he was not guilty, that he should pronounce his own acquittal. On the morrow fresh witness arose against Marcellinus. He denied again. The third day the three hundred bishops assembled, once more condemned the three priests and the two deacons, called up the witnesses again, and charged Marcellinus in God’s name to speak the truth. He then threw himself on the ground, and covering his head with ashes, loudly and repeatedly acknowledged his sin, adding that he had allowed himself to be bribed by gold. The bishops, in pronouncing judgment, formally added: Marcellinus has condemned himself, for the occupant of the highest see cannot be judged by any one (prima sedes non judicatur a quoquam). The consequence of this Synod was, that Diocletian caused many bishops who were present at it to be put to death, even Pope Marcellinus himself, on the 23d of August 303.

This account is so filled with improbabilities and evidently false dates, that in modern times Roman Catholics and Protestants have unanimously rejected the authenticity of it. Before that, some Roman Catholics were not unwilling to appeal to this document, on account of the proposition, prima sedes non judicatur a quoquam. The Roman breviary itself has admitted the account of Marcellinus’ weakness, and of the sacrifice offered by him. But it is beyond all doubt that this document is an amplification of the falsehood spread by the Donatists about the year 400. They maintain that during Diocletian’s persecution Marcellinus had delivered up the Holy Scriptures, and sacrificed to the idols,—a falsehood which Augustine and Theodoret had already refuted.

SEC. 11. Synod of Cirta (305)

If the Donatists have invented the Synod of Sinuessa, which never took place, they have, on the other hand, contested the existence of a Council which was certainly held in 305 at Cirta in Numidia. This Synod took place on the occasion of the installation of a new bishop of this town. Secundus Bishop of Tigisium, the oldest of the eleven bishops present, presided over the assembly. A short time before, an edict of Diocletian had enacted that the sacred writings should be given up; and a multitude of Christians, and even bishops, had proved weak, and had obeyed the edict. Most of the bishops present at Cirta were accused of this fall; so that the president could say to almost all of them, when questioning them according to their rank, Dicitur te tradidisse. They acknowledged themselves to be guilty, adding, one that God had preserved him from sacrificing to the idols (which would have been doubtless a much greater fall); another, that instead of the sacred books he had given up books of medicine; a third, that he had been forced by violence, and so forth. All implored grace and pardon. The president then demanded of Purpurius Bishop of Limata, if it was true that he had killed two of his nephews. The latter answered, “Do you think you can terrify me like the others? What did you do then yourself, when the curator commanded you to give up the Holy Scriptures?” This was to reproach him with the crime for which he was prosecuting the others; and the president’s own nephew, Secundus the younger, addressed his uncle in these words: “Do you hear what he says of you? He is ready to leave the Synod, and to create a schism: he will have with him all those whom you wish to punish, and I know that they have reasons for condemning you.” The president asked counsel from some of the bishops: they persuaded him to decide that “each one should render an account to God of his conduct in this matter (whether he had given up the Holy Scriptures or not).” All were of the same opinion, and shouted, Deo gratias!

This is what is told us in the fragment of the synodical acts preserved by S. Augustine in the third book of his work against the Donatist Cresconius. We also learn from this fragment, that the Synod was held in a private house belonging to Urbanus Donatus, during the eighth consulate of Diocletian and the seventh of Maximian, that is to say, in 303. Optatus of Mileve, on the other hand, gives to this Donatus the surname of Carisius, and tells us that they chose a private house because the churches of the town had not yet been restored since the persecution. As for the chronological question, S. Augustine says in another place, that the copy of the synodical acts, which was carefully examined on occasion of the religious conference of Carthage with the Donatists, was thus dated: post consulatum Diocletiani novies et Maximiani octies, tertio nonas Martis, that is to say, March 5, 305. That is, in fact, the exact date, as Valesius has proved in his notes upon the eighth book of the History of the Church by Eusebius, ch. 2. Natalis Alexander has also written a special dissertation upon this subject in his History of the Church.

When the affair respecting the bishops who had yielded up the Holy Scriptures had been decided, they proceeded to the election of the new Bishop of Cirta. The bishops nominated the deacon Silvanus, although, as is proved by a fragment of the acts preserved by S. Augustine, he had delivered up the sacred books in 303, together with his bishop Paul. This Silvanus and some others among the bishops assembled at Cirta, after having been so indulgent towards themselves, afterwards became the chiefs of the rigorous and exaggerated party of the Donatists, who saw traditores everywhere, even where there were none.

SEC. 12. Synod of Alexandria (306)

Almost at the same period, perhaps a year later, a synod was held at Alexandria, under the presidency of Peter, then archbishop of that place. The Bishop of Lycopolis, Meletius, author of the Meletian schism, was, as S. Athanasius tells us, deposed by this Synod for different offences; and among others, for having sacrificed to idols. These last words show that this Synod took place after the explosion of Diocletian’s persecution, consequently after 303. S. Athanasius further adds, in his Epistola ad episcopos: “The Meletians were declared schismatics more than fifty-five years ago.” This letter having been written in 356 or in 361, the latter date would give the year 306 as that of the Synod; and this is the date which we adopt For on the other hypothesis (reckoning from the year 356) we should be brought to 301, when the persecution of Diocletian had not begun.

To the beginning of the fourth century belongs the

SEC. 13. Synod of Elvira (305 or 306)

This Synod has been, more than any other, an occasion for many learned researches and controversies. The principal work on the subject is that by the Spaniard Ferdinand de Mendoza, in 1593; it comprises three books, the title of which is, de confirmando concilio Illiberitano ad Clementem VIII. The best text of the acts of this Council is found in the Collectio canonum Ecclesiæ Hispanæ, by Franc. Ant. Gonzalez, librarian (Madrid 1808, in folio). It was compiled from nine ancient Spanish manuscripts. Bruns has reproduced it in his Biblioth eccles.

Pliny the elder speaks of two towns named Illiberis: the one in Gallia Narbonensis, which is now called Collioure, in Roussillon (now French); the other in the south of Spain, in the province Bœtica, now Andalusia. As it is a Spanish council, there can be no question but that it was the latter town, as Illiberis in Narbonne had been demolished long before the time of Constantine the Great. Mendoza relates, that in his day the remains of walls bearing the name of Elbira might still be seen on a mountain not far from Granada; and the gate of Granada, situated in this direction, is called the gate of Elbira. There is also another Eliberis, but it dates only from the conquest of the Goths. Illiberris, with a double l and a double r, is the true one, according to Mendoza.

The synodical acts, whose genuineness could be doubted only by hypercriticism, mention nineteen bishops as present at the Council. According to a Codex Pithöanus of its acts, their number must have reached forty-three. The nineteen are: Felix of Acci (Cadiz), who, probably as being the eldest, was nominated president of the Synod; Hosius of Corduba, afterwards so famous in the Arian controversy as Bishop of Cordova; Sabinus of Hispalis (Seville), Camerismus of Tucci, Sinaginis of Epagra (or Bigerra), Secundinus of Castulo, Pardus of Mentesa, Flavian of Eliberis, Cantonius of Urci, Liberius of Emerita, Valerius of Cæsaraugusta (Saragossa), Decentius of Legio (Leon), Melantius of Toledo, Januarius of Fibularia (perhaps Salaria in Hispania Tarraconensis), Vincent of Ossonoba, Quintianus of Elbora, Successus of Eliocroca, Eutychian of Basti (Baza), and Patricius of Malacca, There were therefore bishops from the most different parts of Spain; so that we may consider this assembly as a synod representing ‘the whole of Spain. The acts also mention twenty-four priests, and say that they were seated at the Synod like the bishops, whilst the deacons and the laity stood up. The decrees proceeded only from the bishops; for the synodical acts always employed this formula: EPISCOPI universi dixerunt.

1. As for the date of this Synod, the acts tell us that it was celebrated, which means opened, at the Ides of May; that is, on the 15th May. The inscriptions on the acts also give the following particulars: Constantii temporibus editum, eodem tempore quo et Nicæna synodus habita est. Some of the acts add: era 362.

Of course it refers to the Spanish era, which began to be. used in Spain in the fifth century: it counted from the thirty-eighth year before Christ, so that the year 362 of the Spanish era corresponds to 324 of our reckoning. This date of 324 answers to that of the Council of Nicæa (325), also mentioned in the inscription on the synodical acts; but the tempore Constantii does not agree with it, at least unless we should read Constantini. But there are very strong objections against this chronological reading.

a. Most of the ancient manuscripts of these synodical acts do not bear any date: one would therefore be led to conclude that this had been added at a later time.

b. Bishop Hosius of Corduba, named among the bishops present at the Synod, was not in Spain in 324: he passed the whole of that year either at the Emperor’s court (in Nicomedia) or at Alexandria. Constantine the Great, with whom he was, after the defeat of Licinius, consequently in the autumn of 323 or in the spring of 324, sent him to that place in order to try to settle the Arian strife. Hosius not being able to succeed, in his mission, returned to the Emperor as counsellor on ecclesiastical matters, and immediately afterwards he took part in the first Œcumenical Council of Nicæa, in 325.

c. A long time previous to 323 and 324 Hosius had left Spain, and he generally resided with the Emperor. It is known that after the close of the Council of Arles, in 314, the Donatists appealed from the judgment of the Council to the Emperor Constantine the Great. The sentence given by the Emperor in 316 having been against them, they spread the report that it was Hosius of Cordova who had influenced the Emperor in his judgment. Augustine, in relating this fact, adds that Hosius had, on the contrary, suggested to the Emperor more moderate measures than the Donatists deserved. Hosius was then at the imperial court, at the latest, in 316: a decree which Constantine addressed to Cecilian Bishop of Carthage in 313, and in which he mentions Osius, would even lead us to conclude that the Spanish bishop was with Constantine in 313.

d. We must also notice, that the purport of several canons of Elvira cannot agree with this date of 324.

(α.) Several of these canons appear, indeed, to have been compiled during or soon after a violent persecution, in which several Christians had apostatized. We say during, or soon after; but it is more likely that it was soon after: for during a persecution, bishops from the most distant provinces of Spain, from the north and the south, could hardly assemble in the same place. Now the last persecution of the Spanish Christians by the Emperors was that of Diocletian and of Maximianus Herculeus, from 303 to 305.

(β.) The decisions of Elvira about the lapsi are much more rigorous than those of Nicæa: thus the first canon of Elvira forbids that the holy communion should be administered to the lapsi, even in articulo mortis. This severity evidently indicates a date prior to that of the Synod of Nicæa. Such severity during a persecution, or immediately after, could be explained, but not so twenty years later.

2. It was indeed this severity of the canons of Elvira with regard to the lapsi which suggested to the oratorian Morinus the hypothesis which he propounds in his book de Pœnitentia, viz. that the Synod of Elvira must have assembled before the origin of the Novatian schism, about 250; otherwise the Fathers of Elvira, by their first canon, must have taken the side of the Novatians. But the severity of the Novatians is very different from that of the Synod of Elvira. The Novatians pretended that the Church had not the right to admit to the communion a Christian who had apostatized: the Fathers of Elvira acknowledged this right; they wished only that in certain cases, for reasons of discipline, she should suspend the exercise of this right, and delay the admission, non desperatione veniæ, sed rigors disciplinæ. We must add, that about 250 Hosius and the other bishops present at the Council of Elvira were not yet born, or at least they were not at any rate among the clergy.

3. The hypothesis of the Magdeburg Centuriators, which places the Synod of Elvira in the year 700, is still more unfortunate. To give such dates, is to make Hosius and his colleagues of Elvira into true Methuselahs of the new covenant.

4. Following the Fasti of Onuphrius, Hardouin has adopted the date 313, giving especially as his reason, that the canons of the Council of Arles in 314 have much in common with those of Elvira. But this is extremely feeble reasoning; for they might easily profit by the canons of Elvira at Arles, even if they were framed ten or twenty years previously. Besides, Hosius, as we have seen above, appears to have left his native country, Spain, in 313.

5. Baluze has propounded another theory. At the Council of Sardica (eleventh canon in Greek, fourteenth canon in Latin), Hosius proposed a law (on the subject of the Sunday festival), which had been before proposed in a former council (superiore concilio). This is an allusion to the twenty-first canon of the Council of Elvira. Baluze remarks, that since Hosius calls the Council of Elvira superius concilium, this Council must have taken place before the Council of Nicæa, which, with Hosius, when the Council of Sardica was held, was only the concilium postremum. The reasoning of Baluze can be maintained up to this point; but afterwards, from some other indications, he wishes to conclude that the Synod of Elvira took place after those of Ancyra and of Neocæsarea; consequently between 314 and 325. This latter part of his proof is very feeble; and besides, he has entirely forgotten that Hosius was not in Spain between 314 and 325.

6. Mansi thinks that the Synod of Elvira took place in 309. It is said in the acts, he remarks, that the Council was held in the Ides of May. Now in 309 these Ides fell on a Sunday; and at this period they began to hold synods on a Sunday, as the example of Nicæa shows. This last observation is not exact. The Council of Nicæa requires, in the fifth canon, that two synods should be celebrated annually,—one during Lent, the other in the autumn; but there is nowhere any mention of Sunday. The apostolic canons, No. 36 (38), give the same meaning: “The first synod shall be held in the fourth week after Pentecost; the second on the 12th of the month Hyperberataios.” Here also, then, there is no mention of Sunday; the 12th of the month Hyperberataios might fall upon any day of the week. In the statutes of the Synod of Antioch in 341, Sunday is not prescribed more than any other day.

7. The calculation of Mendoza, of Natalis Alexander, of Tillemont, of d’Aguirre, of Rémi Ceillier, etc., appears to us more defensible: they all proceed upon the fact that Valerius Bishop of Saragossa, who, we know from the acts, was present at the Synod, was persecuted in 304, with his deacon Vincent, by the Roman prætor Dacian. The deacon was put to death, and Valerius exiled; afterwards he also was martyred, if we may believe an ancient tradition. They concluded from this, that the Council of Elvira could not have taken place before 304, that is to say, before the arrest of Bishop Valerius; and they only disagreed upon the point whether the Council took place at the commencement of the year 300 or 301: d’Aguirre even mentions the commencement of 303. The difficulty is, that they place the Council of Elvira before the outbreak of the persecution; whilst, as has been said before, several of the canons were evidently written just after a persecution, and consequently could not have been promulgated between 300 and 304.

8. The opinion, then, which appears to us the most probable in this question, is the following: In May 305 Diocletian and Maximianus Herculeus had abdicated; and Constantius, celebrated for his benevolence towards the Christians, became sovereign ruler of Spain. The persecution, therefore, having ceased, the Spanish bishops could assemble at Elvira to deliberate, first, respecting the treatment of the lapsi, which was the chief subject of the canons which they formed, and also to seek for means against the invasion of moral corruption.

But it will be said, Was not Valerius of Saragossa dead in 305? I do not think so. To prove it, Rémi Ceillier appeals to Prudentius; but the latter does not say a word of the martyrdom of Valerius, either in his poem upon all the martyrs of Saragossa in general, or in his poem upon Vincent in particular. If Valerius had really been martyred, he would certainly not have failed to say so. Then, if Valerius was living at the time of the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian, he was undoubtedly recalled from exile by Constantius; and he could thus take part in the Synod of Elvira, which we therefore place in the autumn of 305, or in 306. Baronius, Binius in Mansi, and others, accept 305, but on other grounds than ours, whilst Pagi leaves the question undecided. The eighty-one canons of the Synod of Elvira are the following:—

CAN. 1. De his qui post baptismum idolis immolaverunt

Placuit inter nos: Qui post fidem baptismi salutaris adulta ætate ad templum idoli idolaturus accesserit, et fecerit, quod est crimen capitale, quia est summi sceleris, placuit nee in finem eum communionem accipere.

“If an adult who has been baptized has entered an idol’s temple, and has committed a capital crime, he cannot be received into communion, even at the end of his life.”

Several interpreters of this canon, among others Dr. Herbst, who has explained the canons of Elvira in the Tübinger Quartalschrift, have erroneously thought that we must understand here by communio, not eucharistic communion, but only communion with the Church, or sacramental absolution. This is a mistake: the word communio does not mean only communion with the Church, but sacramental communion as well. If any one is excluded from the Church, and if they cannot receive sacramental absolution, neither can they receive the holy Eucharist.

CAN. 2. De sacerdotibus gentilium qui post baptismum immolaverunt

Flamines, qui post fidem lavacri et regenerationis sacrificaverunt, eo quod geminaverint scelera accedente homicidio, vel triplicaverint facinus cohærente mœchia, placuit eos nec in finem accipere communionem.

CAN. 3. De eisdem si idolis munus tantum dederunt

Item flamines qui non immolaverint, sed munus tantum dederint, eo quod se a funestis abstinuerint sacrificiis, placuit in finem eis præstare communionem, acta tamen legitima pœnitentia. Item ipsi si post pœnitentiam fuerint mœchati placuit ulterius his non esse dandam communionem, ne illusisse de dominica communione videantur.

CAN. 4. De eisdem si catechumeni adhuc immolant quando baptizentur

Item flamines si fuerint catechumeni et se a sacrificiis abstinuerint, post triennii tempora placuit ad baptismum admitti debere.

The office of a flamen in the provinces of the Roman Empire consisted either in offering sacrifices to the gods, or in preparing the public games. It was hereditary in many families; and as it entailed many expenses, he who was legally bound to fill it could not give it up, even if he became a Christian, as is proved by the Code of Justinian, and S. Jerome’s work De Vita Hilarionis. It followed from this, that the members of these families of flamines kept their office even when they were catechumens or had been baptized; but they tried to give up the duties which it imposed, especially the sacrifices. They consented still to continue to prepare the public games. In the time of a persecution, the people generally wished to oblige them to offer sacrifices also. This Synod decided on what must be done with these flamines in the different cases which might arise.

a. If they had been baptized, and if they had consented to fulfil all their duties, they had by that act alone (α) sacrificed to idols; (β) they had taken part in murders, by preparing for the games (in the games of gladiators), and in acts of immorality (in the obscene acts of certain plays). Their sin was therefore double and triple. Then they must be refused the communion as long as they lived.

b. If they had been baptized, but if, without sacrificing, they had only given the games, they might be received into communion at the close of their life, provided that they should have first submitted to a suitable penance. But if, after having begun to do penance (that is the sense, and not after the accomplishment of the penance), they should again be led into any act of immorality (that is to say, if as flamines they should allow themselves to organize obscene plays), they should never more receive the communion.

c. If a flamen was only a catechumen, and if, without sacrificing, he had fulfilled his duties (perhaps also given the games), he might be baptized after three years of trial.

CAN. 5. Si domina per zelum ancillam occiderit

Si qua fœmina furore zeli accensa flagris verberaverit ancillam suam, ita ut intra tertium diem animam cum cruciatu effundat, eo quod incertum sit voluntate an casu occiderit; si voluntate, post septem annos, si casu, post quinquennii tempora, acta legitima pœnitentia, ad communionem placuit admitti; quod si intra tempora constituta fuerint infirmata, accipiat communionem.

“If, in anger, a woman should strike her servant, so that the latter should die at the end of three days, the guilty woman shall undergo a seven years’ penance if she struck so violently on purpose, and a five years’ penance if she did not do so on purpose to kill: she shall not be received into communion till after this delay. If she should fall ill during the time of her penance, she may receive the communion.”

This canon was inserted in the Corpus juris can.

CAN. 6. Si quicunque per maleficium hominem interfecerit

Si quis vero maleficio interficiat alteram, eo quod sine idololatria perficere scelus non potuit, nee in finem impertiendam illi esse communionem.

By maleficio is here to be understood the deceits of magic or sorcery, which they considered necessarily connected with idolatry.

The following canon needs no explanation.

CAN. 7. De pœnitentibus mœchiæ si rursus mœchaverint

Si quis forte fidelis post lapsum mœchiæ, post tempora constituta, acta pœnitentia, denuo fuerit fornicatus, placuit nec in finem habere eum communionem.

CAN. 8. De fœminis quæ relictis viris suis aliis nubunt

Item fœminæ, quæ nulla præcedente causa reliquerint viros suos et alteris se copulaverint, nec in finem accipiant communionem.

Some interpreters have thought that the question here was that only of a Christian woman leaving her husband, still a pagan, without any reason; for under no pretext could she leave a Christian husband to marry another. But the following canon proves conclusively that the eighth canon speaks of a Christian couple. If it adds without reason, that does not mean that there exist any cases in which a woman could leave her husband to marry another: the canon decrees only a more severe punishment if she should abandon her husband without reason; whilst the following canon prescribes what punishment to inflict in case she should leave her husband not entirely without a cause (if, for example, the husband is an adulterer).

The ninth canon, which has also been inserted in the Corpus juris canon, is thus worded:—

CAN. 9. De fœminis quæ adulteros maritos relinquunt et aliis nubunt

Item fœmina fidelis, quæ adulterum maritum reliquerit fidelem et alteram ducit, prohibeatur ne ducat; si duxerit, non prius accipiat communionem, nisi quem reliquit de sæculo exierit, nisi forsitan necessitas infirmitatis dare compulerit.

The following canons are much more difficult to explain.

CAN. 10. De relicta catechumeni si alterum duxerit

Si ea quam catechumenus relinquit duxerit maritum, potest ad fontem lavacri admitti: hoc et circa fœminas catechumenas erit observandum. Quodsi fuerit fidelis quæ ducitur ab eo qui uxorem inculpatam relinquit, et quum scierit illum habere uxorem, quam sine causa reliquit, placuit in finem hujusmodi dari communionem.

CAN. 11. De catechumena si graviter ægrotaverit

Intra quinquennii autem tempora catechumena si graviter fuerit infirmata, dandum ei baptismum placuit non denegari.

These two canons are difficult to explain, because the section between the two does not occupy its proper place. They treat, of two quite different cases, and each of these cases is subdivided into two others.

1. a. If a catechumen, without any cause, should leave his wife, who has not yet been baptized, and if the latter should marry another husband, she may be baptized.

b. In the same way, if a female catechumen should, without reason, leave her husband, still unbaptized, and that he should marry again, he may be baptized.

Such is the first case. It supposes that the party who is left without cause is not baptized. Here the tenth canon should stop. What follows treats of another question, viz. if the party who has unlawfully left the other can be married again. The canon does not mention whether the party to be married is baptized, or only a catechumen, and it establishes the following:—

2. a. If a Christian woman marries a man whom she knows to have illegally divorced his wife, she may communicate only on her deathbed. As a Christian, she ought to have known that, according to S. Paul, a Christian (and the catechumen is here considered as such) cannot put away his partner, though an unbeliever, if the latter wishes to continue to live with him.

b. If a female catechumen marries a man who has illegally divorced his wife, her baptism shall be put off five years longer (a further period of trial), and she can be baptized before that time only in case of a serious illness.

We think we have thus clearly and accurately explained the sense of these two canons, which have given so much trouble to commentators.

CAN. 12. De mulieribus quæ lenocinium fecerint

Mater vel parens vel quælibet fidelis, si lenocinium exercuerit eo quod, alienum vendiderit corpus vel potius suum, placuit eam nec in finem accipere communionem.

We might have remarked on the two preceding canons, that their titles are not quite adapted to their contents. It is the same with this one. It threatens with perpetual excommunication those fathers and mothers who should give up their children to prostitution, as well as all those who follow this shameful trade. The words vel potius suum corpus, etc., however, evidently apply only to the parents of the young prostitute: in fact, they sell their own flesh and blood in selling their daughter.

CAN. 13. De virginibus Deo sacratis si adulteraverint

Virgines quæ se Deo dicaverunt, si pactum perdiderint virginitatis atque eidem libidini servierint, non intelligentes quid admiserint, placuit nee in finem eis dandam esse communionem. Quod si semel persuasæ aut infirmi corporis lapsu vitiatæ omni tempore vitæ suæ hujusmodi fœminæ egerint pœnitentiam, ut abstineant se a coitu, eo quod lapsæ potius videantur, placuit eas in finem communionem accipere debere.

When virgins consecrated to God (whether nuns properly so called, or young girls who have consecrated their youth to God, still remaining in their families) have committed a carnal sin without acknowledging their offence, and so continuing obstinately in their blindness (for it is thus that we must understand non intelligentes quid admiserint), they must remain permanently excommunicated; but if they should acknowledge their sin, and do perpetual penance, without falling again, they may receive the communion at the end of their life. This canon was inserted in the Corpus juris can.

CAN. 14. De virginibus sæcularibus si mœchaverint

Virgines quæ virginitatem suam non custodierint, si eosdem qui eas violaverint duxerint et tenuerint maritos, eo quod solas nuptias violaverint, post annum sine pœnitentia reconciliari debebunt; vel si alios cognoverint viros, eo quod mœchatæ sunt, placuit per quinquennii tempora, acta legitima pœnitentia, admitti eas ad communionem oportere.

If a young girl who has made no vows has committed a carnal sin, and if she marries him with whom she has been led away, she shall be reconciled at the end of one year, without being condemned to penance; that is to say, that she may receive the communion at the end of one year, because she has violated only the marriage law, the rights of which she usurped before they were conferred upon her.

Some manuscripts read, post pœnitentiam unius anni reconcilientur; that is to say, that one year’s penance should be imposed upon her. The difference between this reading and ours is not important, for our reading also imposes on the guilty one minor excommunication for a year; that is to say, privation of the communion, which we know was also a degree of penance, namely, the fourth. The canon only exempts her from the most severe degrees of excommunication, to which were attached positive works of penance. The other reading says nothing more. If this woman should marry any one except him with whom she had fallen, she would commit a sort of adultery, and ought to submit to five years of penance.

The three following canons forbid to marry pagans, Jews, or heretics, and require no explanation:—

CAN. 15. De conjugio eorum qui ex gentilitate veniunt

Propter copiam puellarum gentilibus minime in matrimonium dandæ sunt virgines Christianæ, ne ætas in flore tumens in adulterium animæ resolvatur.

CAN. 16. De puellis fidelibus ne infidelibus conjungantur

Hæretici si se transferre noluerint ad Ecclesiam catholicam, nec ipsis catholicas dandas esse puellas; sed neque Judæis neque hæreticis dare placuit, eo quod nulla possit esse societas fideli cum infideli: si contra interdictum fecerint parentes, abstineri per quinquennium placet.

CAN. 17. De his qui filias suas sacerdotibus gentilium conjungunt

Si qui forte sacerdotibus idolorum filias suas junxerint, placuit nec in finem iis dandam esse communionem.

CAN. 18. De sacerdotibus et ministris si mœchaverint

Episcopi, presbyteres (!) et diacones si in ministerio positi detecti fuerint quod sint mœchati, placuit propter scandalum et propter profanum crimen nec in finem eos communionem accipere debere.

We must here, as in other places, understand by mœchare, not only adultery in specie, but all fornication in general.

CAN. 19. De clericis negotia et mundinas sectantibus

Episcopi, presbyteres (!) et diacones de locis suis negotiandi causa non discedant, nec circumeuntes provincias quæstuosas nundinas sectentur: sane ad victum sibi conquirendum aut filium aut libertum aut mercenarium aut amicum aut quemlibet mittant, et si voluerint negotiari, intra provinciam negotientur.

S. Cyprian, in his work de Lapsis, also complains that many bishops left their churches and went into foreign provinces for the sake of merchandise, and to give themselves up to trade.

CAN. 20. De clericis et laicis usurariis

Si quis clericorum detectus fuerit usuras accipere, placuit eum degradari et abstineri. Si quis etiam laicus accepisse probatur usuras, et promiserit correptus jam se cassaturum nec ulterius exacturum, placuit ei veniam tribui: si vero in ea iniquitate duraverit, ab ecclesia esse projiciendum.

When we consider the seventeenth Nicene canon, which also forbids lending money at interest, we shall speak of the judgment of the ancient Church on this matter. The first part of our canon has been inserted by Gratian in the Corpus juris canon.

CAN. 21. De his qui tardius ad ecclesiam accedunt

Si quis in civitate positus tres dominicas ad ecclesiam non accesserit, pauco tempore abstineatur, ut correptus esse videatur.

As we have said before, Hosius proposed and had passed at the Council of Sardica a like statute against those who neglected to go to church. It is the eleventh canon of the Greek and the fourteenth of the Latin text of the decrees of Sardica.

CAN. 22. De catholicis in hæresim transeuntibus, si revertantur

Si quis de catholica Ecclesia ad hæresim transitum fecerit rursusque recurrerit, placuit huic pœnitentiam non esse denegandam, eo quod cognoverit peccatum suum; qui etiam decem annis agat pœnitentiam, cui post decem annos præstari communio debet; si vero infantes fuerint transducti, quod non suo vitio peccaverint incunctanter recipi debent.

CAN. 23. De temporibus jejuniorum

Jejunii superpositiones per singulos menses placuit celebrari, exceptis diebus duorum mensium Julii et Augusti propter quorumdam infirmitatem.

The superponere (ὑπερτίθεσθαι), or the superpositio (ὑπέρθεσις), was an extension or prolongation of the fast beyond the usual duration (until the evening). It consisted in eating absolutely nothing for a whole day.

CAN. 24. De his qui in peregre baptizantur, ut ad clerum non veniant

Omnes qui in peregre fuerint baptizati, eo quod eorum minime sit cognita vita, placuit ad clerum non esse promovendos in alienis provinciis.

None could be admitted into the ranks, of the clergy out of the province in which he had been baptized. This canon passed into the Corpus jur. can.

CAN. 25. De epistolis communicatoriis confessorum

Omnis qui attulerit literas confessorias, sublato nomine confessoris, eo quod omnes sub hac nominis gloria passim concutiant simplices, communicatoriæ ei dandæ sunt litteræ.

This canon has been interpreted in three ways. Mendoza, Baronius, and others, when commenting upon it, thought of the letters of peace (libelli pacis) which the martyrs and confessors gave to the lapsi, to procure for them a speedy reception into the Church. These libelli pacis, indeed, induced many a bishop to admit a lapsus too promptly; but our canon does not speak of this abuse: it does not complain that these letters deceived the bishops: it says, concutiant simplices. If the canon had been intended to warn the bishops against these libelli pacis, it would certainly not have said that they should give to the lapsis communicatorias literas; for this was what was wrong, that they were admitted too soon to communion. Aubespine and Herbst were of the opinion that the canon had reference to some Christians who, before going a journey, did not ask for letters of communion from their bishop, but preferred letters of recommendation given by their confessor, regarding these as more important, and that this practice was forbidden by one synod. This, again, is a mistake. The meaning of the canon is this: “If a Christian, wishing to take a journey, submits to his bishop the draught of a letter of recommendation, in which it is said that the bearer is a confessor, the bishop must erase the word confessor, sublato nomine confessoris, because many simple people are deceived by this title, and the bishop shall give common letters communicatorias.”

CAN. 26. Ut omni sabbato jejunetur

Errorem placuit corrigi, ut omni sabbati die superpositiones celebremus.

The meaning of this canon also is equivocal. The title seems to imply that it orders a severe fast every Saturday, and the suppression of the contrary practice followed up to that time. It is thus explained by Garsias in Binius and Mendoza. However, as the sixty-fifth apostolic canon prescribes that, except Holy Saturday, no Saturday should be a fast-day, our canon may also mean, “The ancient error of fasting strictly every Saturday must be abolished:” that is to say, the superpositio is ordered only for Holy Saturday; and for other Saturdays, as for Fridays, the statio only, that is to say, the half-fast is ordered. But in comparing this canon with the forty-third, where the same expressions are again found, we see that the ut determines what was to he henceforth observed, and not in what the error consisted. According to that, our decree would mean that the superpositio must be observed every Saturday, and we must adopt the explanation of Garsias.

CAN. 27. De clericis ut extraneas fœminas in domo non habeant

Episcopus vel quilibet alius clericus aut sororem aut filiam virginem dicatam Deo tantum secum habeat; extraneam nequaquam habere placuit.

This canon is more severe than the third similar canon of the Council of Nicæa. It allows the clergy to have with them in their house (a) only their sisters, or their own daughters; (b) and also that these must be virgins, and consecrated to God, that is, having vowed their virginity to God.

CAN. 28. De oblationibus eorum qui non communicant

Episcopum placuit ab eo, qui non communicat, munus accipere non debere.

In the same way as in the first canon, we must here understand by those qui non communicant, Christians who, like penitents or catechumens, are not in the communio (community), and who therefore do not receive the holy Eucharist. The meaning of the canon is: “The bishop cannot accept at the altar the offerings (oblata) of those who do not communicate.”

CAN. 29. De energumenis qualiter habeantur in ecclesia

Energumenus qui ab erratico spiritu exagitur, hujus nomen neque ad altare cum oblatione esse recitandum, nec permittendum ut sua manu in ecclesia ministret.

This canon, like the seventy-eighth apostolic canon, excludes demoniacs possessed by the evil spirit from active participation in divine service: they cannot present any offerings; their names cannot be read among those who are inscribed in the diptychs as offering the sacrifice (diptychis offerentium); and they must not be permitted to hold any office in the Church.

CAN. 30. De his qui post lavacrum mœchati sunt, ne subdiacones fiant

Subdiaconos eos ordinari non debere qui in adolescentia sua fuerint mœchati, eo quod postmodum per subreptionem ad altiorem gradum promoveantur: vel si qui sunt in præteritum ordinati, amoveantur.

CAN. 31. De adolescentibus qui post lavacrum mœchati sunt

Adolescentes qui post fidem lavacri salutaris fuerint mœchati, cum duxerint uxores, acta legitima pœnitentia placuit ad communionem eos admitti.

These two canons need no explanation.

CAN. 32. De excommunicatis presbyteris ut in nccessitate communionem dent

Apud presbyterum, si quis gravi lapsu in ruinam mortis inciderit, placuit agere pœnitentiam non debere, sed potius apud episcopum: cogente tamen infirmitate necesse est presbyterem (!) communionem præstare debere, et diaconem si ei jusserit sacerdos.

This canon is quite in conformity with the ancient custom, according to which the bishop only, and not a priest, could receive a penitent into the Church. It was only in a case of extreme necessity that a priest, or, according to the orders of a priest, a deacon, could give a penitent the communion, that is, could administer to him the eucharistic bread in sign of reconciliation: deacons often gave the communion in the ancient Church. The title of the canon is evidently wrong, and ought to be thus worded: De presbyteris ut excommunicatis in necessitate, etc. It is thus, indeed, that Mansi read it in several manuscripts.

CAN. 33. De episcopis et ministris ut ab uxoribus abstineant

Placuit in totum prohibere episcopis, presbyteris et diaconibus vel omnibus clericis positis in ministerio abstinere se a conjugibus suis et non generare filios: quicunque vero fecerit, ab honore clericatus exterminetur.

This celebrated canon contains the most ancient command of celibacy. The bishops, priests, and deacons, and in general all the clergy, qui in ministerio positi sunt, that is, who are specially employed in the service of the altar, ought no longer to have any conjugal intercourse with their wives, under pain of deposition, if they were married when they took orders. The history of the Council of Nicæa will give us the opportunity of considering the question of celibacy in the primitive Church. We will only add here, that the wording of our canon is defective: prohibere abstinere et non generare. The canon seems to order what, on the contrary, it would prohibit, viz.: “It is forbidden that the clergy should abstain from their wives.” A similarly inexact expression is found in the eightieth canon.

CAN. 34. Ne cerei in cœmeteriis incendantur

Cereos per diem placuit in cœmeterio non incendi, inquietandi enim sanctorum spiritus non sunt. Qui hæc non observaverint arceantur ab Ecclesiæ communione.

It is forbidden to light wax candles during the day in cemeteries, for fear of troubling the spirits of the saints. Garsias thus explains this canon: “for fear of troubling and distracting the faithful, who pray in the cemeteries.” He thus makes sancti the synonym of faithful. Binterim has taken it in the same sense: sanctorum with him is synonymous with sancta agentium; and he translates it, “so that the priests, who fulfil their holy offices, may not be distracted.” Baronius, on the contrary, says: “Many neophytes brought the custom from paganism, of lighting many wax candles upon tombs. The Synod forbids this, because metaphorically it troubles the souls of the dead; that is to say, this superstition wounds them.” Aubespine gives a fourth explanation. He begins with the supposition that the bishops of Elvira partook of the opinion, then very general, that the souls of the dead hovered over their tombs for some time. The Synod consequently forbade that wax candles should be lighted by day, perhaps to abolish a remnant of paganism, but also to prevent the repose of the souls of the dead from being troubled.

CAN. 35. Ne fæminœ in cœmeteriis pervigilent

Placuit prohiberi ne fœminæ in cœmeterio pervigilent, eo quod sæpe sub obtentu orationis latenter scelera committunt.

CAN. 36. Ne picturæ in ecclesia fiant

Placuit pictures in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur et adoratur in parietibus depingatur.

These canons are easy to understand: we have elsewhere explained why the ancient Church did not tolerate images. Binterim and Aubespine do not believe in a complete exclusion: they think that the Church in general, and the Synod of Elvira in particular, wished to proscribe only a certain kind of images. Binterim believes that this Synod forbade only one thing,—namely, that any one might hang images in the Church according to his fancy, and often therefore inadmissible ones. Aubespine thinks that our canon forbids only images representing God (because it says adoratur), and not other pictures, especially those of saints. But the canon also says colitur, and the prohibition is conceived in very general terms.

CAN. 37. De energumenis non baptizatis

Eos qui ab immundis spiritibus vexantur, si in fine mortis fuerint constituti, baptizari placet: si fideles fuerint, dandam esse communionem. Prohibendum etiam ne lucernas hi publice accendant; si facere contra interdictum voluerint, abstineatur a communione.

This canon, like the 29th, speaks of demoniacs. If they are catechumens, they may be baptized when at the point of death (in articulo mortis), but not before that. If they are baptized, the communion may be administered to them when at the point of death, but not before. However, as the 29th canon had before forbidden any ministry in the Church to demoniacs, ours particularly adds that they could not fulfil the least service in the Church, not even light the lamps. Perhaps it may have been the custom to have the lamps of the Church lighted by those who were to be baptized, or by those who were to communicate, on the day when they were to receive this sacrament; and the Synod forbids that demoniacs should do so, even if, in spite of their illness, they were able to receive a sacrament. The inscription of the canon does not correspond to its whole tenor.

CAN. 38. Ut in necessitate et fideles baptizent

Loco peregre navigantes aut si ecclesia proximo non fuerit, posse fidelem, qui lavacrum suum integrum habet nec sit bigamus, baptizare in necessitate infirmitatis positum, catechumenum, ita ut si supervixerit ad episcopum eum perducat, ut per manus impositionem perfici possit.

During a sea voyage, or in general, if no church is near, a layman who has not soiled his baptismal robe (by apostasy), and is not a bigamist, may baptize a catechumen who is at the point of death; the bishop ought afterwards to lay hands on the newly baptized, to confirm him.

CAN. 39. De gentilibus si in discrimine baptizari expetunt

Gentiles si in infirmitate desideraverint sibi manum imponi, si fuerit eorum ex aliqua parte honesta vita, placuit eis manum imponi et fieri Christianos.

This canon has been interpreted in two different ways. Binius, Katerkamp, and others, hold that the imposition of hands spoken of in this canon does not mean confirmation, but a ceremony by means of which any one was admitted into the lowest class of catechumens. These interpreters appeal principally to the pretended seventh canon of the second Œcumenical Council. We there read: “We admit them only as pagans: the first day we make them Christians (in the widest sense); the second, catechumens; the third, we exorcise them,” etc. etc. According to that, our canon would say: “When a heathen, having a good name, desires during an illness that hands should be laid upon him, it ought to be done, that he may become a Christian.” That is to say, he ought by the imposition of hands to be admitted among those who wish to be Christians, consequently among the Christians in the widest sense. The forty-fifth canon also takes the word catechumenus as synonymous with Christian. Besides, we find Constantine the Great received the imposition of hands at the baths of Helenopolis before his baptism: a ceremony of this kind then preceded the reception of the first sacrament. Relying upon these considerations, the commentators we mentioned say that the canon of Elvira does not speak of baptism, because this could not be administered until after much longer trial. The provost of the Cathedral at Köln, Dr. München, gives another explanation in his dissertation upon the first Synod of Arles. According to him,—

a. As the thirty-seventh canon allows the baptism of demoniacs, it is not probable that they would be more severe with respect to ordinary sick persons in the thirty-ninth canon. On the contrary, the Church has always been tender towards the sick: she has always hastened to confer baptism upon them, because it is necessary to salvation; and for that reason she introduced clinical baptism.

b. In the thirty-eighth canon the Church allows a layman to baptize one who should fall seriously ill during a sea voyage, but not to confirm him. She certainly, then, would allow this sick person to be confirmed if a bishop were present in the ship.

c. As for one who should fall ill upon land, he could easily call a bishop to him; and therefore the case foreseen by the thirty-eighth canon does not apply to him: it would be easy to confer baptism and confirmation on him.

d. The thirty-ninth canon, then, means: “Whoso shall fall ill upon land, and who can summon a bishop to him, may receive baptism and confirmation at the same time.”

e. Understood in this way, the canon is more in unison with the two preceding, and with the practice of the ancient Church towards the sick.

CAN. 40. Ne id quod idolothytum est fideles accipiant

Prohibere placuit, ut quum rationes suas accipiunt possessores, quidquid ad idolum datum fuerit, accepto non ferant; si post interdictum fecerint, per quinquennii spatia temporum a communione esse arcendos.

That is to say: When the proprietors of lands and houses receive their rents (rationes),—for example, fruits from their farmers, who perhaps are still pagans,—they ought not to admit anything which had been sacrificed to the gods, under pain of five years’ excommunication.

CAN. 41. Ut prohibeant domini idola colere servis suis

Admoneri placuit fideles, ut in quantum possunt prohibeant ne idola in domibus suis habeant; si vero vim metuunt servorem, vel se ipsos puros conservent; si non fecerint, alieni ab ecclesia habeantur.

The preceding canon had shown that many Christians had farmers who were pagans; the present canon supposes the case of a Christian having heathen slaves, and it enacts:

a. That he ought not, even in this case, to tolerate idols in his house.

b. That if he cannot conform to this rule, and must fear the slaves on account of their number, he may leave them their idols; but he must so much the more keep at a distance from them, and watch against every approach to idolatry.

CAN. 42. De his qui ad fidem veniunt quando baptizentur

Eos qui ad primam fidem credulitatis accedunt, si bonæ fuerint conversationis, intra biennium temporum placuit ad baptismi gratiam admitti debere, nisi infirmitate compellente coegerit ratio velocius subvenire periclitanti vel gratiam postulanti.

He who has a good name, and wishes to become a Christian, must be a catechumen for two years: then he may be baptized. If he should fall ill, and desire the grace of baptism, it may be granted to him before the expiration of two years.

CAN. 43. De celebratione Pentecostes

Pravam institutionem emendari placuit juxta auctoritatem Scripturarum, ut cuncti diem Pentecostes celebremus, ne si quis non fecerit, novam hæresim induxisse notetur.

Some parts of Spain had allowed the bad custom of celebrating the fortieth day after Easter, not the fiftieth; consequently the Ascension of Christ, and not Pentecost. Several ancient manuscripts, indeed, contain this addition: non quadragesimam. The same addition is found in an ancient abridgment of the canons of Elvira, with which Mansi makes us acquainted: post Pascha quinquagesima teneatur, non quadragesima. We learn also from Cassian, that in the primitive Church some Christians wished to close the paschal season with the feast of the Ascension, that is, at the fortieth day. They regarded all Easter-time only as a remembrance of Christ’s sojourn among His disciples during the forty days which followed His resurrection; and therefore they wished to close this period with the feast of the Ascension. Herbst supposes that a Montanist party in Spain wished to suppress the feast of Pentecost altogether, because the Montanists believed that the Holy Spirit did not descend until He came in Montanus, who was regarded by his followers as the Comforter.

CAN. 44. De meretricibus paganis si convertantur

Meretrix quæ aliquando fuerit et postea habuerit maritum, si postmodum ad credulitatem venerit; incunctanter placuit esse recipiendam.

If a pagan courtezan has given up this abominable way of life, and is married, being still a pagan, there is no particular obstacle to her admission into the Church. She ought to be treated as other pagan women.

CAN. 45. De catechumenis qui ecclesiam non frequentant

Qui aliquando fuerit catechumenus et per infinita tempore, nunquam ad ecclesiam accesserit, si eum de clero quisque cognoverit esse Christianum, aut testes aliqui extiterint fideles, placuit ei baptismum non negari, eo quod veterem hominem dereliquisse videatur.

The case is here imagined of a catechumen who has not been to church for a long time, probably because he did not wish to be known as a Christian during a time of persecution; but afterwards his conscience awakes, and he asks to be baptized. The canon ordains that if he is known to the clergy of the Church to which he belongs, and they know him to be a Christian, or if some of the faithful can attest this, he shall be admitted to baptism, because he appears to have put off the lukewarmness of the old man.

Aubespine gives another interpretation which appears forced, and shows that he most probably had not the text before him. According to him, the meaning of the canon would be: “When a catechumen has fallen away for a long time, and still after all desires baptism and to become a Christian, if he should suddenly lose speech, for example, from illness (the canon says not a word of all that), he may be baptized, provided a clergyman or several of the laity attest that he has desired baptism, and has become a real Christian.” The Abbé Migne has placed this explanation in his Dictionary of the Councils.

CAN. 46. De fidclibus si apostaverint quamdiu pœniteant

Si quis fidelis apostata per infinita tempora ad ecclesiam non accesserit, si tamen aliquando fuerit reversus nec fuerit idolator, post decem annos placuit communionem accipere.

The sin of a Christian who should absent himself from church for a long time was naturally much greater than that of a catechumen. For this reason, the baptized Christian who has in fact apostatized is only received to the communion after a ten years’ penance, and even then if he has not sacrificed to the gods. It appears to us that this canon alludes to the time of Diocletian’s persecution; for during that terrible time more than one cowardly Christian did not go to church, gave no sign of Christian life, and thus apostatized in fact, without positively offering sacrifice to the idols.

CAN. 47. De eo qui uxorem habens sæpius mœchatur

Si quis fidelis habens uxorem non semel sed sæpe fuerit mœchatus in fine mortis est conveniendus: quod si se promiserit cessaturum, detur ei communio: si resuscitatus rursus fuerit mœchatus, placuit ulterius non ludere eum de communione pacis.

If a Christian who is married, and has been often guilty of adultery, is near death, they must go to see him (est conveniendus), and ask him whether, if he should recover, he promises to amend his ways. If he promises, the holy communion should be administered to him; if he should recover, and should again be guilty of adultery, the holy communion must not be allowed to be thus despised, it must henceforth be refused to him, even in articulo mortis. The sixty-ninth and seventy-eighth canons complete the meaning of this one.

CAN. 48. De baptizatis ut nihil accipiat clerus

Emendari placuit ut hi qui baptizantur, ut fieri solebat, numos in concha non mittant, ne sacerdos quod gratis accepit pretio distrahere videatur. Neque pedes eorum lavandi sunt a sacerdotibus vel clericis.

This canon forbids at the same time two things relative to baptism:

1. It was the custom in Spain for the neophytes, at the time of their baptism, to put an offering into the shell which had been used at the baptism. This offering, afterwards called the stole-rights, was to be suppressed.

2. The second part of the canon shows that there was the same custom in certain parts of Spain as at Milan and in Gaul, but which, from the testimony of St. Ambrose, did not exist at Rome, viz. that the bishop and clergy should wash the feet of the newly baptized when they left the baptismal font. Our Synod forbids this, and this canon has passed into the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 49. De frugibus fidelium ne a Judæis benedicantur

Admoneri placuit possessores, ut non patiantur fructus suos, quos a Deo percipiunt cum gratiarum actione, a Judæis benedici, ne nostram irritam et infirmam faciant benedictionem: si quis post interdictum facere usurpaverit, penitus ab ecclesia abjiciatur.

The Jews were so numerous and so powerful in Spain during the first centuries of the Christian era, that they might at one time have hoped to be able to Judaize the whole country. According to the monuments—which, however, are of doubtful authority—they established themselves in Spain in the time of King Solomon. It is more likely that they crossed from Africa to the Spanish peninsula only about a hundred years before Christ. There they soon increased in number and importance, and could energetically carry on their work of proselytizing. This is the reason that the Synod of Elvira had to forbid to the priests and the laity all intimate intercourse with Jews (can. 50), and especially marriage (can. 16); for there is no doubt that at this period many Christians of high rank in Spain became Jews, as Jost shows in his work.

CAN. 50. De Christianis qui cum Judæis vescuntur

Si vero quis clericus vel fidelis cum Judæis cibum sumpserit, placuit eum a communione abstineri, ut debeat emendari.

CAN. 51. De hæreticis ut ad clerum non promoveantur

Ex omni hæresi fidelis si venerit, minime est ad clerum promovendus: vel si qui sunt in præteritum ordinati, sine dubio deponantur.

These canons are easy to understand.

CAN. 52. De his qui in ecclesia libellos famosos ponunt

Hi qui inventi fuerint libellos famosos in ecclesia ponere anathematizentur.

This canon forbids the affixing of satires (libellos famosos) in churches, or the reading of them. It has been inserted in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 53. De episcopis qui excommunicato alicno communicant

Placuit cunctis ut ab eo episcopo quis recipiat communionem a quo abstentus in crimine aliquo quis fuerit; quod si ælius episcopus præsumpserit eum admitti, illo adhuc minime faciente vel consentiente a quo fuerit communione privatus, sciat se hujusmodi causas inter fratres esse cum status sui periculo præstaturum.

One excommunicated by a bishop can only be restored by the bishop who condemned him. Another bishop receiving him into communion, unless the first bishop acts at the same time, or approves of the reconciliation, must answer for it before his brethren, that is to say, before the provincial synod, and must run the danger of being deprived of his office (status).

CAN. 54. De parentibus qui fidem sponsaliorum frangunt

Si qui parentes fidem fregerint sponsaliorum, triennii tempore abstineantur; si tamen idem sponsus vel sponsa in gravi crimine fuerint deprehensi, erunt excusati parentes; si in iisdem fuerit vitium et polluerint se, superior sententia servetur.

If the parents of those who are betrothed fail to keep the promises made at the betrothal, these parents shall be excluded from the communion for three years, unless either of the betrothed persons be convicted of a very serious fault. In this case, the parents may break the engagement. If the betrothed have sinned together, the first arrangement continues; that is, the parents cannot then separate them. This canon is found in the Corp. juris can.

CAN. 55. De sacerdotibus gentilium qui jam non sacrificant

Sacerdotes qui tantum coronas portant, nec sacrificant nec de suis sumptibus aliquid ad idola præstant, placuit post biennium accipere communionem.

It may be asked whether the word sacerdotes is to be understood as referring to pagan priests who wished to be admitted as Christians, or to Christians who, as we have seen above (can. 2), still bore the office of flamines. Aubespine is of the latter opinion, and according to him the canon would have this meaning: “The Christian who bears the office of flamen, and wears the distinctive sign—that is, the crown—without having sacrificed himself, or having contributed money to pagan sacrifices, must be excluded from eucharistic communion for two years.” Aubespine gives the two following reasons in support of his explanation: (a.) When a pagan priest wished to become a Christian, he was not kept longer or more strictly than others as a catechumen, even when he had himself offered sacrifice. (b.) If it had referred to a pagan priest wishing to become a Christian, the Synod would have said, placuit post biennium accepere lavacrum (baptism), and not accipere communionem. This latter expression is used only for those who have been excluded for some time from the Church, and are admitted afresh into her bosom.

For our part, we think that this fifty-fifth canon is nothing but a complement of the second and third canons, and that it forms with them the following gradation:—

Can. 2. Christians who, as flamincs, have sacrificed to idols, and given public pagan games, cannot receive the communion, even when at the point of death.

Can. 3. If they have not offered sacrifices, but have had the games celebrated, they may communicate at the close of their life, after a previous penance.

Can. 55. If they have not offered sacrifice, nor contributed by their fortune to pagan sacrifices (and to such public games), they may receive the communion after two years of penance.

This gradation is continued in the two following canons, the fifty-sixth and fifty-seventh: they refer to Christians who have not been flamines, but who have borne other offices in a heathen state, and so have been brought into relation with paganism.

The fifty-fifth canon evidently alludes to a former and not far distant time of persecution, during which Christians feared to refuse the office of flamines which fell to their lot, and by a half compliance wore the distinctive mark of their office, the crown, in order to pass uninjured through the time of persecution.

CAN. 56. De magistratibus et duumviris

Magistratus vero uno anno quo agit duumviratum, prohibendum placet ut se ab ecclesia cohibeat.

What the consuls were at Rome, the duumviri were, on a small scale, in the Roman municipalities: their office also lasted only a year. These duumviri were obliged, by virtue of their office, to watch over pagan priests personally, and the temples of the town; they had to preside at public solemnities, in processions, etc., which, like all the other national feasts of the Romans, had always more or less a semi-religious and pagan character. For this reason the Synod forbade the duumviri to enter the Church as long as they were in office. In limiting itself to this prohibition, it gave proof of great moderation and of wise consideration, which we ought to appreciate. An absolute prohibition to hold this office would have given up the charge of the most important towns to pagans. But the Council is much more severe in the following canon.

CAN. 57. De his qui vestimenta ad ornandam pompam dederunt

Matronæ vel earum mariti vestimenta sua ad ornandam sæculariter pompam non dent; et si fecerint, triennio abstineantur.

This canon is directed against Christians who should lend their garments for worldly shows, i.e. for public, half-heathenish religious processions. They are punished with three years of excommunication. But why are they treated so much more severely than the duumviri? Because these men and women were not obliged to lend their attire, whilst the duumviri were fulfilling their public duty as citizens. Perhaps also some gave their garments, that they might not be suspected during the persecutions.

CAN. 58. De his qui communicatorias litteras portant, ut de fide interrogentur

Placuit ubique et maxime in eo loco, in quo prima cathedra constituta est episcopatus, ut interrogentur hi qui communicatorias litteras tradunt an omnia recte habeant suo testimonio comprobata.

In Africa no metropolitan rights were attached to particular towns: they always belonged to the oldest bishop of the province, whose bishopric was then called prima sedes. Carthage only was the metropolitan see. It appears to have been the same in Spain before Constantine the Great divided that country into seven political provinces, which entailed the division into ecclesiastical provinces. This may explain why the Bishop of Acci presided at the Synod of Elvira: he was probably the oldest of all the bishops present. What is elsewhere called prima sedes in our canon is prima cathedra; and the bishops of the prima cathedra were to question Christian travellers about their respective dioceses, the latter were to present their recommendatory letters, and were to be asked if they could affirm that all was in a satisfactory state.

CAN. 59. De fidelibus ne ad Capitolium causa sacrificandi ascendant

Prohibendum ne quis Christianus ut gentilis ad idolum Capitolii causa sacrificandi ascendat et videat; quod si fecerit, pari crimine teneatur: si fuerit fidelis, post decem annos acta pœnitentia recipiatur.

Like Rome, many municipalities had a capitol, in the court of which sacrifices were offered to the gods, and many Christians were present at the ceremonies of the pagan worship. Was it from curiosity? was it in order to shelter themselves from inquiry, not to be known during the persecution, and to pass for heathen? This is what we are unable to decide. At any rate, the Synod declared that—

a. Any Christian, either baptized or a catechumen, who should be present at the sacrifices, should be considered as having offered sacrifice himself.

b. Consequently any Christian who has been present at these sacrifices shall be excommunicated and a penitent for ten years. The Synod says nothing about the punishment of guilty catechumens: in every case they were in general punished less severely than the faithful, and perhaps the fourth canon was applied to them by analogy.

CAN. 60. De his qui destruentes idola occiduntur

Si quis idola fregerit et ibidem fuerit occisus, quatenus in Evangelio scriptum non est neque invenietur sub apostolis unquam factum, placuit in numero eum non recipi martyrum.

It happened sometimes that too zealous Christians would destroy the idols, and have to pay for their boldness with their life. The Synod decrees that they must not be considered as martyrs, for the gospel does not require deeds of this kind, and the apostles did not act in this way; but they considered it praiseworthy if a Christian, whom they might wish to oblige to offer sacrifice to an idol, should overthrow the statue, and break it, as Prudentius Clemens relates with commendation of Eulalia, who suffered martyrdom in Spain in 304, and therefore a short time previous to this Synod.

CAN. 61. De his qui duabus sororibus copulantur

Si quis post obitum uxoris suæ sororem ejus duxerit et ipsa fuerit fidelis, quinquennium a communione placuit abstineri, nisi forte velocius dari pacem necessitas coegerit infirmitatis.

When S. Basil the Great ascended the archiepiscopal throne of Cæsarea, he forbade that a husband, after the death of his wife, should marry her sister; and when some one, of the name of Diodorus, reproached him upon this subject, Basil defended himself in a letter, which has been preserved, and proved that such marriages had always been prohibited at Cæsarea. The Spanish Fathers of Elvira shared S. Basil’s opinions, as also did the Synod of Neocæsarea of 314, can. 2, as we shall see hereafter. It is well known that, according to canon law, these marriages are both forbidden and declared to be invalid.

CAN. 62. De aurigis et pantomimis si convertantur

Si auriga aut pantomimus credere voluerint, placuit ut prius artibus suis renuntient, et tunc demum suscipiantur, ita ut ulterius ad ea non revertantur, qui si facere contra interdictum tentaverint, projiciantur ab ecclesia.

The “Apostolical Constitutions” contain the same decree. On the subject of the repugnance of the ancient Church for all these pantomimic scenes, cf. Hefele, “Rigorismus in dem Leben und den Ansichten der alten Christen” (Severity in the Lives and Opinions of the early Christians), an essay published in the Tübinger Theol. Quartalschrift, 1841 (S. 396 ff.).

The following series of canons treats of carnal sins:—

CAN. 63. De uxoribus quæ filios ex adulterio necant

Si qua per adulterim absente marito suo conceperit, idque post facinus occiderit, placuit nec in finem dandam esse communionem, eo quod geminaverit scelus.

CAN. 64. De fœminis quæ usque ad mortem cum alienis viris adulterant

Si qua usque in finem mortis suæ cum alieno viro fuerit mœchata, placuit, nec in finem dandam ei esse communionem. Si vero eum reliquerit, post decem annos accipiat communionem acta legitima pœnitentia.

CAN. 65. De adulteris uxoribus clericorum

Si cujus clerici uxor fuerit mœchata et scierit eam maritus suus mœchari et non eam statim projecerit, nec in finem accipiat communionem, ne ab his qui exemplum bonæ conversationis esse debent, ab eis videantur scelerum magisteria procedere.

The Shepherd of Hermas had before, like this canon, stringently commanded not only the clergy, but all Christians, not to continue to live conjugally with an adulterous spouse, who would not amend his ways, but would persevere in sin. Dr. Herbst says, that what made the sixty-fifth canon necessary was probably the very frequent case of married men having taken orders, and not being able to have conjugal intercourse with their wives, who were therefore on that very account easily tempted to forget themselves.

The series of canons against carnal sins is continued in the following, which forbids marriage with a daughter-in-law:—

CAN. 66. De his qui privignas suas ducunt

Si quis privignam suam duxerit uxorem, eo quod sit incestus, placuit nec in finem dandam esse communionem.

CAN. 67. De conjugio catechumenœ fœminœ

Prohibendum ne qua fidelis vel catechumena aut comatos aut viros cinerarios habeant: quæcumque hoc fecerint, a communione arceantur.

If we attach any importance to the title of this canon, it must be thought to indicate that Christian women, whether catechumens or baptized, were forbidden to marry those designated by the name of cinerarios and comatos. In other manuscripts we read comicos and cenicos. If the latter reading is the true one, the meaning of the canon is very clear—“A Christian woman must not marry an actor;” and this prohibition would explain the aversion of the ancient Church to the theatre, which has been before mentioned. But it is probable that, not having been able to find out the meaning of the words comati and cinerarii, later copyists have altered them, and changed them into comici and scenici. Imagining that here was a prohibition of marriage, they could not understand why a Christian woman was not to marry a man having long hair, or even a hairdresser. We believe that Aubespine is right when he reminds us that many pagan women had foreign slaves, and especially hairdressers, in their service, who ministered not only to the needs of luxury, but to the secret satisfaction of their passions. Perhaps these effeminate slaves—these spadones—encouraging the licentiousness of their mistresses, wore long hair, or, coming from foreign countries—for instance, from Gallia comata—where long hair was always worn, they introduced this name of comati. Tertullian speaks of the cinerarii (peregrinæ proceritatis), and describes them as foreigners, with slight figures, and forming part of the suite of a woman of the world. He mentions them in connection with the spadones, who were ad licentiam secti, or, as S. Jerome says, in securam libidinem exsecti.

Juvenal has not forgotten to signalize these relations of Roman women with eunuchs: “Sunt, quas eunuchi imbelles et mollia semper Oscula delectent.”

Martial denounces them, if possible, still more energetically. Perhaps these eunuchs wore long hair like women in order that they might be called comati. Let us finally remark, that in the Glossary cinerarius is translated by δοῦλος ἑταίρας.

If this second explanation of the sixty-seventh canon is accepted, it can be easily imagined why it should be placed in a series of canons treating of carnal sins.

CAN. 68. De catechumena adultera quæ filium necat

Catechumena, si per adulterium conceperit et præfocaverit, placuit eam in fine baptizari.

If a catechumen should conceive by an adulterer, and should procure the death of the child, she can be baptized only at the end of her life.

CAN. 69. De viris conjugatis postea in adulterium lapsis

Si quis forte habens uxorem semel fuerit lapsus, placuit eum quinquennium agere debere pœnitentiam et sic reconciliari, nisi necessitas infirmitatis coegerit ante tempus dari communionem: hoc et circa fœminas observandum.

Adultery committed once was punishable with five years of penance.

CAN. 70. De fœminis quæ consciis maritis adulterant

Si cum conscientia mariti uxor fuerit mœchata, placuit nec in finem dandam ei communionem; si vero eam reliquerit, post decem annos accipiat communionem, si eam cum sciret adulteram aliquo tempore in domo sua retinuit.

If a woman should violate conjugal fidelity with her husband’s consent, the latter must not be admitted to communion, even at the end of his life. If he separated from his wife, after having lived with her at all since the sin was committed, he was excluded for ten years.

CAN. 71. De stupratoribus puerorum

Stupratoribus puerorum nec in finem dandam esse communionem.

Sodomites could not be admitted to communion, even on their deathbeds.

CAN. 72. De viduis mœchis si eumdem postea maritum duxerint

Si qua vidua fuerit mœchata et eumdem postea habuerit maritum, post quinquennii tempus acta legitima pœitentia, placuit eam communioni reconciliari: si alium duxerit relicto illo, nec in finem dandam esse communionem; vel si fuerit ille fidelis quem accepit, communionem non accipiet, nisi post decem annos acta legitima pœnitentia, vel si infirmitas coegerit velocius dari communionem.

When a widow had sinned, and had married her accomplice, she was condemned to five years of penance; if she should marry another man, she could never be admitted to communion, even on her deathbed; and if her husband were baptized, he was subject to a penance for ten years, for having married a woman who, properly speaking, was no longer free. This canon was inserted in the Corp. jur. can.

The following canons treat of informers and false witnesses.

CAN. 73. De delatoribus

Delator si quis extiterit fidelis, et per delationem ejus aliquis fuerit proscriptus vel interfectus, placuit eum nec in finem accipere communionem; si levior causa fuerit, intra quinquennium accipere poterit communionem; si catechumenus fuerit, post quinquennii tempora admittetur ad baptismum.

This canon has been inserted in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 74. De falsis testibus

Falsus testis prout est crimen abstinebitur; si tamen non fuerit mortale quod objecit, et probaverit quod non (other manuscripts have diu) tacuerit, biennii tempore abstinebitur: si autem non probaverit convento clero, placuit per quinquennium abstineri.

A false witness must be excluded from the communion for a time proportionate to the crime of which he has given false witness. Should the crime be one not punishable with death, and if the guilty one can demonstrate that he kept silence for a long time (diu), that is, that he did not willingly bear witness, he shall be condemned to two years of penance; if he cannot prove this, to five years. The canon is thus explained by Mendoza, Rémi Ceillier in Migne’s Dictionary, etc., all preferring the reading diu. Burchard had previously read and quoted the canon with this variation, in his Collectio canonum. But Aubespine divides it into three quite distinct parts. The first, he says, treats of false witnesses; the second, of those who are too slow in denouncing a crime. They must be punished, but only by two years of penance, if they can prove that they have not (non) kept silence to the end. The third condemns those to five years of penance, who, without having borne false witness, still cannot prove what they affirm.

We confess that none of these explanations is quite satisfactory: the first would be the most easily admissible; but it is hardly possible to reconcile it with the reading non tacuerit, which, however, is that of the best manuscripts.

CAN. 75. De his qui sacerdotes vel ministros accusant nec probant

Si quis autem episcopum vel presbyterum vel diaconum falsis criminibus appetierit et probare non potuerit, nec in finem dandam ei esse communionem.

CAN. 76. De diaconibus si ante honorem peccasse probantur

Si quis diaconum se permiserit ordinari et postea fuerit detectus in crimine mortis quod aliquando commiserit, si sponte fuerit confessus, placuit eum acta legitima pœnitentia post triennium accipere communionem; quod si alius eum detexerit, post quinquennium acta pœnitentia accipere communionem laicam debere.

If any one should succeed in being ordained deacon, and it should be subsequently discovered that he had before that committed a mortal sin:

a. In case he was the first to make known his fault, he must be received into communion (as a layman) at the end of three years of penance.

b. In case his sin was discovered by another, at the end of five years. In both cases he was for ever suspended from his office of deacon.

CAN. 77. De baptizatis qui nondum confirmati moriuntur

Si quis diaconus regens plebem sine episcopo vel presbytero aliquos baptizaverit, episcopus eos per benedictionem perficere debebit: quod si ante de sæculo recesserint, sub fide qua quis credidit poterit esse justus.

When Christianity spread from the large towns, where it had been at first established, into the country, the rural churches at first formed only one parish with the cathedral church of the town. Either priests, or Chorepiscopi, or simple deacons, were sent to these rural assemblies, to exercise, within certain limits, the ministerial power. The solemnity of consecrating the Eucharist, and all that had reference to penance, was reserved for the bishop of the town.

The 77th canon refers to such deacons, and it ordains:

a. That baptism administered by the deacon ought to be completed, finished by the bishop’s benediction (that is to say, by χειροτονία, or confirmation).

b. That if one who had been baptized by a deacon should die before having received this benediction from the bishop, he may notwithstanding be saved, by virtue of the faith which he professed on receiving baptism.

CAN. 78. De fidelibus conjugatis si cum Judæa vel gentili mœchatæ (i) fuerint

Si quis fidelis habens uxorem cum Judæa vel gentili fuerit mœchatus, a communione arceatur: quod si alius eum detexerit, post quinquennium acta legitima pœnitentia poterit dominicæ sociari communioni.

The 47th and 69th canons have already treated of adultery between Christians: the present canon speaks of a particular case of adultery committed with a Jewish or pagan woman, and decrees a penance of five years if the guilty one has not confessed himself. If he has made a spontaneous confession, the canon only gives this vague and general command, Arceatur, that is, that he should be excommunicated, but it does not say for how long a time: it might be supposed for three years, according to the analogy with the 76th canon. However, it would be strange that adultery with a Jewish or pagan woman should be punished only by three years of penance, while the 69th canon decrees, in a general way, five years’ punishment to every adulterer. It is still more difficult to explain why real adultery should be less severely punished in the 78th canon than the evidently less criminal offence of a widow with a man whom she afterwards marries.

CAN. 79. De his qui tabulam ludunt

Si quis fidelis aleam, id est tabulam, luserit numis, placuit eum abstineri; et si emendatus cessaverit, post annum poterit communioni reconciliari.

The thimbles of the ancients had not any points or figures upon their sides (tabula), like ours, but drawings, pictures of idols; and whoever threw the picture of Venus, gained all, as Augustus says in Suetonius: quos tollebat universos, qui Venerem jecerat. It is on this account that the ancient Christians considered the game of thimbles to be not only immoral as a game of chance, but as having an essentially pagan character.

CAN. 80. De Iibertis

Prohibendum ut liberti, quorum patroni in sæculo fuerint, ad clerum non promoveantur.

He who should give a slave his freedom remained his patron; he had certain rights and a certain influence over him. The freedman continued to be dependent upon his former master; for this reason freedmen whose patrons were heathens could not take orders. This canon was placed in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 81. De fœminarum epistolis

Ne fœminæ suo potius absque maritorum nominibus laicis scribere audeant, quæ (qui) fideles sunt vel literas alicujus pacificas ad suum solum nomen scriptas accipiant.

If we should read qui instead of quæ, as Mendoza makes it, on the authority of several manuscripts, our canon is easy to understand. It then divides itself into two parts:

a. Women must not write in their own name to lay Christians, laicis qui fideles sunt; they may do so only in the name of their husbands.

b. They must not receive letters of friendship (pacificas) from any one, addressed only to themselves. Mendoza thinks that the canon means only private letters, and that it is forbidden in the interests of conjugal fidelity.

Aubespine gives quite another sense to the word litteras: he supposes that the Council wishes only to forbid the wives of bishops giving litteras communicatorias to Christian travellers in their own name, and that it also forbids them to receive such addressed to them instead of to their husbands.

If we read quæ, we must attach the words quæ fideles sunt to fœminæ, and the meaning continues on the whole the same.

Besides these eighty-one authentic canons, some others are attributed to the Council of Elvira: for instance, in the Corp. jur. can. (c. 17, causa xxii. q. 4; also c. 21, dist. ii. de consecrat., and c. 15, causa xxii. q. 5), there is evidently a mistake about some of these canons, which, as Mendoza and Cardinal d’Aguirre have remarked, belong to a Synodus Helibernensis or Hibernensis. We will remark finally, that whilst Baronius thinks little of the Synod of Elvira, which he wrongfully suspects of Novatian opinions, Mendoza and Natalis Alexander defend it eloquently.

SEC. 14. Origin of the Schism of the Donatists, and the first Synods held on this account in 312 and 313

The schism of the Donatists occasioned several synods at the beginning of the fourth century. Mensurius was bishop of Carthage during Diocletian’s persecution. He was a worthy and serious man, who on the one side encouraged the faithful to courage and energy during the persecution, but on the other side strongly reproved any step which could increase the irritation of the heathen. He especially blamed certain Christians of Carthage, who had denounced themselves to the heathen authorities as possessors of sacred books (even when this was not really the case), in order to obtain martyrdom by their refusal to give up the Holy Scriptures. Nor would he grant the honours of martyrdom to those who, after a licentious life, should court martyrdom without being morally improved. We see, by a letter of Mensurius, how he himself behaved during the persecution. He relates, that when they required the sacred books from him, he hid them, leaving in the church only heretical books, which were taken away by the persecutors. The proconsul had soon discovered this cunning; but, however, did not wish to pursue Mensurius further. Many enemies of the bishop, especially Donatus Bishop of Casæ-Nigræ in Numidia, falsely interpreted what had passed: they pretended that Mensurius had, in fact, delivered up the Holy Scriptures; that, at any rate, he had told a sinful falsehood; and they began to excite disturbance in the Church of Carthage. However, these troubles did not take the form of a miserable schism till after the death of Mensurius. A deacon named Felix, being persecuted by the heathen, took refuge in the house of Bishop Mensurius. As the latter refused to give him up, he was taken to Rome, to answer in person for his resistance before Maxentius, who since Diocletian’s abdication had possessed himself of the imperial power in Italy and in Africa. Mensurius succeeded in obtaining an acquittal; but he died on the way back to Carthage, and before arriving there, in 311. Two celebrated priests of Carthage, Botrus and Celestius, aspired to the vacant throne, and thought it their interest to invite to the election and ordination of the future bishop only the neighbouring prelates, and not those of Numidia. It is doubtful whether this was quite according to order. Inasmuch as Numidia formed a separate ecclesiastical province, distinct from the province of proconsular Africa, of which Carthage was the metropolis, the bishops of Numidia had no right to take part in the election of a Bishop of Carthage. But as the metropolitan (or, according to African language, the primate) of Carthage was in some sort the patriarch of the whole Latin Church of Africa; and as, on this account, Numidia was under his jurisdiction, the bishops of Numidia might take part in the appointment of a Bishop of Carthage. On the other side, the Donatists were completely in the wrong, when subsequently they pretended that the primate of Carthage ought to be consecrated by that metropolitan whose rank was the nearest to his own (primas, or primæ sedis episcopus or senex); consequently the new Bishop of Carthage ought to have been consecrated by Secundus Bishop of Tigisis, then metropolitan (Primas) of Numidia: and it is with reason that S. Augustine replied to them in the name of the whole African episcopate, during a conference held at Carthage in 411, that even the Bishop of Rome was not consecrated by the primate nearest to him in rank, but by the Bishop of Ostia. The two priests mentioned above found themselves deceived at the time of the election, which took place at Carthage: for the people, putting them on one side, elected Cecilian, who had been archdeacon under Mensurius; and Felix Bishop of Aptunga, suffragan of Carthage, consecrated him immediately. The consecration was hardly ended, when some priests and some of the laity of Carthage resolved to unite their efforts to ruin the new bishop. On his departure for Rome, Mensurius had confided the treasures of his church to the care of some Christians: at the same time he had given the list of everything entrusted to them into the hands of a pious woman, charging her, “in case he should not return, to remit this list to his successor.” The woman fulfilled her commission; and the new bishop, Cecilian, claimed the property of the church from those with whom it had been left. This demand irritated them against him: they had hoped that no one would have known of this deposit, and that they might divide it amongst themselves.

Besides these laymen, the two priests mentioned above arrayed themselves against Cecilian. The soul of the opposition was a very rich lady, who had a great reputation for piety, named Lucilla, and who thought she was most grievously wronged by Cecilian. She had been in the habit, every time she communicated, of kissing the relics of a martyr not accounted such by the Church. Cecilian, who was at that time a deacon, had forbidden the worship of these relics not recognised by the Church, and the pharisaical pride of the woman could not pardon the injury.

Things were in this state when Secundus Bishop of Tigisis, in his office of episcopus primæ sedis of Numidia, sent a commission to Carthage to appoint a mediator (interventor) nominally for the reconciliation of the parties. But the commission was very partial from the beginning: they entered into no relation with Cecilian or his flock; but, on the contrary, took up their abode with Lucilla, and consulted with her on the plan to follow for the overthrow of Cecilian. The malcontents, says Optatus, then asked the Numidian bishops to come to Carthage to decide about the election and the consecration of Cecilian, and in fact Secundus of Tigisis soon appeared with his suffragans. They took up their abode with the avowed opponents of Cecilian, and refused to take part in the assembly or synod which he wished to call, according to custom, to hear the Numidian bishops; and, instead, they held a conciliabulum of their own, at which seventy met, and in a private house in Carthage, before which they summoned Cecilian to appear (312). Cecilian did not attend, but sent word “that if they had anything against him, the accuser had only to appear openly and prove it.” No accusation was made; and besides, they could bring forward nothing against Cecilian, except having formerly, as archdeacon, forbidden the visiting of the martyrs in prison and the taking of food to them. Evidently, says Dupin, Cecilian had only followed the counsel of S. Cyprian, in forbidding the faithful to go in crowds to the prisons of the martyrs, for fear of inciting the pagans to renewed acts of violence. Although Cecilian was perfectly right in this respect, it is possible that in the application of the rule, right in itself, he may have acted with some harshness. This is at least what we must conclude if only the tenth part of the accusations raised against him by an anonymous Donatist have any foundation. He says, for instance, that Cecilian would not even allow parents to visit their captive sons and daughters, that he had taken away the food from those who wished to take it to the martyrs, and had given it to the dogs, and the like. His adversaries laid still greater stress on the invalidity of Cecilian’s consecration, because his consecrator, Felix of Aptunga, had been a Traditor (i.e. had given up the sacred books) during the persecution of Diocletian. No council had heretofore ordained that the sacraments were valid, even when administered by heinous sinners; therefore Cecilian answered, with a sort of condescension towards his enemies, “that if they thought that Felix had not rightfully ordained him, they had only themselves to proceed to his ordination.” But the bishops of Numidia did doubly wrong in thus setting themselves against Felix of Aptunga. First, the accusation of his having given up the sacred books was absolutely false, as was proved by a judicial inquiry made subsequently, in 314. The Roman officer who had been charged to collect the sacred books at Aptunga attested the innocence of Felix; whilst one Ingentius, who, in his hatred against Felix, had produced a false document to ruin him, confessed his guilt. But apart from this circumstance, Secundus and his friends, who had themselves given up the Holy Scriptures, as was proved in the Synod of Cirta, had hardly the right to judge Felix for the same offence. Besides, they had at this same Synod of Cirta consecrated Silvanus bishop of that place, who was also convicted of having been a Traditor. Without troubling themselves with all these matters, or caring for the legality of their proceeding, the Numidians proclaimed, in their unlawful Council, the deposition of Cecilian, whose consecration they said was invalid, and elected a friend and partisan of Lucilla’s, the reader Majorinus, to be Bishop of Carthage. Lucilla had bribed the Numidian bishops, and promised to each of them 400 pieces of gold.

This done, the unlawful Numidian Council addressed a circular letter to all the churches of Africa, in which they related what had passed, and required that they should cease from all ecclesiastical communion with Cecilian. It followed from this, that Carthage, being in some sort the patriarchal throne of Africa, all the African provinces were implicated in this controversy. In almost every town two parties were formed; in many cities there were even two bishops—a Cecilian and a Majorinian. Thus began this unhappy schism. As Majorinus had been put forward by others, and besides as he died soon after his election, the schismatics did not take his name, but were called Donatists, from the name of Donatus Bishop of Casæ Nigræ, who had much more influence than Majorinus, and also afterwards on account of another Donatus, surnamed the Great, who became the successor of Majorinus as schismatical Bishop of Carthage. Out of Africa, Cecilian was everywhere considered the rightful bishop, and it was to him only that letters of communion (epistolæ communicatoriæ) were addressed. Constantine the Great, who meanwhile had conquered Maxentius in the famous battle at the Milvian Bridge, also recognised Cecilian, wrote to him, sent him a large sum of money to distribute among his priests, and added, “that he had heard that some unruly spirits sought to trouble the Church; but that he had already charged the magistrates to restore order, and that Cecilian had only to apply to them for the punishment of the agitators.” In another letter, addressed to the proconsul of Africa, Anulinus, he exempted the clergy of the Catholic Church of Carthage, “whose president was Cecilian,” from all public taxes.

Soon afterwards, the opponents of Cecilian, to whom many of the laity joined themselves, remitted two letters to the proconsul of Africa, begging him to send them to the Emperor. Anulinus accordingly did so. The title of the first letter, which S. Augustine has preserved to us, viz. libellus Ecclesiæ Catholicæ (that is to say, of the Donatist Church) criminum Cæciliani, suffices to show its tenor; the second entreated the Emperor, on account of the divisions among the African bishops, to send judges from Gaul to decide between them and Cecilian. This latter letter, preserved by Optatus, is signed by Lucian, Dignus, Nasutius, Capito, Fidentius, et cæteris episcopis partis Donati. In his note upon this passage, Dupin has proved by quotations from this letter, as it is found in S. Augustine, that the original was partis Majorini, which Optatus changed into Donati, according to the expression commonly used in his time.

We see from the preceding that the Donatists deserved the reproach which was cast upon them, of being the first to call for the intervention of the civil power in a purely ecclesiastical case; and the Emperor Constantine himself, who was then in Gaul, openly expressed his displeasure on this subject, in a letter which he addressed to Pope Melchiades (Miltiades). However, to restore peace to Africa, he charged three bishops of Gaul—Maternus of Cöln, Reticius of Autun, and Marinus of Arles—to make arrangements with the Pope and fifteen other Italian bishops to assemble in a synod which was held at Rome in 313.

Synod at Rome (313)

Cecilian was invited to be present at this Synod, with ten bishops of his obedience. His adversaries were to send an equal number; and at their head stood Donatus of Casæ Nigræ. The conferences began at the Lateran Palace, belonging to the Empress Fausta, on October 2, 313, and lasted three days. The first day Donatus and his friends were first of all to prove their accusations against Cecilian; but they could produce neither witnesses nor documents: those whom Donatus himself had brought to witness against Cecilian, declared that they knew nothing against the bishop, and therefore were not brought forward by Donatus. On the contrary, it was proved that, when Cecilian was only a deacon, Donatus had excited divisions in Carthage; that he had re-baptized Christians who had been baptized before; and, contrary to the rules of the Church, had laid hands on fallen bishops to reinstate them in their offices. The second day the Donatists produced a second accusation against Cecilian; but they could no more prove their assertions than on the previous day. The continuation of an inquiry already begun concerning the unlawful Council of Carthage of 312, which had deposed Cecilian, was interrupted. As Donatus was totally unable on the third day, as on the two preceding, to produce a single witness, Cecilian was declared innocent, and Donatus condemned on his own confession. No judgment was pronounced on the other bishops of his party. The Synod, on the contrary, declared that if they would return to the unity of the Church, they might retain their thrones; that in every place where there was a Cecilian and a Donatist bishop, the one who had been the longest ordained should remain at the head of the Church, whilst the younger should be set over another diocese. This decision of the Synod was proclaimed by its president the Bishop of Rome, and communicated to the Emperor.

After the close of the Synod, Donatus and Cecilian were both forbidden to return to Africa at once. Cecilian was detained at Brescia for a time. Some time afterwards, however, Donatus obtained permission to go to Africa, but not to Carthage. But the Pope, or perhaps the Synod before closing, sent two bishops, Eunomius and Olympius, to Africa, to proclaim that that was the catholic party for which the nineteen bishops assembled at Rome had pronounced. We see from this that the mission of the two bishops was to promulgate the decisions of the Synod; we also think, with Dupin, that their journey, the date of which is uncertain, took place immediately after the close of the Synod of Rome. The two bishops entered into communion with Cecilian’s clergy at Carthage; but the Donatists endeavoured to prevent the bishops from accomplishing their mission; and some time after, as Donatus had returned to Carthage, Cecilian also returned to his flock.

New troubles soon agitated Africa, and the Donatists again brought complaints of Cecilian before the Emperor. Irritated with their obstinacy, Constantine at first simply referred them to the decision of the Synod of Rome; and when they replied by protesting that they had not been sufficiently listened to at Rome, Constantine decided, first, that a minute inquiry should be made as to whether Felix of Aptunga had really given up the Holy Scriptures (we have given above the result of this inquiry); next, that the whole controversy should be definitely settled by a great assembly of the bishops of Christendom; and consequently he called the bishops of his empire together for the 1st of August 314, to the Council of Arles in Gaul.

SEC. 15. Synod of Arles in Gaul (314)

Cecilian and some of his friends, as well as some deputies of the party of the Donatists, were invited to this Council, and the officials of the empire were charged to defray the expenses of the voyage of these bishops. Constantine specially invited several bishops, amongst others the Bishop of Syracuse. According to some traditions, there were no fewer than 600 bishops assembled at Arles. Baronius, relying on a false reading in S. Augustine, fixes the number at 200. Dupin thought there were only thirty-three bishops at Arles, because that is the number indicated by the title of the letter of the Synod addressed to Pope Silvester, and by the list of persons which is found in several MSS. Notwithstanding this comparatively small number, we may say that all the provinces of Constantine’s empire were represented at the Council. Besides these thirty-three bishops, the list of persons also mentions a considerable number of priests and deacons, of whom some accompanied their bishops, and others represented their absent bishops as their proxies. Thus Pope Silvester was represented by two priests, Claudianus and Vitus, two deacons, Eugenius and Cyriacus. Marinus of Arles, one of the three judges (judices ex Gallia), who had been appointed beforehand by the Emperor, appears to have presided over the assembly: at least his name is found first in the letter of the Synod. With Marinus the letter mentions Agrœcius of Trier, Theodore of Aquileia, Proterius of Capua, Vocius of Lyons, Cecilian of Carthage, Reticius of Autun (one of the earlier judices ex Gallia), Ambitausus (Imbetausius) of Reims, Merokles of Milan, Adelfius of London, Maternus of Cöln, Liberius of Emerita in Spain, and others; the last named having already been present at the Synod of Elvira.

It is seen that a great part of Western Christendom was represented at Arles by some bishops; and the Emperor Constantine could truly say: “I have assembled a great number of bishops from different and almost innumerable parts of the empire.” We may look on the assembly at Arles as a general council of the West (or of the Roman patriarchate). It cannot, however, pass for an œcumenical council, for this reason, that the other patriarchs did not take any part in it, and indeed were not invited to it; and those of the East especially, according to S. Augustine, ignored almost entirely the Donatist controversy. But has not S. Augustine himself declared this Council to be œcumenical? In order to answer this question in the affirmative, an appeal has been made to the second book of his treatise, De Baptismo contra Donatistas, where he says: “The question relating to re-baptism was decided against Cyprian, in a full council of the whole Church” (plenarium concilium, concilium universæ Ecclesiæ). But it is doubtful whether S. Augustine meant by that the Council of Arles, or whether he did not rather refer to that of Nicæa, according to Pagi’s view of the case. It cannot, however be denied that S. Augustine, in his forty-third letter (vii. No. 19), in speaking of the Council of Arles, calls it plenarium Ecclesiæ universæ concilium. Only it must not be forgotten that the expression concilium plenarium, or universale, is often employed in speaking of a national council; and that in the passage quoted S. Augustine refers to the Western Church (Ecclesia universa occidentalis), and not to the universal Church (universalis) in the fullest sense.

The deliberations of the Council of Arles were opened on the 1st of August 314. Cecilian and his accusers were present; but these were no more able than before to prove their accusations. We unfortunately have not in full the acts of the Council; but the synodical letter already quoted informs us that the accusers of Cecilian were aut damnati aut repulsi. From this information we infer that Cecilian was acquitted; and this we know to have been the actual result of the Donatist controversy. The Council, in its letter to the Pope, says, “that it would have greatly desired that the Pope (Silvester) had been able to assist in person at the sessions, and that the judgment given against Cecilian’s accusers would in that case certainly have been more severe.” The Council probably alluded to the favourable conditions that it had accorded to the Donatist bishops and priests, in case they should be reconciled to the Church.

The letter of the Council contains no other information relating to the affairs of the Donatists. At the time of the religious conference granted to the Donatists in 411, a letter of the African bishops was read, in which they said, that, “dating from the commencement of the schism (ab ipsius separationis exordio), consent had been given that every Donatist bishop who should become reconciled to the Church should alternately exercise the episcopal jurisdiction with the Catholic bishop: that if either of the two died, the survivor should be his sole successor; but in the case in which a church did not wish to have two bishops, both were to resign, and a new one was to be elected.” From these words, ab ipsius separationis exordio, Tillemont concluded that it is to the Synod of Arles that this decision should be referred; for, as we have already seen, other proposals of reconciliation were made at Rome. It is not known whether the Synod of Arles decided anything else in the matter of the Donatists. But it is evident that two, perhaps three, of its twenty-two canons (Nos. 13, 14, and 8), refer to the schism of the African Church, which we shall show in examining them one by one.

The Synod of Arles was not satisfied, as their synodal letter tells us, merely to examine and judge the business of the Donatists: it wished to lend its assistance in other points relating to the necessities of the Church, especially to solve the paschal controversy, the question of the baptism of heretics, and to promulgate various rules for discipline. Convinced that it acted under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, it used the formula, Placuit ergo, præsente Spiritu sancto et angelis ejus; and begged the Pope, who had the government of the larger diocese (majoris diœceseos gubernacula) under his control, to promulgate its decrees universally. The Synod also sent him the complete collection of its twenty-two canons, while in the letter previously quoted it had given only a short extract from them: consequently it may be maintained, with the brothers Ballerini, that the Synod addressed two letters to the Pope, of which the first, commencing with the enumeration of the bishops present, dwelt chiefly on the affairs of the Donatists, and gave but a short sketch of the other decisions; while the second included literally and exclusively all the decrees, and addressed itself to the Pope only in the words of introduction, and in the first canon. The Benedictines of S. Maur have published the best text of this second synodical letter, and of the canons of the Council of Arles, in the first volume of their Collectio conciliorum Galliæ of 1789, of which the sequel unfortunately has not appeared. We shall adopt this text:

Domino sanctissimo fratri Silvestro Marinus vel cœtus episcoporum qui adunati fuerunt in oppido Arelatensi. Quid decrevimus communi consilio caritati tuæ significamus, ut omnes sciant quid in futurum observare debeant.

CAN. 1. Ut uno die et tempore Pascha celebretur

Primo loco de observatione Paschæ Domini, ut uno die et uno tempore per omnem orbem a nobis observetur et juxta consuetudinem literas ad omnes tu dirigas.

By this canon the Council of Arles wished to make the Roman computation of time with regard to Easter the rule everywhere, and consequently to abolish that of Alexandria, and all others that might differ from it, taking for granted that the bishops of the Council knew the difference that existed between these and the Roman computation. We will not here give the details relating to the paschal controversy, but further on in the history of the Council of Nicæa, so as the better to grasp the whole meaning.

CAN. 2. Ut ubi quisque ordinatur ibi permaneat

De his qui in quibuscumque locis ordinati fuerint ministri, in ipsis locis perseverent.

The twenty-first canon contains the same decision, with this difference, that the former speaks only of the inferior ministers of the Church (ministri), while the latter speaks of the priests and deacons; and both express the view of the ancient Church, in accordance with which an ecclesiastic attached to one church ought not to change to another. We find the same prohibition even in the apostolic canons (Nos. 13 and 14, or 14 and 15); and in the fifteenth canon of Nicæa it is questioned whether this canon of Arles forbids only passing from one diocese to another, or if it forbade moving from one church to another in the same diocese. Dr. München understood the canon in the latter sense, founding his opinion on the seventy-seventh canon of the Synod of Elvira, which shows that each church in a diocese had its own minister. Of course the prohibition as to a change of churches in the same diocese, necessarily applies to moving from one diocese to another.

CAN. 3. Ut qui in pace arma projiciunt excommunicentur

De his qui arma projiciunt in pace, placuit abstineri eos a communione.

This canon has been interpreted in no less than four ways. Ivo of Chartres read, instead of in pace, in prælio; and an ancient manuscript, which was compared by Surius, read in bello. In this case the sense would be: “He who throws down his arms in war is excommunicated.” Sirmond tried a second explanation, taking the view that arma projicere is not synonymous with arma abjicere, and signifies arma in alium conjicere. Thus, according to him, the canon forbids the use of arms except in case of war. Dr. München has developed this explanation, by applying the sentence arma projicere in pace to the fights of the gladiators, and he has considered this canon as a prohibition of these games. Constantine the Great, he says, forbade on the 1st October 325 the games of the gladiators in nearly the same terms: Cruenta spectacula in otio civili et domestica quiete non placent; quapropter omnino gladiatores esse prohibemus. Besides these, adds München, the two following canons are directed against the spectacula which were so odious to the early Christians; and this connection also justifies the opinion that canon 3 refers to the spectacula, that is to say, to the fights of the gladiators. Aubespine has tried a fourth explanation. Many Christians, says he, under the pagan emperors, had religious scruples with regard to military service, and positively refused to take arms, or else deserted. The Synod, in considering the changes introduced by Constantine, set forth the obligation that Christians have to serve in war, and that because the Church is at peace (in pace) under a prince friendly to Christians. This explanation has been adopted, amongst others, by Rémi Ceillier, by Herbst, in the Dictionnaire des conciles of Abbé Migne, and in Abbé Guetté’s recently published Histoire de l’église de France. We, however, prefer Dr. München’s view of the matter.

CAN. 4. Ut aurigæ dum agitant excommunicentur

De agitatoribus qui fideles sunt, placuit eos quamdiu agitant a communione separari.

These agitators are the jockeys and grooms of the courses, identical with the aurigœ of the sixty-second canon of the Council of Elvira. In the same way that the preceding canon interdicted the games of the gladiators, which were celebrated at the amphitheatre, so this prohibits the racing of horses and chariots, which took place in the circus.

CAN. 5. Ut theatrici quamdiu agunt excommunicentur

De theatricis, et ipsos placuit quamdiu agunt a communione separari.

This canon excommunicates those who are employed in the theatres.

CAN. 6. Ut in infirmitate conversi manus impositionem accipiant

De his qui in infirmitate credere volunt, placuit iis debere manum imponi.

The thirty-ninth canon of Elvira expresses itself in the same manner; and in commenting upon it, we have said that the words manum imponi were understood by one party as a simple ceremony of admission to the order of catechumens without baptism; by others, especially by Dr. München, as expressing the administration of confirmation.

CAN. 7. De fidelibus qui præsides fiunt vel rem publicam agere volunt

De præsidibus qui fideles ad præsidatum prosiliunt, placuit ut cum promoti fuerint literas accipiant ecclesiasticas communicatorias, ita tamen ut in quibuscumque locis gesserint, ab episcopo ejusdem loci cura illis agatur, et cum cœperint contra disciplinam agere, tum demum a communione excludantur. Similiter et de his qui rempublicam agere volunt.

Like the preceding one, this canon repeats a similar statute of the Synod of Elvira. The fifty-sixth canon of Elvira had decreed that a Christian invested with a public office should abstain from appearing in church during the term of these duties, because these necessarily brought him into contact with paganism. But since the Council of Elvira an essential change had taken place. Constantine had himself gone over to Christianity; the Church had obtained full liberty; and if even before this time Christians had often been invested with public offices, this would henceforth be much more frequently the case. It was necessary that, under a Christian emperor and altered circumstances, the ancient rigour should be relaxed, and it is for this reason that the canon of Arles modified the decree of Elvira. If a Christian, it says, becomes præses, that is to say, governor, he is not, as heretofore, obliged to absent himself from church; on the contrary, letters of recommendation will be given him to the bishop of the country which is entrusted to his care (the governors were sent out of their native country, that they might rule more impartially). The bishop was bound to extend his care over him, that is to say, to watch over him, assist him with his advice, that he might commit no injustice in an office which included the jus gladii. If he did not listen to the warnings of the bishop, if he really violated Christian discipline, then only was he to be excluded from the Church. The same line of conduct was adhered to in regard of the municipal authorities as towards the imperial officers. Baronius has erroneously interpreted this canon, in making it exclude heretics and schismatics from holding public offices.

CAN. 8. De baptismo eorum qui ab hæresi convertuntur

De Afris quod propria lege sua utuntur ut rebaptizent, placuit ut si ad Ecclesiam aliquis de hæresi venerit, interrogent eum symbolum; et si perviderint eum in Patre et Filio et Spiritu sancto esse baptizatum, manus ei tantum imponatur ut accipiat Spiritum sanctum. Quod si interrogatus non responderit hanc Trinitatem, baptizetur.

We have already seen that several African synods, held under Agrippinus and Cyprian, ordered that whoever had been baptized by a heretic, was to be re-baptized on re-entering the Church. The Council of Arles abolished this law (lex) of the Africans, and decreed that those who had received baptism from heretics in the name of the holy Trinity were not to be again baptized, but simply to receive the imposition of hands, ut accipiat Spiritum sanctum. Thus, as we have already said, the imposition of hands on those converted was ad pænitentiam and ad confirmationem. The Council of Arles promulgated in this eighth canon the rule that has always been in force, and is still preserved in our time, with regard to baptism conferred by heretics: it was adopted and renewed by the nineteenth canon of the Œcumenical Council of Nicæa.

In several mss. Arianis is read instead of Afris; but it is known that at the time of the first Synod of Arles the sect of the Arians did not yet exist. Binius has thought, and perhaps with some reason, that this canon alluded to the Donatists, and was intended to refute their opinion on the ordination of Cecilian by Felix of Aptunga, by laying down this general principle: “That a sacrament is valid, even when it has been conferred by an unworthy minister.” There is, however, no trace of an allusion to the Donatists: it is the thirteenth canon which clearly settles the particular case of the Donatists, as to whether a Traditor, one who has delivered up the Holy Scriptures, can validly ordain.

CAN. 9. Ut qui confessorum litteras afferuut, alias accipiant

De his qui confessorum literas afferunt, placuit ut sublatis iis literis alias accipiant communicatorias.

This canon is a repetition of the twenty-fifth canon of the Synod of Elvira.

CAN. 10. Ut is cujus uxor adulteraverit aliam illa vivente non accipiat

De his qui conjuges suas in adulterio deprehendunt, et iidem sunt adolescentes fideles et prohibentur nubere, placuit ut in quantum possit consilium iis detur, ne viventibus uxoribus suis licet adulteris alias accipiant.

In reference to the ninth canon of Elvira, the Synod of Arles has in view simply the case of a man putting away his adulterous wife; whilst, on the contrary, the Council of Elvira refers to the case of a woman leaving her adulterous husband. In both cases the two Councils alike depart from the existing civil law, by refusing to the innocent party the right of marrying again. But there is the noteworthy difference, that the right of re-marrying is forbidden to the woman, under penalty of permanent excommunication (can. 9 of Elvira); while the man is only strongly advised (in quantum possit consilium iis detur) not to marry again. Even in this case marriage is not allowed, as is shown by the expression et prohibentur nubere. This Synod will not allow that which has been forbidden, but only abstains from imposing ecclesiastical penance. Why is it more considerate to the man? Undoubtedly because the existing civil law gave greater liberty to the husband than to the wife, and did not regard the connection of a married man with an unmarried woman as adultery.

It may be observed that Petavius, instead of et prohibentur nubere, prefers to read et non prohibentur nubere, which would mean that, while they were not prohibited from marrying, they should be strongly recommended not to do so.

CAN. 11. De puellis quæ gentilibus junguntur

De puellis fidelibus quæ gentilibus junguntur placuit, ut aliquanto tempore a communione separentur.

This canon is evidently related to the fifteenth canon of Elvira, with, however, this difference, that the canon of Elvira chiefly relates to the parents, while that of Arles rather concerns daughters. This, too, enforces a penalty, which the other does not.

CAN. 12. Ut clerici fœneratores excommunicentur

De ministris qui fœnerant, placuit eos juxta formam divinitus datam a communione abstineri.

This canon is almost literally identical with the first part of the twentieth canon of Elvira.

CAN. 13. De iis qui Scripturas sacras, vasa dominica, vel nomina fratrum tradidisse dicuntur

De his qui Scripturas sanctas tradidisse dicuntur vel vasa dominica vel nomina fratrum suorum, placuit nobis ut quicumque eorum ex actis publicis fuerit detectus, non verbis nudis, ab ordine cleri amoveatur; nam si iidem aliquos ordinasse fuerint deprehensi, et hi quos ordinaverunt rationales subsistunt, non illis obsit ordinatio. Et quoniam multi sunt qui contra ecclesiasticam regulam pugnare videntur et per testes redemptos putant se ad accusationem admitti debere, omnino non admittantur, nisi, ut supra diximus, actis publicis docuerint.

The Emperor Diocletian had ordered, by his first edict for persecution in 303, first, that all the churches were to be destroyed; secondly, that all sacred books were to be burnt; thirdly, that Christians were to be deprived of all rights and all honours; and that when they were slaves, they were to be declared incapable of acquiring liberty. Consequently Christians were everywhere required to give up the holy books to be burnt, and the sacred vases to be confiscated by the treasury (ad fiscum). This canon mentions these two demands, and, besides these, the traditio nominum. It may be that, according to the first edict, some Christians, and especially the bishops, were required to remit the lists of the faithful belonging to their dioceses, in order to subject them to the decree which deprived them of all rights and honour. However, Dr. München thinks that the traditio nominum was first introduced in consequence of Diocletian’s second edict. This edict ordered that all ecclesiastics should be imprisoned, and compelled to sacrifice. Many tried to escape the danger by flight; but it also happened that many were betrayed, and their names (nomina fratrum) given up to the heathen. The thirteenth canon orders the deposition of these Traditores, if they are ecclesiastics. But this penalty was only to be inflicted in case the offence of traditio was proved, not merely by private denunciations (verbis nudis), but by the public laws, by writings signed by officers of justice (ex actis publicis), which the Roman officers had to draw up in executing the Emperor’s edict.

The Synod occupied itself with this question: “What must be done if a traditor bishop has ordained clergy?” This was precisely the principal question in the controversy with the Donatists; and the Synod decided “that the ordination should be valid, that is, that whoever should be ordained by such a bishop should not suffer from it” (non illis obsit ordinatio). This part of the passage is very plain, and clearly indicates the solution given by the Council; but the preceding words, et hi, quos ordinaverunt, rationales subsistunt, are difficult to explain. They may very well mean, “If those who have been ordained by them are worthy, and fit to receive holy orders;” but we read in a certain number of MSS., et de his, quos ordinaverint, ratio subsistit, that is to say, “If those are in question who have been ordained by them.”

This canon has another conclusion which touches the Donatist controversy; namely: “Accusers who, contrary to all the Church’s rules, procured paid witnesses to prove their accusations, as the adversaries of Felix of Aptunga have done, ought not at all to be heard if they cannot prove their complaints by the public acts.”

CAN. 14. Ut qui falso accusant fratres suos usque ad exitum excommunicentur

De his qui falso accusant fratres suos, placuit eos usque ad exitum non communicare.

This canon is the sequel to the preceding: “If it is proved that any one has made a positively false and unwarrantable accusation against another (as a traditor), such a person will be excommunicated to the end of his life.” This canon is worded in so general a manner, that it not only embraces the false denunciations on the particular case of the traditio, but all false denunciations in general, as the seventy-fifth canon of the Synod of Elvira had already done.

CAN. 15. Ut diacones non offerant

De diaconibus quos cognovimus multis locis offerre, placuit minime fieri debere.

During the persecution of Diocletian, a certain number of deacons seem to have assumed to themselves the right of offering the holy sacrifice, especially when there was no bishop or priest at hand. The Synod of Arles prohibited this. It will be seen that in this canon we translate offerre as “to offer the holy sacrifice,” in the same sense as this word is used in the nineteenth canon. Binterim gives another interpretation. By offerre he understands the administration of the Eucharist to the faithful; and he explains the canon in this sense: “The deacons ought not to administer the communion to the faithful in various places, but only in the churches which are assigned to them.” We must allow that offerre has sometimes this meaning; for example, in S. Cyprian, de Lapsis: Solemnibus adimpletis calicem diaconus offerre præsentibus cœpit; but,

a. It is difficult to suppose that the Synod of Arles should have employed the expression offerre in two senses so essentially different—in the fifteenth canon, where it would mean to administer the Eucharist, and in the nineteenth canon, where it would mean to offer the holy sacrifice—without having in either pointed out this difference more clearly.

b. The Synod evidently wished to put an end to a serious abuse, as it says, Minime fieri debere. Now it could not have been a very grave offence on the part of the deacons, if, in consequence of the want of clergy, they had administered the communion in several places: after all, they would only have done what they performed ex officio in their own churches.

CAN. 16. Ut ubi quisque fuit excommunicatus, ibi communionem consequatur

De his qui pro delicto suo a communione separantur, placuit ut in quibuscumque locis fuerint exclusi in iisdem communionem consequantur.

The fifty-third canon of the Synod of Elvira had already given the same order. This canon should be compared with the fifth canon of the Synod of Nicæa, the second and sixth of Antioch (in 341), and with the sixteenth of Sardica.

CAN. 17. Ut nullus episcopus alium conculcet episcopum

Ut nullus episcopus alium episcopum inculcet.

A bishop could in many ways inconvenience, molest (inculcare) a colleague; especially—

a. If he allowed himself to exercise various episcopal functions in any diocese other than his own; for example, to ordain clergy, which the Synod of Antioch forbade, in 341, by its thirteenth canon.

b. If he stayed a long time in a strange town, if he preached there, and so threw into the shade the bishop of the place, who might be less able, less learned than himself, for the sake of obtaining the other’s see; which the eleventh canon (fourteenth in Latin) of Sardica also forbids.

CAN. 18. De diaconibus urbicis ut sine conscientia presbyterorum nihil agant

De diaconibus urbicis ut non sibi tantum præsumant, sed honorem presbyteris reservent, ut sine conscientia ipsorum nihil tale faciant.

The canon does not tell us in what these usurpations of the suburban deacons consisted (in opposition to the deacons of the country churches, who, being farther from the bishop, had less influence). The words honorem presbyteris reservent seem to imply that the Council of Arles referred to the deacons who, according to the evidence of the Council of Nicæa, forgot their inferiority to the priests, and took rank and place amongst them, which the Synod of Nicæa also forbade. The Synod of Laodicæa also found it necessary to order deacons to remain standing in the presence of priests, unless invited to sit down. The last words of our canon indicate that here also the allusion is to the functions that deacons were generally authorized to exercise in virtue of their charge, such as baptizing and preaching, but which they were not to discharge unless with the consent of the priests who were set over them.

CAN. 19. Ut peregrinis episcopis locus sacrificandi detur

De episcopis peregrinis qui in urbem solent venire, placuit iis locum dare ut offerant.

The seventeenth canon having forbidden bishops to exercise episcopal functions in a strange diocese, the nineteenth canon declares that the celebration of the holy sacrifice is not comprised in this prohibition, and consequently that a bishop should be allowed to offer the holy sacrifice in a strange diocese, or, as we should say, should be permitted to say Mass.

CAN. 20. Ut sine tribus episcopis nullus episcopus ordinetur

De his qui usurpant sibi quod soli debeant episcopos ordinare, placuit ut nullus hoc sibi præsumat nisi assumptis secum aliis septem episcopis. Si tamen non potuerit septem, infra tres non audeat ordinare.

The Synod of Nicæa, canon 4, made the same regulation, that all bishops should not singly ordain another bishop, and orders that there be at least three bishops for this purpose.

CAN. 21. Ut presbyteri aut diacones qui ad alia loca se transferunt deponantur

De presbyteris aut diaconibus qui solent dimittere loca sua in quibus ordinati sunt et ad alia loca se transferunt, placuit ut iis locis ministrent quibus præfixi sunt. Quod si relictis locis suis ad alium se locum transferre voluerint, deponantur.

Cf. the second canon, above, p. 185.

CAN. 22. De apostatis qui in infirmitate communionem pctunt

De his qui apostatant et nunquam se ad ecclesiam repræsentant, ne quidem pœnitentiam agere quærunt, et postea infirmitate accepti petunt communionem, placuit iis non dandam communionem nisi revaluerint et egerint dignos fructus pœnitentiæ.

The Council of Nicæa, in its thirteenth canon, softened this order, and allowed the holy communion to be administered to all sinners at the point of death who should desire it.

Besides, these twenty-two canons of the first Synod of Arles, which are certainly genuine, Mansi found six more in a MS. at Lucca. He thought, however, that these last must have been decreed by another Council of Arles. They are the following:—

CAN. 1 (24)

Placuit ut quantum potest inhibeatur viro, ne dimissa uxore vivente liceat ut aliam ducat super eam: quicumque autem fecerit alienus erit a catholica communione.

CAN. 2 (25)

Placuit ut mulierem corruptam clericus non ducat uxorem, vel is, qui laicus mulierem corruptam duxerit, non admittatur ad clerum.

CAN. 3 (26)

De aliena ecclesia clericum ordinare alibi nullus episcopus usurpet; quod si fecerit, sciat se esse judicandum cum inter fratres de hoc fuerit appetitus.

CAN. 4 (27)

Abstentum clericum alterius ecclesiæ alia non admittat; sed pacem in ecclesia inter fratres simplicem tenere cognoscat.

CAN. 5 (28)

Venientem de Donatistis vel de Montensibus per manus impositionis suscipiantur, ex eo quod contra ecclesiasticum ordinem baptizare videntur.

CAN. 6 (29)

Præterea, quod dignum, pudicum et honestum est, suademus fratribus ut sacerdotes et levitæ cum uxoribus suis non coeant, quia ministerio quotidiano occupantur. Quicumque contra hanc constitutionem fecerit, a clericatus honore deponatur.

If we consider, again, the occasion of this Synod—namely, the schism of the Donatists—we see that as soon as the Synod had pronounced its sentence upon them, they appealed anew to the Emperor, while the Catholic bishops asked permission of him to return to their homes. Constantine thereupon wrote a beautiful and touching letter to the bishops, thanking God for His goodness to him, and the bishops for the equitable and conciliatory judgment that they had pronounced. He complained of the perverseness, the pride, and obstinacy of the Donatists, who would not have peace, but appealed to him from the judgment of the Church, when the sentence of the priests ought to be regarded as that of the Lord Himself (sacerdotum judicium ita debet haberi, ac si ipse Dominus residens judicet). “What audacity, what madness, what folly!” he exclaims; “they have appealed from it like heathens.” At the end of his letter he prays the bishops, after Christ’s example, to have yet a little patience, and to stay some time longer at Arles, so as to try and reclaim these misguided men. If this last attempt failed, they might return to their dioceses; and he prayed them to remember him, that the Saviour might have mercy upon him. He said that he had ordered the officers of the empire to send the refractory from Arles, and from Africa as well, to his court, where great severity awaited them.

These threats caused a great number of Donatists to return to the Church; others persevered in their obstinacy, and, according to Constantine’s order, were brought to the imperial court. From that time there was no longer any occasion for the Catholic bishops to remain at Arles, and in all probability they returned to their dioceses. Arrived at court, the Donatists again prayed the Emperor to judge their cause himself. Constantine at first refused, but, for reasons with which we are not acquainted, ended by consenting to their demand. He summoned Cecilian, the Catholic Bishop of Carthage, as well as his Donatist adversaries, to appear before him at Rome, where he was staying, in August 315. Ingentius, the false accuser of Felix of Aptunga, was to be there to prove to the Donatists that they had improperly called in question the consecration of Cecilian; but Cecilian, for some unknown reason, did not appear. S. Augustine himself did not know why; and the Donatists profited by this circumstance, and urged the Emperor to condemn Cecilian for disobedience. Constantine, however, contented himself with granting him a delay, at the end of which Cecilian was to appear at Milan, which so exasperated many of the Donatists, that they fled from the court to Africa. The Emperor for some time thought of going himself into Africa to judge the cause of the Donatists in their own country. He accordingly sent back some Donatist bishops into Africa, and warned the others by letter of his project, adding, that if they could prove but one of their numerous accusations against Cecilian, he would consider such proof as a demonstration of all the rest.

The Emperor afterwards gave up this scheme, and returned to that which had been first proposed, and in November 316 caused the contending parties to appear before him at Milan. Cecilian presented himself before the Emperor, as well as his antagonists. The Emperor heard both sides, examined their depositions, and finally declared that Cecilian was innocent, that his adversaries were calumniators, and sent a copy of his decision to Eumalius, his vicar in Africa. The Donatists were thus condemned three times, by the two Synods of Rome and of Arles, and finally by the Emperor himself. In spite of this, to weaken the effect of the late sentence, they spread the rumour that the celebrated Hosius Bishop of Corduba, a friend of Cecilian, had prejudiced the Emperor against them.

The subsequent history of the schism of the Donatists does not belong to this place; and we have now to consider two other synods which were held in the East about the same time as that of Arles, and which merit all our attention. They are those of Ancyra and Neocæsarea.

SEC. 16. The Synod of Ancyra in 314

Maximilian having died during the summer of 313, the Church in the East began to breathe freely, says Eusebius. He says nothing further about these Synods; but one of the first, and certainly the most celebrated, of these Councils, was that of Ancyra, the capital of Galatia, which was held for the purpose of healing the wounds inflicted on the Church by the last persecution, and especially to see what could be done on the subject of the lapsi.

The best Greek MSS. of the canons of Ancyra contain a very ancient preface, which shows, without further specification, that the Council of Ancyra was held before that of Nicæa. The presence of Vitalis Bishop of Antioch at the Council of Ancyra proves that it was held before the year 319, which is the year of the death of that bishop. It is, then, between 313 and 319 that it was held. Binius believes he has discovered a still more exact date, in the fact of the presence of Basil Bishop of Amasia at our Synod. According to his opinion, this bishop suffered martyrdom in 316, under the Emperor Licinius; but Tillemont has proved that he was probably not martyred till 320.

It appears from the sixth canon of Ancyra that the Council was held, conformably to the apostolic canons, No. 38 (36), in the fourth week after Easter. Maximin having died during the summer of 313, the first Pentecost after his death fell in 314; and it is very probable that the Christians immediately availed themselves of the liberty which his death gave them to come to the aid of the Church.

This is also what the words of Eusebius clearly indicate. Baronius, Tillemont, Rémi Ceillier, and others, were therefore perfectly right in placing the Synod of Ancyra after the Easter which followed the death of Maximin; consequently in 314.

We have three lists of the bishops who were present at the Synod of Ancyra. They differ considerably from one another. That which, in addition to the bishops and the towns, names the provinces, is evidently, as the Ballerini have shown, of later origin: for (α) no Greek MS. contains this list; (β) it is wanting in the most ancient Latin translations; (γ) the lists of the provinces are frequently at variance with the civil division of the province at this time. For instance, the list speaks of a Galatia prima, of a Cappadocia prima, of a Cilicia prima and secunda, of a Phrygia Pacatiana, all divisions which did not then exist. Another list of the bishops who were present at Ancyra, but without showing the provinces, is found in the Prisca and in the Isidorian collection. Dionysius the Less does not give a list of the persons: one of this kind has not, until lately, been attached to his writings.

In this state of things, it is evident that none of these lists are of great value, as they vary so much from each other even as to the number of the bishops, which is left undecided, being put down between twelve and eighteen. In the longest list the following names are found: Vitalis of Antioch, Agricolaus of Cæsarea in Palestine, Marcellus of Ancyra, who had become so famous in the Arian controversy, Lupus of Tarsus, Basil of Amasia, Philadelphius of Juliopolis in Galatia, Eustolius of Nicomedia, Heraclius of Tela in Great Armenia, Peter of Iconium, Nunechius of Laodicea in Phrygia, Sergianus of Antioch in Pisidia, Epidaurus of Perga in Pamphilia, Narcissus of Neronias in Cilicia, Leontius of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, Longinus of Neocæsarea in Pontus, Amphion of Epiphania in Cilicia, Salamenus of Germanicia in Cœlesyria, and Germanus of Neapolis in Palestine. Several of these were present, eleven years after, at the first Œcumenical Council of Nicæa. They belonged, as we see, to such different provinces of Asia Minor and Syria, that the Synod of Ancyra may, in the same sense as that of Arles, be considered a concilium plenarium, that is, a general council of the Churches of Asia Minor and Syria. From the fact that Vitalis of Antioch is mentioned first (primo loco), and that Antioch was the most considerable seat of those who were represented at Ancyra, it is generally concluded that Vitalis presided over the Synod; and we admit this supposition, although the Libellus synodicus assigns the presidency to Marcellus of Ancyra.

CAN. 1

Πρεσβυτέρους τοὺς ἐπιθύσαντας, εἶτα ἐπαναπαλαίσαντας μήτε ἐκ μεθόδου τινὸς ἀλλʼ ἐξ ἀληθείας, μήτε προκατασκευάσαντας καὶ ἐπιτηδεύσαντας, καὶ πείσαντας ἵνα δόξωσι μὲν βασάνοις ὑποβάλλεσθαι, ταύτας δὲ τῷ δοκεῖν καὶ τῷ σχήματι προσαχθῆναι• τούτους ἔδιξε τῆς μὲν τιμῆς τῆς κατὰ τὴν καθέδραν μετέχειν, προσφέρειν δὲ αὐτοὺς ἤ ὁμιλεῖν ἢ ὅλως λειτουργεῖν τι τῶν ἱερατικῶν λειτουργιῶν μὴ ἐξεῖναι.

“Priests who sacrificed (during the persecution), but afterwards repenting, resumed the combat not only in appearance, but in reality, will continue to enjoy the honours of their office, but they may neither sacrifice or preach, nor fulfil any priestly office.”

In this translation we have left out a great incidental proposition (from μήτε προκατασκευάσαντας to προσαχθῆναι), because to be understood it requires some previous explanations. Certain priests who had sacrificed to idols, wishing to be restored to favour, performed a sort of farce to deceive the bishop and the faithful. They bribed some officers and their subordinates, then presented themselves before them as Christians, and pretended to submit to all kinds of tortures, which were not really, but only apparently applied to them, according to the plan which had been previously arranged. The Council also says: “Without having made any arrangements, and without its being understood and agreed that they should appear to submit to tortures which were only to be apparently inflicted on them.”

It was quite justifiable, and in accordance with the ancient and severe discipline of the Church, when this Synod no longer allowed priests, even when sincerely penitent, to discharge priestly functions. It was for this same reason that the two Spanish bishops Martial and Basilides were deposed, and that the judgment given against them was confirmed in 254 by an African synod held under S. Cyprian. The first canon, together with the second and third, was inserted in the Corpus juris can.

CAN. 2

Διακόνους ὁμοίως θύσαντας, μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ἀναπαλαίσαντας τὴν μὲν ἄλλην τιμὴν ἔχειν, πεπαῦσθαι δὲ αὐτοὺς πάσης τῆς ἱερᾶς λειτουργίας, τῆς τε τοῦ ἄρτον ἢ ποτήριον ἀναφέρειν ἢ κηρύσσειν, εἰ μέντοι τινὲς τῶν ἐπισκόπων τούτοις συνίδοιεν κάματόν τινα ἢ ταπείνωσιν πράτητος καὶ ἐθέλοιεν πλεῖόν τι διδόναι ἢ ἀφαιρεῖν, ἐπʼ αὐτοῖς εἶναι τὴν ἐξουσίαν.

“In the same manner, the deacons who may have sacrificed, but have afterwards returned to the fight, shall keep the dignities of their office, but shall no longer fulfil any holy function, shall no longer offer the bread and wine (to the celebrant or to the communicants), shall no longer preach. But if any bishops, out of regard to their efforts (for their ardent penitence), and to their humiliation, wish to grant them more privileges, or to withdraw more from them, they have power to do so.”

According to this, such deacons could no longer exercise their ministry in the Church, but they continued their offices as almoners to the poor, and administrators of the property of the Church, etc. etc. It is doubtful what is meant by “to offer the bread and the chalice.” In the primitive Church, S. Justin testifies that the deacons distributed the holy communion to the laity. It is possible that the canon refers to this distribution. Van Espen, however, thinks that, at the time of the Synod, deacons no longer distributed the consecrated bread to the faithful, but only the chalice, according to a prescription of the Apostolic Constitutions, and an expression of Cyprian; so that ἀναφάτρειν ἄρτον ἢ ποτήριον (because there is mention of ἄρτον, bread) must here relate to the presentation of the bread and the chalice made by the deacon to the bishop or priest who celebrated at the time of the offertory. But it seems from the eighteenth canon of Nicæa, that this primitive custom, in virtue of which deacons also distributed the eucharistic bread as well as wine, had not entirely disappeared at the beginning of the fourth century, and consequently at the time of the Synod of Ancyra.

The word κηρύσσειν, to proclaim, needs explanation. It means in the first place the act of preaching; it is declared to be forbidden to diaconis lapsis. But deacons had, and still have, other things to proclaim (κηρύσσειν). They read the Gospel, they exclaimed: Flectamus genua, Procedamus in pace, Ne quis audientium, Ne quis infidelium; and these functions were also comprised in the κηρύσσειν.

Finally, the canon directs bishops to take into consideration the circumstances and the worth of the diaconi lapsi in adding to or deducting from the measures decreed against them.

CAN. 3

Τοὺς φεύγοντας καὶ συλληφθέντας ἢ ὑπὸ οἰκείων παραδοθέντας ἢ ἄλλως τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ἀφαιρεθέντας ἢ ὑπομείναντας βασάνους ἢ εἰς δεσμωτήριον ἐμβληθέντας βοῶντάς τε ὅτι εἰσὶ Χριστιανοὶ καὶ περισχισθέντας (περισχεθέυτας) ἤτοι εἰς τὰς χεῖρας πρὸς βίαν ἐμβαλλόντων τῶν βιαζομένων ἢ βρῶμά τιπρὸς ἀνάγκην δεξαμένους, ὁμολογοῦυτας δὲ διόλου ὅτι εἰσὶ Χριστιανοὶ, καὶ τὸ πένθος τοῦ συμβάυτος ἀεὶ ἐπιδεικνυμένους τῇ πάσῃ καταστολῇ καί τῷ σχήματι καὶ τῇ βίου ταπεινόητι• τούτους ὡς ἔξω ἁμαρτήματος ὄντας τῆς κοινωνίας μὴ κωλύεσθαι εἰ δὲ καὶ ἐκωλύθησαν ὑπό τινος, περισσοτέρας ἀκριβέας ἕνεκεν ἤ καί τινων ἀγνοίᾳ, εὐθὺς προσδεχθῆναι• τοῦτο δέ ὁμοίως ἐπί τε τῶν ἐκ τοῦ κλήρου καὶ τῶν ἄλλων λαῖκῶν, προσεξητάσθη δὲ κἀκεῖνο, εἰ δύνανται καὶ λαικοὶ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀνάγκῃ ὑποπεσόντες προσάγεθαι εἰς τάξιν• ἔδοξεν οὖν καὶ τούτους ὡς μηδὲν ἡμαρτηκότας, εἰ καὶ ἡ προλαβοῦσα εὑρίσκοιτο ὀρθὴ τοῦ βίου πολιτεία, προχειρίζεσθαι.

“Those who fled before persecution, but were caught, or were betrayed by those of their own houses, or in any other way, who have borne with resignation the confiscation of their property, tortures, and imprisonment, declaring themselves to be Christians, but who have subsequently been vanquished, whether their oppressors have by force put incense into their hands, or have compelled them to take in their mouth the meat offered to idols, and who, in spite of this, have persevered in avowing themselves Christians, and have evinced their sorrow for what had befallen them by their dejection and humility,—such, not having committed any fault, are not to be deprived of the communion of the Church; and if they have been so treated by the over-severity or ignorance of their bishop, they are immediately to be reinstated. This applies equally to the clergy and to the laity. In the same way it was to be inquired if the laity, to whom violence has been used (that is to say, who have been physically obliged to sacrifice), might be promoted to the ministry (τάξις, ordo); and it was decreed that, not having committed any fault (in the case of these sacrifices), they might be elected, provided their former life was found to be consistent.”

The meaning of this canon is clear: “Physical constraint relieves from responsibility.” That there had been physical constraint was proved in the following ways:—

(a.) By the previous endurance with which they had borne confiscation, tortures, and imprisonment.

(β.) By this, that during their sufferings they had always declared themselves Christians.

Among the expressions of this canon the word περισχισθέντας of the textus vulgatus presents the chief difficulties. Zonaras translates it thus: “If their clothes have been torn from their bodies:” for περισχίζω means to tear away, and with τινὰ to tear off the clothes from any one. But the true reading is περισχεθέντας, which Routh has found in three MSS. in the Bodleian Library, and which harmonizes the best with the versions of Dionysius the Less and of Isidore. We have used this reading (περισχεθέντας) in our translation of the canon; for περιέχω means to surround, to conquer, to subdue.

CAN. 4

Περὶ τῶν πρὸς βίαν θυσάντων, ἐπὶ δὲ τούτοις καὶ τῶν δειπνησάντων εἰς τὰ εἴδωλα, ὅσοι μὲν ἀπαγόμενοι καὶ σχήματι φαιδροτέρῳ ἀνῆλθον καὶ ἐσθῆτι ἐχρήσαντο πολυτεστέρᾳ καὶ μετέσχον τοῦ παρασκευασθέντος δείπνου ἀδιαφόρως, ἔδοξεν ἐνιαυτὸν ἀκροᾶσθαι, ὑποπεσεῖν δὲ τρία ἔτη, εὐχῆς δὲ μόνης κοινωνῆσαι ἔτη δύο, καὶ τότε ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ τέλειον.

“As to those who have been forced to sacrifice, and who have besides eaten the meats consecrated to the gods (that is to say, who have been forced to take part in the feasts off the sacrifices), the Council decrees, that those who, being forced to go to the sacrifice, have gone cheerfully, dressed in their best, and without any sorrow (as if there was no difference between this and other meals), and shall there have eaten of it, shall remain one year amongst the audientes (second class of penitents), three years among the substrati (third class of penitents), shall take part in the prayers (fourth class) for two years, and then finally be admitted to the complete privileges of the Church (τὸ τέλειον), that is, to the communion.”

CAN. 5

Ὅσοι δὲ ἀνῆλθον μετὰ ἐσθῆτος πενθικῆς καὶ ἀναπεσόντες ἔφαγον μεταξὺ διʼ ὅλης τῆς ἀνακλίσεως δακρύοντες, εἰ ἐπλήρωσαν τὸν τῆς ὑποπτώσεως τριετῆ χρόνον χωρὶς προσφορᾶς δεχθήτωσαν• εἰ δὲ μὴ ἔφαγον, δύο ὑποπεσόντες ἔτη τῷ τρίτῳ κοινωνησάτωσαν χωρὶς προσφορᾶς, ἵνα τὸ τέλειον τῇ τετραετίᾳ λάβωσι, τοὺ δὲ ἐπισκόπους ἐξουσίαν ἔχειν τὸν τρόπον τῆς ἐπιστροφῆς δοκιμάσαντας φιλανθρωπεύεσθαι ἢ πλείονα προστιθέναι χρόνον• πρὸ πάντων δὲ καὶ ὁ προάγων βίος καὶ ὁ μετὰταῦτα ἐξεταζέσθω, καὶ οὕτως ἡ φιλανθρωπία ἐπιμετρείσθω.

“Nevertheless, those who have appeared there (that is, at the feast of the sacrifices) in mourning habits, who have been full of grief during the repast, and have wept during the whole time of the feast, shall be three years amongst the substrati, and then be admitted, without taking part in the offering; but if they have not eaten (and have merely been present at the feast), they are to be substrati for two years, and the third year they shall take part in the offering (in the degree of the consistentes, σύστασις), so as to receive the complement (the holy communion) in the fourth year. The bishops will have the power, after having tried the conduct of each, to mitigate the penalties, or to extend the time of penitence; but they must take care to inquire what has passed before and after their fall, and their clemency must be exercised accordingly.”

We may see that this canon is closely allied to the preceding one, and that the one explains the other: there only remains some obscurity arising from the expression χωρὶς προσφορᾶς. Aubespine thought that there is here a reference to the offerings which were presented by penitents, in the hope of obtaining mercy; but Suicer remarks that it is not so, and that the reference here is certainly to those offerings which are presented by the faithful during the sacrifice (at the offertory). According to Suicer, the meaning of the canon would be: “They may take part in divine worship, but not actively;” that is, “they may mingle their offerings with those of the faithful:” which corresponds with the fourth or last degree of penitence. But as those who cannot present their offerings during the sacrifice are excluded from the communion, the complete meaning of this canon is: “They may be present at divine service, but may neither offer nor communicate with the faithful.” Consequently χωρὶς προσφορᾶς also comprises the exclusion from the communion; but it does not follow from this that προσφορὰ means the sacrament of the altar, as Herbst and Routh have erroneously supposed. The eucharistic service has, we know, two parts: it is, in the first place, a sacrifice; and then, as a reception of the eucharistic bread, it is a sacrament. And the whole act may be called προσφορά; but the mere reception of the communion cannot be called προσφορά. The canon does not clearly point out the time during which penitents were to remain in the fourth degree of penitence, except in the case of those who had not actually eaten of the sacrificed meats. It says, that at the end of a year they could be received in full, that is to say, at the eucharistic table. The time of penitence is not fixed for those who had actually eaten the sacrificed meats: perhaps it was also a year; or it may be they were treated according to the fourth canon, that is to say, reduced for two years to the fourth degree of penitence. The penitents of the fifth canon, less culpable than those of the fourth, are not, as the latter, condemned to the second degree of penitence.

CAN. 6

Περὶ τῶν ἀπειλῇ μόνον εἰξάνρων κολάσεως καὶ ἀφαιρέσεως ὑπαρχόντων ἤ μετοικίας καὶ θυσάντων καὶ μέχρι τοῦ παρόντος καιροῦ μὴ μετανοησάντων μηδὲ ἐπιστρεψάντων, νῦν δὲ παρὰ τὸν καιρὸν τῆς συνόδου προσελθόντων καὶ εἰς διάνοιαν τῆς ἐπιστροφῆς γενομένων, ἔδοξε μέχρι τῆς μεγάλης ἡμέρας εἰς ἀκρόασιν δεχθῆναι, καὶ μετὰ τὴν μεγάλην ἡμέραν ὑποπεσεῖν ταία ἔτη καὶ μετὰ ἄλλα δύο ἔτη κοινωνῆσαι χωρὶς προσφορᾶς, καὶ οὕτως ἐλθεῖν ἐπὶ τὸ τὲλειον, ὥστε τὴν πᾶσαν ἑξαετίαν πληρῶσαι• εἰ δέ τινες πρὸ τῆς συνόδου ταύτης ἐδέχθησαυ εἰς μετάνοιαν, ἀπʼ ἐκείνον τοῦ χρόνου λελογίσθαι αὐτοῖς τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς ἑξαε̇τίας• εἰ μἑντοι κίνδυνς καί θανάτου προσδοκία ἐκ νόσου ἤ ἄλλης τινὸς προφάσεως συμβαίη, τούτους ἐπὶ ὅρῳ δεχθῆναι.

“As to those who yielded on the first threat of punishment and of the confiscation of their property, or of exile, and who have sacrificed, and to this day have not repented or returned, but who on the occasion of this Synod have repented, and shall resolve to return, it is decreed, that until the great feast (Easter) they shall be admitted to the degree of audientes; that they shall after the great feast be substrati for three years; then that they shall be admitted, but without taking part in the sacrifice for two years, and that then only they shall be admitted to the full service (to the communion), so that the whole time will be six years. For those who have been admitted to a course of penitence previous to this Synod, the six years will be allowed to date from the moment of its commencement. If they were exposed to any danger, or threatened with death following any illness, or if there was any other important reason, they would be admitted, conformably to the present prescription (ὅρος).”

The meaning of the last phrase of the canon is, that if the sick regain their health, they will perform their penance, according to what is prescribed. Zonaras thus very clearly explains this passage. This canon is made intelligible by the two preceding. A similar decision is given in the eleventh Nicene canon.

As we have previously remarked (sec. 16), there is a chronological signification in the expression “till the next Easter,” compared with that of “the six years shall be accomplished.” According to the thirty-sixth (thirty-eighth) apostolic canon, a synod was to be held annually in the fourth week after Easter. If, then, a penitent repented at the time of the synod, and remained among the audientes till the next Easter, he had done penance for nearly a year. And adding three years for the degree of the substratio, and two for the last degree, the six years were completed. It is then with good reason that we have deduced from the sixth canon that the Council of Ancyra was held shortly after Easter, and very probably in the fourth week after this feast, that is, in the time prescribed by the apostolic canons.

CAN. 7

Περὶ τῶν συνεστιαθέντων ἐν ἑορτῇ ἐθνικῇ ἐν τόπῳ ἀφωροσμένῳ τοῖς ἐθνικοῖ, ἴδια βρώματα ἐπικομισαμένων καὶ φαγντων, ἔδοξε διετίαν ὑποπεσόντας δεχθῆναν Τὸ δὲ εἰ χρὴ μετὰ τῆς προσφορᾶς ἔκαστον τῶν ἐπιακόπων δοκιμάσαι καὶ τὸν ἄλλον βίον ἐφʼ ἑκάστου ἀξιῶσαι.

“As to those who, during a heathen festival, have seated themselves in the locality appointed for that festival, and have brought and eaten their food there, they shall be two years substrati, and then admitted. As to the question of their admission to the offering, each bishop shall decide thereon, taking into consideration the whole life of each person.”

Several Christians tried, with worldly prudence, to take a middle course. On the one hand, hoping to escape persecution, they were present at the feasts of the heathen sacrifices, which were held in the buildings adjoining the temples; and on the other, in order to appease their consciences, they took their own food, and touched nothing that had been offered to the gods. These Christians forgot that S. Paul had ordered that meats sacrificed to the gods should be avoided, not because they were tainted in themselves, as the idols were nothing, but from another, and in fact a twofold reason: 1st, Because, in partaking of them, some had still the idols in their hearts, that is to say, were still attached to the worship of idols, and thereby sinned; and 2dly, Because others scandalized their brethren, and sinned in that way. To these two reasons a third may be added, namely, the hypocrisy and the duplicity of those Christians who wished to appear heathens, and nevertheless to remain Christians. The Synod punished them with two years of penance in the third degree, and gave to each bishop the right, either at the expiration of this time to admit them to communion, or to make them remain some time longer in the fourth degree.

CAN. 8

Οἱ δὲ δεύτερον καὶ τρίτον θύσαντες μετὰ βίας, τετραρτίαν ὑοπεσέτωσαν, δύο δὲ ἔτη χωρὶς προσφορᾶς κοινωνησάτωσαν, καὶ τῷ ἑβδόμῳ τελείως δεχθήτωσαν.

“Those who, being compelled, have sacrificed two or three times, shall remain substrati for four years; they shall take part in the worship, without presenting any offering, for two years (as consistentes of the fourth degree); the seventh they shall be admitted to the communion.”

CAN. 9

Ὅσοι δὲ μὴ μόνον ἀπέστησαν ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπανέστησαν καὶ ἠσάγκασαν ἀδελφοὺς καὶ αἴτιοι ἐγένοντο τοῦ ἀναγκασθῆναι, οὖτοι ἔτη μὲν τρία τὸν τῆς ἀκρόσεως δεξάσθωσαν τόπον, ἐν δὲ ἄλλῃ ἑξαετίᾳ τὸν τῆς ὑποπτώσεως, ἄλλον δὲ ἐνιαυτὸν κοινωνησάτωσαν χωρὶς προσφορᾶς, ἵνα τὴν δεκαετίαν πληρώσαντες τοῦ τελείου μετάσχωσιν• ἐν μέντοι τούτῳ χρόνῳ καὶ τὸν ἄλλον αὐτῶν ἐπιτηρεῖαθαι βίον.

“Those who have not only apostatized, but have become the enemies of their brethren, and have compelled them (to apostasy), or have been the cause of the constraint put upon them, shall remain for three years among the audientes (second degree), then six years with the substrati; they shall then take part in the worship, without offering (in quality of consistentes), for one year; and not until the expiration of ten years shall they receive full communion (the holy Eucharist). Their conduct during all this time shall also be watched.”

CAN. 10

Διάκονοι ὅσοι καθίσταντοι, παρʼ αὐτὴν τὴν κατάστασιν εἰ ἐμαρτύραντο καὶ ἔφασαν χρῆναι γαμῆσαι, μὴ δυνάμενοι οὕτως μένειν, οὖτοι μετὰ ταῦτα γαμήσαντες ἔστωσαν ἐν τῇ ὑπηρεσίᾳ διὰ τὸ ἐπιτραπῆναι αὐτοὺς ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου• τοῦτο δὲ εἴ τινες σιωπήσαντες καὶ καταδεξάμενοι ἐν τῇ χειροτονίᾳ μένειν οὕτως μετὰ ταῦτα ἦλθον ἐπὶ γάμον, πεαῦσθαι αὐτοὺς τῆς διακονίας.

“If deacons, at the time of their appointment (election), declare that they must marry, and that they cannot lead a celibate life, and if accordingly they marry, they may continue their offices, because the bishop (at the time of their institution) gave them leave to marry; but if at the time of their election they have not spoken, and have agreed in taking holy orders to lead a celibate life, and if later they marry, they shall lose their diaconate.”

This canon has been inserted in the Corpus juris canonici.

CAN. 11

Τὰς μνηστευθείσας κόρας καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ὑπʼ ἄλλων ἁρπαγείσας ἔδοξεν ἀποδίδοσθαι τοῖς προμνηστευσαμένοις, εἰ καὶ βίανὑπ ̓ αὐτῶν πάθοιεν.

“Damsels who are betrothed, who are afterwards carried off by others, shall be given back to those to whom they are betrothed, even when they have been treated with violence.”

This canon treats only of betrothed women (by the sponsalia de futuro), not of those who are married (by the sponsalia de præsenti). In the case of the latter there would be no doubt as to the duty of restitution. The man who was betrothed was, moreover, at liberty to receive his affianced bride who had been carried off, or not. It was thus that S. Basil had already decided in canon 22 of his canonical letter to Amphilochius.

CAN. 12

Τοὺς πρὸ τοῦ βαπτίσματος τεθυκότας καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα βαπτισθέντας ἔδοξεν εἰς τάξιν προάγεσθαι ὡς ἀπολουσαμένους.

“Those who have sacrificed to the gods before their baptism, and who have afterwards been baptized, may be promoted to holy orders, as (by baptism) they are purified from all their former sins.”

This canon does not speak generally of all those who sacrificed before baptism; for if a heathen sacrificed before having embraced Christianity, he certainly could not be reproached for it after his admission. It was quite a different case with a catechumen, who had already declared for Christianity, but who during the persecution had lost courage, and sacrificed. In this case it might be asked whether he could still be admitted to the priesthood. The Council decided that a baptized catechumen could afterwards be promoted to holy orders.

The fourteenth canon of Nicæa also speaks of the catechumens who have committed the same fault.

CAN. 13

Χωρεπισκόπους μὴ ἐξεῖναι πρεσβυτέρους ἤ διακόνους ξειροτονεῖν, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ πρεσβυτέρους χωρὶς τοῦ ἐπιτραπῆναι ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐπισκόπου μετὰ γραμμάτων ἐν ἑτέρᾳ παροικιᾳ.

The literal translation of the Greek text is as follows:—

“It is not permitted to the chorepiscopi to ordain priests and deacons; neither is this permitted to the priests of the towns in other parishes (dioceses) without the written authority of the bishop of the place.”

In our remarks on the fifty-seventh canon of the Council of Laodicea, where it is forbidden to appoint chorepiscopi (or country bishops) for the future, we shall explain what must be understood by this office, which is here mentioned for the first time. Compare also the eighth and tenth canons of the Synod of Antioch in 341, and the second proposition of the sixth canon of the Council of Sardica. If the first part of the thirteenth canon is easy to understand, the second, on the contrary, presents a great difficulty; for a priest of a town could not in any case have the power of consecrating priests and deacons, least of all in a strange diocese. Many of the most learned men have, for this reason, supposed that the Greek text of the second half of the canon, as we have read it, is incorrect or defective. It wants, say they, ποιεῖν τι, or aliquid agere, i.e. to complete a religious function. To confirm this supposition, they have appealed to several ancient versions, especially to that of Isidore: sed nec presbyteris civitatis sine episcopi præcepto amplius aliquid imperare, vel sine auctoritate literarum ejus in unaquaque (some read ἐν ἑκάστῃ instead of ἑν ἑτέρᾳ) parochia aliquid agere. The ancient Roman MS. of the canons, Codex canonum, has the same reading, only that it has provincia instead of parochia. Fulgentius Ferrandus, deacon of Carthage, who long ago made a collection of canons, translates in the same way in his Brcviatio canonum: Ut presbyteri civitatis sine jussu episcopi nihil jubeant, nec in unaquaque parochia aliquid agant. Van Espen has explained this canon in the same way.

Routh has given another interpretation. He maintained that there was not a word missing in this canon, but that at the commencement one ought to read, according to several MSS., χωρεπισκόποις in the dative, and further down ἁλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ instead of ἁλλὰ μηδὲ, then πρεσβυτέρους (in the accusative) πόλεως, and finally ἑκάστῃ instead of ἑτέρᾳ; and that we must therefore translate, “Chorepiscopi are not permitted to consecrate priests and deacons (for the country), still less (ἀλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ) can they consecrate priests for the town without the consent of the bishop of the place.” The Greek text, thus modified according to some mss., especially those in the Bodleian Library, certainly gives a good meaning. Still ἀλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ does not mean, but still less: it means, but certainly not, which makes a considerable difference.

Besides this, it can very seldom have happened that the chorepiscopi ordained priests and deacons for a town; and if so, they were already forbidden (implicite) in the first part of the canon.

CAN. 14

Τοὺς ἐν κλήρῳ πρεσβυτέρους ἤ διακόνους ὄντας καὶ ἀπεχομένους κρεῶν ἔδοξεν ἐφάπτεσθαι, καὶ οὕτως, εἰ βούλοιντο, κρατεῖν ἐαντῶν εἰ δὲ βούλοιντο (βδελύσσοιντο), ὡς μηδὲ τὰ μετὰ κρεῶν βαλλόμενα λάχανα ἐσθίειν, καὶ εἰ μὴ ὑπείκοιεν τῷ κανόνι, πεπαῦσθαι αὐτοὺς τῆς τάξεως.

“Those priests and clerks who abstain from eating meat ought (during the love-feasts) to eat it (taste it); but they may, if they will, abstain from it (that is to say, not eat it). If they disdain it (βδελύσσοιντο), so that they will not eat even vegetables cooked with meat, and if they do not obey the present canon, they are to be excluded from the ranks of the clergy.”

The fifty-second apostolic canon had already promulgated the same law with reference to the false Gnostic or Manichean asceticism, which declared that matter was satanic, and especially flesh and wine. Zonaras has perceived and pointed out that our canon treated of the agapæ, or love-feasts, of the primitive Christians. He shows, besides, that ἐφάπτεσθαι means, to touch the meats, in the same sense as ἀπογεύεσθαι, to taste. Matthæus Blastares agrees with Zonaras. Finally, Routh has had the credit of contributing to the explanation of this canon, inasmuch as, relying on three MSS., the Collectio of John of Antioch and the Latin versions, he has read εἰ δὲ βδελύσσοιντο instead of εἰ δὲ βούλοιντο, which has no meaning here. If βούλοιντο is to be preserved, we must, with Beveridge, insert the negation μὴ. But the reading βδελύσσοιντο has still in its favour that the fifty-second apostolic canon, just quoted, and which treats of the same question, has the expression βδελυσσόμενος in the same sense as our canon. Let us add that κρατεῖν ἐαυτῶν ought to be taken in the sense of ἐγκρατεῖν, that is, to abstain.

CAN. 15

Περὶ τῶν διαφερόντων τῷ κυριακῷ, ὅσα ἐπισκόπου μὴ ὄντος πρεσβύτεροι ἐπώλησαν, ἀναβαλεῖσθαι (ἀνακαλεῖσθαι) τὸ κυριακὸν, ἐν δὲ τῇ κρίσει τοῦ ἐπισκόπου εἶναι, εἴπερ προσήκει ἀπολαβεῖν τὴν τιμὴν εὄτε καὶ μὴ, διὰ τὸ πολλάκις τὴν εἴσοδον (πρόσοδον) τῶν πεπραμένων ἀποδεδωκέναι αὐτοῖς τούτοις πλείονα τὴν τιμήν.

“If the priests, during the vacancy of an episcopal see, have sold anything belonging to the Church, she (the Church) has the right to reclaim it (ἀνακαλεῖσθαι); and it is for the bishop to decide whether they (the buyers) are to receive the price given for the purchase, seeing that often the temporary use of the article sold to them has been worth more than the price paid for it.”

If the purchaser of ecclesiastical properties has realized more by the temporary revenue of such properties than the price of the purchase, the Synod thinks there is no occasion to restore him this price, as he has already received a sufficient indemnity from the revenue, and that, according to the rules then in force, interest drawn from the purchase money was not permitted. Besides, the purchaser hall done wrong in buying ecclesiastical property during the vacancy of a see (sede vacante). Beveridge and Routh have shown that in the text ἀνακαλεῖσθαι and πρόσοδον must be read.

CAN. 16

Περὶ τῶν ἀλογευσαμένων ἣ καὶ ἀλογευομένων, ὅσοι πρὶν εἰκοσαετεῖς γενέσθαι ἥμαρτον, πέντε καὶ δέκα ἔτεσιν ὑποπεσόντες κοινωνίας τυγχανέτωσαν τῆς εἰς τὰς προσευχὰς, εἶτα ἐν τῇ κοινωνίᾳ διατελέσαντες ἔτη πέντε, τότε καὶ τῆς προδφορᾶς ἐφαπτέσθωσαν ἐξεταζέσθω δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ ὁ ἐν τῇ ὑποπτῴσει βίος, καὶ οὕτως τυγχανέτωσαν τῆς φιλανθρωπίας εἰ δέ τινες κατακόρως ἐν τοῖς ἀμαρτήμασι γεγόνασι, τὴν μακρὰν ἐχέτωσαν ὑπόπτωσιν ὅσοι δὲ ὑπερβάντες τὴν ἡλικίαν ταύτην γυναῖκας ἔχοντες περιπεπτώκασι τῷ ἁμαρτήματι, πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι ἔτη ὑποπεσέτωσαν καὶ κοινωνίας τυγχανέτωσαν τῆς εἰς τὰς προσευχὰς, εἶτα ἐκτελέσαντες πέντε ἔτη ἐν τῇ κοινωνίᾳ τῶν εὐχῶν τυγχανέτωσαν τῆς προσφορᾶς εἰ δέ τινες καὶ γυναῖκας ἔχοντες καὶ ὑπερβάντες τὸν πεντηκονταετῆ χρόνον ἥμαρτον, ἐπὶ τῇ ἐξόδῳ τοῦ βίου τυγχανέτωσαν τῆς κοινωίας.

“Those who have been or are. now guilty of lying with beasts, supposing they are not twenty years old when they commit this sin, ought to be substrati for five years; they should then be allowed to join in the prayers, without offering the sacrifice (and would consequently live in the fourth degree of penitence); and after that time they might assist at the holy sacrifice. An examination must also be made of their conduct while they were substrati, and also notice taken of the lives they led. As for those who have sinned immoderately in this way (i.e. who have for a long time committed this sin), they must undergo a long substratio (no allowance will be made in their case). Those who are more than twenty, and have been married, and have nevertheless fallen into this sin, ought to be allowed to share in the prayers only after a substratio of twenty-five years; and after five years’ sharing in the prayers, they should be allowed to assist at the holy sacrifice. If married men more than fifty years old fall into this sin, they shall receive the communion only at the end of their lives.”

On the expressions substrati, participation in prayers and in the sacrifice, cf. the remarks above on canons 4 and 5.

CAN. 17

Τοὺς ἀλογευσαμένους καὶ λεπροὺς ὄντας ἤτοι λεπρώσαντας, τούτους προσέταξεν ἡ ἁγία σύνοδος εἰς τοὺς χειμαζομένους εὔχεσθαι.

It is not easy to give the real meaning of this canon. It may perhaps mean: “Those who have committed acts of bestiality, and, being lepers themselves, have now (ἤτοι) made others so, must pray among the χειμαζομένοις.” Others translate it: “Those who have committed acts of bestiality, and are or have been lepers (λεπρώσαντας, i.e. having been leprous), shall pray among the χειμαζομένοις.” This last translation seems to us inexact; for λεπρώσαντας does not come from λεπράω, but from λεπρόω, which has a transitive meaning, and signifies “to make leprous.” But even if we adopt the former translation without hesitation, it is still asked if the leprosy of which the canon speaks is the malady known by that name, and which lepers could communicate to others especially by cohabitation; or if it means spiritual leprosy, sin, and especially the sin of bestiality, and its wider extension by bad example. Van Espen thinks that the canon unites the two ideas, and that it speaks of the real leprosy caused precisely by this bestial depravity. By the word χειμαζόμενοι some understand those possessed. This is the view of Beveridge and Routh. Others, particularly Suicer, think that the Council means by it penitents of the lowest degree, the flentes, who had no right to enter the church, but remained in the porch, in the open air, exposed to all inclemencies (χειμών), and who must ask those who entered the church to intercede for them.

As, however, the possessed also remained in the porch, the generic name of χειμαζόμενοι was given to all who were there, i.e. who could not enter the church. We may therefore accept Suicer’s explanation, with whom agree Van Espen, Herbst, etc. Having settled this point, let us return to the explanation of λέπρα. It is clear that λεπρώσαντας cannot possibly mean “those who have been lepers;” for there is no reason to be seen why those who were cured of that malady should have to remain outside the church among the flentes. Secondly, it is clear that the words λεπροὺς ὄντας, etc., are added to give force to the expression ἀλογευσάμενοι. The preceding canon had decreed different penalties for different kinds of ἀλογευσάμενοι. But that pronounced by canon 17 being much severer than the preceding ones, the ἀλογευσάμενοι of this canon must be greater sinners than those of the former one. This greater guilt cannot consist in the fact of a literal leprosy; for this malady was not a consequence of bestiality. But their sin was evidently greater when they tempted others to commit it. It is therefore λέπρα in the figurative sense that we are to understand; and our canon thus means: “Those who were spiritually leprous through this sin, and tempting others to commit it made them leprous.”

CAN. 18

Εἴ τινες ἐπίσκοποι κατασταθέντες καὶ μὴ δεχθέντες ὑπὸ τῆς παροικίας ἐκείνης, εἰς ἣν ὠνομάσθησαν, ἑτέραις βούλοιντο παροικίαις ἐπιέναι καὶ βιάξεσθαι τοὺς καθεστεῶτας καὶ στάσεις κινεῖν κατʼ αὐτῶν, τούτους ἀφορίζεσθαι ἐὰν μἐντοι βούλοιντο εἰς τὸ πρεσβυτέριον καθέξεσθαι, ἔνθα ἧσαν πρότερον πρεσβύτεροι, μὴ ἀποβάλλεσθαι αὐτοὺς τῆς τιμῆς• ἐὰν δὲ διαστασιάζωσι πρὸς τοὺς καθεστῶτας ἐκεῖ ἐπισκόπους, ἀφαιρεῖσθαι αὐτοὺς καὶ τὴν τιμὴν τοῦ πρεσβυτερίου καὶ γίνεσθα αὐτοὺς ἐκκηύκτους.

“If bishops, when elected, but not accepted by the parish for which they are nominated, introduce themselves into other parishes, and stir up strife against the bishops who are there instituted, they must be excommunicated. But if they (who are elected and not accepted) wish to live as priests in those places where they had hitherto served as priests, they need not lose that dignity. But if they stir up discord against the bishop of the place, they shall be deprived of their presbyterate, and be shut out from the Church.”

As long as the people collectively had a share in the election of bishops, it often happened in the primitive Church that a bishop, regularly elected, was either expelled or rejected by a rising of the people. Even although, at the time of his election, the majority were in his favour, yet the minority often put a stop to it; just as we saw in 1848 and 1849, how a very small minority tyrannized over whole towns and countries, and even drove out persons who displeased them. The thirty-fifth apostolical canon (thirty-sixth or thirty-seventh according to other reckonings) and the eighteenth of Antioch (A.D. 341) spoke also of such bishops driven from their dioceses.

When one of these bishops tried by violence or by treachery to drive a colleague from his see, and to seize upon it, he was to incur the penalty of ἀφορίζεσθαι. Van Espen understood by that, the deprivation of his episcopal dignity; but the ἀφορισμὸς of the ancient Church signified more than that: it signified excommunication, at least the minor excommunication, or exclusion from the communion of the Church.

But the canon adds, if a bishop not accepted by his Church does not make these criminal attempts, but will live modestly among the priests of his former congregation, he can do so, and “he shall not lose his dignity.” Is it here a question of the title and dignity of a bishop, but without jurisdiction; or does the word τιμὴ signify here only the rank of a priest? Dionysius the Less (Exiguus) has taken it in the latter sense, and translated it, “If they will, as presbyters, continue in the order of the priesthood” (si voluerint in presbyterii ordine ut presbyteri residere). The Greek commentators Zonaras and others have taken it in the same sense. This canon was added to the Corp. jur. can. (c. 6, dist. 92).

CAN. 19

Ὅσοι παρθενίαν ἐπαγγελλόμενοι ἀθετοῦσι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν, τὸν τῶν διγάμων ὅρον ἐκπληρούτωσαν. Τὰς μέντοι συνερχομένας παρθένους τισὶν ὡς ἀδελφὰς ἐκωλύσαμεν.

“All who have taken a vow of virginity, and have broken that vow, are to be considered as bigamists (literally, must submit to the decrees and prescriptions concerning bigamists). We also forbid virgins to live as sisters with men.”

The first part of the canon regards all young persons—men as well as women—who have taken a vow of virginity, and who, having thus, so to speak, betrothed themselves to God, are guilty of a quasi bigamy in violating that promise. They must therefore incur the punishment of bigamy (successiva), which, according to S. Basil the Great, consisted in one year’s seclusion. This canon, which Gratian adopted (c. 24, causa 27, quæst. 1), speaks only of the violation of the vow by a lawful marriage, whilst the thirteenth canon of Elvira speaks of those who break their vow by incontinence. In the second part the canon treats of the συνείσακτοι. On this point we refer to our remarks on the third canon of Nicæa, and on the twenty-seventh of Elvira.

CAN. 20

Ἐάν τινος γυνὴ μοιχευθῇ ἤ μοιχεύσῃ τις, ἐν ἐπτὰ ἔτεσι δοκεῖ (δεῖ) αὐτὸν τοῦ τελείου τυχεῖν κατὰ τοὺς βαθμοὺς τοὺς προάγοντας.

“If any one has violated a married woman, or has broken the marriage bond, he must for seven years undergo the different degrees of penance, at the end of which he will be admitted into the communion of the Church.”

The simplest explanation of this canon is, “that the man or woman who has violated the marriage bond shall undergo a seven years’ penance;” but many reject this explanation, because the text says αὐτὸν τύχειν, and consequently can refer only to the husband. Fleury and Routh think the canon speaks, as does the seventieth of Elvira, of a woman who has broken the marriage tie with the knowledge and consent of her husband. The husband would therefore in this case be punished for this permission, just as if he had himself committed adultery. Van Espen has given another explanation: “That he who marries a woman already divorced for adultery is as criminal as if he had himself committed adultery.” But this explanation appears to us more forced than that already given; and we think that the Greek commentators Balsamon and Zonaras were right in giving the explanation we have offered first as the most natural. They think that the Synod punished every adulterer, whether man or woman, by a seven years penance. There is no reason for making a mistake because only the word αὐτὸν occurs in the passage in which the penalty is fixed; for αὐτὸν here means the guilty party, and applies equally to the woman and the man: besides, in the preceding canon the masculine ὅσοι ἐπαγγελόμενοι includes young men and young women also. It is probable that the Trullan Synod of 692, in forming its eighty-seventh canon, had in view the twentieth of Ancyra. The sixty-ninth canon of Elvira condemned to a lighter punishment—only five years of penance—him who had been only once guilty of adultery.

CAN. 21

Περὶ τῶν γυναικῶν τῶν ἐκπορνευουσῶν καὶ ἀναιρουσῶν τὰ γεννώμενα καὶ σπουδαζουσῶν φθόρια ποιεῖν ὁ μὲν πρότερος ὅρος μέχρις ἐξόδου ἐκώλυσεν, καὶ τούτῳ συντίθενται φιλανθρωπότερον δὲ τι εὑρόντες ὡρίσαμεν δεκαετῆ χρόνον κατὰ τοὺς βαθμοὺς τοὺς ὡρισμένους (adde πληρῶσαι).

“Women who prostitute themselves, and who kill the children thus begotten, or who try to destroy them when in their wombs, are by ancient law excommunicated to the end of their lives. We, however, have softened their punishment, and condemned them to the various appointed degrees of penance for ten years.”

The sixty-third canon of Elvira had forbidden the communion to be administered to such women even on their death-beds; and this was the canon which the Synod of Ancyra had probably here in view. The expression καὶ τούτῳ συντίθενται is vague: τινὲς may be understood, and it might be translated, “and some approve of this severity;” or we might understand αἱ, and translate with Routh, “The same punishment will be inflicted on those who assist in causing miscarriages:” the words then mean, “and those who assist them.” We think, however, the first explanation is the easier and the more natural. Gentianus Hervetus and Van Espen have adopted it, translating thus: et ei quidam assentientur.

CAN. 22

Περὶ ἑκουσίων φόνων, ὑποπιπτέτωσαν μὲν, τοῦ δὲ τελείου ἐν τῷ τέλει τοῦ βίου καταξιούσθωσαν.

“As to wilful murderers, they must be substrati, and not allowed to receive the communion as long as they live.”

CAN. 23

Ἐπὶ ἀκουσίων φόνων, ὁ μὲν πρότερος ὅρος ἐν ἑπταετίᾳ κελεύει τοῦ τελείου μετασχεῖν κατὰ τοὺς ὡρισμένους βαθμούς• ὁ δὲ δεύτερος τὸν πενταετῆ χρόνον πληρῶσαι.

“As to unpremeditated murder, the earlier ordinance allowed communion (to the homicide) at the end of a seven years’ penance; the second required only five years.”

Of the first and second ordinances referred to in this canon nothing further is known; as to the terms ὅρος, τέλειον, and βαθμοὶ, see the canons of Ancyra already explained.

CAN. 24

Οἱ καταμαντευόμενοι καὶ ταῖς συνηθείαις τῶν χρόνων (ἐθνεῶν) ἐξακολουθοῦντες ἤ εἰσάγοντές τινας εἰς τοὺς ἑαυτῶν οἴκους ἐπὶ ἀνευρέσει φαρμακειῶν ἤ καὶ καθάρσει, ὑπὸ τὸν κανόνα πιπτέτωσαν τῆς πενταετίας κατὰ τοὺς βαθμοὺς ὡρισμένους, τρία ἔτη ὑποπτώσεως καὶ δύο ἔτη εὐχῆς χωρὶς προσφορᾶς.

“Those who foretell the future, and follow pagan customs, or admit into their houses people (magicians) in order to discover magical remedies, or to perform expiations, must be sentenced to a five years’ penance, to three years of substratio, and to two years of attendance at prayers without the sacrifice (non-communicating attendance).”

We must refer to the explanations we have given under canon 4 on the different degrees of penance. It has long been known (as witnesses we have the old Greek commentators Balsamon and Zonaras, and the old Latin interpreters Dionysius the Less and Isidore, confirmed by Routh) that the correct reading is ἐθνῶν instead of χρονῶν. The canon threatens equally diviners and those who consult them and summon them to their houses to prepare magical remedies and perform expiations.

CAN. 25

Μνηστευσάμενός τις κόρην προσεφθάρη τῇ ἀδελφῇ αὐτῆς, ὡς καὶ ἐπιφορέσαι αὐτήν ἔγημε δὲ τὴν μνηστὴν μετὰ ταῦτα, ἡ δὲ φθαρεῖσα ἀπήγξατο οἱ συνειδότες ἐκελεύσθησαν ἐν δεκαετίᾳ δεχθῆναι εἰς τοὺς συνεστῶτας κατὰ τοὺς ὡρισμένος βαθμούς.

“A certain person who had betrothed himself to a girl, had connection with her sister, so that she became pregnant: he then married his betrothed, and his sister-in-law hanged herself. It was determined that all his accomplices should be admitted among the sistentes (i.e. to the fourth degree of penance), after passing through the appointed degrees for ten years.”

The Council here decides, as we see, a particular case which was submitted to it; and it condemned not only the particular offender, but all the accomplices who had assisted him to commit the crime, who had advised him to leave her he had seduced, and to marry her sister, or the like. The punishment inflicted was very severe, for it was only at the end of ten years (passed in the three first degrees of penance) that the offenders were admitted to the fourth degree. It is not stated how long they were to remain in that degree before admission to the communion. The Greek verb προσφθείρομαι generally means, “to do anything to one’s hurt:” joined to γυναικὶ or some other similar word, it has the meaning we have given it. We have rendered ἀπήγξατο by “hanged herself;” we ought, however, to note that ἀπάγχω signifies every kind of suicide.

SEC. 17. Synod of Neocæsarea (314–325)

According to the title which the ancient Greek MSS. give to the canons of the Synod of Neocæsarea in Cappadocia, this Synod was held a little later than that of Ancyra, but before that of Nicæa. The names of the bishops who assisted at it seem to furnish a second chronological support to this view. They are for the most part the same as those who are named at the Council of Ancyra, Vitalis of Antioch at their head (the Libellus Synodicus reckons twenty-four of them); but neither the Greek MSS. nor Dionysius the Less have these names. Tillemont and other writers have for this reason raised doubts as to the historical value of these lists, and the brothers Ballerini have not hesitated to disallow their authenticity. It remains, however, an incontestable fact, that the Synod of Neocæsarea took place at about the same time as that of Ancyra, after the death of Maximin the persecutor of the Christians (313), and before the Synod of Nicæa (325). Ordinarily the same date is assigned to it as to that of Ancyra, 314 or 315; but to me it seems more probable that it took place several years later, because there is no longer any question about the lapsed. The Synod of Ancyra had devoted no fewer than ten canons (1–9 and 12) to this subject, as a persecution had then just ceased; the Synod of Neocæsarea did not touch on these matters, probably because at the time when it assembled the lapsed had already received their sentence, and there were no more measures necessary to be taken on that subject. The Libellus Synodicus, it is true, states that the Synod of (Neo) Cæsarea occupied itself with those who had sacrificed to the gods or abjured their religion, or had eaten of sacrifices offered to idols, and during the persecution; but the canons of the Council say not a word of them. It is probable that the late and very inaccurate Libellus Synodicus confounded, on this point, the Synod of Neocæsarea with that of Ancyra. It has, without any grounds, been alleged that the canons of Neocæsarea which spoke of the lapsi have been destroyed.

CAN. 1

Πρεσβύτερος ἐὰν γήμῃ, τῆς τάξεως αὐτὸν μετατίθεσθαι, ἐὰν δέ πορνεύσῃ ἤ μοιχεύσῃ, ἐξωθεῖσθαι αὐτὸν τέλεον καὶ ἄγεσθαι αὐτὸν εἰς μετάνοιαν.

“If a priest marry, he shall be removed from the ranks of the clergy; if he commit fornication or adultery, he shall be excommunicated, and shall submit to penance.”

The meaning is as follows: “If a priest marry after ordination, he shall be deposed from his priestly order, and reduced to the communio laicalis; if he is guilty of fornication or adultery, he must be excommunicated, and must pass through all the degrees of penance in order to regain communion with the Church.” We have seen above, in canon 10 of Ancyra, that in one case deacons were allowed to marry after ordination,—namely, when they had announced their intention of doing so at the time of their election. In the case of priests neither the Council of Ancyra nor that of Neocæsarea made any exception. This first canon has been inserted in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 2

Γυνὴ ἐὰν γήμηται δύο ἀδελφοῖς, ἐξωθείσθω μέχρι θανάτου, πλὴν ἐν τῷ θανάτῳ, διὰ τὴν φιλανθρεπίαν, εἰποῦσα ὡς ὑλιάνασα λύσει τὸν γάμον, ἔξει τὴν μετάνοιαν• ἐὰν δὲ τελευτήσῃ ἡ γυνὴ ἐν τοιούτῳ γάμῳ οὖσα ἤτοι ὁ ἀνὴρ, δυσχερὴς τῷ μείναντι ἡ μετάνοια.

“If a woman has married two brothers, she shall be excommunicated till her death; if she is in danger of death, and promises in case of recovery to break off this illegitimate union, she may, as an act of mercy, be admitted to penance. If the woman or husband die in this union, the penance for the survivor will be very strict.”

This is a question of marriage of the first degree of affinity, which is still forbidden by the present law. The canon punishes such marriages with absolute excommunication; so that he who had entered into such should not obtain communion even in articulo mortis, unless he promised in case of recovery to break this union. This promise being given, he can be admitted to penance (ἕξει τὴν μετάνοιαν). Zonaras thus correctly explains these words: “In this case he shall receive the holy communion in articulo mortis, provided he promises that, if he recovers, he will submit to penance.” Canon 6 of Ancyra was explained in the same way.

CAN. 3

Περὶ τῶν πλείστοις γάμοις περιπιπτόντων ὁ μέν χρόνος σαφής ὁ ὡρισμένος, ἡ δέ ἀναστροφὴ καὶ ἡ πίστις αὐτῶν συντέμνει τὸν χρόνον.

“As for those who have been often married, the duration of their penance is well known; but their good conduct and faith may shorten that period.”

As the Greek commentators have remarked, this canon speaks of those who have been married more than twice. It is not known what were the ancient ordinances of penitence which the Synod here refers to. In later times, bigamists were condemned to one year’s penance, and trigamists from two to five years. S. Basil places the trigamists for three years among the audientes, then for some time among the consistentes. Gratian has inserted this third canon of Neocæsarea in the c. 8, causa 31, quæst. 1, in connection with canon 7 of the same Synod.

CAN. 4

Ἐὰν πρόθηταί τις ἐπιθυμῆσαι (ἐπιθυμήσας) γυναικὸς συγκαθευδῆσαι μετʼ αὐτῆς (αὐτῇ), μή ἔλθῃ δὲ εἰς ἔργον αὐτοῦ ἡ ἐνθύμησις, φαίνεται ὅτι ὑπὸ τῆς χάριτος ἐῤῥύσθη.

“If a man who burns with love for a woman proposes to live with her, but does not perform his intention, it is to be believed that he was restrained by grace.”

Instead of ἐπιθυμῆσαι we must read, with Beveridge and Routh, who rely upon several MSS., ἐπιθυμήσας. They also replace μετʼ αὐτῆς by αὐτῇ. The meaning of this canon is, that “he who has sinned only in thought must not undergo a public penance.”

CAN. 5

Κατηχούμενος, ἐὰν εἰσερχόμενος εἰς (τὸ) κυριακὸν ἐν τῇ τῶν κατηχουμένων τάξει στῄκῃ, οὗτος δὲ (φανῇ) ἁμαρτάνων, ἐὰν μὲν γόνυ κλίνων, ἀκροάσθω μηκέτι ἁμαρτάνων• Ἐὰν δὲ καὶ ἀκροώμενος ἔτι ἁμαρτάνῃ, ἐξωθείσθε.

“If a catechumen, after being introduced into the Church, and admitted into the ranks of the catechumens, acts as a sinner, he must, if he is genuflectens (i.e. to say, in the second degree of penance), become audiens (the lowest degree), until he sins no more. If, after being audiens, he continues to sin, he shall be entirely excluded from the Church.”

Routh, on good critical grounds, recommends the introduction into the text of τὸ and φανῇ. The form στήκῃ and the verb στήκω, to stand up, do not occur in classical Greek, but are often found in the New Testament, e.g. in S. Mark 11:25, and are formed from the regular perfect ἔστηκα. Hardouin thinks the canon has in view the carnal sins of catechumens; and ἁμάρτημα has elsewhere this meaning, e.g. in canons 2, 9, and 14 of Nicæa.

CAN. 6

Περὶ κυοφορούσης, ὄτι δεῖ φωτίζεσθαι ὁπότε βούλεται• οὐδέν γὰρ ἐν τούτῳ κοινωνεῖ ἡ τίκτουσα τῷ τικτομένῳ, διὰ τὸ ἑκάστου ἰδίαν τὴν προαίρεσιν τὴν ἐπὶ τῇ ὁμολογίᾳ δείκνυσθαι.

“A woman with child may be illuminated (i.e. to say, baptized) whenever she demands it; for she who bears has nothing on this account in common with him who is borne, since each party must profess his own willingness (to be baptized) by his confession of faith.”

Some thought that when a woman with child is baptized, the grace of the sacrament is given to the fruit of her womb, and so to baptize this child again after its birth is in a manner to administer a second baptism; and they conclude that they ought not to baptize a pregnant woman, but that they must wait till her delivery.

CAN. 7

Πρεσβύτερον εἰς γάμους διγαμούντων (δυγαμοῦντος) μὴ ἑστιᾶσθαι, ἐπεὶ μετάνοιαν αἰτοῦντος τοῦ διγάμου, τίς ἔσται ὁ πρεσβύτερος, ὁ διὰ τῆς ἑστιάσεως συγκατατιθέμενος τοῖς γάμοις;

“No priest shall eat at the marriage feast of those who are married for the second time; for if such a bigamist should (afterwards) ask leave to do penance, how stands the priest who, by his presence at the feast, had given his approval to the marriage?”

We have already seen by canon 3, that in the East that successive bigamy (bigamia successiva) which is here in question, as Beveridge thinks, and not bigamy properly so called, was punished in the East by a year’s penance. The meaning of the canon is as follows: “If the bigamist, after contracting his second marriage, comes to the priest to be told the punishment he has to undergo, how stands the priest himself, who for the sake of the feast has become his accomplice in the offence?”

CAN. 8

Γυνή τινος μοιχευθεῖσα λαϊκοῦ ὄντος, ἐὰν ἐλεγχθῇ φανερῶς, ὁ τοιοῦτος εἰς ὑπηρεσίαν ἐλθεῖν οὐ δύναται• ἐάν δέ καὶ μετὰ τὴν χειροτονίαν μοιχευθῇ, ὀφείλει ἀπολῦσαι αὐτὴν• ἐὰν δέ συζῇ, οὐ δέναται ἔχεσθαι τῆς ἐγχειρισθείσης αὐτῷ ὑπηρεσίας.

“If the wife of a layman has been unfaithful to her husband, and she is convicted of the sin, her (innocent) husband cannot be admitted to the service of the Church; but if she has violated the law of marriage after her husband’s ordination, he must leave her. If, in spite of this, he continues to live with her, he must resign the sacred functions which have been entrusted to him.”

The Corp. jur. can. has adopted this canon. The reason for this ordinance evidently consists in this, that through the close connection between a man and his wife, a husband is dishonoured by an adulterous wife, and a dishonoured man cannot become an ecclesiastic. The Pastor of Hermas had already shown that a husband must leave his adulterous wife.

CAN. 9

Πρεσβύτερος, ἐὰν προημαρτηκώς σώματι προαχθῇ καὶ ὁμολογήσῃ ὄτι ἥμαρτε πρὸ τῆς χειροτονίας, μὴ προσφερέτω, μένων ἐν τοῖς λοιποῖς διά τὴν ἄλλην σπουδήν• τὰ γὰρ λοιπὰ ἁμαρτήματα ̓́φασαν οἱ πολλοὶ καὶ τὴν χειροθεσίαν ἀφιέναι• ἐὰν δὲ αὐτὸς μὴ ὁμολογῇ, ἐλεγχθῆναι δέ φανερῶς μὴ δυνηθῇ, ἐπʼ αὐτῷ ἐκείνῳ ποιεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν.

“A priest who has committed a carnal sin before being ordained, and who of his own accord confesses that he has sinned before ordination, must not offer the holy sacrifice; but he may continue his other functions if he is zealous, for many think that other sins (except that of incontinence) were blotted out by his ordination as priest. But if he does not confess it, and he cannot clearly be convicted, it shall be in his own power to act (as he will, i.e. to offer the sacrifice, or to refrain from offering).”

Cf. can. 22 of the Council in Trullo, and can. 1, causa 15, quæst. 8, in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 10

Ὁμοίως καὶ διάκονος, ἐὰν ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ ἁμαρτήματι περιπέσῃ, τὴν τοῦ ὑπηρέτου τάξιν ἐχέτω.

“In the same way, the deacon who has committed the same sin must only have the office of an inferior minister.”

The preposition ἐν before τῷ αὐτῷ is struck out by Routh, on the authority of several MSS. By ministri (ὑπήρεται) are meant the inferior officers of the Church—the so-called minor orders, often including the sub-deacons. This canon, completely distorted by false translations (of the Prisca and Isidore), was made into one canon with the preceding in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 11

Πρεσβύτερος πρὸ τῶν τριάκοντα ἐτῶν μή χειροτονείσθω, ἐὰν καὶ πάνυ ᾖ ὁ ἄνθρωπος ἄξιος, ἀλλὰ ἀποτηρείσθω• ὁ γὰρ Κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ἐν τῷ τρισκοστῷ ἔτει ἐφωτίσθη καὶ ἤρξατο διδάσκειν.

“No one is to be ordained priest before he is thirty years old. Even although he be in every respect worthy, he must wait; for our Lord Jesus Christ, when thirty years old, was baptized, and began (at that age) to teach.”

We know that, in the primitive Church, φωτίζεσθαι, to be illuminated, means to be baptized. We find this canon in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 12

Ἐὰν νοσῶν τις φωτισθῇ, εἰς πρεσβύτερον ἄγεσθαι οὐ δύναται,—οὐκ ἐκ προαιρέσεως γάρ ἡ πίδτις αὐτοῦ, ἀλλʼ ἐξ ἀνάγκης,—εἰ μὴ τάχα διὰ τὴν μετὰ ταῦτα αὐτοῦ σπουδὴν καὶ πίστιν καὶ διὰ σπάνιν ἀνθρώπων.

“If a man is baptized when he is ill, he cannot be ordained priest; for it was not spontaneously, but of necessity (through fear of death), that he made profession of the faith—unless, perhaps, he has displayed great zeal and faith, or if the supply of candidates fails.”

All commentators, except Aubespine, say that this canon, which was received into the Corp. jur. can., speaks of those who, by their own fault, have deferred the reception of baptism till their deathbed. Aubespine thinks that it refers to catechumens who have not received baptism earlier through no fault of their own, but who, finding themselves smitten by a severe sickness, are baptized before the usual time, i.e. before receiving all the necessary instruction. It was, he added, on account of this want of instruction that they were forbidden to enter the priesthood if they regained their health. But the forty-seventh canon of Laodicea tells us that in the primitive Church it was the duty of such catechumens to receive instruction even after baptism, and this alone overthrows Aubespine’s conjecture.

CAN. 13

Ἐπιχώριοι πρεσβύτεροι ἐν τῷ κυριακῷ τῆς πόλεως προσφέρειν οὐ δύνανται παρόντος ἐπισκόπου ἦ πρεσβυτέρων πόλεως, οὖτε μὴν ἄρτον διδόναι ἐν εὐχῇ οὐδὲ ποτήριον• ἐὰν δέ ἀπῶσι καὶ εἰς εὐχὴν κληθῇ μόνος, δίδωσιν.

“Country priests must not offer the holy sacrifice in the town church (the cathedral) when the bishop or the town priests are present: they must not do more than distribute, with prayer, the bread and the chalice. But if the bishop and his priests are absent, and if the country priest be invited to celebrate, he may administer holy communion.”

Instead of κληθῇ μόνος, the old Latin translators of the canons, Dionysius the Less and Isidore, read κληθῶσι, μόνοι; that is to say, “If they are asked, then only can they administer the Lord’s Supper;” and Routh recommends this reading. This canon is contained in the Corp. jur. can.

CAN. 14

Οἱ δέ χωρεπίσκοποι εἰσὶ μέν εἰς τύπον τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα• ὡς δὲ συλλειτουργοὶ διὰ τὴν σπουδὴν (τὴν) εἰς τοὺς πτωχοὺς προσφέρουσι τιμώμενοι.

“The chorepiscopi represent the seventy disciples of Christ as fellow-workers; and on account of their zeal for the poor, they have the honour of offering the sacrifice.”

A function is here assigned to the chorepiscopi which is denied to country priests, namely, the offering of the holy sacrifice in the cathedral, in the presence of the bishop and the town priests. On the chorepiscopi, compare c. 13 of Ancyra, and our remarks below on canon 57 of Laodicea. Many MSS. and editions have canons 13 and 14 in one.

CAN. 15

Διάκονοι ἑπτὰ ὀφείλουσιν εἶναι κατὰ τὸν κανόνα, κἆν πάνυ μεγάλη ἔη ἡ πόλις• πεισθήσῃ δέ ἀπὸ τῆς βίβλου τῶν Πράξεων.

“In even the largest towns there must be, as a rule, no more than seven deacons. This may be proved from the Acts of the Apostles.”

This canon was given in the Corp. jur. can.








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