(NOTE: The electronic text obtained from The Electronic Bible Society was
not completely corrected. EWTN has corrected all discovered errors. If you
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Transliteration of Greek words: All phonetical except: w = omega; h serves
three puposes: 1. = Eta; 2. = rough breathing, when appearing initially
before a vowel; 3. = in the aspirated letters theta = th, phi = ph, chi =
ch. Accents are given immediately after their corresponding vowels: acute =
' , grave = `, circumflex = ^. The character ' doubles as an apostrophe,
THE CANONS OF THE SYNODS OF SARDICA, CARTHAGE, CONSTANTINOPLE, AND CARTHAGE
UNDER ST. CYPRIAN, WHICH CANONS WERE RECEIVED BY THE COUNCIL IN TRULLO AND
RATIFIED BY II. NICE.
I have placed the canons of Sardica and those of Carthage and those of
the Council held at Constantinople under Nectarius and Theophilus, and that
of the Council of Carthage under St. Cyprian, immediately after the Council
in Trullo, because in file second canon of that synod they are for the
first time mentioned by name as being accepted by the Universal Church.
THE CANONS OF THE COUNCIL OF SARDICA.
A.D. 343 OR 344; Emperors--Constantius and Constans; Pope--Julius I.
The Canons with the Ancient Epitome and Notes. Other Acts of the Synod.
The holy synod assembled in Sardica from various provinces decreed as
(Found in Greek in John of Constantinople's collection of the sixth
century and several other MSS. Found also in the works of the Greek
scholiasts. Found in Latin in the Prisca, in Dionysius Exiguus, and in
Isidore, genuine and false.)
HOSIUS, bishop of the city of Corduba, said: A prevalent evil, or
rather most mischievous corruption must be done away with from its very
foundations. Let no bishop be allowed to remove from a small city to a
different one: as there is an obvious reason for this fault, accounting for
such attempts; since no bishop could ever yet be found who endeavoured to
be translated from a larger city to a smaller one. It is therefore evident
that such persons are inflamed with excessive covetousness and are only
serving ambition in order to have the repute of possessing greater
authority. Is it then the pleasure of all that so grave an abuse be
punished with great severity? For I think that men of this sort should not
be admitted even to lay communion. All the bishops said: It is the pleasure
BISHOP HOSIUS said: A prevalent evil and mischievous corruption must be
done away with from its foundation. Let no bishop be allowed to remove from
his own city to another. For the reason of such attempts is manifest, since
in this matter no bishop has been found who would remove from a larger city
to a smaller one. It is therefore evident that these men are inflamed with
excess of covetousness, and are serving ambition and aiming at the
possession of power. If it be the pleasure of all, let so great an evil be
punished right harshly and sternly, so that he who is such shall not even
be admitted to lay communion. All with one accord answered: Such is our
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON I.
NO bishop is to be found passing from a smaller to a greater city. If
anyone should move from an humble to a more important see, he shall be
excommunicated through his whole life as proud and grasping.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: But if any such person should be found so mad or
audacious as to think to advance by way of excuse an affirmation that he
had brought letters from the people [laity], it is plain that some few
persons, corrupted by bribes and rewards, could have got up an uproar in
the church, demanding, forsooth, the said man for bishop. I think then that
practices and devices of such sort absolutely must be punished, so that a
man of this kind be deemed unworthy even of lay communion in extremis. Do
ye therefore make answer whether this sentence is approved by you. They
[the bishops] answered: What has been said is approved of.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Even if any such person should show himself so rash
as perhaps to allege as an excuse and affirm that he has received letters
from the people, inasmuch as it is evident that a few persons could have
been corrupted by rewards and bribes--[namely] persons who do not hold the
pure faith--to raise an uproar in the church, and seem to ask for the said
man as bishop; I judge that these frauds must be condemned, so that such an
one should not receive even lay communion at the last. If ye all approve,
do ye decree it. The synod answered: We approve.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON II.
If anyone shall pass from one city to another, and shall raise up
seditions, tickling the people and be assisted by them in raising a
disturbance, he shall not be allowed communion even when dying.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also it is necessary to add,--that no bishop
pass from his own province to another province in which there are bishops,
unless indeed he be called by his brethren, that we seem not to close the
gates of charity.
And this case likewise is to be provided for, that if in any province a
bishop has some matter against his brother and fellow-bishop, neither of
the two should call in as arbiters bishops from another province.
But if perchance sentence be given against a bishop in any matter and
he supposes his case to be not unsound but good, in order that the question
may be reopened, let us, if it seem good to your charity, honour the memory
of Peter the Apostle, and let those who gave judgment write to Julius, the
bishop of Rome, so that, if necessary, the case may be retried by the
bishops of the neighbouring provinces and let him appoint arbiters; but if
it cannot be shown that his case is of such a sort as to need a new trial,
let the judgment once given not be annulled, but stand good as before.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also it is necessary to add,--that bishops
shall not pass from their own province to another province in which there
are bishops, unless perchance upon invitation from their brethren, that we
seem not to close the door of charity.
But if in any province a bishop have a matter in dispute against his
brother bishop, one of the two shall not call in as judge a bishop from
But if judgment, have gone against a bishop in any cause, and he think
that he has a good case, in order that the question may be reopened, let
us, if it be your pleasure, honour the memory of St. Peter the Apostle, and
let those who tried the case write to Julius, the bishop of Rome, and if he
shall judge that the case should be retried, let that be done, and let him
appoint judges; but if he shall find that the case is of such a sort that
the former decision need not be disturbed, what he has decreed shall be
confirmed. Is this the pleasure of all? The synod answered, It is our
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON
No bishop, unless called thereto, shall pass to another city. Moreover
a bishop of the province who is engaged in any litigation shall not appeal
to outside bishops. But if Rome hears the cause, even outsiders may be
BISHOP GAUDENTIUS said: If it seems good to you, it is necessary to add
to this decision full of sincere charity which thou hast pronounced,
that(1) if any bishop be deposed by the sentence of these neighbouring
bishops, and assert that he has fresh matter in defence, a new bishop be
not settled in his see, unless the bishop of Rome judge and render a
decision as to this.
BISHOP GAUDENTIUS said: It ought to be added, if it be your pleasure,
to this sentence full of sanctity which thou hast pronounced, that--when
any bishop has been deposed by the judgment of those bishops who have sees
in neighbouring places, and he [the bishop deposed] shall announce that his
case is to be examined in the city of Rome--that no other bishop shall in
any wise be ordained to his see, after the appeal of him who is apparently
deposed, unless the case shall have been determined in the judgment of the
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON IV.
If a bishop has been deposed and affirms that he has an excuse to urge,
unless Rome has judged the case, no bishop shall be appointed in his room.
For he might treat the decree with scorn either through his nuncios or by
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Decreed, that if any bishop is accused, and the
bishops of the same region assemble and depose him from his office, and he
appealing, so to speak, takes refuge with the most blessed bishop of the
Roman church, and he be willing to give him a hearing, and think it right
to renew the examination of his case, let him be pleased to write to those
fellow-bishops who are nearest the province that they may examine the
particulars with care and accuracy and give their votes on the matter in
accordance with the word of truth. And if any one require that his case be
heard yet again, and at his request it seem good to move the bishop of Rome
to send presbyters a latere, let it be in the power of that bishop,
according as he judges it to be good and decides it to be right--that some
be sent to be judges with the bishops and invested with his authority by
whom they were sent. And be this also ordained. But if he think that the
bishops are sufficient for the examination and decision of the matter let
him do what shall seem good in his most prudent judgment.
The bishops answered: What has been said is approved.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Further decreed, that if a bishop is accused, and
the bishops of that region assemble and depose him from his office, if he
who has been deposed shall appeal and take refuge with the bishop of the
Roman church and wishes to be given a hearing, if he think it right that
the trial or examination of his case be renewed, let him be pleased to
write to those bishops who are in an adjacent and neighbouring province,
that they may diligently inquire into all the particulars and decide
according to the word of truth. But if he who asks to have his case
reheard, shall by his entreaty move the Bishop of Rome to send a presbyter
a latere it shall be in the power of that bishop to do what he shall
resolve and determine upon; and if he shall decide that some be sent, who
shall be present and be judges with the bishops invested with his authority
by whom they were appointed, it shall be as he shall choose. But if he
believe that the bishops suffice to give a final decision, he shall do what
he shall termine upon in his most wise judgment.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON V.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: If it happen that in a province in which there are
very many bishops one bishop should stay away and by some negligence should
not come to the council and assent to the appointment made by the bishops,
but the people assemble and pray that the ordination of the bishop desired
by them take place--it is necessary that the bishop who stayed away should
first be reminded by letters from the exarch of the province (I mean, of
course, the bishop of the metropolis), that the people demand a pastor to
be given them. I think that it is well to await his [the absent bishop's]
arrival also. But if after summons by letter he does not come, nor even
write in reply, the wish of the people ought to be complied with.
The bishops from the neighbouring provinces also should be invited to
the ordination of the bishop of the metropolis.
It is positively not permitted to ordain a bishop in a village or petty
town, for which even one single presbyter is sufficient (for there is no
necessity to ordain a bishop there) lest the name and authority of bishop
should be made of small account, but the bishops of the province ought, as
before said, to ordain bishops in those cities in which there were bishops
previously; and if a city should be found with a population so large as to
be thought worthy of an episcopal see, let it receive one.
Is this the pleasure of all? All answered: It is our pleasure.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: If it shall have happened, that in a province in
which there have been very many bishops, one [i.e., but one] bishop
remains, but that he by negligence has not chosen [to ordain] a bishop, and
the people have made application, the bishops of the neighbouring province
ought first to address [by letter] the bishop who resides in that province,
and show that the people seek a ruler [i.e., pastor] for themselves and
that this is right, so that they also may come and with him ordain a
bishop. But if he refuses to acknowledge their written communication, and
leaves it unnoticed, and writes no reply, the people's request should be
satisfied, so that bishops should come from the neighbouring province and
ordain a bishop.
But permission is not to be given to ordain a bishop either in any
village, or in an unimportant city, for which one presbyter suffices, lest
the name and authority of bishop grow cheap. Those [bishops] who are
invited from another province ought not to ordain a bishop unless in the
cities which have [previously] had bishops, or in a city which is so
important or so populous as to be entitled to have a bishop.
Is this the pleasure of all? The synod replied: It is our pleasure.
ANCIENT EPITOME of CANON VI.
If the bishops were present when the people were seeking for a bishop,
and one was away, let that one be called. But if he is willing to answer
the call neither by letter nor in person, let him be ordained whom they
When a Metropolitan is appointed the neighbouring bishops are to be
In a little city and town, for which one presbyter suffices, a bishop
is not to be appointed. But if the city be very populous, it is not
unfitting to do so.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Our importunity and great pertinacity and unjust
petitions have brought it about that we do not have as much favour and
confidence as we ought to enjoy. For many of the bishops do not intermit
resorting to the imperial Court, especially the Africans, who, as we have
learned from our beloved brother and fellow-bishop, Gratus, do not accept
salutary counsels, but so despise them that one man carries to the Court
petitions many and diverse and of no possible benefit to the Church, and
does not (as ought to be done and as is fitting) assist and help the poor
and the laity or the widows, but is intriguing to obtain worldly dignities
and offices for certain persons. This evil then causes enfeeblement
[better, murmuring (read tonthrusmo'n or tonthorusmon)], not without some
scandal and blame to us. But I account it quite proper for a bishop to give
assistance to one oppressed by some one, or to a widow suffering injustice,
or, again, an orphan robbed of his estate, always provided that these
persons have a just cause of petition.
If, then, beloved brethren, this seems good to all, do ye decree that
no bishop shall go to the imperial Court except those whom our most pious
emperor may summon by his own letters. Yet since it often happens that
persons condemned for their offences to deportation or banishment to an
island, or who have received some sentence or other, beg for mercy and seek
refuge with the Church [i.e., take sanctuary], such persons are not to be
refused assistance, but pardon should be asked for them without delay and
without hesitation. If this, then, is also your pleasure, do ye all vote
All gave answer: Be this also decreed.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Importunities and excessive pertinacity and unjust
petitions have caused us to have too little favour or confidence, while
certain bishops cease not to go to the Court, especially the Africans, who
(as we have learned) spurn and contemn the salutary counsels of our most
holy brother and fellow-bishop, Gratus, so that they not only bring to the
Court many and diverse petitions (not for the good of the Church nor, as is
usual and right, to succour the poor or widows or orphans), but even seek
to obtain worldly dignities and offices for certain persons. This evil
therefore stirs up at times not only murmurings, but even scandals. But it
is proper that bishops should intercede for persons suffering from violence
and oppression, afflicted widows and defrauded orphans, provided,
nevertheless, that these persons have a just cause or petition.
If, then, brethren dearly beloved, such be your pleasure, do we decree
that no bishops go to the Court except those who may have been invited or
summoned by letters of the God-fearing emperor. But since it often happens
that those who are suffering from injustice or who are condemned for their
offences to deportation or banishment to an island, or, in short, have
received some sentence or other, seek refuge with the mercy of the Church,
such persons should be succoured and pardon be begged for them without
hesitation. Decree this, therefore, if it be your pleasure.
All said: It is our pleasure and be it decreed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VII.
When an orphan, widow, and other desolate persons are oppressed by
force let the bishop give them succour and approach the Emperor; but
through a pretext of this kind let him not be a hanger on of the camp, but
rather let him send a deacon.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also let your sagacity determine, that(1)--
inasmuch as this was decreed in order that a bishop might not fall under
censure by going to the Court--that if any have such petitions as we
mentioned above, they should send these by one of their deacons. For the
person of a subordinate does not excite jealousy, and what shall be granted
[by the Emperor] can thus be reported more quickly.
All answered: Be this also decreed.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also your forethought should provide for--
inasmuch as ye have made this decree in order that the audacity of bishops
might not labour [or, be observed] to go to Court. Whosoever therefore
shall have or receive petitions such as we have mentioned above, let them
send these [each] by a deacon of his, because the person of a minister is
not an object of jealousy, and he will be able to report more quickly what
he has obtained.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VIII.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also, I think, follows, that,(2) if in any
province whatever, bishops send petitions to one of their brothers and
fellow-bishops, he that is in the largest city, that is, the metropolis,
should himself send his deacon and the petitions, providing him also with
letters commendatory, writing also of course in succession to our brethren
and fellow-bishops, if any of them should be staying at that time in the
places or cities in which the most pious Emperor is administering public
But if any of the bishops should have friends at the Court and should
wish to make requests of them as to some proper object, let him not be
forbidden to make such requests through his deacon and move these [friends]
to give their kind assistance as his desire.
But those who come to Rome ought, as I said before, to deliver to our
beloved brother and fellow-bishop, Julius, the petitions which they have to
give, in order that he may first examine them, lest some of them should be
improper, and so, giving them his own advocacy and care, shall send them to
All the Bishops made answer that such was their pleasure and that the
regulation was most proper.
THIS also seems to follow, that from whatever province bishops shall
send petitions to that brother and fellow-bishop of ours who has his see in
the metropolis, he [the metropolitan] should dispatch his deacon with the
petitions, providing him with commendatory letters of like tenour to our
brethren and fellow-bishops at that time resident in those regions and
cities in which the fortunate and blessed Emperor is ruling the State.
If however a bishop who seeks to obtain some petition (a worthy one,
that is) has friends in the palace, he is not forbidden to make his request
through his deacon and to advise those who, he knows, can kindly intercede
for him in his absence.
X. But let those who come to Rome, deliver, as before said, to our most
holy brother and follow-bishop, the bishop of the Roman church, the
petitions which they bear, that he also may examine whether they are worthy
and just, and let him give diligence and care that they be forwarded to the
All said that such was their pleasure and that the regulation was
Bishop Alypius said: If they have incurred the discomforts of travel
for the sake of orphans and widows or any in distress and having cases that
are not unjust, they will have some good reason [for their journey]; but
now since they chiefly make requests which cannot be granted without envy
and reproach, it is not necessary for them to go to Court.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON
If one brother sends to another, let the Metropolitan fortify the
nuncio with letters; and let him write to the bishops, who have the matter
in hand, to protect the nuncio.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also I think necessary.(1) Ye should consider
with all thoroughness and care, that if some rich man or professional
advocate be desired for bishop, he be not ordained until he have fulfilled
the ministry of reader, deacon, and presbyter, in order that, passing by
promotion through the several grades, he may advance (if, that is, he be
found worthy) to the height of the episcopate. And he shall remain in each
order assuredly for no brief time, that so Iris faith, his reputable life,
his steadfastness of character and considerateness of demeanour may be
well-known, and that he, being deemed worthy of the divine sacerdotal
office [sacerdotium, i.e., the episcopate] may enjoy the highest honour.
For it is not fitting, nor does discipline or good conversation allow to
proceed to this act rashly or lightly, so as to ordain a bishop or
presbyter or deacon hastily; as thus he would rightly be accounted a
novice, especially since also the most blessed Apostle, he who was the
teacher of the Gentiles, is seen to have forbidden hasty ordinations; for
the test of [even] the longest period will not unreasonably be required to
exemplify the conversation and character of each [candidate].
All said that this was their pleasure and that it must be absolutely
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also I think it necessary for you to consider
most carefully, that if perchance some rich man or professional advocate or
ex-official be desired for bishop, he be not ordained until he have
fulfilled the ministry of a reader and the office of deacon and presbyter,
and so ascend, if he have shown himself worthy, through the several grades
to the height of the episcopate. For by these promotions which in any case
take a considerable length of time can be tested his faith, his discretion,
his gravity and modesty. And if he be found worthy, let him be honoured
with the divine sacerdotal office [i.e. the episcopate]. For it is not
fitting, nor does order or discipline allow, that one be rashly or lightly
ordained bishop, presbyter or deacon, who is a novice, especially since
also the blessed Apostle, the teacher of the Gentiles, is seen to have
expressly forbidden it. But those [should be ordained] whose life has been
tested and their merit approved by length of time.
All said that this was their pleasure.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON X.
No lawyer, teacher, or gentleman (plou'sios) shall be made a bishop
without passing through the holy orders. Nor shall the space of time
between the orders be made too brief, that there may be a better proof of
his faith and good conversation. For otherwise he is a neophyte.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also we ought to decree, that(1) when a bishop
comes from one city to another city, or from one province to another
province, to indulge boastfulness, ministering to his own praises rather
than serving religious devotion, and wishes to prolong his stay [in a
city], and the bishop of that city is not skilled in teaching, let him [the
visiting bishop] not do despite to the bishop of the place and attempt by
frequent discourses to disparage him and lessen his repute (for this device
is wont to cause tumults), and strive by such arts to solicit and wrest to
himself another's throne, not scrupling to abandon the church committed to
him and to procure translation to another. A definite limit of time should
therefore be set in such a case, especially since not to receive a bishop
is accounted the part of rude and discourteous persons. Ye remember that in
former times our fathers decreed that if a layman were staying in a city
and should not come to divine worship for three [successive] Sundays [that
is], for three [full] weeks, he should be repelled from communion. If then
this has been decreed in the case of laymen, it is neither needful, nor
fitting, nor yet even expedient that a bishop, unless he has some grave
necessity or difficult business, should be very long absent from his own
church and distress the people committed to him.
All the bishops said: We decide that this decree also is most proper.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also ye ought to determine. If a bishop comes
from one city to another city, or from his own province to another
province, and serving ambition rather than devotion, wishes to remain
resident for a long time in a strange city, and then (as it perchance
happens that the bishop of the place is not so practised or so learned as
himself) he, the stranger, should begin to do him despite and deliver
frequent discourses to disparage him and lessen his repute, not hesitating
by this device to leave the church assigned him and remove to that which is
another's--do ye then [in such a case] set a limit of time [for his stay in
the city], because on the one hand to refuse to receive a bishop is
discourteous, and on the other his too long stay is mischievous. Provision
must be made against this. I remember that in a former council our brethren
decreed that if any layman did not attend divine service in a city in which
he was staying three Sundays, that is, for three weeks, he should be
deprived of communion. If then this has been decreed in the case of laymen,
it is far less lawful and fitting that a bishop, if there be no grave
necessity detaining him, should be absent from his church longer than the
time above written.
All said that such was their pleasure.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XI.
A bishop when called in by another bishop, if he that called him is
unskilled, must not be too assiduous in preaching, for this would be
indecorous to the unlearned bishop, and an attack upon his bishopric. And
both improper, Without grave necessity it is undesirable for a bishop to be
absent from his church.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Since no case should be left unprovided for, let
this also be decreed.(1) Some of our brethren and fellow-bishops are known
to possess very little private property in the cities in which they are
placed as bishops, but have great possessions in other places, with which
they are, moreover, able to help the poor. I think then permission should
be given them, if they are to visit their estates and attend to the
gathering of the harvest, to pass three Sundays, that is, to stay for three
weeks, on their estates, and to assist at divine worship and celebrate the
liturgy in the nearest church in which, a presbyter holds service, in order
that they may not be seen to be absent from worship, and in order that they
may not come too frequently to the city in which there is a bishop. In this
way their private affairs will suffer no loss from their absence and they
will be seen to be clear from the charge of ambition and arrogance.
All the bishops said: This decree also is approved by us.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Since no case should be left unprovided for [let
this also be decreed]. There are some of our brother-bishops, who do not
reside in the city in which they are appointed bishops, either because they
have but little property there, while they are known to have considerable
estates elsewhere, or, it may be, through affection for kith and kin and in
complaisance to these. Let this much be permitted them, to go to their
estates to superintend and dispose of their harvest, and [for this purpose]
to remain over three Sundays, that is, for three weeks, if it be necessary,
on their estates; or else, if there is a neighbouring city in which there
is a presbyter, in order that they may not be seen to pass Sunday without
church, let them go thither, so that fin this way] neither will their
private affairs suffer loss from their absence, nor will they, by frequent
going to the city in which a bishop is resident, incur the suspicion of
ambition and place-seeking. All said that this was approved by them.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XII.
If a bishop has possessions outside his diocese, and visits them, let
him be careful not to remain there more than three Lord's days. For thus
his own flock will be enriched by him, and he himself will avoid the charge
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Be this also the pleasure of all. 'If any deacon or
presbyter or any of the clergy be excommunicated and take refuge with
another bishop who knows him and who is aware final he has been removed
from communion by his own bishop, [that other bishop] must not offend
against his brother bishop by admitting him to communion.(1) And if any
dare to do this, let him know that he must present himself before an
assembly of bishops and give account.
All the bishops said: This decision will assure peace at all times and
preserve the concord of all.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: Be this also the pleasure of all. If a deacon or
presbyter or any of the clergy be refused communion by his own bishop and
go to another bishop, and he with whom he has taken refuge shall know that
he has been repelled by his own bishop, then must he not grant him
communion. But if he shall do so, let him know that he must give account
before an assembly of bishops.
All said: This decision will preserve peace and maintain concord.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XIII.
Whoso knowingly admits to communion one excommunicated by his own
bishop is not without blame.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: I must not fail to speak of a matter which
constantly urgeth me.(1) If a bishop be found quick to anger (which ought
not to sway such a man), and he, suddenly moved against a presbyter or
deacon, be minded to cast him out of the Church, provision must be made
that such a one be not condemned too hastily [or read athw^on, if innocent]
and deprived of communion.
All said: Let him that is cast out be authorized to take refuge with
the bishop of the metropolis of the same province. And if the bishop of the
metropolis is absent, let him hasten to the bishop that is nearest, and ask
to have his case carefully examined. For a hearing ought not to be denied
those who ask it.
And that bishop who cast out such a one, justly or unjustly, ought not
to take it ill that examination of the case be made, and his decision
confirmed or revised. But, until all the particulars have been examined
with care and fidelity, he who is excluded from communion ought not to
demand communion in advance of the decision of his case. And if any of the
clergy who have met [to hear the case] clearly discern arrogance and
pretentiousness in him, inasmuch as it is not fitting to suffer insolence
or unjust censure, they ought to correct such an one with somewhat harsh
and grievous language, that men may submit to and obey commands that are
proper and right. For as the bishop ought to manifest sincere love and
regard to his subordinates, so those who are subject to him ought in like
manner to perform the duties of their ministry in sincerity towards their
BISHOP HOSIUS said: I must not fail to speak of a matter which further
moveth me. If some bishop is perchance quick to anger (which ought not to
be the case) and, moved hastily and violently against one of his presbyters
or deacons, be minded to cast him out of the Church, provision must be made
that an innocent man be not condemned or deprived of communion.
Therefore let him that is cast out be authorized to appeal to the
neighbouring bishops and let his case be heard and examined into more
diligently. For a hearing ought not to be denied one who asks it.
And let that bishop who cast him out, justly or unjustly, take it
patiently that the matter is discussed, so that his sentence may either be
approved by a number judges] or else revised. Nevertheless, until all the
particulars shall be examined with care and fidelity, no one else ought to
presume to admit to communion him who was excluded therefrom in advance of
the decision of his case. If, however, those who meet to hear it observe
arrogance and pride in [such] clergy, inasmuch as it surely is not fitting
for a bishop to suffer wrong or insult, let them correct them with some
severity of language, that they may obey a bishop whose commands are proper
and right. For as he [the bishop] ought to manifest sincere love and
charity to his clergy, so his ministers ought for their part to render
unfeigned obedience to their bishop.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XIV.
One condemned out of anger, if he asks for assistance, should be heard.
But until [he shall have asked for(1)] the assistance let him remain
This is Canon XVII. of the Latin version.
[AFTER CANON XIV.]
CANON XVIII. (Of the Latin.)
BISHOP JANUARIUS said: Let your holiness also decree this, that no
bishop be allowed to try to gain for himself a minister in the church of a
bishop of another city and ordain him to one of his own parishes.
All said: Such is our pleasure, inasmuch as discord is apt to spring
from contentions in this matter, and therefore the sentence of us all
forbids anyone to presume to do
BISHOP HOSIUS said: And let us all decree this also, that(2) if any
bishop should ordain to any order the minister of another from another
diocese without the consent of his own bishop, such an ordination should be
accounted invalid and not confirmed. And if any take upon themselves to do
this they ought to be admonished and corrected by our brethren and fellow-
All said: Let this decree also stand unalterable.
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This also we all decree, that if any [bishop]
should ordain the minister of another from another diocese without the
consent and will of his own bishop, his ordination be not ratified. And
whoever shall have taken upon himself to do this ought to be admonished and
corrected by our brethren and fellow-bishops.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XV.
If one places a foreign minister without the knowledge of his own
bishop in any grade (e'mbathmon, in aliquo gradu), he has indeed made the
appointment, but it is without force.
BISHOP AETIUS said: Ye are not ignorant how important and how large is
the metropolitan city of Thessalonica. Accordingly presbyters and deacons
often come to it from other provinces and, not content with staying a short
time, remain and make it their permanent place of residence, or are
compelled with difficulty and after a very long delay to return to their
own churches. A decree should be made bearing on this matter.
Bishop HOSIUS said: Let those decrees which have been made in the case
of bishops, be observed as to these persons also.
BISHOP AETIUS said: Ye are not ignorant how large and important is the
city of Thessalonica. Presbyters and deacons often come to it from other
regions, and are not content to remain a short time, but either make their
residence there or at least are with difficulty compelled to return after a
long interval to their own place.
All said: Those limits of time which have been decreed in the case of
bishops ought to be observed as to these persons also.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XVI.
What things have been decreed for bishops with regard to the length of
their absence, applies also to presbyters and deacons.
AT the suggestion moreover of our brother Olympius,(1) we are pleased
to decree this also: That if a bishop suffer violence and is unjustly cast
out either on account of his discipline or for his confession of [the faith
of] the Catholic Church or for his defence of the truth, and, fleeing from
danger, although innocent and devout [or, innocent and being under charge
of high treason], comes to another city, let him not be forbidden to stay
there until he is restored or until deliverance can be found from the
violence and injustice that have been done him. For it would be harsh
indeed and most oppressive that one who has suffered unjust expulsion
should not be harboured by us; as such a man ought to be received with the
greatest consideration and cordiality.*
All said: This also is our pleasure.
AT the suggestion of our brother Olympius, we are pleased to decree
this also: That if any suffer violence and is unjustly cast out on account
of his discipline and his Catholic confession or for his defence of the
truth, and, fleeing from dangers, although innocent and devout, comes to
another city, let him not be forbidden to stay there until he can return or
his wrong has been redressed. For it is harsh and unfeeling that he who is
suffering persecution should not be received; indeed, great cordiality and
abundant consideration should be shown him.
All the synod said: All that has been decreed the Catholic Church
spread abroad throughout all the world will preserve and maintain.
And all the bishops of the various provinces who had assembled
subscribed thus: I, N., bishop of the city of N. and the province of N., so
believe as above is written.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XVII.
If a bishop goes into another province after he has been unjustly
expelled from his own, he should be received, until he has been delivered
from his injury.
BISHOP GAUDENTIUS said: Thou knowest, brother Aetius, that since thou
wast made bishop, peace hath continued to rule [in thy diocese]. In order
that no remnants of discord concerning ecclesiastics remain, it seems good
that those who were ordained by Musaeus and by Eutychianus, provided no
fault be found in them, should all be received.
(This canon is wanting in the Latin.)
BISHOP HOSIUS said: This is the sentence of my mediocrity [i.e.,
unworthiness]--that, since we ought to be gentle and patient and to be
constant in compassion towards all, those who were once advanced to
clerical office in the Church by certain of our brethren, if they are not
willing to return to the churches to which they were nominated [or,
espoused], should for the future not be received, and that neither
Eutychianus should continue to vindicate to himself the name of bishop, nor
yet that Musaeus be accounted a bishop; but that if they should seek for
lay communion, it should not be denied them.
All said: Such is our pleasure.
(This canon is wanting in the Latin.)
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANONS XVIII. AND XIX.
A clergyman who does not live in the Church among whose clergy he is
enrolled should not be received. Eutychian and Musoeus shall not have the
name of bishops. But let them be admitted to communion with the laity, if
BISHOP GAUDENTIUS said: These things wholesomely, duly, and filly
decreed, in the estimation of us the bishops [tw^n hiere'wn] such as are
pleasing both to God and to man will not be able to obtain due force and
validity, unless fear [of a penalty] be added to the decrees proclaimed.
For we ourselves know that through the shamelessness of a few, the divine
and right reverend title of bishop [of the th^s hierwsu'nhs] hath often
come into condemnation. If therefore any one, moved by arrogance and
ambition rather than seeking to please God, should have the hardihood to
pursue a different course of action, contrary to the decree of all, let him
know beforehand that he must give account and defend himself on this
charge, and lose the honour and dignity of the episcopate.
All answered: This sentence is proper and right, and such is our
And this decree will be most widely known and best carried into effect,
if each of those bishops among us who have sees on the thoroughfares or
highway, on seeing a bishop [pass by] shall inquire into the cause of his
passage and his place of destination. And if at his departure he shall find
that he is going to the Court, he will direct his inquiries with reference
to the objects [of a resort to the Court] above mentioned. And if he come
by invitation let no obstacle be put in the way of his departure. But if he
is trying to go to the Court out of ostentation, as hath afore been said by
your charity, or to urge the petitions of certain persons, let neither his
letters be signed nor let such an one be received to communion.
All said: Be this also decreed
BISHOP GAUDENTIUS said: These things which you have wholesomely and
suitably provided [in your decrees] pleasing in [or, to] the estimation of
all both [or, and] to God and to men, can obtain force and validity only in
case fear [of a penalty] be added to this your action. For we ourselves
know that through the shamelessness of a few the sacred and venerable
sacerdotal [--episcopal] name hath been many times and oft brought to
blame. If therefore anyone attempts to oppose the judgment of all and seeks
to serve ambition rather than please God, he must be given to know that he
will have to render an account and lose office and rank.
This can be carried into effect only provided each of us whose see is
on the highway shall, if he sees a bishop pass, inquire into the cause of
his journey, ascertain his destination, and if he finds that he is on his
way to the Court, satisfy himself as to what is contained above [i.e., as
to his objects at Court], lest perhaps he has come by invitation, that
permission may be given him to proceed. If, however, as your holiness
mentioned above, he is going to Court to urge petitions and applications
for office, let neither his letters be signed nor let him be received to
All said that this was proper and right and that this regulation was
approved by them.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XX. [the last part of which in Beveridge, Synod.,
is numbered xxj.]
If any bishop tries out of pride to do away with what has been decreed
admirably, and in a manner pleasing to God, he shall lose his episcopate. A
bishop who shall see a bishop on his way to the camp, if he shall know that
he goes therefor any of the before-mentioned causes, let him not trouble
him, but if otherwise let him pronounce excommunication against him.
[AFTER CANON XX.]
CANON XII. (Of the Latin Texts.)
BISHOP HOSIUS said: But some discretion is here requisite, brethren
dearly beloved, in case some should come to those cities which are on the
highway still ignorant of what has been decreed in the council. The bishop
of such a city ought therefore to admonish him [a bishop so arriving], and
instruct him to send his deacon from that place. Upon this admonition he
must, however, himself return to his diocese.
THE CANONS OF THE CCXVII BLESSED FATHERS WHO ASSEMBLED AT CARTHAGE, A.D.
COMMONLY CALLED THE CODE OF CANONS OF THE AFRICAN CHURCH.
The Canons with the Ancient Epitome and Notes.
AURELIUS THE BISHOP said:(1) You, most blessed brethren, remember that
after the day fixed for the synod we discussed many things while we were
waiting for our brethren who now have been sent as delegates and have
arrived at the present synod, which must be placed in the acts. Wherefore
let us render thanks to our Lord for the gathering together of so great an
assembly. It remains that the acts of the Nicene Synod which we now have,
and have been determined by the fathers, as well as those things enacted by
our predecessors here, who confirmed that same Synod, or which according to
the same form have been usefully enacted by all grades of the clergy, from
the highest even to the lowest, should be brought forward. The whole
Council said: Let them be brought forward.
Daniel the Notary read: The profession of faith or statutes of the
Nicene Synod are as follows.
And while he was speaking, Faustinus, a bishop of the people of
Potentia, of the Italian province of Picenum, a legate of the Roman Church
said: There have been entrusted to us by the Apostolic See certain things
in writings, and certain other things as in ordinances to be treated of
with your blessedness as we have called to memory in the acts above, that
is to say, concerning the canons made at Nice, that their decrees and
customs be observed; for some things are observed out of decree and canon,
but some from custom. Concerning these things therefore in the first place
let us make enquiry, if it please your blessedness; and afterwards let the
other ordinances which have been adopted or proposed be confirmed; so that
you may be able to show by your rescripts to the Apostolic See, and that
you may declare to the same venerable Pope, that we have diligently
remembered these things; although the headings of action taken had been
already inserted in the acts.(2) In this matter we should act, as I have
said above, as shall please your beloved blessedness. Let, therefore the
commonitorium come into the midst, that ye may be able to recognize what is
contained in it, so that an answer can be given to each point.
Aurelius said: Let the commonitorium be brought forward, which our
brethren and fellow-ministers lately placed in the acts, and let the rest
of the things done or to be done, follow in order.
Daniel the Notary read the Commonitorium. To our brother Faustinus and
to our sons, the presbyters Philip and Asellus, Zosimus, the bishop. You
well remember that we committed to you certain businesses, and now [we bid
you] carry out all things as if we ourselves were there (for), indeed, our
presence is there with you; especially since ye have this our commandment,
and the words of the canons which for greater certainty we have inserted in
this our commonitory. For thus said our brethren in the Council of Nice
when they made these decrees concerning the appeals of bishops:
"But it seemed good that if a bishop had been accused, etc." [Here
follows verbatim Canon v. of Sardica.]
If bishops shall have deposed a bishop, and if he appeal to the Roman
bishop, he should be benignantly heard, the Roman bishop writing or
And when this had been read, Alypius, bishop of the Tagastine Church,
and legate of the province of Numidia, said: On this matter there has been
some legislation in former sessions of our council, and we profess that we
shall ever observe what was decreed by the Nicene Council; yet I remember
that when we examined the Greek copies of this Nicene Synod, we did not
find these the words quoted--Why this was the case, I am sure I do not
know. For this reason we beg your reverence, holy Pope Aurelius, that, as
the authentic record of the decrees of the Council of Nice are said to be
preserved in the city of Constantinople, you would deign to send messengers
with letters from your Holiness, and not only to our most holy brother the
bishop of Constantinople, but also to the venerable bishops of Alexandria
and Antioch, who shall send to us the decrees of that council with the
authentification of their signatures, so that hereafter all ambiguity
should be taken away, for we failed to find the words cited by our brother
Faustinus; notwithstanding this however we promise to be ruled by them for
a short time, as I have already said, until reliable copies come to hand.
Moreover the venerable bishop of the Roman Church, Boniface, should be
asked likewise to be good enough to send messengers to the aforementioned
churches, who should have the same copies according to his rescript, but
the copies of the aforementioned Nicene Council which we have, we place in
Faustinus the bishop, legate of the Roman Church, said: Let not your
holiness do dishonour to the Roman Church, either in this matter or in any
other, by saying the canons are doubtful, as our brother and fellow-bishop
Alypius has vouchsafed to say: but do you deign to write these things to
our holy and most blessed pope, so that he seeking out the genuine canons,
can treat with your holiness on all matters decreed. But it suffices that
the most blessed bishop of the city of Rome should make enquiry just as
your holiness proposes doing on your part, that there may not seem to have
arisen any contention between the Churches, but that ye may the rather be
enabled to deliberate with fraternal charity, when he has been heard from,
what is best should be observed.
Aurelius the bishop said: In addition to what is set down in the acts,
we, by the letters from our insignificance, must more fully inform our holy
brother and fellow-bishop Boniface of everything which we have considered.
Therefore if our plan pleases all, let us be informed of this by the mouth
of all. And the whole council said: It seems good to us.
Novatus the bishop, legate of Mauritania Sitifensis, said: We now call
to mind that there is contained in this commonitory something about
presbyters and deacons, how they should be tried by their own bishops or by
those adjoining, a provision which we find nothing of in the Nicene
Council. For this cause let your holiness order this part to be read.
Aurelius the bishop said: Let the place asked for be read. Daniel the
notary read as follows: Concerning the appeals of clergymen, that is of
those of inferior rank, there is a sure answer of this very synod,
concerning which thing what ye should do, we think should be inserted, as
"Hosius the bishop said: I should not conceal what has come into my
mind up to this time. If any bishop perchance has been quickly angered (a
thing what should not happen) and has acted quickly or sharply against a
presbyter or a deacon of his, and has wished to drive him out of the
Church, provision should be made that the innocent be not condemned, or be
deprived of communion: he that has been ejected should have the right of
appeal to the bishops of the bordering dioceses, that his case should be
heard, and it should be carried on all the more diligently because to him
who asks a hearing it should not be denied. And the bishop who either
justly or unjustly rejected him, should patiently allow the affair to be,
discussed, so that Iris sentence be either approved or else emended, etc."
A presbyter or deacon who has been cut off, has the privilege of
appealing to the neighbouring bishops. Moreover, he who cut him off should
bear with equanimity the conclusion arrived at.]
And when this had been read, Augustine, the bishop of the Church of
Hippo of the province of Numidia, said: We promise that this shall be
observed by us, provided that upon more careful examination it be found to
be of the Council of Nice. Aurelius the bishop said. If this also is
pleasing to the charity of you all, give it the confirmation of your vote.
The whole Council said: Everything that has been ordained by the Nicene
Council pleases us all. Jocundus, the bishop of the Church of Suffitula,
legate of the province of Byzacena, said: What was decreed by the Nicene
Council cannot in any particular be violated.
Faustinus the bishop, legate of the Roman Church, said: So far as has
developed by the confession of your holiness as well as of the holy
Alypius, and of our brother Jocundus, I believe that some of the points
have been made weak and others confirmed, which should not be the case,
since even the very canons themselves have been brought into question.
Therefore, that there may be harmony between us and your blessedness, let
your holiness deign to refer the matter to the holy and venerable bishop of
the Roman Church, that he may be able to consider whether what St.
Augustine vouchsafed to enact, should be conceded or not, I mean in the
matter of appeals of the inferior grade. If therefore there still is doubt,
on this head it is right that the bishop of the most blessed see be
informed, if this can be found in the canons which have been approved.
Since the written decrees of the Nicene Council have not been found,
let the Roman bishop deign to write to the bishop of Constantinople and to
him of Alexandria, and let us know what he receives from them.]
Aurelius the bishop said: As we have suggested to your charity, pray
allow the copies of the statutes of the Nicene Council to be read and
inserted in the acts, as well as those things what have been most
healthfully defined in this city by our predecessors, according to the rule
of that council, and those which now have been ordained by us. And the
whole council said: The copies of the Creed, and the statutes of the Nicene
Synod which formerly were brought to our council through Caecilean of
blessed memory, the predecessor of your holiness (who was present at it),
as well as the copies of the decrees made by the Fathers in this city
following them, or which now we have decreed by our common consultation,
shall remain inserted in these ecclesiastical acts, so that (as has been
already said) your blessedness may vouchsafe to write to those most
venerable men of the Church of Antioch, and of that of Alexandria, and also
of that of Constantinople, that they would send most accurate copies of the
decrees of the Council of Nice under the authentification of their
signatures, by which, the truth of the matter having become evident, those
chapters which in the commonitory our brother who is present, and fellow-
bishop Faustinus, as well as our fellow-presbyters Philip and Asellus
brought with them, if they be found therein, may be confirmed by us; or if
they be not found, we will hold a synod and consider the matter further.
Daniel the notary read the profession of faith of the Council of Nice and
its statutes to the African Council.
The Profession of Faith of the Nicene Council.
We believe in one God, etc., ... and in the Holy Ghost. But those who
say, etc., ... anathematize them.
The statutes also of the Nicene Council in twenty heads were likewise
read, as are found written before. Then what things were promulgated in the
African Synods, were inserted in the present acts.
CANON I: That the statutes of the Nicene Council are to be scrupulously
AURELIUS the bishop said: Such are the statutes of the Nicene Council,
which our fathers at that time brought back with them: and preserving this
form, let these things which follow, adopted and confirmed by us, be kept
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON I.
Let the copies of the decrees of the Nicene Council which our fathers
brought back with them from that synod, be observed.
CANON II: Of Preaching the Trinity.
THE whole Council said: By the favour of God, by a unanimous confession
the Church's faith which through us is handed down should be confessed in
this glorious assembly before anything else; then the ecclesiastical order
of each is to be built up and strengthened by the consent of all. That the
minds of our brethren and fellow bishops lately elevated may be
strengthened, those things should be propounded which we have certainly
received from our fathers, as the unity of the Trinity, which we retain
consecrated in our senses, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Ghost, which has no difference, as we say,(2) so we shall instruct the
people of God. Moreover by all the bishops lately promoted it was said: So
we openly confess, so we hold, so we teach, following the Evangelic faith
and your teaching.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON II.
No difference is recognised or taught by the decrees of the Council of
Nice between the Persons of the Holy Trinity.
CANON III: Of Continence.
AURELIUS the bishop said: When at the past council the matter on
continency and chastity was considered, those three grades, which by a sort
of bond are joined to chastity by their consecration, to wit bishops,
presbyters, and deacons, so it seemed that it was becoming that the sacred
rulers and priests of God as well as the Levites, or those who served at
the divine sacraments, should be continent altogether, by which they would
be able with singleness of heart to ask what they sought from the Lord: so
that what the apostles taught and antiquity kept, that we might also keep.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON III.
Let a bishop, a presbyter, and a deacon be chaste and continent.
CANON IV: Of the different orders that should abstain from their wives.
FAUSTINUS, the bishop of the Potentine Church, in the province of
Picenum, a legate of the Roman Church, said: It seems good that a bishop, a
presbyter, and a deacon, or whoever perform the sacraments, should be
keepers of modesty and should abstain from their wives.
By all the bishops it was said: It is right that all who serve the
altar should keep pudicity from all women.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON IV.
Let those who pray abstain from their wives that they may obtain their
CANON V: Of Avarice.
AURELIUS, the bishop, said: The cupidity of avarice (which, let no one
doubt, is the mother of all evil things), is to be henceforth prohibited,
lest anyone should usurp another's limits, or for gain should pass beyond
the limits fixed by the fathers, nor shall it be at all lawful for any of
the clergy to receive usury of any kind. And those new edicts
(suggestiones) which are obscure and generally ambiguous, after they have
been examined by us, will have their value fixed (formam accipiunt); but
with regard to those upon which the Divine Scripture hath already most
plainly given judgment, it is unnecessary that further sentence should be
pronounced, but what is already laid down is to be carried out. And what is
reprehensible in laymen is worthy of still more severe censure in the
clergy. The whole synod said: No one hath gone contrary to what is said in
the Prophets and in the Gospels with impunity.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON V.
As the taking of any kind of usury is condemned in laymen, much more is
it condemned in clergymen.
CANON VI: That the chrism should not be made by presbyters.
FORTUNATUS the bishop, said: In former councils we remember that it was
decreed that the chrism or the reconciliation of penitents, as also the
consecration of virgins be not done by presbyters: but should anyone be
discovered to have done this, what ought we to decree with regard to him?
Aurelius the bishop said: Your worthiness has heard the suggestion of
our brother and fellow-bishop Fortunatus; What answer will you give?
And all the bishops replied: Neither the making of the chrism, nor the
consecration of virgins, is to be done by presbyters, nor is it permitted
to a presbyter to reconcile anyone in the public mass (in publica missa),
this is the pleasure of all of us.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VI.
Let no presbyter make the chrism, nor prepare the unction, nor
consecrate virgins, nor publicly reconcile anyone to communion.
CANON VII: Concerning those who are reconciled in peril of death.
AURELIUS the bishop said: If anyone had fallen into peril of death
during the absence of the bishop, and had sought to reconcile himself to
the divine altars, the presbyter should consult the bishop, and so
reconcile the sick man at his bidding, which thing we should strengthen
with healthy counsel. By all the bishops it was said: Whatever your
holiness has taught us to be necessary, that is our pleasure.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VII.
A priest desiring to reconcile anyone in peril to the sacred altars
must consult the bishop and do what seems good to him.
CANON VIII: Of those who make accusation against an elder; and that no
criminal is to be suffered to bring a charge against a bishop.
NUMIDIUS, the bishop of Maxula, said: Moreover, there are very many,
not of good life, who think that their elders or bishops should be the butt
for accusation; ought such to be easily admitted or no? Aurelius the bishop
said: Is it the pleasure of your charity that he who is ensnared by divers
wickednesses should have no voice of accusation against these?
All the bishops said: If he is criminous, his accusation is not to be
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON VIII.
It has seemed good that they who are themselves defendants for crimes
should not bring accusations; nor should they be allowed to lay crimes to
CANON IX: Of those who on account of their deeds are justly cast forth from
the congregation of the Church.
AUGUSTINE the bishop, the legate of the Numidian province, said: Deign
to enact that if any perchance have been rightly on account of their crimes
cast forth from the Church, and shall have been received into communion by
some bishop or presbyter, such shall be considered as guilty of an equal
crime with them who flee away from the judgment of their own bishop. And
sit the bishops said: This is the pleasure of all of us.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON IX.
Let him be excommunicated who communicates with one excommunicated.
CANON X: Of presbyters who are corrected by their own bishops.
ALYPIUS the bishop, a legate of the province of Numidia, said: Nor
should tiffs be passed over; if by chance any presbyter when corrected by
his bishop, inflamed by self-conceit or pride, has thought fit to offer
sacrifices to God separately [from the authority of the bishop] or has
believed it right to erect another altar, contrary to ecclesiastical faith
and discipline, such should not get off with impunity. Valentine, of the
primatial see of the province of Numidia, said: The propositions made by
our brother Alypius are of necessity congruous to ecclesiastical discipline
and faith; therefore enact what seems good to your belovedness.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON X.
If one condemned by his bishop shall separate himself and set up an
altar or make the offering he should be punished.
CANON XI: If any presbyter, inflated against his bishop, makes a schism,
let him be anathema.
ALL the bishops said: If any presbyter shall have been corrected by his
superior, he should ask the neighbouring bishops that his cause be heard by
them and that through them he may be reconciled to his bishop: but if he
shall not have done this, but, puffed up with pride, (which may God
forbid!) he shall have thought it proper to separate himself from the
communion of his bishop, and separately shall have offered the sacrifice to
God, and made a schism with certain accomplices, let him be anathema, and
let him lose his place; and if the complaint which he brought against his
bishop shall [not] have been found to be well founded, an enquiry should be
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XI.
A Presbyter condemned by his bishop, is allowed to appeal to the
neighbouring bishops: but if he shall not make any appeal, but shall make a
schism, and be elated with conceit and shall offer the Holy Gifts to God,
let him be anathema.
CANON XII: If any bishop out of Synod time shall have fallen under
accusation, let his cause be heard by 12 bishops.
FELIX the bishop, said: I suggest, according to the statutes of the
ancient councils, that if any bishop (which may God forbid!) shall have
fallen under any accusation, and there shall have been too great necessity
to wait for the summoning of a majority of the bishops, that he may not
rest under accusation, let his cause be heard by 12 bishops; and let a
presbyter be heard by six bishops with his own bishop, and a deacon shall
be heard by three.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XII.
When a bishop is to be tried, if the whole synod does not sit, let at
least twelve bishops take up the matter; and for the case of a presbyter,
six and his own diocesan; and for the ease of a deacon, three.
CANON XIII: That a bishop should not be ordained except by many bishops,
but if there should be necessity he may be ordained by three.
BISHOP AURELIUS said: What says your holiness on this matter? By all
the bishops it was answered: The decrees of the ancients must be observed
by us, to wit, that without the consent of the Primate of any province even
many bishops assembled together should not lightly presume to ordain a
bishop. But should there be a necessity, at his bidding, three bishops
should ordain him in any place they happen to be, and if anyone contrary to
his profession and subscription shall come into any place he shall thereby
deprive himself of his honour.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF XIII
At the bidding of the Primate even three bishops can make a bishop. But
whoever goes counter to his profession, and subscription, is deprived of
his honour by his own judgment.
CANON XIV: That one of the bishops of Tripoli should come as legate, and
that a presbyter might be heard there by five bishops.
IT also seemed good that one bishop from Tripoli, on account of the
poverty of the province, should come as a legation, and that there a
presbyter might be heard by five bishops, and a deacon by three, as has
been noted above, his own bishop presiding.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XIV.
On account of the scarcity of bishops in Tripoli, one bishop shall
suffice for a legation.
CANON XV: Of the divers orders who serve the Church, that if any one fall
into a criminal business and refused to be tried by the ecclesiastical
court, he ought to be in danger therefor; and that the sons of bishops
(sacerdotum) are not to attend worldly shows.
MOREOVER it seemed good that if any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, who
had a criminal charge brought against him or who had a civil cause, refused
to be tried by the ecclesiastical tribunal, but wished to be judged by the
secular courts, even if he won his suit, nevertheless he should lose his
This is the law in a criminal suit; but in a civil suit he shall lose
that for the recovery of which he instituted the proceedings, if he wishes
to retain his office.
This also seemed good, that if from some ecclesiastical judges an
appeal was taken to other ecclesiastical judges who had a superior
jurisdiction, this should in no way injure the reputation of those from
whom the appeal was taken, unless it could be shown that they had given
sentence moved by hatred or some other mental bias, or that they had been
in some way corrupted. But if by the consent of both parties judges had
been chosen, even if they were fewer in number than is specified, no appeal
can be taken.
And [it seemed good] that the sons of bishops should not take part in
nor witness secular spectacles. For this has always been forbidden to all
Christians, so let them abstain from them, that they may not go where
cursing and blasphemy are to be found.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XV.
A bishop or cleric who has a criminal suit brought against him, if he
leaves the Church and betakes himself to secular judges even if he had been
unjustly used, shall lose his rank. And if he was successful in his
political affairs, if he follows this, he shall lose his own grade. No
appeal can be taken from the ecclesiastical judges, except they be proved
to have given their decision beforehand moved thereto by a bribe or by
hatred. No appeal can be taken from the decision of judges chosen by each
CANON XVI: That no bishop, presbyter or deacon should be a "conductor;" and
that Readers should take wives; and that the clergy should abstain from
usury; and at what age they or virgins should be consecrated.
LIKEWISE it seemed good that bishops, presbyters, and deacons should
not be "conductors" or "procurators;" nor seek their food by any base and
vile business, for they should remember how it is written, "No man fighting
for God cumbereth himself with worldly affairs."
Also it seemed good that Readers when they come to years of puberty,
should be compelled either to take wives or else to profess continence.
Likewise it seemed good that if a clergyman had lent money he should
get it back again, but if kind (speciem) he should receive back the same
kind as he gave.
And that younger than twenty-five years deacons should not be ordained,
nor virgins consecrated.
And that readers should not salute the people.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF XVI.
A bishop, presbyter, and deacon may not be a "conductor" or a
"procurator." A reader when he comes to puberty must contract marriage or
A cleric who has lent to someone, what he gave let him receive, or as
Let not him be a deacons, who is made a deacon being under twenty-five.
And let not readers salute the people.
CANON XVII: That any province on account of its distance, may have its own
IT seemed good that Mauretania Sitiphensis, as it asked, should have a
Primate of its own, with the consent of the Primate of Numidia from whose
synod it had been separated.(1) And with the consent of all the primates of
the African Provinces and of all the bishops permission was given, by
reason of the great distance between them.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XVII.
Mauretania Sitiphensis, on account of the great distance, is permitted
to have its own Primate.
CANON XVIII. (Gk. xviii. The Latin caption is the canon of the Greek:) If
any cleric is ordained he ought to be admonished to observe the
constitutions. And that neither the Eucharist nor Baptism: should be given
to the bodies of the dead. And that every year in every province the
Metropolitans come together in synod.
(Gk. Canon xix.)
It seemed good that before bishops, or clerics were ordained, the
provisions of the canons should be brought to their notice, lest, they
might afterwards repent of having through ignorance acted contrary to law.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF GREEK CANON XIX.
The things which have been adopted by the synods should be made known
to him who is to be ordained.
(Gk. Canon xx.)
It also seemed good that the Eucharist should not be given to the
bodies of the dead. For it is written: "Take, Eat," but the bodies of the
dead can neither "take" nor "eat." Nor let the ignorance of the presbyters
baptize those who are dead.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF GREEK CANON XX.
The Eucharist is not to be given to the body of one dead for it neither
eats nor drinks.
The ignorance of a presbyter shall not baptize a dead man.
(Gk. Canon xxi.)
And therefore in this holy synod should be, confirmed in accordance
with the Nicene decrees, on account of Ecclesiastical causes, which often
are delayed to the injury of the people, that every year there should be a
synod, to which all, who are primates of the provinces, should send bishops
as legates, from their own synods, two or as many as they choose; so that
when the synod meets it may have full power to act.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF GREEK CANON XXI.
According to the decrees of the Nicene Fathers a yearly synod shall be
assembled, and two legates or as many as they shall choose, shall be sent
by the primates of every province.
CANON XIX. (Greek xxii.)(1) That if any bishop is accused the cause should
be brought before the primate of his own province.
AURELIUS, the bishop, said: Whatever bishop is accused the accuser
shall bring the case before the primates of the province to which the
accused belongs, and he shall not be suspended from communion by reason of
the crime laid to Iris charge unless he fails to put in an appearance on
the appointed day for arguing his cause before the chosen judges, having
been duly summoned by the letters; that is, within the space of one month
from the day in which he, is found to have received the letters. But should
he be able to prove any true necessity which manifestly rendered it
impossible for him to appear, he shall have the opportunity of arguing his
case within another full month; but after the second month he shall not
communicate until he is acquitted.
But if he is not willing to come to the annual general council, so that
his cause may there be terminated, he himself shall be judged to have
pronounced the sentence of his own condemnation at the time in which he
does not communicate, nor shall he communicate either in his own church or
But his accuser, if he has not missed any of the days for pleading the
cause, shall not be shut out from communion; but if he has missed some of
them, withdrawing himself, then the bishop shall be restored to communion
and the accuser shall be removed from communion; so, nevertheless, that the
possibility of going on with the case be not taken from him, if he shall
prove that his absence was caused by lack of power and not by lack of will.
And this is enacted, that if the accuser turn out to be himself a
criminal when the case against the bishop has come to argument, he shall
not be allowed to testify unless he asserts that the causes are personal
and not ecclesiastical.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XIX.
A bishop accused and baled to judgment shall have the space of two
months; if there is any excuse(1) for his delay from the other side. But
after this he shall be excommunicated if he does not appear. But if when
the accused is present the accuser flees, then the accuser shall be
deprived of communion. But the accuser who is infamous shall not be an
accuser at all.
CANON XX. (Greek xxiii.) Of accused presbyters or clerks.
BUT if presbyters or deacons shall have been accused, there shall be
joined together from the neighbouring places with the bishop of tile
diocese, the legitimate number of colleagues, whom the accused shall seek
from the same; that is together with himself six in the case against a
presbyter, in that against a deacon three. They shall discuss the causes,
and the same form shall be kept with regard to days and postponements and
removals from communion, and in the discussion of persons between the
accusers and the accused.
But the causes of the rest of the clergy, the bishop of the place shall
take cognizance of and determine alone.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XX.
When a presbyter is accused, six of the neighbouring bishops together
with the bishop of that region shall judge the matter. But for a deacon,
three. What things concern the other clerics even one bishop shall examine.
CANON XXI. (Greek xxiv.) That the sons of clergymen are not to be joined in
marriage with heretics.
LIKEWISE it seemed good that the sons of clergymen should not be joined
in matrimony with gentiles and heretics.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXI.
[The same as the canon.]
CANON XXII. (Greek xxv.) That bishops or other clergymen shall give nothing
to those who are not Catholics.
AND that to those who are not Catholic Christians, even if they be
blood relations, neither bishops nor clergymen shall give anything at all
by way of donation of their possessions.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXII.
Bishops and clergymen shall give nothing of their goods to heretics,
nor confer aught upon them even if they be their relatives.
CANON XXIII. (Greek xxvi.) That bishops shall not go across seas.
ITEM, That bishops shall not go beyond seas without consulting the
bishop of the primatial see of his own province: so that from him they may
be able to receive a formed or commendatory letter.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXIII.
A bishop is not to cross the seas unless he has received from the
Primate of his region a letter dimissory.
CANON XXIV. (Greek xxvii.) That nothing be read in church besides the
ITEM, that besides the Canonical Scriptures nothing be read in church
under the name of divine Scripture.
But the Canonical Scriptures are as follows:
Genesis. Exodus. Leviticus. Numbers. Deuteronomy. Joshua the Son of
Nun. The Judges. Ruth. The Kings, iv. books. The Chronicles, ij. books.
Job. The Psalter. The Five books of Solomon. The Twelve Books of the
Prophets. Isaiah. Jeremiah. Ezechiel. Daniel. Tobit. Judith. Esther. Ezra,
ij. books. Macchabees, ij. books.
THE NEW TESTAMENT.
The Gospels, iv. books. The Acts of the Apostles, j. book. The Epistles
of Paul, xiv. The Epistles of Peter, the Apostle, ij. The Epistles of John
the Apostle, iij. The Epistles of James the Apostle, j. The Epistle of Jude
the Apostle, j. The Revelation of John, j. book.
Let this be sent to our brother and fellow bishop, Boniface, and to the
other bishops of those parts, that they may confirm this canon, for these
are the things which we have received from our fathers to be read in
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXIV.
Let nothing besides the canonical Scriptures be read in church.
CANON XXV. (Greek xxviii.) Concerning bishops and the lower orders who wait
upon the most holy mysteries. It has seemed good that these abstain from
AURELIUS, the bishop, said: We add, most dear brethren, moreover, since
we have heard of the incontinency of certain clerics, even of readers,
towards their wives, it seemed good that what had been enacted in divers
councils should be confirmed, to wit, that subdeacons who wait upon the
holy mysteries, and deacons, and presbyters, as well as bishops according
to former statutes,(1) should contain from their wives, so that they should
be as though they had them not and unless they so act, let them be removed
from office. But the rest of the clergy are not to be compelled to this,
unless they be of mature age. And by the whole council it was said: What
your holiness has said is just, holy, and pleasing to God, and we confirm
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXV.
Those who handle holy things should abstain even from their own wives
at the times of their ministration.
CANON XXVI. (Greek xxix.) That no one should take from the possessions of
Likewise it seemed good that no one should sell anything belonging to
the Church: that if there was no revenue, and other great necessity urged
thereto, this might be brought before the Metropolitan of the province that
the might deliberate with the appointed number of bishops whether this
should be done: that if such urgent necessity lay upon any church that it
could not take counsel beforehand, at least let it call together the
neighbouring bishops as witnesses, taking care to refer all the necessities
of his church to the council: and that if he shall not do this, he shall be
held as responsible toward God, and as a seller in the eye of the council,
and he shall have lost thereby his honour.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXVI.
Church goods must not be sold. If they bring in no revenue they may be
sold at the will of the bishops. If the necessity does not allow that
consultation should take place, he who sells shall call together the
neighbouring bishops. If he does not do so he shall be held responsible to
God and to the Synod.
CANON XXVII. (Greek xxx.) Presbyters and deacons convicted of the graver
crimes shall not receive laying on of hands, like layman.(2)
IT also was confirmed that if presbyters or deacons were convicted of
any of the greater crimes on account of which it was necessary that they
should be removed from the ministry, that hands should not be laid upon
them as upon penitents, or as upon faithful layman, nor should it be
permitted that they be baptized over again and then advanced to the
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXVII.
A presbyter convicted and repenting, is not to be rebaptized as one to
be advanced, neither as a layman is he to be reordained.
CANON XXVIII. (Greek xxxi.) Presbyters, deacons, or clerics, who shall
think good to carry appeals in their causes across the water shall not at
all be admitted to communion.(1)
IT also seemed good that presbyters, deacons, and others of the
inferior clergy in the causes which they had, if they were dissatisfied
with the judgments of their bishops, let the neighbouring bishops with the
consent of their own bishop hear them, and let the bishops who have been
called in judge between them: but if they think they have cause of appeal
from these, they shall not betake themselves to judgments from beyond seas,
but to the primates of their own provinces, or else to an universal
council, as has also been decreed concerning bishops. But whoso shall think
good to carry an appeal across the water shall be received to communion by
no one within the boundaries of Africa.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXVIII.
Clerics who have been condemned, if they take exception to the
judgment, shall not appeal beyond seas, but to the neighbouring bishops,
and to their own; if they do otherwise let them be excommunicated in
CANON XXIX. (Greek xxxii.) If anyone who is excommunicated shall receive
communion before his cause is heard he brings damnation on himself.(8)
LIKEWISE it pleased the whole Council that he who shah have been
excommunicated for any neglect, whether he be bishop, or any other cleric,
and shall have presumed while still under sentence, and his cause not yet
heard, to receive communion, he shall be considered by so doing to have
given sentence against himself.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXIX.
One excommunicate who shall communicate before absolution sentences
CANON XXX. (Greek xxxiii.) Concerning the accused or accuser.(1)
LIKEWISE it seemed good that the accused, or the accusor, if (living in
the same place as the accused) he fears some evil may be done him by the
tumultuous multitude, may choose for himself a place near by, where the
cause may be determined, and where there will be no difficulty in producing
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXX.
Accuser or accused may select for himself a safe place if he fears
CANON XXXI. (Greek xxxiv.) If certain clerics advanced by their own bishops
are supercilious, let them not remain whence they are unwilling to come
IT also seemed good that whoever of the clergy or of the deacons would
not help the bishop in the necessities of the churches, when he wished to
lift them to a higher position in his diocese, should no longer be allowed
to exercise the functions of that grade from which they were not willing to
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXI.
Who despises a greater honour shall lose what he hath.
CANON XXXII. (Greek xxxv.) If any poor cleric, no matter what his rank may
be, shall acquire any property, it shall be subject to the power of the
IT also seemed good that bishops, presbyters, deacons and any other of
the clergy, who when they were ordained had no possessions, and in the time
of their episcopate or after they became clerics, shall purchase in their
own names lands or any other property, shall be held guilty of the crime of
intrenching upon the Lord's goods, unless, when they are admonished to do
so, they place the same at the disposal of the Church. But should anything
come to them personally by the liberality of anyone, or by succession from
some relative, let them do what they will with it; if, however, they demand
it back again, contrary to what they proposed, they shall be judged
unworthy of ecclesiastical honour as back-sliders.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXII.
Whoso after his ordination although he has nothing yet buys a field,
shall give it to the Church, unless he got it by succession from a relation
or by pure liberality.
CANON XXXIII. (Greek xxxvi.) That presbyters should not sell the goods of
the Church in which they are constituted; and that no bishop can rightly
use anything the title to which vests in the ecclesiastical maternal centre
It also seemed good that presbyters should not sell the ecclesiastical
property where they are settled without their bishop's knowledge; and it is
not lawful for bishops to sell the goods of the Church without the council
or their presbyters being aware of it. Nor should the bishop without
necessity usurp the property of the maternal (matricis) Church [nor should
a presbyter usurp the property of his own cure (tituli)].(1)
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXIII.
A presbyter is not to sell ecclesiastical property without the consent
of the bishop. A bishop is not to sell without the approbation of his synod
a country property.
Moreover at this Synod we read all the conciliar decrees of all the
Province of Africa in the different synods held in the time of Bishop
Concerning the Synod which assembled in Hippo Regio.
Under the most illustrious consuls, the most glorious Emperor
Theodosius Augustus for the third time, mid Abundantius, on the viij. Ides
of October, at Hippo Regio, in the secretarium of the Church of Peace. And
the rest of the acts of this Synod have not been written down here because
these constitutions are found set forth above.
Of the Council of Carthage at which the proconsular bishops were appointed
legates to the Council at Adrumetum.
In the consulate of the most glorious emperors--Arcadius for the third
time and Honorius for the second time, Augustuses, on the vith(3) day
before the Calends of July, at Carthage. In this council the proconsular
bishops were chosen as legates to the Council of Adrumetum.
Of a Council of Carthage at which many statutes were made.
In the consulate of those most illustrious men, Caesarius and Atticus,
on the vth day before the Calends of September in the secretarium of the
restored basilica, when Aurelius the bishop, together with the bishops, had
taken his seat, the deacons also standing by, and Victor the old man of
Puppiana, Tutus of Migirpa and Evangel of Assuri.
The Allocution of Aurelius the bishop of Carthage to the bishops.
Aurelius, the bishop, said:(4) After the day fixed for the council, as
ye remember, most blessed brethren, we sat and waited for the legations of
all the African provinces to assemble upon the day, as I have said, set by
our missive; but when the letter of our Byzacene bishops had been read,
that was read to your charity, which they had discussed with me who had
anticipated the time and day of the council; also it was read by our
brethren Honoratus and Urban, who are to-day present with us in this
council, sent as the legation of the Sitifensine Province. For our brother
Reginus of the Vege[t]selitane(1) Church,(2) the letters sent to my
littleness by Crescentian and Aurelius, our fellow-bishops, of the first
sees of the [two] Numidias, in which writings your charity will see with me
how they promised that either they themselves would be good enough to come
or else that they would send legates according to custom to this council;
but this it seems they did not do at all, the legates of Mauritania
Sitifensis, who had come so great a distance gave notice that they could
stay no longer; and, therefore, brethren, if it seem good to your charity,
let the letters of our Byzacene brethren, as also the breviary, which they
joined to the same letter, be read to this assembly, so that if by any
chance they are not entirely satisfactory to your charity, such things in
the breviary may be changed for the better after diligent examination. For
this very thing our brother and fellow-bishop of the primatial see, a man
justly conspicuous for his gravity and prudence, Mizonius, demanded in a
letter he addressed to my littleness. If therefore it meets with your
approval, let there be read the things which have been adopted and let each
by itself be considered by your charity.
CANON XXXIV. (Greek xxxvii.) That nothing of those things enacted in the
Synod of Hippo is to be corrected.
BISHOP EPIGONIUS said: In this summary (Breviarium) which was adopted
at the Synod of Hippo, we think nothing should be amended, nor anything
added thereto except that the day on which the holy Feast of Easter falls
should be announced in Synod.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXIV.
Nothing is to be corrected in the synod of Hippo, nor anything added
thereto, except that the time of celebrating Easter should be announced in
time of synod.
CANON XXXV. (Greek xxxviii.) That bishops or clergymen should not easily
set free their sons.
That bishops or clerics should not easily let their children pass out
of their power; unless they were secure of their morals and age, that their
own sins may pertain to them.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXV.
Bishops and clergy shall not set their children free until their morals
CANON XXXVI. (Greek xxxix.) That bishops or clergymen are not to be
ordained unless they have made all their family Christians.
NONE shall be ordained bishop, presbyters, or deacons before all the
inmates of their houses shall have become Catholic Christians.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXVI.
He shall not be ordained who hath not made all his household orthodox.
CANON XXXVII. (Greek xl.) It is not lawful to offer anything in the Holy
Mysteries except bread and wine mixed with water.
IN the sacraments of the body and blood of the Lord nothing else shall
be offered than that which the Lord himself ordained, that is to say, bread
and wine mixed with water. But let the first-fruits, whether honey or milk,
be offered on that one most solemn day, as is wont, in the mystery of the
infants. For although they are offered on the altar, let them have
nevertheless their own benediction, that they may be distinguished from the
sacraments of the Lord's body and blood; neither let there be offered as
first-fruits anything other than grapes and corns.
[In the earlier part, the Greek reads: "That in the Holy Mysteries nothing
else be offered than the body and blood of the Lord, even as the Lord
himself delivered, that is bread and wine mixed with water."]
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXVII.
Let bread and wine mixed with water only be offered.
CANON XXXVIII. (Greek xli.) That clerics or those who are continent shall
not visit virgins or widows.
NEITHER clerics nor those who profess continence should enter the
houses of widows or virgins without the bidding or consent of the bishops
or presbyters: and then let them not go alone, but with some other of the
clergy, or with those assigned by the bishop or presbyter for this purpose;
not even bishops and presbyters shall go alone to women of this sort,
except some of the clergy are present or some other grave Christian men.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXVIII.
Clerics and those who are continent shall not go to widows or virgins,
unless at the bidding of the bishop and presbyter: and even then not alone,
but with those with whom presbyters and deacons visit them.
CANON XXXIX. (Greek xlii.) That a bishop should not be called the chief of
THAT the bishop of the first see shall not be called Prince of the
Priests or High Priest (Summus Sacerdos) or any other name of this kind,
but only Bishop of the First See.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XXXIX.
The first bishop shall not be called Prince of the Priests nor High
Priest but Bishop of the first see.
CANON XL. (Greek xliii.) Concerning the non-frequenting of taverns by the
clergy, except when travelling.
THAT the clergy are not to enter taverns for eating or drinking, nor
unless compelled to do so by the necessity of their journey.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XL.
A cleric on a journey may enter a tavern, otherwise not.
CANON XLI. (Greek xliv.) That by men who are fasting sacrifices are to be
offered to God.
THAT the Sacraments of the Altar are not to be celebrated except by
those who are fasting, except on the one anniversary of the celebration of
the Lord's Supper; for if the commemoration of some of the dead, whether
bishops or others, is to be made in the afternoon, let it be only with
prayers, if those who officiate have already breakfasted.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLI.
The holy mysteries are not offered except by those who are fasting.
CANON XLII. (Greek xiv.) Concerning the not having feasts under any
circumstances in churches.
THAT no bishops or clerics are to hold feasts in churches, unless
perchance they are forced thereto by the necessity of hospitality as they
pass by. The people, too, as far as possible, are to be prohibited from
attending such feasts.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLII.
A cleric is not to feast in a church, unless perchance he is driven
thereto by the necessity of hospitality. This also is forbidden to the
CANON XLIII. (Greek xlvi.) Concerning penitents.
THAT to penitents the times of their penance shall be assigned by the
will of the bishop according to the difference of their sins; and that a
presbyter shall not reconcile a penitent without consulting the bishop,
unless the absence of the bishop urges him necessarily thereto. But when of
any penitent the offence has been public and commonly known, so as to have
scandalized the whole Church, he shall receive imposition of the hand
before the altar (Lat. "before the apse").
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLIII.
The bishops shall fix the time of penance for those doing penance
according to their sins. A presbyter without his knowledge shall not
reconcile one doing penance, even when necessity impels him thereto.(1)
CANON XLIV. (Greek xlvii.) Concerning Virgins.
THAT holy virgins when they are separated from their parents by whom
they have been wont to be guarded, are to be commended by the care of the
bishop, or presbyter where the bishop is absent, to women of graver age, so
that(2) living with them they may take care of them, lest they hurt the
reputation of the Church by wandering about.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLIV.
She who leaves her father for the sake of virginity is to be commended
to grave women.
CANON XLV. (Greek xlviii.) Concerning those who are sick and cannot answer
THAT the sick are to be baptized who cannot answer for themselves if
their [servants] shall have spoken at their own proper peril a testimony of
the good will [of the sick man].
(Greek Canon xlix.) Concerning players who are doing penance and are
converted to the Lord.(1)
THAT to players and actors and other persons of that kind, as also to
apostates when they are converted(2) and return to God, grace or
reconciliation is not to be denied.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLV.
That he who cannot answer for himself on account of illness is to be
baptized when he shall have given evidence of his desire.
A repentant actor is to be received to penance.
CANON XLVI. (Greek I.) Concerning the passions of the martyrs.
THE passions of the Martyrs may be read when their anniversary days are
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLVI.
The passions of the martyrs are to be read their commemorations.
CANON XLVII. (Greek li.) Concerning [the Donatists and(3)] the children
baptized by the Donatists.
CONCERNING the Donatists(4) it seemed good that we should hold counsel
with our brethren and fellow priests Siricius and Simplician concerning
those infants alone who are baptized by Donatists:(5) lest what they did
not do of their own will, when they should be converted to the Church of
God with a salutary determination, the error of their parents might prevent
their promotion to the ministry of the holy altar.
But when these things had been begun, Honoratus and Urbanus, bishops of
Mauritania Sitifensis, said: When some time ago we were sent to your
holiness, we laid aside what things had been written on, this account, that
we might wait for the arrival of our brethren the legates from Numidia. But
because not a few days have passed in which they have been looked for and
as yet they are not arrived, it is not fitting that we should delay any
longer the commands we received from our brother-bishops; and therefore,
brethren, receive our story with alacrity of mind. We have heard concerning
the faith of the Nicene tractate: True it is that sacrifices are to be
forbidden after breakfast, so that they may be offered as is right by those
who are fasting, and this has been confirmed then and now.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLVII.
When those in infancy baptized by Donatists are converted, this shall
be no impediment to them. And the Holy Mysteries, as is right, are to be
celebrated only by them fasting.
CANON XLVIII. (Greek lii.) Of rebaptisms, reordinations, and translations
BUT we suggest that we decree what was set forth by the wisdom of the
plenary synod at Capua, that no rebaptisings, nor reordinations should take
place, and that bishops should not be translated. For Cresconius, bishop of
Villa Regis, left his own people and invaded the Church of Tubinia and
having been admonished down to this very day, to leave, according to the
decree, the diocese he had invaded, he treated the admonition with disdain.
We have heard that the sentence pronounced against him has been confirmed;
but we seek, according to our decree, that ye deign to grant that being
driven thereto by necessity, it be free to us to address the rector of the
province against him, according to the statutes of the most glorious
princes, so that whoever is not willing to acquiesce in the mild admonition
of your holiness and to amend his lawlessness, shall be immediately cast
out by judicial authority. Aurelius the bishop said: By the observance of
the constituted form, let him not be judged to be a member of (be synod, if
he has been asked by you, dear brethren, to depart and has refused: for out
of his own contempt and contumacy he has fallen to the power of the secular
magistrate.(1) Honoratus and Urban the bishops said: This pleases us all,
does it not? And all the bishops answered: It is just, it pleases us.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLVIII.
Let there be no rebaptisms, nor reordinations nor translations of
bishops. Therefore let Cresconius be forbidden by judicial authority, for
he has left his own people, and has taken possession of the diocese of
Ceneum, although ecclesiastically admonished that he was not to change.
CANON XLIX. (Greek liii.) How many bishops there should be to ordain a
HONORATUS and Urban, the bishops, said: We have issued this command,
that (because lately two of our brethren, bishops of Numidia, presumed to
ordain a pontiff,) only by the concurrence of twelve bishops the ordination
of bishops be celebrated. Aurelius, the bishop, said: The ancient form
shall be preserved, that not less than three suffice who shall have been
designated for ordaining the bishop. Moreover, because in Tripoli, and in
Arzug the barbarians are so near, for it is asserted that in Tripoli there
are but five bishops, and out of that number two may be occupied by some
necessity; but it is difficult that all of the number should come together
at any place whatever; ought this circumstance to be an impediment to the
doing of what is of utility to the Church? For in this Church, to which
your holiness has deigned to assemble(1) we frequently have ordinations and
nearly every Lord's day; could I frequently summon twelve, or ten, or about
that number of bishops? But it is an easy thing for me to join a couple of
neighbours to my littleness. Wherefore your charity will agree with me that
this cannot be observed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XLIX.
Fewer than three bishops do not suffice for the ordination of a bishop.
CANON L. (Greek liv.) How many bishops should be added to the number of
those ordaining, if any opposition had been made to the one to be ordained.
BUT this should be decreed, that when we shall have met together to
choose a bishop, if any opposition shall arise, because such things have
been treated by us, the three shall not presume to purge(2) him who was to
be ordained, but one or two more shall be asked to be added to the
aforesaid number, and the persons of those objecting shall first be
discussed in the same place (plebe) for which he was to be ordained. And
last of all the objections shall be considered; and only after he has been
cleared in the public sight shall he at last be ordained. If this agrees
with the mind of your holiness, let it be confirmed by the answer of your
worthiness. All the bishops said, We are well pleased.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON L.
If any controversy arise concerning a bishop who has been elected by
three bishops, let two others be coopted, and so let there be an
examination made of his affairs; and if it shall appear that he is pure,
let him be ordained.
CANON LI. (Greek lv.) That the date of Easter is to be announced by the
Church of Carthage.
HONORATUS and Urban, the bishops, said: Since all things treated by our
commonitory are known,(1) we add also what has been ordered concerning the
day of Easter, that we be informed of the date always by the Church of
Carthage, as has been accustomed and that no short time before. Aurelius,
the bishop, said: If it seems good to your holiness, since we remember that
we pledged ourselves sometime ago that every year we would come together
for discussion, when we assemble, then let the date of the holy Easter be
announced through the legates present at the Council. Honoratus and Urban,
the bishops, said: Now we seek of the present assembly that ye deign to
inform our province of that day by letters. Aurelius, the bishop, said:It
is necessary it should be so.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LI.
Let the day on which Easter is to be kept be announced by the Church of
Carthage in the annual synod.
CANON LII. (Greek lvi.) Of visiting provinces.
HONORATUS and Urban, the bishops, said: This was commanded to us in
word, that because it had been decreed in the Council of Hippo that each
province should be visited in the time of the council, that ye also deign
that this year or next, according to the order ye have drawn up, you should
visit the province of Mauritania.
Aurelius, the bishop, said: Of the province of Mauritania because it is
situated in the confines of Africa, we have made no decree, for they are
neighbours of the barbarians; but God grant (not however that I make any
rash promise of doing so), we may be able to come to your province. For ye
should consider, brethren, that this same thing our brethren of Tripoli and
of the Arzuges region(2) could demand also, if occasion offered
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LII.
As the Synod at Hippo decreed, every province should be visited in an
CANON LIII. (Greek lvii.) That dioceses should not receive a bishop except
by the consent of its own bishop.
EPIGONIUS, the bishop, said: In many councils it has been decreed by
the sacerdotal assembly that such communities as are contained in other
dioceses and ruled by their bishops, and which never had any bishops of
their own, should not receive rulers, that is bishops, for themselves
except with the consent of the bishop under whose jurisdiction they have
been. But because some who have attained a certain domination abhor the
communion of the brethren, or at least, having become depraved, claim for
themselves domination with what is really tyranny, for the most part tumid
and stolid presbyters, who lift up their heads against their own bishops or
else win the people to themselves by feasting them or by malignant
persuasion, that they may by unlawful favour wish to place themselves as
rulers over them; we indeed hold fast that glorious desire of your mind,
most pious brother Aurelius, for thou hast often opposed these things,
paying no heed to such petitioners; but on account of their evil thoughts
and basely conceived designs this I say, that such a community, which has
always been subject in a diocese, ought not to receive a rector, nor should
it ever have a bishop of its own. Therefore if this which I have proposed
seems good to the whole most holy council, let it be confirmed.
Aurelius, the bishop, said: I am not in opposition to the proposition
of our brother and fellow bishop: but I confess that this has been and
shall be my practice concerning those who were truly of one mind, not only
with regard to the Church of Carthage, but concerning every sacerdotal
assemblage. For there are many who, as has been said, conspire with the
people whom they deceive, tickling their ears and blandly seducing them,
men of vicious lives, or at least puffed up and separated from this
meeting, who think to watch over their own people, and never come to our
council for fear that their wickedness should be discussed. I say, if it
seems good, that not only should these not keep their dioceses, but that
every effort should be made to have them expelled by public authority from
that church of theirs which has evilly favoured them, and that they be
removed even from the chief sees. For it is right that he who cleaves to
all the brethren and the whole council, should possess with full right not
only his church but also the dioceses. But they who think that the people
suffice them and spurn the love of the brethren, shall not only, lose their
dioceses, but (as I have said,) they shall be deprived by public authority
of their own cures as rebels. Honoratus and Urban, the bishops, said: The
lofty provision of your holiness obtains the adherence of the minds of all
of us, and I think that by the answer of all what you have deigned to
propose will be confirmed. All the bishops said: Placet, placet.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LIII.
Whoso shall neglect his call to a synod, and shall despise the charity
of his brethren, putting his trust in the multitude who are with him, let
him be deprived of them by the imperial authority.
CANON LIV. (Greek lviii.) That a strange cleric is under no circumstances
to be received by another.
EPIGONIUS, the bishop, said: This has been decreed in many councils,
also just now it has been confirmed by your prudence, most blessed
brethren, that no bishop should receive a strange cleric into his diocese
without the consent of the bishop to whose jurisdiction the cleric belongs.
But I say that Julian, who is ungrateful for the layouts bestowed upon him
by God through my littleness, is so rash and audacious, that a certain man
who was baptized by me, when he was a most needy boy, commended to me by
the same, and when for many years he had been fed and reared by me, it is
certain that this one, as I have said, was baptized in my church, by my own
unworthy hands; this same man began to exercise the office of reader in the
Mappalien diocese, and read there for nearly two years, with a most
incomprehensible contempt of my littleness, the aforenamed Julian took this
man, whom he declared to be a citizen of his own city Vazarita, and without
consulting me ordained him deacon. If, most blessed brethren, that is
permissible, let it be declared to us; but if not, let such an impudent one
be restrained that he may in no way mix himself in someone's communion.
Numidius, the bishop, said: If, as it seems, Julian did this without
your worthiness being asked for his consent, nor even consulted, we all
judge that this was done iniquitously and unworthily. Wherefore unless
Julian shall correct his error, and shall return the cleric to your people
with proper satisfaction, since what he did was contrary to the decrees of
the council, let him be condemned and separated from us on account of his
contumacy. Epigonius, the bishop, said: Our father in age, and most ancient
by his promotion, that laudable man, our brother and colleague Victor
wishes that this petition should be made general to all.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LIV.
Since Julian has ordained a reader of Epigonius's to the diaconate,
unless he shall shew authority received from him to do so, he shall
increase the penalty of his contumacy.
CANON LV. (Greek lix.) That it be lawful for the bishop of Carthage to
ordain a cleric whenever he wishes.
AURELIUS, the bishop, said: My brethren, pray allow me to speak. It
often happens that ecclesiastics who are in need seek deacons [proepositis
in the Latin], or presbyters or bishops from me: and I, bearing in mind
what things have been ordained these I observe, to wit, I summon the bishop
of the cleric who is sought for, and I shew him the state of affairs, how
that they of a certain church ask for a certain one of his clergy.
Perchance then they make no objection, but lest it happen that afterwards
they might object when in this case they shall have been demanded
(postulati) by me, who (as you know) have the care of many churches and of
the ordinands. It is fight therefore that I should summon a fellow bishop
with two or three witnesses from our number. But if he be found indevotus
[akaqosiwtos], what does your charity think should be done?
For I, as ye know, brethren, by the condescension of God have the care of
all the churches.
Numidius, the bishop, said:(1) This see always had the power of
ordaining a bishop according to the desire of each Church as he wills and
on whose name there was agreement (fuisset conventus). Epigonius, the
bishop, said: Your good nature makes small use of your powers, for you make
much less use of them than you might, since, my brother, you are good and
gentle to all; for you have the power, but it is far from your practice to
satisfy the person of each bishop in prima tantummodo conventione. But if
it should be thought that the rights of this see ought to be vindicated,
you have the duty of supporting all the churches, wherefore we do not give
thee power, but we confirm that power thou hast, viz.: that thou hast the
right at thy will always to choose whom thou wilt, to constitute(2)
prelates over peoples and churches who shall have asked thee to do so, and
when thou so desirest. Posthumianus, the bishop, said: Would it be right
that he who had only one presbyter should have that one taken away from
him? Aurelius, the bishop, said: But there may be one bishop by whom many
presbyters can be made through the divine goodness, but one fit to be made
bishop is found with difficulty. Wherefore if any bishop has a presbyter
necessary for the episcopate and has one only, my brother, as you have
said, even that one he ought to give up for promotion. Posthumianus, the
bishop, said: If some other bishop has plenty of clergy, should that other
diocese come to my help? Aurelius, the bishop, said: Of course, when you
have come to the help of another Church, he who has many clerics should be
persuaded to make one over to you for ordination.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LV.
It is lawful for the bishop of Carthage, whenever he wills, to choose
those who are to be set over the churches: even if there were only one
presbyter worth of rule. For one bishop can ordain many presbyters, but one
fit for the episcopate is hard to find.
CANON LVI. (Greek lx.) That bishops who were ordained for dioceses shall
not choose for themselves dioceses [in the Greek provinces].
HONORATUS and Urban, the bishops, said: We have heard that it has been
decreed that dioceses should not be deemed fit to receive bishops, unless
with the consent of their founder: but in our province since some have been
ordained bishops in the diocese, by the consent of that bishop by whose
power they were established, have even seized dioceses for themselves, this
should be corrected by the judgment of your charity, and prohibited for the
future. Epigonius, the bishop, said: To every bishop should be reserved
what is right, so that from the mass of dioceses no part should be snatched
away, so as to have its own bishop, without consent from the proper
authority. For it shall suffice, if the consent be given, that the diocese
thus set apart have its own bishop only, and let him(1) not seize other
dioceses, for only the one cut off from the many merited the honour of
receiving a bishop. Aurelius, the bishop, said: I do not doubt that it is
pleasing to the charity of you all, that he who was ordained for a diocese
by the consent of the bishop who held the mother see, should retain only
the people for whom he was ordained. Since therefore I think that
everything has been treated of, if all things are agreeable to your mind,
pray confirm them all by your suffrage. All the bishops said: We all are
well pleased, and we have confirmed them with our subscription. And they
signed their names.
I, Aurelius, bishop of the Church of Carthage, have consented to this
decree, and have subscribed what has been read.So too did all the other
bishops in like fashion sign.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LVI.
If any diocese has received consent to have a bishop of its own from
him who has the right, that one shall not invade the rest of the dioceses.
CANON LVII. (Greek lxi.) That persons baptized when children by the
Donatists may be ordained clergymen in the Catholic Church.
SINCE in the former council it was decreed, as your unanimity remembers
as well as I do, that those who as children were baptized by the Donatists,
and not yet being able to know the pernicious character of their error, and
afterward when they had come to the Use of reason, had received the
knowledge of the truth, abhorred their former error, and were received, (in
accordance with the ancient order) by the imposition of the hand, into the
Catholic Church of God spread throughout the world, that to such the
remembrance of the error ought to be no impediment to the reception of the
clerical office. For in coming to faith they thought the true Church to be
their own and there they believed in Christ, and received the sacraments of
the Trinity. And that all these sacraments are altogether true and holy and
divine is most certain, and in them the whole hope of the soul is placed,
although the presumptuous audacity of heretics, taking to itself the name
of the truth, dares to administer them. They are but one after all, as the
blessed Apostle tells us, saying: "One God, one faith, one baptism," and it
is not lawful to reiterate what once only ought to be administered. [Those
therefore who have been so baptized] having anathematized their error may
be received by the imposition of the hand into the one Church, the pillar
as it is called, and the one mother of all Christians, where all these
Sacraments are received unto salvation and everlasting life; even the same
sacraments which obtain for those persevering in heresy the heavy penalty
of damnation. So that which to those who are in the truth lighteneth to the
obtaining of eternal life, the same to them who are in error tends but to
darkness and damnation. With regard then to those who, having fled from
error, acknowledge the breasts of their mother the Catholic Church, who
believe and receive all these holy mysteries with the love of the truth,
and besides the Sacraments have the testimony of a good life, there is no
one who would not grant that without doubt such persons may be raised to
the clerical office, especially in such necessity as the present. But there
are others of this sect, who being already clergymen, desire to pass to us
with their peoples and also with their honours, such as for the sake of
office are converts to life, and that they may retain them seek for
salvation [i.e., enter the Church]. I think that the question concerning
such may be left to the graver consideration of our aforesaid brothers, and
that when they have considered by their more prudent counsel the matter
referred to them, they may vouchsafe to advise us what approves itself to
them with regard to this question. Only concerning those who as children
were baptized by heretics we decree that they consent, if it seems good, to
our decision concerning the ordination of the same. All things, therefore,
which we have set forth above with the holy bishops, let your honourable
fraternity with me adjudge to be done.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LVII.
Such as have been while children baptized by the Donatists may be
ordained should they repent, anathematize their heresy, and be otherwise
CANON LVIII. (Greek lxii.) Of the remaining idols or temples which should
be done away by the Emperors.
WHEREFORE the most religious Emperors should be asked(1) that they
order the remaining idols to be taken entirely away throughout all Africa;
for in many maritime places and in divers possessions the iniquity of this
error still flourishes: that they command them to be taken away and their
temples, (such as are no ornament, being set up in fields or out of the way
places) be ordered to be altogether destroyed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LVIII.
The remains of the idols should be abolished altogether.
CANON LIX. (Greek lxiii.) That clerics be not compelled to give testimony
in public concerning the cognizance of their own judgment.
IT should be petitioned also that they deign to decree, that if
perchance any shall have been willing to plead their cause in any church
according to the Apostolic law imposed upon the Churches, and it happens
that the decision of the clergy does not satisfy one of the parties, it be
not lawful to summon that clergyman who had been cognitor or present,(2)
into judgment as a witness, and that no person attached to any ecclesiastic
be compelled to give testimony.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LIX.
A cleric who has decided a case shall not, if it be displeasing, be
summoned to a tribunal to give evidence concerning it; and no
ecclesiastical person shall be forced to give testimony.
CANON LX. (Greek lxiii.) Of heathen feasts.
THIS also must be sought, that (since contrary to the divine precepts
feasts are held in many places, which have been induced by the heathen
error, so that now Christians are forced to celebrate these by heathens,
from which state of things it happens that in the times of the Christian
Emperors a new persecution seems to have secretly arisen:) they order such
things to be forbidden and prohibit them from cities and possessions under
pain of punishment; especially should this be done since they do not fear
to commit such iniquities in some cities even upon the natal days of most
blessed martyrs, and in the very sacred places themselves. For upon these
days, shame to say, they perform the most wicked leapings throughout the
fields and open places, so that matronal honour and the modesty of
innumerable women who have come out of devotion for the most holy day are
assaulted by lascivious injuries, so that all approach to holy religion
itself is almost fled from.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LX.
The Greek feasts must cease to be kept, because of their impropriety,
and because they seduce many Christians, moreover they are celebrated on
the commemorations of the martyrs.
CANON LXI. (Greek lxiv.) Of spectacles, that they be not celebrated on
Lord's days nor on the festivals of the Saints.
FURTHERMORE, it must be sought that theatrical spectacles and the
exhibition of other plays be removed from the Lord's day and the other most
sacred days of the Christian religion, especially because on the octave day
of the holy Easter [i.e., Low Sunday] the people assemble rather at the
circus than at church, and they should be transferred to some other day
when they happen to fall upon a day of devotion, nor shall any Christian be
compelled to witness these spectacles,(1) especially because in the
performance of things contrary to the precepts of God there should be no
persecution made by anyone, but (as is right) a man should exercise the
free will given him by God. Especially also should be considered the peril
of the cooperators who, contrary to the precepts of God, are forced by
great fear to attend the shews.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXI.
There shall be no theatrical representations upon Lord's days or feast
CANON LXII. (Greek lxv.) Of condemned clerics.
AND this should be sought, that they deign to decree that if any
clergyman of whatever rank shall have been condemned by the judgment of the
bishops for any crime, he may not be defended either by the churches over
which he presided, nor by anyone whatever, under pain of loss both of money
and office, and let them order that neither age nor sex be received as an
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXII.
No one shall justify a clergyman condemned by his own bishop.
CANON LXIII. (Greek lxvi.) Of players who have become Christians.
AND of them also it must be sought that if anyone wishes to come to the
grace of Christianity from any ludicrous art (ludicra arte) and to remain
free of that stain, it be not lawful for anyone to induce him or compel him
to return to the performance of the same things again.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXIII.
Whoever has turned away from the stage to adopt an honest life, shall
not be led back thereto
CANON LXIV. (Greek lxvii.) Of celebrating manumissions in church, that
permission be asked from the Emperor.
CONCERNING the publishing of manumissions in church, if our fellow
bishops throughout Italy shall be found to do this, it will be a mark of
our confidence to follow their order [of proceedings], full power being
given to the legate we send, that whatever he can accomplish worthy of the
faith, for the state of the Church and the salvation of souls, we shall
laudably accept in the sight of the Lord. All which things, if they please
your sanctity, pray set forth, that I may be assured that my suggestion has
been ratified by you and that their sincerity may freely accept our
unanimous action. And all the bishops said: The things which have been
enjoined to be done and have been wisely set forth by your holiness are
pleasing to all.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXIV.
The Emperor's permission should be sought to allow the public
manumission of slaves in church.
CANON LXV. (Greek lxviii.) Concerning the condemned bishop Equitius.
AURELIUS, the bishop, said: I do not think that the case of Equitius
should be passed over in the legation, who some time ago for his crimes was
condemned by an Episcopal sentence; that if by any chance our legate should
meet him in those parts, our brother should take care for the state of the
Church, as opportunity offered or where he could, to act against him. And
all the bishops said: This prosecution is exceedingly agreeable to us,
especially as Equitius was condemned some time ago, his impudent unrest
ought to be repelled everywhere more and more for the good estate and
health of the Church. And they subscribed, I, Aurelius, the bishop of the
Church of Carthage, have consented to this decree, and after having read it
have signed my name.Likewise also signed all the other bishops.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXV.
Equitius, who had been condemned by the judgment of the bishops, and
had behaved impudently against the ecclesiastical authority, ought to be
CANON LXVI. (Greek lxix.) That the Donatists are to be treated leniently.
THEN when all firings had been considered and treated of which seem to
conduce to the advantage of the church, the Spirit of God suggesting and
admonishing us, we determined to act leniently and pacifically with the
before-mentioned men, although they were cut off from the unity of the
Lord's body by an unruly dissent, so that (as much as in us lies) to all
those who have been caught in the net of their communion and society, it
might be known throughout all the provinces of Africa, how they have been
overcome by miserable error, holding different opinions, "that perchance,"
as the Apostle says, when we have corrected(1) them with gentleness, "God
should grant them repentance for the acknowledging of the truth, and that
they might be snatched out of the snares of the devil, who are led captive
of him at his will."
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXVI.
It seemed good that the Donatists should be treated kindly and with
leniency, even if they should separate themselves from the Church, so that
perchance through their respect f or our great gentleness they may be
loosed from their captivity.
CANON LXVII. (Greek lxx.) Of the letters to be sent to the judges, that
they may take note of the things done between the Donatists and the
THEREFORE it seemed good that letters should be given from our council
to the African judges, from whom it would seem suitable that this should be
sought, that in this matter they would aid the common mother, the Catholic
Church, that the episcopal authority may be fortified(1) in the cities;
that is to say that by their judicial power and with diligence out of their
Christian faith, they enquire and record in the public acts, that all may
have a firm notion of it, what has taken place in all those places in which
the Maximianists, who made a schism from them, have obtained basilicas.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXVII.
The secular arm must be implored by synodal letters to assist our
common Mother the Catholic Church against those by whom the authority of
the bishop is despised.
CANON LXVIII. (Greek lxxi.) That the Donatist clergy are to be received
into the Catholic Church as clergymen.
IT moreover seemed good that letters be sent to our brethren and
fellow-bishops, and especially to the Apostolic See, over which our
aforesaid venerable brother and colleague Anastasius, presides, that
[epeidh` in the Greek, quo in the Latin] he may know that Africa is in
great need, for the peace and prosperity of the Church, that those
Donatists who were clergymen and who by good advice had desired to return
to Catholic unity, should be treated according to the will and judgment of
each Catholic bishop who governs the Church in that place; and, if it seem
good for Christian peace, they be received with their honours, as it is
clear was done in the former times of this same division. And that this was
the case the example of the majority, yea, of nearly all the African
Churches in which this error had sprung up, testify; not that the Council
which met about this matter in foreign parts should be done away, but that
it may remain in force with regard to those who so will to come over to the
Catholic Church that there be procured by them no breaking of unity. But
those through whom Catholic unity was seen to have been altogether
perfected or assisted by the manifest winning of the souls of their
brethren in the places where they live, there shall not be objected to them
the decree contrary to their honour adopted by a foreign council, for
salvation is shut off to no one, that is to say, that those ordained by the
Donatist party, if having been corrected they have been willing to return
to the Catholic Church, are not to be(2) received in their grades,
according to the foreign council; but they are to be excepted through whom
they received the advice to return to Catholic unity.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXVIII.
Those ordained by the Donatists, even though their reception has been
forbidden by a foreign synod, since it is truly good that all should be
saved, if they correct themselves, let them be received.
CANON LXIX. (Greek lxxii.) That a legation be sent to the Donatists for the
sake of making peace.
IT further seemed good, that when these things were done, legates
should be sent from our number to those of the Donatists whom they hold as
bishops, or to the people, for the sake of preaching peace and unity,
without which Christian salvation cannot be attained; and that these
legates should direct the attention of all to the fact that they have no
just objection to urge against the Catholic Church. And especially that
this be made manifest to all by the municipal acts (on account of the
weight of their documents) what they themselves had done in the case of the
Maximianists, their own schismatics. For in this case it is shown them by
divine grace, if they will but heed it, that their separation from the
unity of the Church is as iniquitous as they now proclaim the schism of the
Maximianists from themselves to be. Nevertheless from the number, those
whom they condemned by the authority of their plenary council, they
received back with their honours, and accepted the baptism which they had
given while condemned and cut off. And thus let them see how with stupid
heart they resist the peace of the Church scattered throughout the whole
world, when they do these things on the part of Donatus, neither do they
say that they are contaminated by communion with those whom they so receive
for the making of peace, and yet they despise us, that is the Catholic
Church, which is established even in the extreme parts of the earth, as
being defiled by the communion of those whom the accusers have not been
able to win over to themselves.(1)
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXIX.
It seemed good that legates be sent to preach peace and unity to the
Donatists who had been converted to the orthodox faith.
CANON LXX. (Greek lxxiii.) What clerics should abstain from their wives.
MOREOVER since incontinence has been charged against some clergymen
with regard to their own wives it has seemed good that bishops, presbyters,
and deacons should according to the statutes already made abstain even from
their own wives; and unless they do so that they should be removed from the
clerical office. But the rest of the clergy shall not be forced to this but
the custom of each church in this matter shall be followed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXX.
Bishops, presbyters and deacons shall abstain from their wives or else
be removed from the ecclesiastical order. But the rest of the clergy shall
not be forced to the same: but let the custom be observed.
CANON LXXI. (Greek lxxiv.) Of those who leave in neglect their own people.
MOREOVER it seemed good that no one should be allowed to leave his
chief cathedral and go to another church built in the diocese, or to
neglect the care and frequent attendance upon his own cathedral by reason
of too great care for his own affairs.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXI.
It seemed good that no bishop shall translate himself to another see,
leaviny his own, nor that through a care for his own affairs he should
neglect his diocese.
CANON LXXII. (Greek lxxv.) Of the baptism of infants when there is some
doubt of their being already baptized.
ITEM, it seemed good that whenever there were not found reliable
witnesses who could testify that without any doubt they were baptized and
when the children themselves were not, on account of their tender age, able
to answer concerning the giving of the sacraments to them, all such
children should be baptized without scruple, lest a hesitation should
deprive them of the cleansing of the sacraments. This was urged by the
Moorish Legates, our brethren, since they redeem many such from the
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXII.
It seemed good that they should be baptized about whom there was an
ambiguity whether they had been baptized or no; test they might through
that doubt lose the divine ablution.
CANON LXXIII. (Greek lxxvi.) The date of Easter and the date of the Council
should be announced.
ITEM, it seemed good that the day of the venerable Easter should be
intimated to all by the subscription of formed letters; and that the same
should be observed with regard to the date of the Council, according to the
decree of the Council of Hippo, that is to say the X. Calends of September,
and that it should be written to the primates of each province so that when
they summon their councils they do not impede this day.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXIII.
It seemed good that the day of the Holy Easter should be announced on
the day of the annual Synod, or on the tenth day before the calends of
CANON LXXIV. (Greek lxxvii.) That no bishop who is an intercessor is to
hold the see where he is intercessor.
ITEM, it has been decreed that it is not lawful to any intercessor to
retain the see to which he has been appointed as intercessor, by any
popular movements and seditions; but let him take care that within a year
tie provide them with a bishop: but if he shall neglect to do so, when the
year is done, another intercessor shall be appointed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXIV.
It seemed good that the bishop who had been called in as an
intercessor, by the zeal and dissensions of the people, should not be
allowed to become the occupant of its throne: but let a bishop be provided
within a year, or else in the next. year let another intercessor be
CANON LXXV. (Greek lxxviii.) Of asking from the Emperors defenders of the
ON account of the afflictions of the poor by whose troubles the Church
is worn out without any intermission, it seemed good to all that the
Emperors be asked to allow defenders for them against the power of the rich
to be chosen under the supervision of the bishops.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXV.
That the bishop be not annoyed, let Defensors be appointed.
CANON LXXVI. (Greek lxxix.) Of bishops who do not put in an appearance at
ITEM, it seemed good that as often as the council is to be assembled,
the bishops who are impeded neither by age, sickness, or other grave
necessity, come together, and that notice be given to the primates of their
several provinces, that from all the bishops there be made two or three
squads, and of each of these squads there be elected some who shall be
promptly ready on the council day: but should they not be able to attend,
let them write their excuses in the tractory,(1) or if after the coming of
the tractory certain necessities suddenly arise by chance, unless they send
to their own primate an account of their impediment, they ought to be
content with the communion of their own Church.
CANON LXXVII. (Greek lxxx.) Of Cresconius.
CONCERNING Cresconius of Villa Regis this seemed good to all, that the
Primate of Numidia should be informed on this matter so that he should by
his letters summon the aforementioned Cresconius in order that at the next
plenary Council of Africa he should not put off making an appearance. But
if he contemns the summons and does not come, let him recognize the fact
that sentence should be pronounced against him.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXVII.
Unless Cresconius who has been summoned by letter to the Synod, shall
appear, let him know that he will have sentence given against him.
CANON LXXVIII. (Greek lxxxi.) Of the Church of Hippo-Diarrhytus.
IT further seemed good that since the destitution of the Church of
Hippo-Diarrhytus should no longer be neglected, and the churches there are
retained by those who have declined the infamous communion of Equitius,
that certain bishops be sent from the present council, viz.: Reginus,
Alypius, Augustine, Maternus, Theasius, Evodius, Placian, Urban, Valerius,
Ambivius, Fortunatus, Quodvultdeus, Honoratus, Januarius, Aptus, Honoratus,
Ampelius, Victorian, Evangelus and Rogation; and when those had been
gathered together, and those had been corrected who with culpable
pertinacity were of opinion that this flight of the same Equitius should be
waited for, let a bishop be ordained for them by the vote of all. But if
these should not be willing to consider peace, let them not prevent the
choosing for ordination of a bishop, for the advantage of the church which
has been so long destitute.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXVIII.
It seemed good that, after Equitius had been condemned by the universal
vote, a bishop of Hippo should be elected, and that they should in no way
impede the ordination of a prelate for that church.
CANON LXXIX. (Greek lxxxii.) Of clerics who do not take care to have their
causes argued within a year.
IT was further decreed that as often as clergymen convicted and
confessed(1) of any crime either on account of eorum, quorum verecundiae
parcitur, or on account of the opprobrium to the Church, and of the
insolent glorying of heretics and Gentiles, if perchance they are willing
to be present at their cause and to assert their innocence, let them do so
within one year of their excommunication; if in truth they neglect during a
year to purge their cause, their voice shall not be heard afterwards.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXIX.
When a cleric has been convicted of a crime, if he says his cause
should be heard upon appeal, let the appeal be made within a year; after
that the appeal shall not be admitted.
CANON LXXX. (Greek lxxxiii.) That it is not permitted to make superiors of
monasteries nor to ordain as clerics those who are received from a
monastery not one's own.
ITEM, it seemed good that if any bishop wished to advance to the
clericature a monk received from a monastery not under his jurisdiction, or
shall have appointed him superior of a monastery of his own, the bishop who
shall have thus acted shall be separated from the communion of others and
shall rest content with the communion of his own people alone, but the monk
shall continue neither as cleric nor superior.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXX.
Whoever shall receive a monk from a monastery not subject to his
jurisdiction, and if he shall ordain him to the clerical estate or shall
appoint him prior of his monastery, such an one shall be cut off from
CANON LXXXI. (Greek lxxxiv.) Of bishops who appoint heretics or heathens as
ITEM, it was ordained that if any bishop should prefer to his Church
strangers to blood relationship with him, or his heretical relatives, or
pagans as his heirs, he shall be anathematized even after his death, and
his name shall by no means be recited among those of the priests of God.
Nor can he be excused if he die intestate, because being a bishop he was
bound not to postpone making such a disposition of his goods as was
befitting his profession.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXI.
Let a bishop be anathema if he make heretics and heathen his heirs.
CANON LXXXII. (Greek lxxxv.) Of manumissions.
ITEM, it seemed good that the Emperor be petitioned with regard to
announcing manumissions in church.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXII.
The imperial permission must be asked for the making of the manumission
of slaves in churches.
CANON LXXXIII. (Greek lxxxvi.) Of false Memories of Martyrs.
ITEM, it seemed good that the altars which have been set up here and
there, in fields and by the wayside as Memories of Martyrs, in which no
body nor reliques of martyrs can be proved to have been laid up, should be
overturned by the bishops who rule over such places, if such a thing can be
done. But should this be impossible on account of the popular tumult it
would arouse, the people should none the less be admonished not to frequent
such places, and that those who believe rightly should be held bound by no
superstition of the place. And no memory of martyrs should at all be
accepted, unless where there is found the body or some reliques, on which
is declared traditionally and by good authority to have been originally his
habitation, or possession, or the scene of his passion. For altars which
have been erected anywhere on account of dreams or inane quasi-revelations
of certain people, should be in every way disapproved of.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXIII.
An altar in the fields or in a vineyard which lacks the reliques of the
martyrs should be thrown down unless it would cause a public tumult to do
so: and the same is the case with such as have been set up on account of
dreams and false revelations.
CANON LXXXIV. (Greek lxxxvii.) Of extirpating the remains of the idols.
ITEM, it seemed good to petition the most glorious Emperors that the
remains of idolatry not only in images, but in any places whatever or
groves or trees, should altogether be taken away.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXIV.
Let all remains of idolatry be abolished whether in statues, or in
places, or groves or trees.
CANON LXXXV. (Greek lxxviii.) That by the bishop of Carthage, when there
shall be need, letters shall be written and subscribed in the name of all
IT was said by all the bishops: If any letters are to be composed in
the name of the council it seemed good that the venerable bishop who
presides over this See should vouchsafe to dictate and sign them in the
name of all, among which also are those to the episcopal legates, who are
to be sent throughout the African provinces, in the matter of the
Donatists; and it seemed good that the letters given them should contain
the tenor of the mandate which they are not to go beyond. And they
subscribed: I, Aurelius, bishop of the church of Carthage have consented to
this decree and having read it have signed it. Likewise all the rest of the
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXV.
It seemed good that whatever letters were to be sent from the Synod
should be written and subscribed by the bishop of Carthage in the name of
CANON LXXXVI. (Greek lxxix.) Of the order of bishops, that those ordained
more recently do not dare to take precedence of those ordained before them.
VALENTINE, the bishop, said: If your good patience will permit, I
follow the things which were done in time past in the Church of Carthage,
and which were illustrious having been confirmed by the subscriptions of
the brethren, and I profess that we intend to preserve this. For this we
know, that ecclesiastical discipline has always remained inviolate:
therefore let none of the brethren dare to place himself before those
ordained earlier than himself; but by the offices of charity this has
always been shewn to those ordained earlier, which always should be
accepted joyfully by those ordained more recently. Let your holiness give
command that this order be strengthened by your interlocutions. Aurelius,
the bishop, said: It would not be fitting that we should repeat these
things, were it not for the existence of certain inconsiderate minds, which
would induce us to making such statutes; but this is a common cause about
which our brother and fellow bishop has spoken, that each one of us should
recognize the order decreed to him by God, and that the more recent should
defer to the earlier ordained, and they should presume to do nothing when
these have not been consulted. Wherefore I say, now that I think of it,
that they who think they may presume to take precedence over those ordained
before them, should be coerced suitably by the great council. Xantippus,
bishop of the first see of Numidia, said: All the brethren present have
heard what our brother and fellow bishop Aurelius has said, what answer o
we make? Datian, the bishop, said: The decrees made by our ancestors should
be strengthened by our assent, so that the action taken by the Church of
Carthage in past synods should hold fast, being confirmed by the full
assent of all of us. And all the bishops said: This order has been
preserved by our fathers and by our ancestors, and shall be preserved by us
through the help of God, the rights of the primacy of Numidia and of
Mauritania being kept intact.
Of the archives and matricula of Numidia.
Moreover it seemed good to all the bishops who subscribed in this
council that the matricula and the archives of Numidia should be at the
first see and in the Metropolis, that is Constantina.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXVI.
Thou shalt not prefer thyself to thine elders, but shalt follow them.
For he that spurns those who were before him should be frowned down upon.
CANON LXXXVII. (Greek xc.) Concerning Quodvultdeus, the bishop.
IN the case of Quodvultdeus of Centuria, it pleased all the bishops
that no one should communicate with him until his cause should be brought
to a conclusion, for his accuser when he sought to bring the cause before
our council, upon being asked whether he was willing with him to be tried
before the bishops, at first said that he was, but on another day answered
that he was not willing, and went away. Under these circumstances to
deprive him of his bishoprick, before the conclusion of his cause was
known, could commend itself to no Christian as a just act.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXVII.
Since Quodvultdeus at first promised to come to our synod when his
opposer had asked that he be admitted, and afterwards withdrew, saying that
that was displeasing to him, he should be excommunicated, until the cause
is finished. But it is not just that he be deposed before sentence is
CANON LXXXVIII. (Greek xci.) Of Maximian, the bishop.
BUT in the case of Maximian of Vagai (1) it seemed good that letters be
sent from the council both to him and to his people; that he should vacate
the bishoprick, and that they should request another to be appointed for
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXVIII.
Let Maximian of Bagai be expelled from his church, and another be set
in his room.
CANON LXXXIX. (Greek xcii.) That bishops who are ordained shall receive
letters from their ordainers bearing the date and the name of the consul.
IT further seemed good that whoever thereafter should be ordained by
the bishops throughout the African provinces, should receive from their
ordainers letters, written in their own hands, containing the name of the
consul and the date, that no altercation might arise concerning which were
ordained first and which afterwards.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON LXXXIX.
Whoever is ordained in Africa let him have letters signed by the proper
hand of him that ordained him, containing the date and the name of the
CANON XC. (Greek xciii.) Of those who have once read in church, that they
cannot be advanced by others.
ITEM, it seemed good that whoever in church even once had read should
not be admitted to the ministry (clericatum) by another church.
And they subscribed: I, Aurelius, bishop of the Church of Carthage,
have consented to this decree, and, having read it, have signed it.
Likewise also the rest of the bishops signed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XC.
He who has only once read in a Church [i.e., diocese] shall not be admitted
into the clergy by another Church.
There is set forth in this council what the bishops did who were sent as
legates across seas.
In the consulship of those most illustrious men, the most glorious
Emperor Theodosius Augustus, and Rumoridus, the VIII. (1) Calends of
September, at Carthage, in the basilica of the second region, when Aurelius
the bishop had taken his seat in plenary council, the deacons standing by,
Aurelius, the bishop, said: From stress of circumstances, venerable
brethren, I, although so small, have been led to assemble you in council.
For a while ago, as your holinesses will remember, while holding a council
we sent our brothers as legates to the regions beyond seas. It is right
that these should at this meeting of your holinesses narrate the course of
their now finished legation, and although yesterday when we were in session
concerning this matter, besides ecclesiastical matters, we paid some
prolonged attention to what they had done, nevertheless it is right that
to-day the discussion of yesterday should be confirmed by ecclesiastical
Of the bishops of the African provinces who were not present at this
The right order of things demands that first of all we should enquire
concerning our brethren and fellow bishops, who were to come to this
council either from Byzacena or at least from Mauritania, like as they
decreed that they would be present in this council. And when Philologius,
Geta, Venustianus, and Felician, bishops of the province of Byzacena had
presented and read their letters of legation, and Lucian and Silvanus,
legates of the province of Mauritania. Sitiphensis, had done the same, the
bishop Aurelius said: Let the text of these writings be placed in the acts.
Of the Byzacene bishops.
Numidius, the bishop, said: We observe that our brethren and fellow
bishops of the province of Byzacena and of the province of Mauritania
Sitiphensis have sent legates to the council; we now seek whether the
legates of Numidia have come, or at least of the province of Tripoli or of
Of the bishops of Mauritania Sitiphensis.
Lucian and Silvanus, the bishops, legates of the Province of Mauritania
Sitiphensis said: The tractory came late to our Caesarian brethren or they
would have been here; and they will certainly come, and we are confident of
their attitude of mind that whatever shall be determined by this council,
they without doubt will assent unto.
Of the bishops of Numidia.
Alypius, bishop of the church of Tagaste said: We have come from
Numidia, I and the holy brethren Augustine and Possidius, but a legation
could not be sent from Numidia, because by the tumult of the recruits the
bishops have either been prevented from coming or fully occupied by their
own necessary affairs in their sees. For after I had brought to the holy
Senex Xantippus your holiness's tractory, this seemed good in the present
business that a council should be appointed, to which a delegation with
instructions should be sent, but when I reported to him in later letters
the impediment of the recruits, of which I have just spoken, he excused
them by his own rescripts. Aurelius, the bishop, said: There is no doubt
that the aforesaid brethren and bishops of Numidia, when they shall have
received the acts of the council, will give their consent and will take
pains to carry into effect whatever shall have been adopted. It is
therefore necessary that by the solicitude of this see what we shall have
determined be communicated to them.
Of the bishops of Tripoli.
This is what I could learn concerning our brethren of Tripoli, that
they appointed our brother Dulcicius as a legate: but because he could not
come, certain of our sons coming from the aforesaid province asserted that
the aforesaid had taken shipping, and that it was thought that his arrival
had been delayed by storms; nevertheless also concerning these matters, if
your charity is willing, this form shall be preserved, that the placets of
the council be sent to them. And all the bishops said: What your holiness
has decreed pleases us all.
CANON XCI. (Greek xciv.) Of holding meetings with the Donatists.
Aurelius, the bishop, said: What has come out in the handling of your
charity, I think this should be confirmed by ecclesiastical acts. For the
profession of all of you shews that each one of us should call together in
his city the chiefs of the Donatists either alone and with one of his
neighbour bishops, so that in like manner in the different cities and
places there should be meetings of them assembled by the magistrates or
seniors of the places. And let this be made an edict if it seems good to
all. And all the bishops said: It seems good to all, and we all have
confirmed this with our subscription. Also we desire that your holiness
sign the letters to be sent from the council to the judges. Aurelius, the
bishop, said: If it seems good to your charity, let the form of summoning
them be read, in order that we all may hold the same tenour of proceeding.
All the bishops said: Let it be read. Laetus the Notary read.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCI.
Let each of the bishops meet with the leaders of the Donatists in his
own city; or let him associate with himself a neighbouring bishop, that
they together may meet them.
CANON XCII. (Greek xcv.) Form of convening the Donatists.
THAT bishop of that church said: What by the authority of that most
ample see we shall have impetrated, we ask your gravity to have read, and
that you order it to be joined to the acts and carried into effect. When
the jussio had been read and joined to the acts, the bishop of the Catholic
Church, (1) said: Vouchsafe to listen to the mandate to be sent through
your gravity to the Donatists, and to insert it in the acts, and to carry
it to them, and informs us in your acts of their answer. "We, sent by the
authority of our Catholic Council, have called you together, desiring to
rejoice in your correction, bearing in mind the charity of the Lord who
said: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of
God; and moreover he admonished through the prophet those who say they are
not our brothers, that we ought to say: Ye are our brethren. Therefore you
ought not to despise this pacific commonitory coming of love, so that if ye
think we have any part of the truth, ye do not hesitate to say so: that is,
when your council is gathered together, ye delegate of your number certain
to whom you intrust the statement of your case; so that we may be able to
do this also, that there shall be delegated from our Council who with them
delegated by you may discuss peacefully, at a determined place and time,
whatever question there is which separates your communion from us; and that
at length the old error may receive an end through the assistance of our
Lord God, lest through the animosity of men, weak souls, and ignorant
people should perish by sacrilegious dissension. But if ye shall accept
this proposition in a fraternal spirit, the truth will easily shine forth,
but if ye are not willing to do this, your distrust will be easily known."
And when this had been read, all the bishops said: This pleases us well, so
let it be. And they subscribed: I, Aurelius, bishop of the Carthaginian
Church, have consented to this decree, and having read it, have subscribed
it. Likewise also the rest of the bishops signed.
This synod sent a legation to the Princes against tits Donatists.
The most glorious emperor Honorius Augustus, being consul for the sixth
time, on the Calends of July, at Carthage in the basilica of the second
region. In this council Theasius and Evodius received a legation against
the Donatists. In this council was inserted the commonitorium which
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCII.
What things should be said to the Donatists are these: "We greatly
desire to rejoice in your conversion; for we have been commanded to say
even to those not desiring to be our brethren, ' Ye are our brothers.' We
come therefore to you and we exhort you that if you have any defence to
make, ye should appoint certain persons to whom this should be entrusted,
who, at a fixed time and place, shall urge your case; otherwise your
distrust wilt be thenceforward patent."
CANON XCIII. (Greek xcvi.) The character of the Commonitory which the
legates received against the Donatists.
THE Commonitorium for our brothers Theasius and Evodius, sent as
legates from the Council of Carthage to the most glorious and most
religious princes. When by the help of the Lord they are come into the
presence of the most pious princes, they shall declare to them with what
fulness of confidence, according to the direction of the council of the
year before, the prelates of the Donatists had been urged by the municipal
authority to assemble, in order that if they really meant their
professions, they might by fit persons chosen from their number, enter into
a peaceful conference with us in Christian meekness, and whatever they held
as truth they might not hesitate to declare it frankly; so that from such
conference the sincerity of the Catholic position, which has been
conspicuous for so long a time, might be perceived even by those who from
ignorance or obstinacy were opposing themselves to it. But deterred by
their want of confidence they scarcely ventured to reply. And forsooth,
because we had discharged toward them the offices which become bishops and
peacemakers, and they had no answer to make to the truth, they betook
themselves to unreasonable acts of brute force, and treacherously oppressed
many of the bishops and clergy, to say nothing of the laity. And some of
the churches they actually invaded, and tried to assault still others.
And now, it behoves the gracious clemency of their Majesties to take
measures that the Catholic Church, which has begotten them as worshippers
of Christ in her womb, and has nourished them with the strong meat of the
faith, should by their forethought, be defended, lest violent men, taking
advantage of the times of religious excitement, should by fear overcome a
weak people, whom by argument they were not able to pervert. It is well
known how often the vile gatherings (detestabilis manus) of the
Circumcelliones (1) have been forbidden by the laws, and also condemned by
many decrees of the Emperors, their majesties most religious predecessors.
Against the madness of these people it is not unusual nor contrary to the
holy Scriptures to ask for secular [thei'as] in the Greek] protection,
since Paul the Apostle, as is related in the authentic Acts of the
Apostles, warded off a conspiracy of certain lawless men by the help of the
military. Now then we ask that there be extended to the Catholic Churches,
without any dissimulation, the protection of the ordinum [i.e. companies of
soldiers, stationed] in each city, and of the holders of the suburban
estates in the various places. (1) At the same time it will be necessary to
ask that they give commandment that the law, set forth by their father
Theodosius, of pious memory, which imposed a fine of ten pounds of gold
upon both the ordainers and the ordained among heretics, and which was also
directed against proprietors at whose houses conventicles were held, be
confirmed anew; so that it may be effective with persons of this sort when
Catholics, provoked by their wiles, shall lay complaint against them; so
that through fear at least, they may cease from making schisms and from the
wickedness of the heretics, since they refuse to be cleansed and corrected
by the thought of the eternal punishment.
Let request be also made that the law depriving heretics of the power
of being able to receive or bequeath by gift or by will, be straightway
renewed by their Piety, so that all right of giving or receiving may be
taken away from those who, blinded by the madness of obstinacy, are
determined to continue in the error of the Donatists.
With regard to those who by considerations of unity and peace are
willing to correct themselves, let permission be granted to them to receive
their inheritance, the law notwithstanding, even though the bequest by gift
or inheritance was made while they were yet living in the error of the
heretics; those of course being excepted, who under the stress of legal
proceedings have sought to enter the Catholic Church; for it may well be
supposed, that persons of this latter sort desired Catholic unity, not so
much from fear of the judgment of heaven, as from the greed of earthly
For the furtherance of all these things the help of the Powers
(Porestatum) of each one of the provinces is needed. With regard to other
matters, whatever they shall perceive is for the Church's interests, this
we have resolved that the legation have full authority to do and to carry
into effect. Moreover it seemed good to us all, that letters from our
assembly should be sent to the most glorious Emperors and most Excellent
Worthinesses, whereby they may be assured of the agreement of us all that
the legates should be sent by us to their most blessed court.
Since it is a very slow business for us all to set our names to these
letters, and in order that they may not be burdened with the signature of
each one of us, we desire thee, brother Aurelius, that thy charity be good
enough to sign them in the name of us all. And to this they all agreed.
I, Aurelius, Bishop of the Church of Carthage have consented to this
decree and have subscribed my name. And so all the other bishops
Letters ought likewise to be sent to the judges that, until the lord
permit the legates to return to us, they give protection through the
soldiers of the cities, and through the holders of the farms of the
Catholic Church. It ought also to be added concerning the dishonest
Equitius, which he had shewn by laying claim to the jus sacerdotum, that he
be rejected from the diocese of Hippo according to the statutes of the
Emperors. Letters ought also to be sent to the Bishop of the Church of Rome
in commendation of the legates, and to the other Bishops who may be where
the Emperor is. To this they assented.
Likewise I, Aurelius, Bishop of the Church of Carthage, have consented
to this decree, and having read it, have set my name to it.
And all the other bishops likewise subscribed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCIII.
The Emperors who were born in the true religion and were educated in
the faith, ought to stretch forth a helping hand to the Churches. For the
military band overthrew the dire conspiracy which was threatening Paul.
Here follows a brief declaration of what things were decreed in this Synod.
When Stilico a second time and Anthemius, those illustrious men, were
consuls, on the tenth before the calends of September, at Carthage in the
basilica of the second region. I have not written out in full the acts of
this council (1) because they treat of the necessities of the time rather
than of matters of general interest, but for the instruction of the
studious I have added a brief digest of the same council. (2)
CANON XCIV. (Greek xcvii.) Summary of Chapters.
THAT a free delegation be sent to the council from all the provinces to
Mizoneum. Legates (3) and letters were ordered to be sent for the purpose
of directing the free legation: that became the unity had been made only at
Carthage, letters should also be given to the judges, that they might order
in the other provinces and cities the work of union to be proceeded with,
and the thanksgivings of the Church of Carthage for the whole of Africa
concerning the exclusion of the Donatists should be sent with the letters
of the bishops to Court (ad Comitatum).
The letters of Pope Innocent were read: that bishops ought not readily
to carry causes across seas, and this very thing was confirmed by the
judgment of the bishops themselves; that on account of thanksgiving and the
exclusion of the Donatists, two clerics of the Church of Carthage should be
sent to Court.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCIV.
It seemed good that letters be sent to the Magistrates that the
Donatists be expelled. (4)
In this synod certain things already decreed are corrected.
Under the most illustrious emperors Honorius for the VIIth time, and
Theodosius for the second time, the consuls being the Augusti, on the Ides
of July in Carthage in the basilica of the second region, when bishop
Aurelius together with his other bishops had taken his seat, and while the
deacons stood by, he said: Since it was decreed in the council of Hippo,
that each year there should assemble a plenary council of Africa, not only
here in Carthage but also in the different provinces in their order, and
this was reserved that we should determine its place of meeting sometimes
in Numidia and sometimes in Byzacium. But this seemed laborious to all the
CANON XCV. (Greek xcviii.) An universal council to be held only when
IT seemed good that there should be no more the yearly necessity of
fatiguing the brethren; but as often as common cause, that is of the whole
of Africa, demands, that letters shall be given on every side to that see
in this matter, that a synod should be gathered in that province, where the
desirability of it induces; but let the causes which are not of general
interest be judged in their own provinces.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCV.
When general necessity so urges, letters are to be sent to the chief
see, and a synod held in a convenient place. But let ordinary causes be
settled in their own provinces.
CANON XCVI. (Greek xcix.) That from judges who have been chosen, no appeals
may be taken.
IF an appeal be taken, let him who makes it choose the judges, and with
him he also against whom the appeal is taken; and from their decision no
appeal may be made.
Concerning the delegates of the different provinces.
When all the delegates of the different provinces came together, they
have been most graciously received, that is those of the Numidians,
Byzacenes, Stifensian Moors, as well as Caesarians and Tripolitans.
Concerning the executors of Churches.
It has seemed good moreover that the appointment of five executors
should be asked for in all matters pertaining to the necessities of the
Church, who shall be portioned off in the different provinces.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCVI.
If one party to a suit takes an appeal, and if both choose together a
judge, no further appeal shall be allowed.
CANON XCVII. (Greek c.) That there be sought from the Emperor the
protection of Advocates in causes ecclesiastical.
IT seemed good that the legates who were about leaving, viz., Vincent
and Fortunatian, should in the name of all the provinces ask from the most
glorious Emperors to give a faculty for the establishment of scholastic
defensors, whose shall be the care of this very kind of business: so that
as the priests (1) of the province, they who have received the faculty as
defensors of the Churches in ecclesiastical affairs, as often as necessity
arises, may be able to enter the private apartments of the judges, so as to
resist what is urged on the other side, or to make necessary explanations.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCVII.
That there be asked of the Emperor the appointment of Patrons for
ecclesiastical heads, whose care it should be to defend the Church in its
affairs, and who as priests could easily refer what things were urgent.
(Greek ci.) That the legation be free.
IT seemed good that the chosen legates should have at the meeting
freedom of action (legationem liberam).
The protest of the Mauritanian bishops against Primosus.
It is evident that those of Mauritania Caesariensis gave evidence in
their own writings that Primosus had been summoned by the chiefs of the
Thiganensian city, that he should present himself to the plenary council
according to the imperial constitutions, and, when sought for, as was
right, Primosus was not found, at least so the deacons reported. But since
the same Mauritanians petitioned that letters be sent from the whole synod
to the venerable brother, the aged Innocent, it seemed good that they
should be sent, that he might know that Primosus had been sought at the
council and not found at all.
CANON XCVIII. (Greek cii.) Of the peoples which never had bishops.
IT seemed good that such peoples as had never had bishops of their own
should in no way receive such unless it had been decreed in a plenary
council of each province and by the primates, and with the consent of the
bishop of that diocese to which the church belonged.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCVIII.
Whoso never heretofore had a bishop of their own, unless the general
synod of the Province shall agree to it, and the Primate, in agreement with
him to whom the province in which the Church is, is subject, shall not
have bishops of their own.
CANON XCIX. (Greek ciii.) Of people or dioceses returned from the
Such communities as have returned from the Donatists and have had
bishops, without doubt may continue to have them even without any action of
the councils, but such a community as had a bishop and when he dies wish no
longer to have a bishop of their own, but to belong to the diocese of some
other bishop, this is not to be denied them. Also such bishops as before
the promulgation of the imperial law concerning unity as brought back their
people to the Catholic Church, they ought to be allowed still to rule them:
but from the time of that law of unity, all the Churches, and their
dioceses, and if perchance there be any instruments of the Church or things
pertaining to its rights should belong to the Catholic bishops of those
places to whom the places pertained while under the heretics, whether they
be converted to the Catholic Church or remain unconverted heretics. Whoever
after this law shall make any such usurpation, shall restore as is meet the
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON XCIX.
Whoever are converted from the Donatists may retain their own bishops,
although they had them without the consent of the synod; and when the
bishop is dead, if they do not wish another to be substituted in his room,
but desire to place themselves under some other bishop, they shall be
allowed to do so. And such bishops as before the union have brought back
the people they ruled, let them still rule them. After the imperial Edict
on Unity every church must defend its own rights.
CANON C. (Greek civ.) Of the suggestion of Bishop Maurentius.
[Hefele says "The text of this canon is much corrupted and very
difficult to be understood." He gives as a synopsis, "The council appoints
judges in the affair of Bishop Maurentius." (Hefele, Vol. II, p. 443.)
Johnson thus condenses and translates.]
Bishop Maurentius having an information against him, lying before the
council, moves for a hearing; but the informers don't appear upon three
calls made by the deacons on the day appointed. The cause is referred to
Senex Xantippus, Augustinus, and five more summoned by the council, the
informers were to make up the number twelve.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON C.
It is right that sentence be given on the subdeacons who are said to be
present from Nova Germania, who have thrice been sought and not found. But
out of regard to ecclesiastical gentleness, let some be sent to look into
CANON CI. (Greek civ. bis) Of making peace between the Churches of Rome and
IT seemed good that a letter be written to the holy Pope Innocent
concerning the dissension between the Churches of Rome and Alexandria, so
that each Church might keep peace with the other as the Lord commanded.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CI.
It seemed good to write to Innocent that the Roman and Alexandrian
churches might be at peace between themselves.
CANON CII. (Greek cv.) Of those who put away their wives or husbands, that
so they remain.
IT seemed good that according to evangelical and apostolical discipline
a man who had been put away from his wife, and a woman put away from her
husband should not be married to another, but so should remain, or else be
reconciled the one to the other; but if they spurn this law, they shall be
forced to do penance, covering which case we must petition that an imperial
law be promulgated.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CII.
Married people who are loosed must remain unmarried or else be
reconciled, otherwise they shall be forced to do penance.
CANON CIII. (Greek cvi.) Of the prayers to be said at the Altar.
THIS also seemed good, that the prayers which had been approved in
synod should be used by all, whether prefaces, commendations, or laying on
of the hand, and that others contrary to the faith should not be used by
any means, but that those only should be said which had been collected by
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CIII.
[The same as the canon, but omits the last phrase.]
CANON CIV. (Greek cvii.) Of these who ask from the Emperor that secular
judges may take cognizance of their causes.
IT seemed good that whoever should seek from the Emperor, that secular
judges should take cognizance of his business, should be deprived of his
office; if however, he had asked from the Emperor an episcopal trial, no
objection should be made.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CIV.
Let not him be a bishop who from the Emperor seeks a public judgment.
CANON CV. (Greek cviii.) Of those who do not communicate in Africa and
would go across seas.
WHOEVER does not communicate in Africa, and goes to communicate across
seas, let him be cast out of the clergy.
ANCIENT EPIOME OF CANON CV.
Whoever is cut off from communion in Africa, and goes to parts across
seas that he may there communicate, is to be cast out of the clergy.
CANON CVI. (Greek cix.) That those who are going to carry their case to
court should be careful to inform either the bishop of Carthage or (1) the
bishop of Rome.
IT seemed good that whoever wished to go to court, should give notice
in the form which is sent to the Church of the city of Rome, that from
thence also he should receive a formed letter to court. But if receiving
only a formed letter to Rome, and saying nothing about the necessity which
he had of going to court, he willed immediately to go thither, let him be
cut off from communion. But if while at Rome the necessity of going to
court suddenly arose, let him state his necessity to the bishop of Rome and
let him carry with him a rescript of the same Roman bishop. But let the
formed letters which are issued by primates and by certain bishops to their
own clergy have the date of Easter; but if it be yet uncertain what is the
date of Easter of that year, let the preceding Easter's date be set down,
as it is customary to date public acts after the consulship.
It further seemed good that those who were sent as delegates from this
glorious council should ask of the most glorious princes whatever they saw
would be useful against the Donatists and Pagans, and their superstitions.
It also seemed good to all the bishops that all conciliar letters be
signed by your holiness alone. And they subscribed: I, Aurelius, Bishop of
Carthage, have consented to this decree, and having read it, now subscribe
my name. Likewise also the rest of the bishops subscribed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CVI.
Whoever from any necessity was going to court, must declare his
intention to the bishop of Carthage and to the bishop of Rome, and receive
a letter dimissory, and otherwise he shall be excommunicated.
Whatever shall seem to the legates useful against the Donatists and
Greeks, and their superstitions, that shall be sought from the Emperor.
(Greek cx.) Synod against the pagans and heretics.
In the consulship of those most illustrious men Bassus and Philip, the
xvith Calends of July, at Carthage, in the secretarium of the restored
basilica.* In this council the bishop Fortunatian received a second
appointment as legate against the pagans and heretics.
Item, a council against the pagans and heretics.
In the consulship of those most illustrious men Bassus and Philip, the
iii. Ides of October at Carthage, in the Secretarium of the restored
basilica *. In this council the bishops Restitutus and Florentius received
a legation against the pagans and heretics, at the time Severus and
Macarius were slain, and on their account the bishops Euodius, Theasius and
Victor were put to death.
CANON CVII. (Greek cx. continued.) A Council concerning a bishop taking
IN the consulate of the most glorious Emperors Honorius for the VIIth
time and Theodosius for the IIId, Augusti, xvii. Calends of July, a synod
was held at Carthage in the basilica of the second region. In this council
it seemed good that no one bishop should claim the right to take cognizance
of a cause. The acts of this council I have not here written down, because
it was only provincial and not general.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CVII.
One bishop shall not claim for himself to take cognizance of a cause
(Greek cxi.) Synod against the Donatists.
After the consulate of the most illustrious Emperors Honorius for the
VIIIth time and Theodosius for the IVth time, Augusti, xviii. Calends of
July, at Carthage in the basilica of the second region. In this council the
bishops, Florentius, Possidius, Praesidius and Benenatus received legation
against the Donatists, at that time at which a law was given that anyone
might practice the Christian worship at his own will.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CVII.
Let each one receive the practice of piety of his own free will.
CANON CVIII. (Greek cxii.) Synod against the heresy of Pelagius and
IN the consulate of the most glorious Emperors, Honorius for the XIIth
time and Theodosius for the VIIIth, Augusti most exalted, on the Calends of
May, at Carthage in the secretarium of the Basilica of Faustus. When
Aurelius the bishop presided over the whole council, the deacons standing
by, it pleased all the bishops, whose names and subscriptions are
indicated, (1) met together in the holy synod of the Church of Carthage to
define -- (2)
CANON CIX. (Greek cxij. continued.) That Adam was not created by God
subject to death.
THAT whosoever says that Adam, the first man, was created mortal, so
that whether he had sinned or not, he would have died in body--that is, he
would have gone forth of the body, not because his sin merited this, but by
natural necessity, let him be anathema.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CIX.
Whoso shall assert that the protoplast would have died without sin and
through natural necessity, let him be anathema.
CANON CX. (Greek cxii. bis) That infants are baptized for the remission of
LIKEWISE it seemed good that whosoever denies that infants newly from
their mother's wombs should be baptized, or says that baptism is for
remission of sins, but that they derive from Adam no original sin, which
needs to be removed by the layer of regeneration, from whence the
conclusion follows, that in them the form of baptism for the remission of
sins, is to be understood as false and not true, let him be anathema.
For no otherwise can be understood what the Apostle says, "By one man
sin is come into the world, and death through sin, and so death passed upon
all men in that all have "sinned," than the Catholic Church everywhere
diffused has always understood it. For on account of this rule of faith
(regulam fidei) even infants, who could have committed as yet no sin
themselves, therefore are truly baptized for the remission of sins, in
order that what in them is the result of generation may be cleansed by
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CX.
Whoso affirms that those newly born and baptized contract nothing from
Adam's transgression, which needs to be washed away by baptism, is to be
execrated: for through one both death and sin invaded the whole world.
[In one ancient codex: Also it seemed good, that if anyone should say
that the saying of the Lord, "In my Father's house are many mansions "is to
be understood as meaning that in the kingdom of heaven there will be a
certain middle place, or some place somewhere, in which infants live in
happiness who have gone forth from tiffs life without baptism, without
which they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven, which is eternal life, let
him be anathema. For after our Lord has said: "Except a man be born again
of water and of the Holy Spirit he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven,"
what Catholic can doubt that he who has not merited to be coheir with
Christ shall become a sharer with the devil: for he who fails of the right
hand without doubt shall receive the left hand portion.]
CANON CXI. (Greek cxiij.) That the grace of God not only gives remission of
sins, but also affords aid that we sin no more.
LIKEWISE it seemed good, that whoever should say that the grace of God,
by which a man is justified through Jesus Christ our Lord, avails only for
the remission of past sins, and not for assistance against committing sins
in the future, let him be anathema.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXI.
Whoever is of opinion that the grace of God only gives remission of
those sins we have already committed, and does not afford aid against sin
in the future, is to be twice execrated.
CANON CXII. (Greek cxiij. continued.) That the grace of Christ gives not
only the knowledge of our duty, but also inspires us with a desire that we
may be able to accomplish what we know.
ALSO, whoever shall say that the same grace of God through Jesus Christ
our Lord helps us only in not sinning by revealing to us and opening to our
understanding the commandments, so that we may know what to seek, what we
ought to avoid, and also that we should love to do so, but that through it
we are not helped so that we are able to do what we know we should do, let
him be anathema. For when the Apostle says: "Wisdom puffeth up, but charity
edifieth" it were truly infamous were we to believe that we have the grace
of Christ for that which puffeth us up, but have it not for that which
edifieth, since in each case it is the gift of God, both to know what we
ought to do, and to love to do it; so that wisdom cannot puff us up while
charity is edifying us. For as of God it is written, "Who teacheth man
knowledge," so also it is written, "Love is of God."
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXII.
Whoever says that the grace of God is given to us only that we may know
what we ought to do and what to flee from, but not also that we may love
the thing known, and be able to accomplish it, let him be anathema.
CANON CXIII. (Greek cxiiii.) That without the grace of God we can do no
IT seemed good that whosoever should say that the grace of
justification was given to us only that we might be able more readily by
grace to perform what we were ordered to do through our free will; as if
though grace was not given, although not easily, yet nevertheless we could
even without grace fulfil the divine commandments, let him be anathema. For
the Lord spake concerning the fruits of the commandments, when he said:
"Without me ye can do nothing," and not "Without me ye could do it but with
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXIII.
Whoso preaches that without grace we could keep the commandments
although with difficulty, is to be thrice execrated. For the Lord says,
"Without me ye can do nothing."
CANON CXIV. (Greek cxv.) That not only humble but also true is that voice
of the Saints: "If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves."
IT also seemed good that as St. John the Apostle says, "If we shall say
that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,"
whosoever thinks that this should be so understood as to mean that out of
humility, we ought to say that we have sin, and not because it is really
so, let him be anathema. For the Apostle goes on to add, "But if we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us
from all iniquity," where it is sufficiently clear that this is said not
only of humility but also truly. For the Apostle might have said, "If we
shall say we have no sins we shall extoll ourselves, and humility shall
have no place in us;" but when he says, "we deceive ourselves and the truth
is not in us" he sufficiently intimates that he who affirmed that he had no
sin would speak not that which is true but that which is false.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXIV.
Whosoever shall interpret the saying of the Divine [i.e. St. John]: "If
we shall say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" as not being really
true but as spoken out of humility, let him be anathema.
CANON CXV. (Greek cxvi.) That in the Lord's Prayer the Saints say for
themselves: "Forgive us our trespasses."
IT has seemed good that whoever should say that when in the Lord's
prayer, the saints say, "forgive us our trespasses," they say this not for
themselves, because they have no need of this petition, but for the rest
who are sinners of the people; and that therefore no one of the saints can
say, "Forgive me my trespasses," but "Forgive us our trespasses;" so that
the just is understood to seek this for others rather than for himself; let
him be anathema. For holy and just was the Apostle James, when he said,
"For in many things we offend all." For why was it added "all," unless that
this sentence might agree also with the psalm, where we read, "Enter not
into judgment with thy servant, O Lord, for in thy sight shall no man
living be justified;" and in the prayer of the most wise Solomon: "There is
no man that sinneth not;" and in the book of the holy Job: "He sealeth in
the hand of every man, that every man may know his own infirmity ;"
wherefore even the holy and just Daniel when in prayer said several times:
"We have sinned, we have done iniquity," and other things which there truly
and humbly he confessed; nor let it be thought (as some have thought) that
this was said not of his own but rather of the people's sins, for he said
further on: "When I shall pray and confess my sins and the sins of my
people to the Lord my God;" he did not wish to say our sins, but he said
the sins of his people and his own sins, since he as a prophet foresaw that
those who were to come would thus misunderstand his words.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXV.
Whoso expounds this, "forgive us our trespasses" as speaking only of
the multitude and not of individuals let him be anathema: Since Daniel even
he can behold saying with the multitude "I confessed my sins and the sins
of my people."
CANON CXVI. (Greek cxvii.) That the Saints say with accuracy, "Forgive us
LIKEWISE also it seemed good, that whoever wished that these words of
the Lord's prayer, when we say, "Forgive us our trespasses" are said by the
saints out of humility and not in truth let them be anathema. For who would
make a lying prayer, not to men but to God? Who would say with his lips
that he wished his sins forgiven him, but in his heart that he had no sins
to be forgiven.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXVI.
CANON CXVII. (Greek cxviii.) Of peoples converted from the Donatists.
ITEM, it seemed good, since it was so decreed some years ago by a
plenary council, that whatever churches were erected in a diocese before
the laws were made concerning Donatists when they became Catholic, should
pertain to the sees of those bishops through whom their return to Catholic
unity was brought about; but after the laws whatever churches communicated
were to belong there where they belonged when they were Donatists. But
because many controversies afterward arose and are still springing up
between bishops concerning dioceses, which were not then at all in
prospect, now it has seemed good to this council, that wherever there was a
Catholic and a Donatist party, pertaining to different sees, at whatever
time unity has been or shall be made, whether before or after the laws, the
churches shall belong to that see to which the Catholic church which was
already there belonged.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXVII.
Whenever conversions and unions of Donatists are effected, let them be
subject to that throne to which the Catholic Church which was formerly
there was subject.
CANON CXVIII. (Greek cxix.) How bishops as well Catholic as those who have
been converted from the Donatists are to divide between themselves the
So, too, it has seemed good that if a bishop has been converted from
the Donatists to Catholic unity, that equally there should be divided what
shall have been so found where there were two parties; that is, that some
places should pertain to one and some to the other; and let the division be
made by him who has been the longest time in the episcopate, and let the
younger choose. But should there be only one place let it belong to him who
is found to be the nearer. But should the distance be equal to each of the
two cathedrals let it belong to the one the people may choose. But should
the old Catholics wish their own bishop, and if the same be the case with
the converted Donatists, let the will of the greater number prevail, but
should the parties be equal, let it belong to him who has been longest
bishop. But if so many places be found in which there were both parties,
that an equal division is impossible, as for example, if they are unequal
in number, after those places have been distributed which have an equal
number, the place that remains over shall be disposed of as is provided
above in the case where there is but one place to be treated.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXVIII.
Those who have been converted from Donatus, let them divide the
dioceses; and let the senior bishop make the division, and the junior
choose which he will.
CANON CXIX. (Greek cxx.) That if a bishop shall possess a diocese which he
has snatched from heresy for three years, no one may take it from him.
ITEM, it seemed good that if anyone after the laws should convert any
place to Catholic unity and retain it for three years without opposition,
it should not be taken away from him afterwards. If however there was
during those three years a bishop who could claim it and was silent, he
shall lose the opportunity. But if there was no bishop, no prejudice shall
happen to the see, (1) but it shall be lawful when the place that had none
shall receive a bishop, to make the claim within three years of that day.
Item, if a Donatist bishop shall be converted to the Catholic party, the
time that has elapsed shall not count against him, but from the day of his
conversion for three years he shall have the right of making a claim on the
places which belonged to his See.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXIX.
Whosoever shall convert a region to Orthodoxy and shall keep it
converted for three years, let him be without blame. But if the bishop
converted from Donatus within three years of its conversion seeks his
diocese again, let it be returned to him (ei ena'gei, enage'tw.)
CANON CXX. (Greek cxxi.) Of those who intrude upon peoples which they
think belong to them, without the consent of those by whom they are held.
ITEM, it seemed good that whatever bishops seek the peoples whom they
consider to pertain to their see, not by bringing their causes before the
episcopal judges, but rush in while another is holding the place, all such,
(whether said people are willing to receive them or no) shall lose their
case. And whoever have done this, if the contention between the two bishops
is not yet finished but still going on, let him depart who intruded without
the decree of the ecclesiastical judges; nor let anyone flatter himself
that he will retain [what he has seized] if he shall obtain letters from
the primate, but whether he has such letters or has them not, it is
suitable that he who holds and receives his letters should make it appear
then that he has held the church pertaining to him peaceably. But if he has
referred any question, let the cause be decided by the episcopal judges,
whether those whom the primates have appointed for them, or the
neighbouring bishops whom they have chosen by common consent.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXX.
Let no one seize for himself what he thinks belongs to him: but let the
bishops judge or where the Primate will give, or whom the neighbouring
bishops shall give with his consent. But whosoever has received letters
from the primate concerning the keeping [of such regions and churches]
merely deceives himself.
CANON CXXI. (Greek cxxii.) Of those who neglect the peoples belonging to
ITEM, it seemed good that whoever neglect to bring the places belonging
to their see into Catholic unity should be admonished by the neighbouring
diligent bishops, that they delay no longer to do this; but if within six
months from the day of the convention they do nothing, let them pertain to
him who can win them: but with this proviso however, that if he to whom it
seemed they naturally belonged can prove that this neglect was intentional
and more efficacious in winning them than the greater apparent diligence of
others; when the episcopal judges shall be convinced that this is the case,
they shall restore the places to his see. If the bishops between whom the
cause lies are of different provinces, let the Primate in whose province
the place is situated about which there is the dispute, appoint judges; but
if by mutual consent they have chosen as judges the neighbouring bishops,
let one or three be chosen: so that if they choose three they may follow
the sentence of all or of two.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXI.
If any neglect what belongs to their jurisdiction, let them be
admonished; and if they shall do nothing within a six month, let them be
adjudged to him who can win them. But if they have committed the neglect
out of policy so as not to irritate the heretics, and this shall appear to
have been the case, their sees shall be restored to them, by the judgment
of the bishops either appointed or elected.
CANON CXXII. (Greek cxxiii.) The sentence of the elected judges ought not
to be spurned.
FROM the judges chosen by common consent of the parties, no appeal can
be taken; and whoever shall be found to have carried such an appeal and
contumaciously to be unwilling to submit to the judges, when this has been
proved to the primate, let him give letters, that no one of the bishops
should communicate with him until he yield.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXII.
A judge chosen by both parties cannot be repudiated.
CANON CXXIII. (Greek cxxiv.) That if a bishop neglects his diocese he is to
be deprived of communion.
IF in the mother cathedrals a bishop should have been negligent against
the heretics, let a meeting be held of the neighbouring diligent bishops,
and let his negligence be pointed out to him, so that he can have no
excuse. But if within six months after this meeting, if an execution was in
his own province, and he had taken no care to convert them to Catholic
unity, no one shall communicate with him till he does his duty. But if no
executor shah have come to the places, then the fault shall not be laid to
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXIII.
A bishop who spurns the care of heretics, and if after being warned he
continues for six months in his contempt, and has no care for their
conversion, is to be excommunicated.
CANON CXXIV. (Greek cxxv.) Of bishops who shall lie with regard to
IF it shall be proven that any bishop has lied concerning the communion
of those [who had been Donatists], and had said that they had communicated
when he knew it was an established fact that they had not done so, let him
lose his bishoprick.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXIV.
Whoso says that a man, whom he knows does not communicate, does
communicate is to be deprived of his episcopate.
CANON CXXV. (Greek cxxvi.) That presbyters and clerics are not to appeal
except to African Synods.
ITEM, it seemed good that presbyters, deacons, or other of the lower
clergy who are to be tried, if they question the decision of their bishops,
the neighbouring bishops having been invited by them with the consent of
their bishops, shall hear them and determine whatever separates them. But
should they think an appeal should be carried from them, let them not carry
the appeal except to African councils or to the primates of their
provinces. But whoso shall think of carrying an appeal across seas he shall
be admitted to communion by no one in Africa.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXV.
A presbyter and deacons, who has been condemned by his own bishop, let
him appeal to the neighbouring bishops: but let them not cross the sea. In
Africa they shall be excommunicated.
CANON CXXVI. (Greek cxxvii.) That Virgins, even when minors, should be
given the veil.
ITEM, it seemed good that whatever bishop, by the necessity of the
dangers of virginal purity, when either a powerful suitor or some ravisher
is feared, or if she shall be pricked with some scruple of death that she
might die unveiled, at the demand either of her parents or of those to
whose care she has been entrusted, shall give the veil to a virgin, or
shall have given it while she was under twenty-five years of age, the
council which has appointed that number of years shall not oppose him.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXVI.
Whosoever has veiled or shall veil a virgin before she is twenty-five
years of age (that is give her the habit, or clothe her), being forced
thereto on account of a powerful lover, or a ravisher, or deadly disease,
provided those, who have the charge of her so exhort, shall receive no
damage from the synod concerning that age.
CANON CXXVII. (Greek cxxviii.) That bishops be not detained too long in
council, let them choose three judges from themselves of the singular
ITEM, it seemed good, lest all the bishops who are assembled at a
council be kept too long, that the whole synod should choose three judges
of the several provinces; and they elected for the province of Carthage
Vincent, Fortunatian, and Clarus; for the province of Numidia Alypius,
Augustine, and Restitutus; for the province of Byzacena, with the holy
Senex Donatian the Primate, Cresconius, Jocundus, and Aemilian; for
Mauritania Sitephensis Severian, Asiaticus, and Donatus; for the Tripolitan
province Plautius, who alone was sent as legate according to custom; all
these were to take cognizance of all things with the holy senex Aurelius,
from whom the whole council sought that he should subscribe all things done
by the council whether acts or letters. And they subscribed: I, Aurelius,
bishop of the church of Carthage consent to this decree and having read it
sign my name. Likewise also signed they all.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXVII.
Whenever the bishops who come to synod can remain no longer in
attendance, let three be chosen from each province.
Item, at this council there was present a legation from the Roman Church.
After the consulate of the most glorious emperors Honorius for the
XIIth. time and Theodosius for the VIIIth., Augusti, on the III. Calends of
June, at Carthage, in the Secretarium of the restored basilica, when
Aurelius the bishop together with Faustinus of the church of Potentia in
the Italian province of Picenum, a legate of the Roman Church, Vincent of
Calvita (1) (Culositanus), Fortunatian of Naples, Marianus Uzipparensis,
Adeodatus of Simidica, Pentadius of Carpi, Rufinian of Muzuba, Praetextatus
of Sicily, Quodvultdeus of Veri (Verensis), Candidus of Abbirita, Gallonian
of Utica, legates of the proconsular province; Alypius of Tagaste,
Augustine of Hippo Regia and Posidonius of Calama, legates of the province
of Numidia; Maximian of Aquae, Jocundus of Sufetula, and Hilary of Horrea-
Cascilia, legates of the province of Byzacena; Novatus of Sitifi and Leo of
Mocta, legates of the province of Mauritania Sitiphensis; Ninellus of
Rusucarrum, Laurence of Icosium and Numerian of Rusgunium, legates of the
Province of Mauritania Caesariensis, the judges chosen by the plenary
council, had taken their seats, the deacons standing by, and when, after
certain things had been accomplished, many bishops complained that it was
not possible for them to wait for the completion of the rest of the
business to be treated of, and that they must hasten to their own churches;
it seemed good to the whole council, that by all some should be chosen from
each province who should remain to finish up what was left to be done. And
it came about that those were present whose subscriptions testify that they
CANON CXXVIII. (Greek cxxix.) That those out of communion should not be
allowed to bring accusation.
IT seemed good to all, as it had been decreed by the former councils,
concerning what persons were to be admitted to bring accusations against
clerics; and since it had not been expressed what persons should not be
admitted, therefore we define, that he cannot properly be admitted to bring
an accusation, who had been already excommunicated, and was still lying
under that censure, whether he that wished to be the accuser were cleric or
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXVIII.
One excommunicated is not to give witness.
CANON CXXIX. (Greek cxxx.) That slaves and freedmen and all infamous
persons ought not to bring accusation.
To all it seemed good that no slaves or freedmen, properly so called,
be admitted to accusation nor any of those who by the public laws are
debarred from bringing accusation in criminal proceedings. This also is the
case with all those who have the stain of infamy, that is actors, and
persons subject to turpitudes, also heretics, or heathen, or Jews; but even
all those to whom the right of bringing accusation is denied, are not
forbidden to bring accusation in their own suits.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXIX.
A slave, and a freedman, and he who before was accused of any of these
crimes on account of which he is not admitted in court, and a player, and a
heathen, and a heretic, and a Jew
[There is no verb to finish the sentence. However, this is intended as a
continuation of the epitome of the former canon, the words to be supplied
being "are not to give witness."]
CANON CXXX. (Greek cxxxi.) That he who has failed to prove one charge shall
not be allowed to give evidence to another.
So, too, it seemed good that as often as many crimes were laid to
clerics by their accusers, and one of the first examined could not be
proved, (1) they should not be allowed to go on giving evidence on the
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXX.
He who makes many accusations and proves nothing [is not to give
CANON CXXXI. (Greek cxxxii.) Who should be allowed to give evidence.
THEY who are forbidden to be admitted as accusers are not to be allowed
to appear as witnesses, nor any that the accuser may bring from his own
household. And none shall be admitted to give witness under fourteen years
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXXI.
And whoso is not past fourteen years of age [is not to give witness].
An accuser is not to produce witnesses from his own house.
CANON CXXXII. (Greek cxxxiii.) Concerning a bishop who removes a man from
communion who says he has confessed to the bishop alone his crime.
IT also seemed good that if on any occasion a bishop said that someone
had confessed to him alone a personal crime, and that the man now denies
it; let not the bishop think that any slight is laid upon him if he is not
believed on his own word alone, although he says he is not willing to
communicate with the man so denying through a scruple of his own
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXXII.
If a bishop says "someone has confessed to me alone a crime," if the
someone denies it, he [i.e. the bishop] is not easily to be believed.
CANON CXXXIII. (Greek cxxxiv.) That a bishop should not rashly deprive
anyone of communion.
As long as his own bishop will not communicate with one excommunicated,
the other bishops should have no communion with that bishop, that the
bishop may be more careful not to charge anyone with what he cannot prove
by documentary evidence to others.
BISHOP AURELIUS said: According to the statutes of this whole assembled
council, and the opinion of my littleness, it seems good to make an end of
all the matters of the whole of the before-manifested title, and let the
ecclesiastical acts receive the discussion of the present day's
And what things have not yet been expressed ("treated of" in the Greek)
we shall write on the next day through our brethren, Bishop Faustinus and
the Presbyters Philip and Asellus to our venerable brother and fellow-
bishop Boniface; and they gave their assent in writing.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXXIII.
If a bishop deprives of communion an unconvicted man, he shall likewise
be deprived of communion with his fellows.
CANON CXXXIV. (Continuation of cxxxv. in the Greek.) Here beginneth the
letter directed from the whole African Council to Boniface, bishop of the
City of Rome, by Faustinus the bishop, and Philip and Asellus the
presbyters, legates of the Roman Church.
To the most blessed lord, and our honourable brother Boniface,
Aurelius, Valentine of the primatial See of Numidia, and others present
with us to the number of 217 from the whole council in Africa.
Since it has pleased the Lord that our humility should write concerning
those things which with us our holy brethren, Faustinus a fellow-bishop and
Philip and Asellus, fellow presbyters, have done, not to the bishop Zosimus
of blessed memory, from whom they brought commands and letters to us, but
to your holiness, who art constituted in his room by divine authority, we
ought briefly to set forth what has been determined upon by mutual consent;
not indeed those things which are contained in the prolix volumes of the
acts, in which, while charity was preserved, yet we loitered not without
some little labour of altercation, deliberating those things in the acts
which now pertain to the cause. However the more gratefully would he have
received this news as he would have seen a more peaceful ending of the
matter, my lord and brother, had he been still in the body! Apiarius the
presbyter, concerning whose ordination, excommunication, and appeal no
small scandal arose not only at Sicca but also in the whole African Church,
has been restored to communion upon his seeking pardon for all his sins.
First our fellow bishop Urban of Sicca doubtless corrected whatever in him
seemed to need correction. For there should have been kept in mind the
peace and quiet of the Church not only in the present but also in the
future, since so many evils of such a kind had gone before, that it was
incumbent to take care that like or even graver evils should be prevented
thereafter. It seemed good to us that the presbyter Apiarius should be
removed from the church of Sicca, retaining only the honour of his grade,
and that he should exercise the office of the presbyterate wherever else he
wished and could, having received a letter to this effect. This we granted
without difficulty at his own petition made in a letter. But truly before
this case should be thus closed, among other things which we were treating
of in daily discussions, the nature of the case demanded that we should ask
our brothers, Faustinus our fellow bishop, and Philip and Asellus our
fellow presbyters, to set forth what they had been enjoined to treat of
with us that they might be inserted in the ecclesiastical acts. And they
proceeded to make a verbal statement, but when we earnestly asked that they
would present it rather in writing, then they produced the Commonitory.
This was read to us and also set down in the acts, which they are bringing
with them to you. In this they were bidden to treat of four things with us,
first concerning the appeal of bishops to the Pontiff of the Roman Church,
second that bishops should not unbecomingly be sailing to court, thirdly
concerning the treating the causes of presbyters and deacons by contiguous
bishops, if they had been wrongly excommunicated by their own, and fourthly
concerning the bishop Urban who should be excommunicated or even sent to
Rome, unless he should have corrected what seemed to need correction. Of
all which things concerning the first and third, that is that it is allowed
to bishops to appeal to Rome and that the causes of clerics should be
settled by the bishops of their own provinces, already last year we have
taken pains to insinuate, in our letter to tile same bishop Zosimus of
venerable memory, that we were willing to observe these provisions for a
little while without any injury to him, until the search for the statutes
of the Council of Nice had been finished. And now we ask of your holiness
that you would cause to be observed by us the acts and constitutions of our
fathers at the Council of Nice, and flint you cause to be exercised by you
there, those things which they brought in the commonitory: that is to say,
If a bishop shall have been accused, etc. [Here follows Canon vii. of
Item concerning presbyters and deacons.If any bishop has been quickly
angered, etc. [Here follows Canon xvii. of Sardica.]
These are the things which have been inserted in the acts until the
arrival of the most accurate copies of the Nicene Council, which things,
(1) if they are contained there (as in the Commonitory, which our brethren
directed to us from the Apostolic See alleged) and be even kept according
to that order by you in Italy, in no way could we be compelled either to
endure such treatment as we are unwilling to mention or could suffer what
is unbearable: (2) but we believe, through tile mercy of our Lord God,
while your holiness presides over the Roman Church, we shall not have to
suffer that pride (istum typhum passuri). And there will be kept toward us,
what should be kept with brotherly love to us who are making no dispute.
You will also perceive according to the wisdom and the justice which the
most Highest has given thee, what should be observed, (3) if perchance the
canons of the Council of Nice are other [than you suppose]. For although we
have read very many copies, yet never have we read in the Latin copies that
there were any such decrees as are contained in the commonitory before
mentioned. So too, because we can find them in no Greek text here, we have
desired that there should be brought to us from the Eastern Churches copies
of the decrees, for it is said that there correct copies of the decrees are
to be found. For which end we beg your reverence, that you would design
yourself also to write to the pontiffs of these parts, that is of the
churches of Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople, (4) and to any others
also if it shall please your holiness, that thence there may come to us the
same canons decreed by the Fathers in the city of Nice, and thus you would
confer by the help of the Lord this most great benefit upon all the
churches of the West. For who can doubt that the copies of the Nicene
Council gathered in the Greek empire are most accurate, which although
brought together from so diverse and from such noble Greek churches are
found to agree when compared together? And until this be done, the
provisions laid down to us in the Commonitory aforesaid, concerning the
appeals of bishops to the pontiff of the Roman Church and concerning the
causes of clerics which should be terminated by the bishops of their own
provinces, we are willing to allow to be observed until the proof arrives
and we trust your blessedness will help us in this according to the will of
God. The rest of the matters treated and defined in our synod, since the
aforesaid brethren, our fellow bishop Faustinus, and the presbyters Philip
and Asellus are carrying the acts with them, if you deign to receive them,
will make known to your holiness. And they signed. (5) Our Lord keep thee
to us for many years, most blessed brother. Alypius, Augustine, Possidius,
Marinus and the rest of the bishops  also signed.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXXXV.
Urban, the bishop of Siccas, is either to be excommunicated or else
summoned to Rome unless he corrects what should be corrected by him.
CANON CXXXV. (Not numbered in the Greek.)
Here begin the rescripts to the African Council from Cyril bishop of
Alexandria in which he sends the authentic proceedings of the Nicene
Council, (1) translated from the Greek by Innocent the presbyter: these
letters with the same Nicene council were also sent through the
aforementioned presbyter Innocent and by Marcellus a subdeacon of the
Church of Carthage, to the holy Boniface, bishop of the Roman Church, on
the sixth day before the calends of December in the year 419. (2)
To the most honourable lords, our holy brethren and fellow bishops,
Aurelius, Valentinus, as well as to the whole holy synod met in Carthage,
Cyril salutes your holiness in God.
I have received with all joy at the hands of our son, the presbyter
Innocent, the letters of your reverence so full of piety, in which you
express the hope that we will send you most accurate copies of the decrees
of the holy Fathers at the Synod held at Nice the metropolis of Bithynia
from the archives of our church; with our own certificate of accuracy
attached thereto. In answer to which request, most honourable lords and
brethren, I have thought it necessary to send to you, with our compliments,
by our son, Innocent the presbyter, the bearer of these, most faithful
copies of the decisions of the synod held at Nice in Bithynia. And when ye
have sought in the history of the church, you will find them there also.
Concerning Easter, as you have written, we announce to you that we shall
celebrate it on the xviiith (3) before the calends of May of the next
indiction. The subscription. May God and our Lord preserve your holy synod
as we desire, dear brethren.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXXV.
According to your written request, we have sent to your charity most
faithful copies of the authentic decrees of the Synod which was held at
Nice, a city of Bithynia.
CANON CXXXVI. (Not numbered in the Greek but with a new heading.) Here
beginneth the letter of Atticus, bishop of Constantinople to the same.
To our holy lords, and rightly most blessed brethren and fellow
bishops, Aurelius, Valentine, and (4) to the other beloved ones met
together in the Synod held at Carthage, Atticus the bishop.
By our son Marcellus the subdeacon, I have received with all
thanksgiving the writings of your holiness, praising the Lord that I
enjoyed the blessing of so many of my brethren. O my lords and most blessed
brethren, ye have written asking me to send you most accurate copies of the
canons enacted at the city of Nice, the metropolis of Bithynia, by the
Fathers for the exposition of the faith. And who is there that would deny
to his brethren the common faith, or the statutes decreed by the Fathers.
Wherefore by the same son of mine, Marcellus, your subdeacon, who was in
great haste, I have sent to you the canons in full as they were adopted by
the Fathers in the city of Nice; and I ask of you that your holy synod
would have me much in your prayers. The subscription. May our God keep your
sanctity, as we desire, most holy brethren.
CANON CXXXVII. (Continuation of the last in the Greek.) Here begin the
examples of the Nicene Council, sent on the sixth day before the calends of
December in the year 419, (1) after the consulate of the most glorious
emperor Honorius for the XIIth time, and Theodosius for the IXth time (2)
Augustuses, to Boniface the bishop of the City of Rome.
WE believe in one God etc. . . . the Catholic and Apostolic Church
anathematizes them. (3)
To this symbol of the faith there were also annexed copies of the
statutes of the same Nicene Councils from the aforenamed pontiffs, in all
respects as are contained above; which we do not think it necessary to
write out here again.
ANCIENT EPITOME OF CANON CXXXVII.
The Canons of the Synod of Nice are sent, as they were decreed by the
Fathers, in accordance with your letters.
CANON CXXXVIII. (Not numbered in the Greek.) Here beginneth the epistle of
the African synod to Pope Celestine, bishop of the City of Rome.
To the lord and most beloved and our honourable brother Celestine,
Aurelius, Palatinus, Antony, Totus, Servusdei, Terentius, Fortunatus,
Martin, Januarius, Optatus, Ceticius, Donatus, Theasius, Vincent,
Fortunatian, and the rest of us, assembled at Carthage in the General
Council of Africa.
We could wish that, like as your Holiness intimated to us, in your
letter sent by our fellow presbyter Leo, your pleasure at the arrival of
Apiarius, so we also could send to you these writings with pleasure
respecting his clearing. Then in truth both our own satisfaction, and yours
of late would be more reasonable; nor would that lately expressed by you
concerning the hearing of him then to come, as well as that already past,
seem hasty and inconsiderate. Upon the arrival, then, of our holy Brother
and fellow-Bishop Faustinus, we assembled a council, and believed that he
was sent with that man, in order that, as he [Apiarius] had before been
restored to the presbyterate by his assistance, so now he might with his
exertions be cleared of the very great crimes charged against him by the
inhabitants of Tabraca. But the due course of examination in our council
discovered in him such great and monstrous crimes as to overhear even
Faustinus, who acted rather as an advocate of the aforementioned person
than as a judge, and to prevail against what was more the zeal of a
defender, than the justice of an inquirer. For first he vehemently opposed
the whole assembly, inflicting on us many injuries, under pretence of
asserting the privileges of the Roman Church, and wishing that he should be
received into communion by us, on the ground that your Holiness, believing
him to have appealed, though unable to prove it, had restored him to
communion. But this we by no means allowed, as you will also better see by
reading the acts. After however, a most laborious inquiry carried on for
three days, during which in the greatest affliction we took cognizance of
various charges against him, God the just Judge, strong and long suffering,
cut short by a sudden stroke both the delays of our fellow-bishop Faustinus
and the evasions of Apiarius himself, by which he was endeavouring to veil
his foul enormities. For his strong and shameless obstinacy was overcome,
by which he endeavoured to cover, through an impudent denial, the mire of
his lusts, and God so wrought upon his conscience and published, even to
the eyes of men, the secret crimes which he was already condemning in that
man's heart, a very sty of wickedness, that, after his false denial he
suddenly burst forth into a confession of all the crimes he was charged
with, and at length convicted himself of his own accord of all infamies
beyond belief, and changed to groans even the hope we had entertained,
believing and desiring that he might be cleared from such shameful blots,
except indeed that it was so far a relief to our sorrow, that he had
delivered us from the labour of a longer inquiry, and by confession had
applied some sort of remedy to his own wounds, though, lord and brother, it
was unwilling, and done with a struggling conscience. Premising, therefore,
our due regards to you, we earnestly conjure you, that for the future you
do not readily admit to a hearing persons coming hence, nor choose to
receive to your communion those who have been excommunicated by us, because
you, venerable Sir, will readily perceive that this has been prescribed
even by the Nicene council. For though this seems to be there forbidden in
respect of the inferior clergy, or the laity, how much more did it will
this to be observed in the case of bishops, lest those who had been
suspended from communion in their own Province might seem to be restored to
communion hastily or unfitly by your Holiness. Let your Holiness reject, as
is worthy of you, that unprincipled taking shelter with you of presbyters
likewise, and the inferior clergy, both because by no ordinance of the
Fathers hath the Church of Africa been deprived of this authority, and the
Nicene decrees have most plainly committed not only the clergy of inferior
rank, but the bishops themselves to their own Metropolitans. For they have
ordained with great wisdom and justice, that all matters should be
terminated in the places where they arise; and did not think that the grace
of the Holy Spirit would be wanting to any Province, for the bishops of
Christ (Sacerdotibus) wisely to discern, and firmly to maintain the right:
especially since whosoever thinks himself wronged by any judgment may
appeal to the council of his Province, or even to a General Council [i.e.
of Africa] unless it be imagined that God can inspire a single individual
with justice, and refuse it to an innumerable multitude of bishops
(sacerdotum) assembled in council. And how shall we be able to rely on a
sentence passed beyond the sea, since it will not be possible to send
thither the necessary witnesses, whether from the weakness of sex, or
advanced age, or any other impediment? For that your Holiness should send
ally on your part we can find ordained by no council of Fathers. Because
with regard to what you have sent us by file same our brother bishop
Faustinus, as being contained in the Nicene Council, we can find nothing of
the kind in the more authentic copies of that council, which we have
received from the holy Cyril our brother, Bishop of the Alexandrine Church,
and from the venerable Atticus the Prelate of Constantinople, and which we
formerly sent by Innocent the presbyter, and MarcelIus the subdeacon
through whom we received them, to Boniface the Bishop, your predecessor of
venerable memory. Moreover whoever desires you to delegate any of your
clergy to execute your orders, do not comply, lest it seem that we are
introducing the pride of secular dominion into the Church of Christ which
exhibiteth to all that desire to see God the light of simplicity and the
day of humility. For now that the miserable Apiarius has been removed out
of the Church of Christ for his horrible crimes, we feel confident
respecting our brother Faustinus, that through the uprightness and
moderation of your Holiness, Africa, without violating brotherly charity,
will by no means have to endure him any longer. Lord and brother, may our
Lord long preserve your Holiness to pray for us. (1)
ANCIENT EPITOME or CANON CXXXVIII.
Those excommunicated by us, ye are not be willing to admit afterwards
to communion, according to the decree of the Nicene Synod. For Apiarius,
who restored by you, has resisted the Synod, and treated it with scorn, and
at length has been converted and confessed himself guilty with sighs and
COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE UNDER NECTARIUS OF CONSTANTINOPLE AND THEOPHILUS
Extracts from the Acts; Ancient Epitome .
In the consulate of our most religious and beloved-of-God Emperors,
Flavius Arcadius Augustus, for the third time, and Honorius for the second
time, on the third day before the calends of October, in the baptistery of
the most holy church of Constantinople, when the most holy bishops had
taken their seats [here follow the names], Nectarius, the bishop of
Constantinople, said: Since by the grace of God this synod has met in this
holy place, if the synod of my holy brethren and fellow ministers in holy
things thinks good, since I see our brothers Bagadius and Agepius, who
contend between themselves about the bishopric of Bostra, are also present,
let these begin to set forth their mutual rights. And after some things had
been done by them for the sake of this cause, and it had been shewn that
the afore-named Bagadius was deposed by only two bishops, both of whom were
dead, Arabianus, bishop of Ancyra, said: Not on account of this judgment,
but fearing henceforth for my whole life, I desire the holy Synod to make a
decree, whether or no, a bishop can be deposed by only two bishops, and
whether the Metropolitan is absent or not, without prejudice to the present
cause. For I fear that some, taking their power from these acts, may dare
to attempt such things. I wish therefore your response.
Nectarius, the bishop of Constantinople, said: The most religious
bishop Arabianus hath spoken most laudably. But since it is impossible to
go backward in judgment, let us, without condemning that which is past,
establish things for the future. Arabianus, bishop of Ancyra, said: The
synod of blessed fathers who met at Nice condemns what has taken place, for
it orders that not less than three shall ordain, nor even so without the
metropolitan. But of the future I, full of fear, have made this question. I
would wish therefore that you would say clearly and without delay or doubt,
that a bishop could not, according to the decree of the Synod of Nice,
lawfully be ordained or deposed by two men.
And, after some further debate, Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria,
said: Against those who have gone forth, no sentence of indignation can be
pronounced, since those to be condemned were not present. But if any one
were to consider those who are to be deposed in future, it seems to me that
not only these ought to assemble, but so far as possible all the other
provincials, that by the sentence of many there may be rendered a more
accurate condemnation of him who is present and is being judged, and who
deserves deposition. Nectarius, the bishop of Constantinople, said: Since,
the controversy is concerning legitimate institutions and decrees, it
follows that nothing must be decreed on account of personal causes.
Wherefore as the most holy bishop Arabianus has said, wishing to make the
future certain, the sentence of the most holy bishop Theophilus hath
consistently and considerately decreed that for the future it shall be
lawful not even for three, far less for two bishops to depose him who is
examined as a defendant: but by the sentence of the greater synod and of
the bishops of the province, according to the Apostolic Canons. Flavian,
the bishop of Antioch, said: What things the most holy bishop Nectarius,
and the most holy bishop Theophilus have set forth are clearly right. And
all the ecclesiastics agreed with these.
In future when a defendant is examined, he ought not to be deposed by
two or three bishops: but by the sentence of the greater Synod and of his
own provincials, as also the Apostolic Canons provide.
THE COUNCIL OF CARTHAGE HELD UNDER CYPRIAN, A.D. 257.
The remains of the Acts; St. Cyprian's Epistle to Januarius et al.
When very many bishops were met together at Carthage on the Calends of
September from the province of Africa, Numidia and Mauritania, with the
presbyters and deacons (the greater part of the people being likewise
present) and when the holy letters of Jubaianus to Cyprian had been read,
and Cyprian's answers to Jubaianus, concerning heretical baptisms, as well
as what the same Jubaianus afterwards wrote to Cyprian,
Cyprian said: Ye have heard, my dearly beloved colleagues, what our
fellow bishop Jubaianus has written to me, taking counsel of my littleness
concerning the illicit and profane baptisms of heretics, and the answer
which I made him; being of the same opinion as we have been on former
occasions, that heretics coming to the Church should be baptized and
sanctified with the Church's baptism. Moreover there has been read to you
also the other letter of Jubaianus, in which answering for his sincere and
pious devotion to our letter, not only he agrees therewith but offered
thanks that he has been so instructed by it. It only remains therefore that
we, each one of us, one by one, say what our mind is in this matter,
without condemning any one or removing any one from the right of communion
who does not agree with us.
For no one [of us(1)] has set himself up [to be] bishop [of bishops
],(1) or attempted with tyrannical dread to force his colleagues to
obedience to him, since every bishop has, for the license of liberty and
power, his own will, and as he cannot be judged by another, so neither can
he judge another. But we await the judgment of our universal Lord, our Lord
Jesus Christ, who one and alone hath the power, both of advancing us in the
governance of his Church, and of judging of our actions [in that position].
[ The bishops then one by one declared against heretical baptism.(2)
Last of all (col. 796)]:
Cyprian, the Confessor and Martyr of Carthage, said: The letter which
was written to Jubaianus, my colleague, most fully set forth my opinion,
that heretics who, according to the evangelical and apostolic witness, are
called adversaries of Christ's and anti-Christs, when they come to the
Church, should be baptized with the one (unico) baptism of the Church, that
they may become instead of adversaries friends, and Christians instead of
Cyprian, Liberalis, Caldonius, etc., to their brethren Januarius, etc.
When we were together in council, dearest brethren, we read the letter
which you addressed to us respecting those who are thought to be baptized
by heretics and schismatics, whether, when they come to the one true
Catholic Church, they ought to be baptized. Wherein, although ye yourselves
also hold the Catholic rule in its truth and fixedness, yet since, out of
our mutual affection, ye have thought good to consult us, we deliver not
our sentence as though new but, by a kindred harmony, we unite with you in
that long since settled by our predecessors, and observed by us; thinking,
namely, and holding for certain, that no one can be baptized without the
Church, in that there is one Baptism appointed in the holy Church, and it
is written, the Lord himself speaking, "They have forsaken me, the Fountain
of living water, and hewed them out broken cisterns that can hold no
water." Again, holy Scripture admonishes us, and says, "Keep thee from the
strange water, and drink not from a fountain of strange water." The water
then must first be cleansed and sanctified by the priest, that it may be
able, by Baptism therein, to wash away the sins of the baptized, for the
Lord says by the prophet Ezekiel, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon
you, and ye shall be cleansed from all your filthiness, and from all your
idols will I cleanse you; a new heart also will I give you, and a new
spirit will I put within you." But how can he cleanse and sanctify the
water, who is himself unclean, and with whom the Spirit is not? whereas the
Lord says in Numbers, "And whatsoever the unclean person toucheth shall be
unclean." Or how can he that baptizeth give remission of sins to another,
who cannot himself free himself from his own sins, out of the Church?
Moreover, the very interrogatory which is put in Baptism, is a witness
of the truth. For when we say, "Dost thou believe in eternal life, and
remission of sins through the holy Church?" we mean, that remission of sins
is not given, except in the Church; but that, with heretics, where the
Church is not, sins cannot be remitted. They, therefore, who claim that
heretics can baptize, let them either change the interrogatory, or maintain
the truth; unless indeed they ascribe a Church also to those who they
contend have Baptism.
Anointed also must he of necessity be, who is baptized, that having
received the chrism--that is, unction, he may be the anointed of God, and
have within him the grace of Christ. Moreover, it is the Eucharist through
which the baptized are anointed, the oil sanctified on the altar. But he
cannot sanctify the creature of oil, who has neither altar nor church.
Whence neither can the spiritual unction be with heretics, since it is
acknowledged that the oil cannot be sanctified nor the Eucharist celebrated
among them. But we ought to know and remember that it is written, "Let not
the oil of a sinner anoint my head;" which the Holy Ghost forewarned in the
Psalms, lest any, quitting the track, and wandering out of the path of
truth, be anointed by heretics and adversaries of Christ. Moreover, when
baptized, what kind of prayer can a profane priest and a sinner offer? in
that it is written, "God heareth not a sinner; but if any man be a
worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."
But who can give what himself hath not? or how can he perform spiritual
acts, who hath himself lost the Holy Spirit? Wherefore he is to be baptized
and received, who comes uninitiated to the Church, that within he may be
hallowed through the holy; for it is written, "Be ye holy, for I am holy,
saith the Lord." So that he who has been seduced into error and washed
without should, in the true Baptism of the Church, put off this very thing
also; that he, a man coming to God, while seeking for a priest, fell,
through the deceit of error, upon one profane. But to acknowledge any case
where they have baptized, is to approve the baptism of heretics and
For neither can part of what they do be void and part avail. If he
could baptize, he could also give the Holy Ghost. But if he cannot give the
Holy Ghost because, being set without, he is not with the Holy Ghost,
neither can he baptize any that cometh: for that there is both one Baptism,
and one Holy Ghost, and one Church, founded by Christ the Lord upon Peter,
through an original and principle of unity; so it results, that since all
among them is void and false, nothing that they have done ought to be
approved by us. For what can be ratified and confirmed by God, which they
do whom the Lord calls his enemies and adversaries, propounding in his
Gospel, "He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not
with me, scattereth." And the blessed Apostle John also, keeping the
commandments and precepts of the Lord, has written in his Epistle, "Ye have
heard that Antichrist shall come; even now are there many Antichrists,
whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but were
not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued
with us." Whence we, too, ought to infer and consider, whether they who are
the adversaries of the Lord, and are called Antichrists, can give the grace
of Christ. Wherefore we who are with the Lord, and who hold the unity of
the Lord, and according to this vouchsafement administer his priesthood in
the Church, ought to repudiate and reject and account as profane, whatever
his adversaries and Antichrists do; and to those who, coming from error and
wickedness, acknowledge the true faith of the one Church, we should impart
the reality of unity and faith by all the sacraments of Divine grace.
We bid you, dearest brethren, ever heartily farewell.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published
by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in
1867. (LNPF II/XIV, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The
Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.