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A Manual Of Councils Of The Holy Catholic Church -Rev. Edward H. Landon. M.A.


GANGRA or PAPHLAGONIA (325 or 380). [Concilium Gangrense.] Held some time between the years 325 and 380. Dom Cellier would assign it to a year subsequent to 379, in which St Basil died, because that father, who in various places speaks of the excesses of Eustathius of Sebastia, says nothing at all about his having been condemned in this council; whence Cellier infers that it was not holden till after his death. And further, it appears that Peter, the brother of St Basil, occupied the see of Sebastia, in Armenia, in 380, from which he thinks that he was elected in the place of Eustathius, deposed in this council, about the end of the year 380.

But it is necessary to prove that the Eustathius condemned in this council was the same with Eustathius of Sebastia of whom Basil speaks. Socrates and Sozomen plainly assert that it was so; and, moreover, what they say of Eustathius and his doctrine agrees exactly with what we read in the synodal letter of Gangra. The letter does not, indeed, distinctly term him Bishop of Sebastia, but it indirectly accuses him of having spread his errors in Armenia, since it is addressed to the bishops of that country. Added to the testimony of Socrates and Sozomen, we have that of St Basil, who relates that the disciples of Eustathius of Sebastia rendered an ascetic life odious by their hypocrisy and false piety. This agrees with the idea which the canons of Gangra give us of the conduct of Eustathius and his followers therein condemned. There can, then, be little doubt that the Eustathius of the council is identical with Eustathius of Sebastia. And if this be so, the most probable date of the Council of Gangra is perhaps just before, if not after, the death of St Basil, i.e., about 379.

This Eustathius, towards the end of his life, originated the notion that it is unlawful to marry, and to eat certain meats. He separated married persons; advised those who disliked the public offices of the Church to communicate at home. He wore, and made his followers also wear, an extraordinary dress. Obliged women to cut off their hair; said that it was quite unnecessary to keep the prescribed fasts of the Church, and ordered his followers, on the contrary, to fast on Sundays. And maintained that they should avoid, as the greatest profanation, the communion and the benediction of a married priest living with his wife.

In order to arrest the course of these dangerous errors, an assembly of bishops was held at Gangra, the metropolis of Paphlagonia, in which twenty-one canons were published, in opposition to the error of Eustathius and his followers. Fifteen bishops subscribed them, and addressed them, together with a synodal letter (containing briefly the causes which led to the assembling of the council), to the bishops of Armenia.

1. Condemns with anathema those who blame marriage, and who say that a woman living with her husband, cannot be saved.

2. Condemns with anathema those who forbid the eating of meat, even when the directions given by the apostolic council at Jerusalem are complied with.

3. Anathematises those who teach that slaves may quit their masters, and forsake their servitude, under pretence of religion.

4. Anathematises those who separate themselves from the communion of a married priest, and refuse to partake of the holy communion consecrated by him.

5. Anathematises those who despise the house of God, and the assemblies of the saints therein held.

6. Anathematises those who hold private conventicles, and perform there ecclesiastical functions without the presence of a priest or the consent of the bishop.

7. Anathematises those who appropriate the offerings made to the Church to their own use.

8. Anathematises those who dispose of the oblations without the bishop’s consent, or the consent of those to whom he has given the charge.

9. Anathematises those who embrace the state of virginity or continence, not for the sake of perfection, but from a horror of the married state.

10. Anathematises those who, having themselves embraced the state of virginity, insult married persons.

11. Anathematises those who despise the agapæ or love-feasts, and refuse to participate in them.

12. Anathematises those who, under pretence of extraordinary strictness, wear a peculiar dress, and condemn those who wear ordinary clothing.

13. Anathematises women who, under the same pretence of religion, wear men’s clothes.

14. Anathematises those who forsake their husbands through a false horror of marriage.

15. Anathematises those who, under pretext of leading an ascetic life, forsake their children, without providing for their sustenance or conversion.

16. Anathematises children who, upon the same plea, desert their parents.

17. Anathematises women who, from a like motive, cut off the hair, which God has given to them as a memorial of the obedience which they owe to their husbands.

18. Anathematises those who make the Sunday a fast-day.

19. Anathematises those who despise the fasts received in the Church by tradition.

20. Anathematises those who speak against the memory of martyrs, or the assemblies held, or offices celebrated in their honour.

21 is drawn up in these terms:—We have ordered these things, not to cut off from the Church those who wish to live in the exercise of such acts of piety as the Holy Scriptures direct; but those persons who make such exercises the occasion of exalting themselves with arrogance over others who lead a more simple life, and of introducing novelties contrary to Scripture and the canons. We admire the state of virginity; we approve of continence, and of separation from the world; if only these states of life be accompanied by humility and modesty; but we also honour marriage. And we do not despise wealth, if united to justice and liberality. We approve of simplicity of apparel, suited to the wants of the body; we honour the houses of God, and the assemblies held in them, without, at the same time, meaning altogether to shut up piety within their walls; we also commend the great liberality which the brethren extend to the poor, through the medium of the ministry of the Church. In short, we wish that all men should put in practice all that is taught us in Holy Scripture and in the apostolical traditions.

These canons were received by the whole Church, and are contained in the codes both of the Greek and Latin Churches.—Tom. ii. Conc. p. 413.

Gaul (429). [Concilium Gallicanum.] A council very numerously attended, was held in the autumn of the year 429, in Gaul (probably at Troyes in Champagne), against the errors of Pelagius; and in consequence of the prayer of the bishops of the British Church, that some one should be sent them capable of combating these errors, St Germanus of Auxerre and St Lupus of Troyes were, by the unanimous consent of the assembly, commissioned to proceed to England to support the true faith there.—Tom. ii. Conc. p. 1686.

GAUL (451). Held somewhere in Gaul, probably at Arles, in the year 451. Forty-four bishops, composing the council, signified their assent to the celebrated letter of Pope Leo to Flavianus; and sent to him a synodal letter upon the subject, highly eulogistic. (See C. CONSTANTINOPLE, A.D. 950.)

GAUL (1041). In the year 1041, many councils were held in various parts of the country, for the establishment of the “Trève de Dieu;” which ordered that from Wednesday evening to Monday morning, no person should take anything by force, or take vengeance for any injury, or a pledge from a surety. Whoever broke this truce was sentenced to pay the legal compensation (in money) for a capital crime, or to be excommunicated and banished.—Tom. ix. Conc. p. 940.

GENTILLY (796). [Concilium Gentiliacense.] Held on Christmas Day, A.D. 796. Six legates from Rome, six ambassadors from the Emperor Constantine Copronymus, several Greek bishops, and most of the bishops of Gaul and Germany, were present, together with King Pepin and many of his nobles. The question of the procession of the Holy Spirit was discussed, the Greeks accusing the Latins of having added the words “filioque” to the creed of Constantinople: the question about images was also debated, but the decision of the council is not known.—Tom. vi. Conc. p. 1703.

GERMANY (742). [Concilium Germanicum.] Held somewhere in Germany in the year 742; the place is unknown (perhaps Ratisbon). This council was assembled by order of Carloman, April 21st, who, in the act of convocation, states, that by and with the advice of God’s servants and the peers of his court, he had summoned the bishops of the kingdom, with their priests, to learn from them how the laws of God might best be enforced, and the discipline of the Church, which had grievously fallen into decay, be restored. Six bishops were present, viz., those of Cologne, Augsburg, Wirtemburg (an Englishman named Burchard), Utrecht, Strasburg, and Eichstat. Seven canons were published, relating chiefly to the conduct of the clergy, and enforcing the canons. St Boniface, afterwards Bishop of Mayence, who presided, wrote to Cuthbert, Archbishop of Canterbury, an account of all that passed in the council. Adelbert and Clement were condemned.—Tom. vi. Conc. pp. 1533 and 1565. Baronius in Ann.

GERONA (517). [Concilium Gerundense.] Held in 517, during the reign of Theodoric, John, Bishop of Tarragona, presiding, at the head of six bishops of that province. John had previously written to Pope Hormisdas, requesting him to address the bishops of Spain upon the subject of discipline, which was greatly neglected amongst them. This he did in a letter, in which he urged them to observe the canons, and to hold councils at least once a year. In this council ten canons were published.

1. Directs that the order of celebrating mass and the holy office observed in the metropolitan church shall be adhered to strictly throughout the province.

2. Orders two Litany seasons to be observed annually, with abstinence from meat and wine; viz., one in the week after Whit-Sunday, and the second beginning on the first Thursday in November, each to consist of three days.

4. Confines the administration of holy baptism to the seasons of Easter and Whitsuntide, except in cases of illness.

5. Allows the baptism of infants on the day of their birth, if they be in danger.

7. Forbids any woman to live in the same house with a clergyman, except his mother and sister.

10. Enjoins all bishops and priests to say the Lord’s Prayer daily after matins and vespers.—Tom. iv. Conc. p. 1567.

GERONA (1068). Held in 1068, by the Roman legate, Cardinal Hugo the White, who in it confirmed, by the pope’s authority, the “Trève de Dieu,” under pain of excommunication to all who should infringe it. Fourteen canons were published, chiefly directed against the abuses of the times. Six bishops and two archbishops subscribed the acts.—Mart., Thes. Anec. Tom. iv. p. 1185.

GERONA (1261). In a council held in the year 1261, several regulations relating to the conduct of the clergy were drawn up, recommending to them care and attention in the performance of the holy offices; forbidding them to exercise the functions of their holy office without first exhibiting their letters of orders; forbidding bishops to receive clergymen from another diocese without testimonials from the bishop of that diocese; forbidding all games of chance, &c., &c., &c.

GERONA (1274). In another council, held in 1274, several regulations were published; amongst others it is forbidden to laymen to bury any corpse in a churchyard, under pain of excommunication. The decrees of the Council of Lerida were received, and their strict observance enjoined. It was ordered that no beneficed clergyman should be ignorant of Latin. All clergymen convicted of living in a state of concubinage were ordered to be suspended. The dress, tonsure, conversation, amusements, and everything relating to the outward life of the clergy, were regulated; they were also forbidden to take any part in judgments involving the death of the party accused, &c., &c., &c.

These two last councils were taken by Mansi from a MS. in the library of M. Colbert; he also mentions two others of minor importance.

GERONA (1717). A provincial council, see Florez. Tom. xliv. p. 192, and appendix, 345. Canon 35 forbids, under pain of excommunication, women to wear low dresses, exposing their arms, shoulders, and necks.

GLOUCESTER (1378). [Concilium Glocestriense.] Held by Simon Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury, November 6th, 1378, in the monastery of Saints Peter and Paul at Gloucester. Four constitutions were made.

1. Enacted that they who celebrated Annals for the souls of deceased persons should have seven marks per annum stipend, or diet and three marks; others who served the cure of souls, eight marks, or diet and four marks.

2. Forbids fornication, and orders that a priest negligent in enforcing this shall himself be, as the canons direct, punished as a fornicator, or one who connives at the sin.

3. Orders that the confessions of women be taken in an open place, where they may be seen, though not heard, by the people; that the laity be exhorted to confess in the very beginning of Lent, and immediately after sin; forbids a priest to enjoin masses as part of penance.

4. Orders that confessions be heard three times a year, viz., Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas, and enjoins previous abstinence; orders that they who neglect to confess once in the year, and to receive the communion at Easter, shall be forbidden entrance into church whilst living, and Christian burial when dead.—Johnson, Ecc. Canons, A.D. 1378. Tom. xi. Conc. p. 2051.

GOA (1567). Gaspard de Leao, Archbishop of Goa, convoked a council there in the year 1567, but being deposed in September in that same year, George Temudo, Bishop of Cochin, his successor, confirmed his decree for the convocation of the council, and presided at it. Several regulations for the propagation of the faith were drawn up, which were afterwards confirmed by Pius V. in a bull bearing date January 1, 1570. The acts of this council were also confirmed in another, convoked for the purpose of enforcing them, at which moreover all idolatrous ceremonies were forbidden in the territories belonging to Portugal.

GOA (1585). Held in 1585 in the cathedral church of Goa. Vincent de Fonseca, Archbishop of Goa, presided. Mar-Abraham, a Syrian prelate, in this council renounced Nestorianism; shortly after, however, he returned to his error.—Sousa, Orien. Conq., part ii.

GRADO (1296). Aegidius, afterwards Patriarch of Alexandria, held a council in 1296, at which thirty-three canons were framed, relating chiefly to the housing and conduct of the clergy, decent behaviour in church, and the orderly performance of the service. The seventh canon ordered that all introits, canticles, and prefaces should be sung so as to be understood by the common people. The text of these canons depends upon a single MS. which is very imperfect.—Ughello, Tom. v. p. 1139.


GRATLEA (925). [Concilium Grateleanum.] Held about the year 925 by King Ethelstan, Wulfhelm, Archbishop of Canterbury, and other bishops, being present. Twenty-six laws were made, of which the seven following are ecclesiastical.

1. Directs, by the king’s order, that certain alms, &c., be given daily at his cost for the good of his soul.

2. Forbids church-breaking.

3. Is directed against witchcraft, secret acts of murder, &c.

4. Concerns the coin of the realm; appoints coiners at Canterbury, two of whom shall be the bishop’s and one the abbot’s; at Rochester, one of the bishop’s; at London, eight; Winchester, six; Lewes, two; Hastings, one; Chichester, one; Hampton, two; Werham, two; Exeter, two; Shaftesbury, two; and at others, one coiner.

5. Relates to ordeals.

6. Forbids all marketing on Sundays, under pain of forfeiting the goods and payment of thirty shillings.

7. Forbids to receive the oath of a man once perjured, and to bury him in consecrated ground, unless he hath during his life made satisfaction.

The Latin copies add certain other ecclesiastical laws and regulations, which were probably made in some subsequent council.—Johnson, Ecc. Canons. Tom. ix. Conc. p. 582. Wilkins’ Conc., vol. i. p. 205.

GUASTALLA (1106). [Concilium Guastallense.] Held in October 1106, by Pope Pascal II. A large body of bishops and other ecclesiastics was present, together with the ambassadors of Henry, King of Germany, and the Princess Matilda. The province of Emilia was separated from the metropolitan of Ravenna, on account of the insubordination of the latter towards Rome; also the privilege extorted from the pope by the Emperor Henry, viz., that no one elected canonically by the clergy and people should be consecrated until the king had given investiture, was annulled. A decree was passed against investitures by laymen, and the schismatical consecration of bishops and clerks allowed in those cases in which they had not been guilty of usurping their sees, of simony, or any other grievous crimes.—Tom. x. Conc. p. 748. Martene, Thes. Anec. Tom. iv. col. 127.

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