6th Ecumenical Council: Upholding the Third Council of Constantinople

Third Council of Constantinople

Journey into the Profound Wisdom of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

Welcome to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, where we celebrate the rich heritage of our faith and invite you to discover the profound teachings of the Third Council of Constantinople. This pivotal council held between 680-681 AD, delved into the depths of Christology and affirmed the doctrine of Dyothelitism, which declares that Jesus Christ possesses two wills—divine and human—corresponding to His two natures.

Upholding the Theological Foundations of Christianity

As the sixth of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, the Third Council of Constantinople played a critical role in shaping the theological foundation of the Christian faith. By promoting adherence to the teachings of the Council, we join countless generations of believers who have embraced the truth of Jesus Christ as revealed through Scripture and the wisdom of the Church Fathers.

Insights from the Church Fathers

In the words of St. John of Damascus, a revered Church Father, “We confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, one of the Holy Trinity, is complete in His Godhead and complete in His manhood, truly God and truly man… one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation.” (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book III, Chapter 3)

Confronting the Heresy of Monothelitism

The Third Council of Constantinople arose in response to the heresy of Monothelitism, which posited that Christ had only one will. This false teaching undermined the full humanity and divinity of Christ, obscuring the true nature of His Incarnation and challenging the Church’s understanding of salvation.

St. Maximus the Confessor: Defender of Orthodoxy

St. Maximus the Confessor, a staunch defender of the Orthodox faith, valiantly opposed Monothelitism, declaring that “the human will is not destroyed in the dispensation, but is deified.” By asserting the presence of both divine and human wills in Christ, St. Maximus upheld the core belief in Christ’s dual nature, which is essential to our understanding of salvation.

Calling for the Council: St. Maximus’ Letter to Pope Agatho

In his letter to Pope Agatho, St. Maximus affirmed the necessity of the Council: “Let us hasten to the Synod, let us see the battle of the Lord, let us see the victory of the Lord.” With these words, he urged Church leaders to come together to confront and condemn Monothelitism, ultimately safeguarding the Orthodox understanding of Christ’s dual nature.

The Council’s Deliberations and Decisions

Under the guidance of Emperor Constantine IV, Pope Agatho, and Patriarch George I of Constantinople, the Third Council of Constantinople convened to address this pressing issue. Over the course of the Council, 174 bishops examined the teachings of Scripture and the Church Fathers, ultimately reaching a consensus that affirmed the doctrine of Dyothelitism and condemned Monothelitism as heresy.

The Council’s Statement on Dyothelitism

The Council issued a statement: “We confess…two natural wills in him and two natural operations, without division, without change, without separation, without confusion, according to the teaching of the holy fathers.”

The Enduring Impact of the Third Council of Constantinople

The impact of the Third Council of Constantinople cannot be overstated. By reaffirming the doctrine of Dyothelitism, the Council safeguarded the integrity of Christ’s dual nature and ensured that future generations of Christians could fully appreciate the profound mystery of the Incarnation.

Embracing the Teachings of the Council in Our Spiritual Journey

By adhering to the teachings of the Third Council of Constantinople, we continue to embrace the rich theological heritage of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. As members of this ancient and enduring faith, we strive to deepen our understanding of Christ’s dual nature, which lies at the heart of our spiritual journey.

The Transformative Power of Christ’s Dual Nature

In the words of St. Athanasius, another esteemed Church Father, “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” (On the Incarnation, 54) This profound truth reminds us that through Christ’s Incarnation and the mystery of His two natures, we have been given the hope of salvation and the promise of eternal life.

Join Us in Celebrating the Wisdom of the Third Council of Constantinople

We invite you to join us in celebrating the wisdom of the Third Council of Constantinople and the teachings of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Together, we can draw closer to the divine mystery of Christ’s Incarnation and embrace the transformative power of His dual nature in our lives.

Nurturing Faith through the Teachings of the Church Fathers

As you explore the teachings of the Third Council of Constantinople and delve into the writings of the Church Fathers, we pray that your faith will be enriched and your love for Christ deepened. May the Holy Spirit guide you on your journey as you embrace the timeless wisdom of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

The Dogmas

The main dogmas and decisions established by the Sixth Ecumenical Council are as follows:

  1. Reaffirmation of the decisions and dogmas of the previous five ecumenical councils: The Sixth Council confirmed the decisions made in the previous councils, which include the Councils of Nicaea (325), Constantinople (381), Ephesus (431), Chalcedon (451), and the Second Council of Constantinople (553).
  2. Condemnation of Monothelitism: Monothelitism was a heresy that asserted that Jesus Christ had two natures (divine and human) but only one will (divine). The council condemned this belief and declared it heretical.
  3. Affirmation of Dyothelitism: The council affirmed that Jesus Christ has two natures (divine and human) and two wills (divine and human) that are in perfect harmony. This doctrine, known as Dyothelitism, was established as the orthodox teaching on the nature of Christ.
  4. Condemnation of specific individuals: The council condemned several individuals associated with Monothelitism, including Patriarch Sergius of Constantinople, Pope Honorius I, and other church leaders who had supported the heresy.
  5. Anathematization of Monothelite texts: The council anathematized various texts that supported Monothelitism, including the “Ecthesis” and the “Typus.”
  6. Restoration of unity within the Church: The decisions of the Sixth Ecumenical Council helped to restore unity within the Church by settling the Christological controversies that had persisted for many years.

It is important to note that the dogmas and decisions of the Sixth Ecumenical Council are recognized as authoritative by the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and many Protestant churches.

The Sixth Ecumenical Council

Excerpt From The Rudder

The Holy and Ecumenical Sixth Council (which was the third one to be held in Constantinople) was held in the year 680 after Christ in the time of Constantine Pogonatus, a descendant of Heracleius, in the secret chamber of the divine palace (which chamber was called the Troullos, its proceedings and transactions being comprised in eighteen Acts (p. 527 of the second volume of the Councils). The Fathers who attended it numbered one hundred and seventy, according to Photius, Nicephorus, Nilus, and Anonymus, or three hundred and eighty-nine according to others. Among those who distinguished themselves as leaders of them were George of Constantinople; Theodore and Sergius, presbyters, together with John, a deacon, who acted as exarchs of Agatho of Rome, Peter the monk who represented the Archbishop of Alexandria, George the presbyter representing the Archbishop of Jerusalem. There were also present three bishops representing the Westerners who were assembled at that time in Rome. This Council condemned Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, and Peter, all of whom were Patriarchs of Constantinople; Honorius the Pope of Rome, Cyrus the Patriarch of Alexandria, a certain man by the name of Theodore who had served as Bishop of Faran, according to Zonaras and Balsamon, or who had been born in Faran, according to Leo II of Rome in what he wrote to the Emperor; Macarius of Antioch, together with Stephanus his disciple, and the infantile-minded old man named Polychronius, who all had dared to dogmatize by attributing a single will and predicating a single energy to and of Christ, respectively. But this Council dogmatized to the contrary that our Lord Jesus Christ, though but one person, after His incarnation possessed two natural wills and two natural energies just as He also possessed two natures — that is to say, in other words, a divine will and energy and a human will and energy, both of them being at the same time indivisible and inconflatable. For neither the Divinity nor the humanity, the two natures of Christ, remained without a will and an energy after the union. For if the peculiarities of the natures should be refuted, which are the will and the energy, the natures themselves should inevitably be refuted too, along therewith. For every nature consists of and is indentical with its natural peculiarities, and without these it could not become existent. Accordingly, this Council dogmatized, in brief, that “in the hypostasis of the God-man Logos each form acted in communion with that of the other one, which it had had as its own.” This means, in other words, that the Logos wrought that which was the function of the Logos, whereas the body performed that which was the function of the body — just as the Fourth Ecumenical Council had dogmatized, that is the say, previously by means of Leo’s letter. For, as most wise Photius says, it was not within the ability of one and the same energy to restore a cripple and to become tired of traveling afoot; to resurrect Lazarus and to weep over him; nor, again, was it within the adaptability of one and the same will to request that the cup of death might pass away from Him and to call it on the other hand His glory, and to want what was unwantable. For the first activities were due to the energy of the Divinity, whereas the second activities were due to the energy of the humanity. And conversely, the first will was that of the humanity, while the second will was that of the Divinity. But this Council too failed to promulgate any Canons.

Quinisext Ecumenical Council.

The Holy and Ecumenical Quinisext (or Quinisextine), or more properly speaking, Sixth Council was assembled in the imperial and lustrous palace called the Troullos (or, according to the Latin spelling, Trullus), in the reign of Justinian II, who was the son of Pogonatus and was surnamed Rhinotmetus (a Greek word meaning “with the nose cut off”), in the year 691 after Christ. The number of Fathers who attended it was 327 according to Balsamon and Zonaras, but 340 according to the author of the Conciliar booklet, of whom the leaders were Paul of Constantinople, Basil the Bishop of Gortyna, a province in Crete, a certain Bishop of Ravenna who acted as the legate of the Pope of Rome, Peter the Patriarch of Alexandria, Anastasius the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and George the Patriarch of Antioch. It was assembled at the command of the Emperor, not in order to examine into any special heresy, not in order to settle questions of faith, in such a way as to warrant its being called a special and separate Council, but for the purpose of promulgating necessary Canons relating to correction of outstanding evils and the regulation of the internal polity of the Church. Which Canons are the following, as confirmed by Acts 2 and 4 and 8 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council and by the latter’s Canon I. They are further confirmed by three Popes, namely, Adrian I, Gregory II, and Innocent III, by Gratian, by the legates of the Pope who were present at the Seventh Ec. C., by the so-called First-and-Second Council, which mentions its c. XXXI in its own c. XII. They are also confirmed or attested by Cedrenus, by John of Damacus (or John Damascene), who says, “consult the definitions of the Sixth Council and you will find there the proof.” They were also confirmed or attested by the interpreters of the Canons, by Photius, by the personal signatures both of the Emperor and of the legates of the Pope of Rome, as well as those of the Patriarchs and of the Fathers who attended it. Thus, summarily speaking, it may be said to have been attested and confirmed by the whole catholic Church, notwithstanding that the modern Latins calumiously traduce them because they censure and controvert their innovations. Adrian I in his letter to Tarasius has left us this admirable testimony concerning these Canons in the following words: “I accept the decisions made by the same holy Sixth Council, together with all the Canons it has duly and divinely uttered, wherein they are expressed.” In certain inscriptions of the venerable icons is to be found added also the whole text of its eighty-second Canon (p. 747 of the Collection of the Councils). Pope Gregory in his letter to St. Germanus (which is recorded in Act 4 of the Seventh Ec. C.) says in reference to this same Canon of the present Sixth Council: “Wherefore the assembly of the holy men have delivered this chapter to the Church by God’s design as a matter of the greatest salvation.” Note, too, the fact that he called this Council a holy assembly and said that its Canons were issued by God’s design. But the testimony of Patriarch Tarasius concerning these Canons is sufficient to shut and gag the mouths of the adversaries. In fact it is rather the testimony of the entire Seventh Ecumenical Council and runs word for word as follows: “Some men who are painfully ignorant in regard to these Canons are scandalized and blatantly say, ‘We wonder whether they really are Canons of the Sixth Council.’ Let such men become conscious of the fact that the holy and great Sixth Council was convoked in the reign of Constantine against those who were asserting the energy and the will of Christ to be a single energy and a single will, and that the bishops who attended it anathematized the heretics and stated clearly and emphatically the Orthodox faith, after which they left for home in the year fourteen of Constantine’s reign. Thereafter, however, let it not be forgotten that . . . the same Fathers gathered themselves together in the reign of Constantine’s son Justinian and promulgated the aforementioned Canons, and let no one have any doubt about them. For those who signed their names in the reign of Constantine are the same ones as those who signed their names to the present paper in the reign of Justinian, as becomes plainly evident from the exact likeness of their respective signatures as written by their own hands. For it was incumbent on them after declaring an Ecumenical Council to proceed to promulgate also ecclesiastical Canons (Act 4 of the Seventh Ec. C., p. 780 of the second volume of the Collection of Canons).” In the same Act 4 of the 7th it is written that this very same identical and original paper, which had been signed by the Fathers of the present Sixth Council, was read aloud to the Seventh Ec. C. Peter the Bishop of Nicomedeia stated, though, that there was also another book containing the present Canons of the Sixth Council (see also Dositheus p. 603 to p. 618 of the Dodecabiblus).


1. In beginning either a discourse or an action of any kind the thoughtful find it best to begin with God, and to rely upon God, in accordance with the utterance of the Theologian. Hence, inasmuch as we have already preached piety in a clarion voice, and the Church in which Christ has been laid as the foundation is continually growing apace and waxing more and more capable, insomuch that it may be said to have outgrown the cedars of Lebanon, and now in commencing a recital of sacred words, by divine grace we decree that the faith which has been handed down to us shall be and remain exempt from any and every innovation and mutilation just as it has been delivered to us by those who have been both eye-witness and servants of the word of the God-approved Apostles, and further by the three hundred and eighteen holy and blissful Fathers who convened in Nicaea in the reign of Constantine, who became our Emperor, against ungodly Arius and the heathenish deity of a diverse god, or one might more aptly say of a multitude of diverse gods, which was dogmatized by him; and who in their unanimous consensus of opinion regarding the faith revealed and stated to us with convincing clearness the fact that the three hypostases of the thearchic nature are of the same essence, without allowing this important point to remain hidden under a bushel of ignorance, but, on the contrary, openly taught the faithful outright to adore the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit with one adoration, and deposed and denounced the opinion that divinity if of unequal grades (or ranks), and efficiently overthrew and demolished the puerile toys which the heretics had built up and erected upon sand in opposition to Orthodoxy. Likewise it is to be noted that we are determined to strengthen as much as we can the faith which was proclaimed by the one hundred and fifty Holy Fathers who convened in the Imperial City itself in the reign of Theodosius the Great, who also became our Emperor, embracing the utterance of the Theologian and driving out profane Macedonius along with previous enemies of the truth, on the ground that he impudently and arrogantly opined the head of lordship to be a servant and slave, and as having preferred as a matter of choice to split the indivisible unit in robber fashion, as though the mystery of the hope were not sufficient to sustain us. Along with this abominable fellow who waxed rabid against the truth they courageously condemned also Apolinarius the monstrous initiate of wickedness and vice, who vomited forth an ungodly view proclaiming the Lord to have been taken up in body without a mind and without a soul, so that it is hence evident that he too was addicted to the unwelcome conclusion that we have been left with an imperfect hope of salvation. But as a matter of fact we also gladly ratify the teachings set forth by the God-bearing Fathers who earlier assembled themselves in the city of Euphesus in the reign of Theodosius, who was the son of Arcadius and who also became our Emperor, and we hold them to be an unbreakable and mighty power of piety, preaching one Christ the Son of God who became incarnate, and the intemerate Ever-Virgin who seedlessly gave birth to Him, holding her to have been properly speaking (Note of Translator. — Lest the exact meaning of this exceedingly important phrase be lost upon the unwary reader, it may not be amiss here to state that it would be more usually expressed in ordinary English by the word literally) and “in truth a Theotocos” (i.e., when interpreted into plain English, “a woman who gives birth to God or to a god”), and driving away into banishment the driveling dissension of Nestorius on the ground that it has lost all contact with the Divine Oracle, while at the same time it seeks to renew the prevalence of Jewish ungodliness and aversion to piety, and we dogmatize the one Christ to be human being in due form and a God in due form. But we do not stop here. We Orthodoxly confirm the faith which was engrossed upon a pillar in the Metropolis of the Chalcedonians in the reign of Marcianus, who also became our Emperor, by the six hundred and thirty God-approved Fathers, which conveyed to the ends of the earth in a loud voice the one Christ the Son of God composed of two natures and in these two same natures glorified; and we have driven out of the sacred precincts of the Church Eutyches the vain-minded, who declared it to be his opinion that great mystery of the Economy was only seemingly consummated, as something sinister and miasmatic, and along with him also Dioscorus and Nestorius, the former being a defender and champion of dissension, the latter of confusion, and both of them being diametrically opposite outlets of impiety, fallen out in the same direction towards one and the same yawning chasm of perdition and godlessness. But neither do we stop here. We take the pious utterances of the one hundred and sixty-five God-bearing Fathers who assembled upon the ground of this Imperial City in the reign of Justinian, who became our Emperor and who passed away at the termination of his pious career, and, recognizing them to have been inspired and uttered by the (Holy) Spirit, we teach them outright to our posterity; which Fathers indeed as a Council anathematized and consigned to abomination Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius, and in addition Origen and Didymus and Evagrius, who joined hands in refashioning the Greek myths and recounting to us periods and mutations of certain bodies and souls, prompted by raptures and hallucinations of the mind, and in drunken revelry impiously exulting over the resurrection of the dead; as well as what had been written by Theodoret against the right faith and correct belief and against the twelves heads (or chapters) of blissful Cyril; and also the so-called letter of Ibas. And again we faithfully join together in the promise and vow to preserve and safeguard and keep inviolable the faith declared by the Sixth holy Council recently assembled on the grounds of this Imperial City in the reign of Constantine, who became our Emperor and passed away at the termination of his divine career, and which received still greater validity by virtue of the fact that the pious Emperor himself sealed up the volumes containing it by impressing them with his own seals with a view to ensuring their safety in every succeeding age; and which has with the love of God clearly enabled us to entertain an Orthodox conception of the straightforward dogma which they outlined of the truth that there were and are two natural wills, or, that is to say, wishes, and two natural energies inherent in the incarnate economy of our one Lord Jesus, the true God; and which Council by a vote of piety condemned those who teach their laities outright the doctrine of a single will and of a single energy inherent in our one Lord and God Jesus Christ, among whom we cite by name Theodore the Bishop of Faran, Cyrus (the Patriarch) of Alexandria, Honorius (the Pope) of Rome, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Peter, all four of whom have acted as presiding chairmen in this God-guarded city, Macarius who became the Bishop of the Antiochians, Stephanus his disciple, and foolish (or witless) Polychronius. Hence we solemnly decree that this Council, while preserving intact the common body of Christ our God, and, succinctly speaking, of all the men who have distinguished themselves in the Church of God and have become luminaries in the world, “holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:16), is committed to holding the faith firm and sure, even till the consummation of the age, and that it shall remain immutable and unaltered, as well as their God-imparted writings and dogmas; and rejecting and anathematized, on the ground that its authors were enemies of the truth, and snortingly and ravingly uttered vain things against God and made injustice and unrighteousness the highest objects of their study and meditation. If, however, there be anyone in the world who does not care to hold and embrace the aforesaid dogmas of piety, and believe and preach thus, but, on the contrary, attempts to by-pass them, let him be anathema, in accordance with the definition (or rule) already previously promulgated by the aforesaid holy and blissful Fathers, and let him be erased and expunged from the Christian Roll like an alien, and as one not belonging to our faith. For we are fully resolved and have been determined not to add anything to or to remove anything from what has previously been decreed, or any words whatsoever that we have been able to understand.


This first Canon was not explained by Zonaras, nor by Balsamon. The result is that there is nothing else than a brief summary both of the dogmas and of the definitions (or rules) of the faith of the holy and ecumenical six Councils which were held before this present Council was held; and of those heretics against whom each one of them was held, as well as the time and place in which each was held. And not only a repetition, but also a ratification of their dogmas. Hence, following those same interpreters, as concerns the definitions and dogmas of the said holy Councils, and the times and places, and above all the heretics against whom each of them was held, we refer readers to the original sources of the Canons of each Council, where they will learn about them in greater detail. We do this in order to avoid repeating here in vain what is said there. We shall therefore confine ourselves to elucidating only a few words which are not so easily intelligible to the unlearned. We proceed, therefore, to note that, starting with a maxim of St. Gregory the Theologian, which says that it is the best policy for one who is about to commence any discourse or work to begin with God, and to end with God (Note of Translator. — This sounds plausible and may be true, although the Greek text of the Canon does not strictly say “end,” but instead employs the Greek word signifying “repose,” for which in my translation of the Canon I substituted the English word rely as better adapted to the English idiom). It decrees that there shall be no innovation or alteration in the faith which has been imparted and handed down both by the Holy Apostles and by the Fathers of the First Council (who were the ones that abolished the doctrine of the deity of a diverse god, or rather to say the doctrine of the deity of a multitude of diverse gods, of Arius; and who proclaimed that the Holy Trinity is coessential (or homousian), or, in other words, of the same essence and nature), and by the Fathers of the Second Council (whose theological utterances the Fathers of this Council assert that they embrace. These are those which were added by the Second Council into the Symbol of the Faith in regard to the Theology of the Holy Spirit. For in proximity to “the Holy Spirit,” which were words of the First Council, this Council added the words “the Lordly, the Life-producing, which Proceeds out of the Father, and which is adored and glorified together with the Father and The Son, which hath spoken through the Prophets”), and by the Fathers of the Third and Fourth, and Fifth, and Sixth Council; and, briefly speaking, the Fathers of the present Council solemnly decree that the faith shall remain firm and sure, and immutable and unaltered, even to the consummation (or finish) of the age, as well as the God-imparted dogmas of all the Holy Men who have shone in the Church of God and who have stood in the world as life-giving luminaries. And they too join hands in anathematizing all those enemies of the truth, the heretics, that is to say, whom their predecessors had anathematized. At the same time they go on to state this, that they neither know how nor can by any means whatever add anything to or remove anything from the dogmas of their predecessors. Furthermore, as for anyone who fails to keep the aforesaid Holy Fathers’ dogmas of piety, and who neither believes them with his mind nor preaches them with his tongue, but, on the contrary, tries to oppose them, let him be anathema, they say, and be removed and wiped off the Roll of the Christians, as an alien person and rotten member.

2. This too has appeared best to the this holy Council, as well as most important, that the 85 Canons handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles, and as a matter of fact accepted and validated by the holy and blissful Fathers preceding us, be henceforth retained and left firm and secure for the care of souls and the cure of diseases. But inasmuch as we are ordered in these Canons to accept the Injunctions of the same holy Apostles (as transmitted) through Clemens, into some of which certain spurious passages destitute of piety have been interpolated long ago by the heterodox to the detriment of the Church, arid have tarnished the becoming and natural beauty of the divine dogmas for us, we have suitably weeded out such ordinances in furtherance of the edification and security of the most Christian flock, not in the least way being minded to approve the fantastic inventions of heretical mendacity that have been inserted in the genuine and uncorrupted didache (or teaching) of the Apostles. On the other hand, we ratify all the rest of the sacred Canons promulgated by our holy and blissful Fathers, to wit: the three hundred and eighteen foregathered in Nicaea, those convened in Ancyra, and furthermore also those who met in Neocaesarea, likewise those who attended the meeting in Gangra, but in addition to these also those who convened in Antioch, Syria, and furthermore also those who held a Council in Laodicea; further, again, the one hundred and fifty who convened in this God-guarded and imperial capital city, .and the two hundred who assembled at an earlier time in the metropolis of Ephesus, and the six hundred and thirty holy and blissful Fathers who met in Chalcedon. Likewise those who convened in Sardica; furthermore those in Carthage. Further and in addition to all these those now again convened in this God-guarded and imperial capital city in the time of Nectarius the president of this imperial capital city, and of Theophilus who became Archbishop of Alexandria. Furthermore also of Dionysius who became Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria, and of Peter who became Archbishop of Alexandria and a Martyr withal, and of Gregory the Thaumaturgus (or Miracle-worker) who became Bishop of Neocaesarea, of Athanasius the Archbishop of Alexandria, of Basil the Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, of Gregory of Nyssa, of Gregory the Theologian, of Amphilochius the Archbishop of Iconium, Timothy a former Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria, of Theophilus an Archbishop of the great city of the Alexandrians, of Cyril an Archbishop of Alexandria, and of Gennadius who became a Patriarch of this God-guarded imperial capital city. Furthermore, the Canon promulgated by Cyprian who became an Archbishop of the country of Africa and a martyr, and by the Council supporting him, who alone held sway in the places of the aforesaid presidents, in accordance with the custom handed down to them; and no one shall be permitted to countermand or set aside the Canons previously laid down, or to recognize and accept any Canons, other than the ones herein specified, that have been composed under a false inscription by certain persons who have taken in hand to barter the truth. If, nevertheless, anyone be caught innovating with regard to any of the said Canons, or attempting to subvert it, he shall be responsible in respect of that Canon and shall receive the penance which it prescribes and be chastised by that Canon which he has offended.


Since at every Council, and especially one that was Ecumenical, there was also a definition within which were comprised the dogmas of the faith, and Canons were composed in writing to serve in the way of contributions to the polity and good order of the Church, therefore and on this account, after having ratified and confirmed in its Canon I the definitions of the faith of the holy and Ecumenical Councils (preceding it), the present Council now in this Canon II ratifies and confirms also a) the Canons of the Holy Apostles, numbering eighty-five in all, which it says that the Fathers preceding it accepted and sanctioned (for it excludes the Apostolic Injunctions transmitted through Clement, because they had been garbled in certain parts by heterodox heretics to the injury of the Church, for the security of Christians. Nevertheless today, as they are found formulated, they appear to me to contain nothing improper or spurious. See concerning them also in Ap. c. LXXXV). b) Those of the four (previous) Ecumenical Councils. c) Those of the regional Councils and local Synods named. And d) those of the Holy Fathers individually, each by name. It goes on to add that no one has permission or any right whatever to corrupt or to refuse to recognize and accept any of the Canons previously mentioned, or to accept others instead thereof that have been given false titles. If, nevertheless, anyone should appear to be attempting to corrupt them, or to suppress any Canon among them, he is to receive the penalty prescribed by that Canon which he corrupts or suppresses. That is to say, in other words, if the Canon in question contains and prescribes excommunication, or deposition, or anathema, he that corrupts or suppresses it is to suffer these penalties, in order to compensate for his offense by paying the penalty fixed by the very Canon which he has violated. Read also Ap. c. LXXXV, c. I of the 4th, and the Prolegomena to the Apostolic Canons.

3. Whereas our Pious and Christ-loving Emperor, in his address to this holy and Ecumenical Council, has suggested that those enlisted the Clergy and conveying to others the Divine truths should be pure and faultless ministers, and worthy of the intellectual sacrifice of the great God and victim and high priest, and eliminate the hatred due to friction resulting from illicit marriages; and, in addition to this, seeing that the most holy Church of the Romans is disposed to observe the Canon of strict conformity; while, on the other hand, we under the throne of this God-guarded and imperial capital city, have neither carried meekness to excess nor have left on acrid impression of austerity; and especially in view of the fact that failure due to ignorance extends to a multitude of not a few men — therefore we concur in decreeing that, as regards bigamists who have been enslaved to sin and have not chosen to recede therefrom, as of the fifteenth day of the month of January last past, in the last fourth Indiction, in the year six thousand one hundred and ninety, they are to be subjected to canonical deposition; but as for those bigamists who have taken cognizance of their own interest before we had notice of their doing anything wrong, and who cut out the evil besetting them, and chased this foreign and spurious engagement far away; or even those whose wives by a second marriage have died, if they too have seen their way to return to good sense after later learning sobriety, and have quickly come to forget their former misdeeds and violations of the law, whether they happen to be Presbyters or Deacons — it has seemed best to us for these men to be dismissed from every sacerdotal office, or priestly activity, having already been penanced for an express length of time. But we have decided that in the case of those who have committed the iniquitous act unwittingly and who are weeping to the Lord to be pardoned therefor, they deserve to share in the honor of standing and sitting in the place reserved for the presidency: for to bless one that ought to take care of his own wounds is inconsistent. But, on the other hand, as for those who have contracted but one marriage, and this with a woman that was a widow, and likewise as for those who after ordination have involved themselves in an illegal marriage, that is to say, Presbyters and Deacons and Subdeacons, not long ago excluded from the sacred liturgy and penanced, we order them to be restored to their former ranks, without being in any way promoted to any higher rank, it being obvious that their illegal marriage has been dissolved. We have made these decrees effective as of the said fifteenth day of the month of January, in the fourth Indiction, in regard to those guilty of the offenses before specified and in priestly offices; but besides this we henceforth decree and renew the Canon prescribing that anyone who has become involved in two marriages after baptism, or has acquired a concubine, “cannot become a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or anything else in the roll of the priesthood. Likewise in regard to anyone that has taken a widow, or a divorcee, or a harlot, or house servant, or an actress to wife, we decree that he cannot be a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or anything else in the roll of the priesthood.”


The Fathers of the present Council, both correcting the evil condition then obtaining, and securing matters as respecting the future, issued the present “economic” Canon. For inasmuch as the Emperor had asked them to cleanse those in holy orders at that time from the uncleanliness of illicit marriages, and unlawful ones, into which they had fallen; and, on the one hand, the legates and representatives of Rome had proposed that the strict letter of the Canons be observed in regard to them, while, on the other hand, the bishops under the Patriarch of Constantinople were disposed to allow them some leniency and philanthropy, they themselves, deeming it wise to conjoin both — to temper strictness, I mean, with leniency — (and especially in view of the fact that a great number of those then in holy orders had fallen into marriages unwittingly as a result of ignorance), on account of the Emperor’s request, they decreed that, as concerning all those in holy orders who had married a second time and had remained unrepentant down to the time of this Council, and had not abandoned the illegal marriages, they were to be deposed altogether and to be made laymen. All those, on the other hand, who were bigamists in holy orders — Presbyters, that is to say, or Deacons — before the Council was held, and who had repented and had abandoned that illegal marriage, or who had returned to sobriety and repentance because of their second wives’ having died, they, I say, it was judged reasonable for them to cease officiating or performing any functions in connection with the duties of holy orders for a certain length of time, but to participate in the honor outside the sanctuary of sitting and standing with those in holy orders, while weeping to God to be pardoned for the iniquitous act which they had committed as a result of their own ignorance, and not blessing anyone. For it is not fitting anyone to bestow a blessing upon others when he himself ought to be healing the wounds of his soul through the process of repentance, just as c. XXVII of St. Basil the Great says. All those Presbyters, again, Deacons, and Subdeacons, on the other hand, who have taken a widow to wife, or who, after being ordained, married likewise too, after being suspended from every sacred office for a short while, are again to perform the duties of their priestly offices; yet they are not to be elevated to any higher rank, but each one of them is to stay in the rank in which he happened to be at the time when he was suspended. This, however, is to occur only after they have dissolved the illegal marriages. Having decreed these things “economically,” and as a matter of leniency, these Fathers, in regard to those in holy orders previously mentioned, henceforth renew, or, in other words, vote for the continuance in force of, Canons XVII and XVIII of the Holy Apostles, that is to say, those which they set forth verbatim — the Interpretation of which see, together with that of Ap. c. XIX.

4. If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or Subdeacon, or Anagnost (Reader), or Psalt (Chanter), or Janitor (Doorkeeper), has (carnal) intercourse with any woman that has been consecrated to God, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he has contributed to the delinquency of a bride of God. If, on the other hand, he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(Ap. c. XXV; c. IX of the 4th; c. XVI of the 4th; cc. XXI, XL, XLIV, XLV of the 6th; c. XIX of Ancyra; c. IX of Neocaesarea; cc. III, VI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XXXII, LI, LX, LXX of Basil.)


The present Canon deposes clergymen who commit fornication with a woman consecrated to God — that is to say, more explicitly speaking, a nun; but it excommunicates laymen who do this or have done this: the reason being that it regards them as having corrupted and violated a bride of the bridegroom of souls Christ the God, whether she had been a virgin thitherto, or had become a nun, or was even a widow. But those in holy orders and clergymen are deposed from office not only if they commit fornication with a nun, but even if they commit fornication with a lay-woman. Read also Ap. c. XXV and c. XVI of the 4th.

5. Let no one on the sacerdotal list acquire a woman or housemaid except persons mentioned in the Canon as being above suspicion, but let him safeguard his reputation in this respect. Let even eunuchs safeguard themselves in this very same situation too, by providing themselves with a blameless character. As for those who transgress this injunction, if they are Clergymen, let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen let them be excommunicated.

(c. III of the 1st; cc. XVIII, XXII of the 7th; c. XIX of Ancyra; c. XLV of Carthage; and c. LXXXIX of Basil.)


What the present Canon decrees is the following. Let none of those in holy orders who are living modestly have a woman staying in their house, or a servant girl, unless she be among those specified in a Canon as being above suspicion — this refers to c. III of the First Ec. C. — such persons being a mother and a sister and an aunt; so as to keep himself from becoming liable to incur blame from either the father or the mother in relation to the laity. Anyone among persons that transgresses this Canon, let him be deposed from office. Likewise eunuchs, too, must keep themselves safe from any accusation against them, and therefore let them not dwell together with suspicious persons. In case they dare to do this, if they are clergymen (as having been involuntarily, that is to say, or by nature made eunuchs), let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated. Read also c. III of the First Ec. C.

6. Inasmuch as it has been declared in the Apostolic Canons that of those being promoted to the Clergy only Anagnosts and Psalts may marry, we too, in keeping with this prohibition, decree that henceforth no Subdeacon, or Deacon, or Presbyter at all, after the ordination bestowed upon him, has permission to contract a matrimonial relationship for himself: if he should dare to do this, let him be deposed from office. But if anyone wants to contract a legal marriage with a woman before being admitted to the Clergy as a Subdeacon, or a Deacon, or Presbyter previous to ordination, let him do so.

(Ap c. XXVI; cc. XIV, XV of the 4th; c. XIII of Ancyra; and cc. XIX, XXXIII of Carthage.)


Since Canon XXVI of the Holy Apostles decrees that only Anagnosts and Psalts may marry after being ordained, the Fathers of this Council confirm that Canon by means of the present, and decree that from now on no Subdeacon, or Deacon, or Presbyter, after being ordained shall be permitted to marry. If he should do so anyhow, let him be deposed. But if any of these wants to marry, let him marry before being ordained a subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter.

7. Since we have learned that Deacons having ecclesiastical offices in some of the churches have hence had the impudence and self-assertion to sit down ahead of the Presbyters, we decree that no matter in what office, that is to say, ecclesiastical position, a Deacon may happen to be, he must not sit down before the presbyter does so, unless he is acting as the personal representative of his own Patriarch or Metropolitan and has come to another city on some errand. For then, on the ground that he is filling the place of the latter, he shall be honored. If, nevertheless, anyone should dare to do such a thing, by resorting to tyrannical audacity, let that person, after being deprived of his proper rank, become the lowest of all those who belong to the list in which he is enrolled, in the church to which he belongs, in view of the fact that our Lord admonishes not to enjoy being called the first, according to the teaching of our Lord and God Himself as found in the Gospel of the Evangelist St. Luke. (Luke 14:7). For he told those called something like the following parable: “When you have been invited by anybody to a wedding, do not take your seat at the first call, lest someone else more honorable than you have been invited by him, and when he who has invited both you and him comes, he tell you bluntly, ‘Give this man your seat’; and then to your shame you will begin taking the last seat in the house. But, instead, when you have been invited, slump into the last seat, so that, when the host comes round, he may say to you: ‘Friend, take a better seat.’ Then glory wilt be yours in the midst of those making up the rest of the company: since whoever exalteth himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The same rule shall be observed also with respect to the other sacred orders, since we know spiritual dignities to be superior to mundane offices.

(c. XVIII of the 1st; c. XX of Laodicea.)


The present Canon decrees that since some deacons, on account of their having ecclesiastical offices (which are called “incumbencies” and “positions of honor,” and “benefices” (i.e., sources of income), according to Balsamon (such as are, for instance, those of clerical magnates — like the grand Steward, that is to say, the grand Sacellarius, Skevophylax, Chartophylax, the lesser Sacellarius, and the Protecdicus), wax audacious and sit down ahead of Presbyters, henceforth no deacon, in whatever ecclesiastical office he may be, has any right to take his seat ahead of the Presbyter, except only in case he should happen to be acting as the agent and personal representative of a Patriarch or Metropolitan, sent to another region, on any ecclesiastical matter. For in such a case as that he will be given the preference and precedence over all Presbyters, not because he is a deacon, but because he is acting in the place of a Patriarch or Metropolitan, as we have said. Any deacon that, assuming tyrannical audacity and impudence, goes right ahead and sits down before the Presbyter does, shall, if so be he has precedence over the rest of the deacons, become the last and least and lowest of all deacons. For the Lord teaches us not to enjoy first and highest seats of honor, in the sacred Gospel of St. Luke, wherein He says: “For he himself used to tell them such a parable as this when they were invited to suppers and dinners: ‘Man, when you are invited by anybody to a wedding, don’t sit down in the first place, lest there be some other guest who is your superior, and the host who has invited both him and you come round and tell you unceremoniously, “Give this man the seat you have taken so that he may sit down.” And then you will shamefacedly retire to the lowest and least honorable seat. But, instead of incurring such a predicament, when you are invited, sit down in the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, “My friend, take a higher and better seat for yourself, and sit down, and make yourself at ease.” And then you will be enveloped in a halo of glory before the glances of all those sitting at the table. For anyone that tries to exalt himself shall be humbled and humiliated, but anyone that humbles himself shall be exalted. But not only must deacons not take precedence of Presbyters and sit down ahead of them, but neither must any of the lower members of holy orders and lower clerical ranks presume to sit down ahead of the higher ranks; that is to say, neither Subdeacons ahead of Deacons, nor Anagnosts ahead of Subdeacons: since if in relation to secular and mundane office, those of lower dignity do not take their seats in advance of those of higher dignity, nor have they the preference and precedence of honor over their superiors, who have a higher office or higher dignity, far more ought this to be observed as an inviolable principle in the case of spiritual dignities and office bestowed as gifts by the divine grace of the Spirit, which dignities and offices are superior to and higher than the mundane. Read also c. XVIII of the First Ec. C.

8. With a desire to hold fast to whatever our Holy Fathers have decreed, in everything, we hereby renew the Canon prescribing that synods or councils of the Bishops in each province must be held every year, in whatever place the Bishop of the Metropolis may designate. But since on account of incursions of barbarians and on account of other incidental causes, the presidents of the churches find it impossible to hold synods or councils twice a year, it has seemed best for a synod or council of the aforementioned Bishops to be held by all means once a year for ecclesiastical matters that naturally arise in every province, to last from the festival of Holy Easter till the end of the month of October in each year, in the locality which the Bishop of the Metropolis, as we have said, shall designate. As for those Bishops who fail to attend the meeting, but who, instead of doing so, remain at home in their respective cities, leading their lives therein in good health and free from every indispensable and necessary occupation, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way.

(Ap. c. XXXVII; c. V of the 1st; c. XIX of the 4th; c. VI of the 7th; c. XX of Antioch; cc. XXVI, LXXXI, LXXXIV, LXXXV, and CIV of Carthage.)


These Fathers confirm and renew the Canon of the Holy Fathers preceding them which commands that two synods or councils be held in each province every year. But inasmuch as the prelates find it difficult to assemble twice a year, on account of incursions and fears of barbarian foes, and on account of other occasional circumstances, they command that a synod of Bishops be held in any event and by all means once a year in each province (or eparchy), for the purpose of considering and correcting or adjusting ecclesiastical matters that come up. This synod, or council, has to be held, as respects the time, from Holy Easter to the end of the month of October, and as respects the place, wherever the Metropolitan of each province (or eparchy) may deem it advisable. As for any bishops that remain in their bishoprics, and are in good health, and free from every necessary care, and fail to present themselves at the meeting of the synod, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way. Read also Ap. c. XXXVII.

9. No clergyman shall be allowed to operate a tavern or dramshop. For if such a person is not permitted to enter a tavern, much less is he permitted to serve others in one and do what it is not lawful for him to engage in. But assuredly if he should perpetrate such an enormity, let him either be suspended, or be deposed from office.

(Ap. cc. XLII, XLIII, LIV; c. XXII of the 7th; c. XXIV of Laodicea; cc. XVIII, XLVII, and LXIX of Carthage.)


The present Canon decrees that it is not permissible for any clergyman to own or operate a tavern or dramshop of any kind, and to serve therein. For, if it is not permissible for him even to enter taverns at all, it is still less permissible for him to stay in one and serve customers and do things that are not in keeping with his profession. As for anyone that should employ himself in such a capacity, let him either be suspended or else be deposed. If, on the other hand, he owns a tavern, but employs others to serve in it, this does not amount to causing him any harm or impediment, according to Zonaras. It is better, however, for him to sell it, and buy some other more decent property that is more in keeping with the profession of clergyman. Read also Ap. c. XLII.

10. Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon who takes interest, or what is called a percentage, on money either cease doing so or be deposed from office.

(Ap. c. XLIV; c. XVII of the 1st; c. IV of Laodicea; cc. V, XX of Carthage; c. XIV of Basil.)


As for any bishop (says the present Canon), or any presbyter, or any deacon, that charges interest on money which he has lent, or takes twelve or six per cent, say, for the use of money, let him either cease doing so or be deposed from office. Read also Ap. c. XLIV.

11. Let no one enrolled in the sacerdotal list, or any layman, eat the unleavened wafers manufactured by the Jews, or in any way become familiar with the Jews or call them in case of sickness, or take any medicines from them, or even bathe with them in public bathing beaches or bathhouses. If anyone should attempt to do this, in case he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; or, in case he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The present Canon commands that no person in holy orders and no layman may eat any unleavened wafers sent him by Jews, nor indeed be in any way friendly with Jews, nor when he finds himself ill may he call them and take their remedies, or even bathe writh them in baths and bathing places. In case anyone should do this, or any of these things, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated. Read also Ap. cc. VII and LXX.

12. And this too has come to our knowledge, that both in Africa and Libya and other regions the most God-beloved Presidents there continue living with their own wives even after the ordination has been conferred upon them, and will not abandon their wives, thus becoming an object of offense and a scandal to others. We have therefore made it a matter of great concern to us to do everything possible for the benefit of the flocks under hand, and it has seemed best not to allow such a thing to occur hereafter at all. We assert this, however, not with any intention of setting aside or overthrowing any legislation laid down Apostolically, but having due regard for the salvation and safety of peoples and for their better advancement with a view to avoiding any likelihood of giving anyone cause to blame the priestly polity. For the divine Apostle says: “Do all for the glory of God. Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God: even as I try to please all men in everything, without seeking any advantage of mine own, but the advantage of the many in order that they may be saved. Become ye imitators of me, just as I also am (an imitator) of Christ” (1 Cor. 10:32–33 and 11:1). If anyone should be shown to be doing this, let him be deposed from office.


Since we have learned that in Africa and Libya (either two names are applied to the same region, since one of the four continents of the earth which is situated to the south was formerly called Libya, and the name was afterwards changed to Africa, according to Chrysanthus, or else the name Libya is applied generally to the whole of that continent, and the name Africa to a particular province contained therein, according to Meletius), and in other regions, the prelates there, even after being ordained, keep on living with their wives, and thus cause others a scandal. Hence we are making it our serious business to do everything possible that is calculated to contribute to the common benefit of the Christians who are being pastured and shepherded by us, and to this end we decree that from now on no prelate may live with his wife after he has been ordained. We decree this, not with a view to overthrowing and setting aside so much the common Canon of the Apostles, their c. V, that is to say, which excommunicates any bishop who on the pretext of reverence forcibly separates his wife, as the injunction which St. Paul addresses specially to Titus in saying: “Ordain elders (or presbyters) in every city, as I have appointed thee, if any be blameless, the husband of one wife” (Titus 1:5–6) (in this passage the word “elders” means bishops, according to St. Chrysostom, since a bishop also takes the name of elder, as we have said previously at the beginning of Ap. c. I. This fact is plainly evident also from what the Apostle goes on to say, when he adds “For a bishop must be blameless,” etc.): no, I say, we decree this not by way of refuting them, but by way of providing for their salvation, and for the advancement of Christians to a state of greater perfection, and to prevent their causing any accusation against the prelacy. For though prelates may live with their wives in sobriety and continence, yet the common people are scandalized and are inclined to accuse them, supposing the contrary to be the actual result of their living together in such a manner. The divine Apostle commands that whatever we do we must do it for the glory of God, and that we must not become a scandal to Jews and Greeks and Christians. Just as I, says he, try to please all persons by not seeking my own interest, but that of the multitude, that they may be saved, “become ye imitators of me, just as also I am an imitator of Christ.” If any of the prelates is living with his wife, let him be deposed. See also Ap. c. V.

13. Since we have learned that in the church of the Romans it is regarded as tantamount to a canon that ordinands to the deaconry or presbytery must solemnly promise to have no further intercourse with their wives. Continuing, however, in conformity with the ancient canon of apostolic rigorism and orderliness, we desire that henceforward the lawful marriage ties of sacred men become stronger, and we are nowise dissolving their intercourse with their wives, nor depriving them of their mutual relationship and companionship when properly maintained in due season, so that if anyone is found to be worthy to be ordained a Subdeacon, or a Deacon, or a Presbyter, let him nowise be prevented from being elevated to such a rank while cohabiting with a lawful wife. Nor must he be required at the time of ordination to refrain from lawful intercourse with his own wife, lest we be forced to be downright scornful of marriage, which was instituted by God and blessed by His presence, as attested by the unequivocal declaration of the Gospel utterance: “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6); and the Apostle’s teaching: “Marriage is honorable, and the bed is undefiled” (Heb. 13:4), and: “Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be freed” (1 Cor. 7:27). We are cognizant, though, that those who met in Carthage and made provision of decency in the life of ministers declared that Subdeacons and Deacons and Presbyters, busying themselves as they do with the sacred mysteries, according to their rules are obliged to practice temperance in connection with their helpmates, in order that we may likewise keep the injunction handed down through the Apostles, and continued from ancient times in force, well knowing that there is a proper season for everything, and especially for fasting and praying. For those who assist in the ceremonies at the sacrificial altar have to be temperate in all things at the time when they are handling holy things, so that they may be able to gain whatever they ask God for. If, therefore, anyone acting contrary to the Apostolic Canons require any person who is in sacred orders — any Presbyter, we mean, or Deacon, or Subdeacon — to abstain from intercourse and association with his lawful wife, let him be deposed from office. Likewise, if any Presbyter or Deacon expel his own wife on the pretext of reverence, let him be excommunicated; and if he persist, let him be deposed from office.


What the present Canon decrees is this. Since we have learned that in Rome it is kept as inviolable canon that those who are about to become deacons and presbyters must promise and agree at the time of ordination that after the ordination they will have intercourse with their wives no more, we, following the old Canon of the Holy Apostles, Ap. c. V, that is to say, desire and hereby decree the marriage ties of those in holy orders to remain solid and inseverable, without requiring their separation after ordination from intercourse with their own wives when held at the proper time — when, that is to say, there is no fast, and when they are not engaged in celebrating the divine and sacred mysteries. So that whoever is married with a lawful wife and is worthy to become a Subdeacon, Deacon, or Presbyter, let him become one; and let him not be obliged necessarily to promise that he will separate from his wife — lest as a result of this we be forced to dishonor marriage, sanctioned by the laws laid down by God, and blessed by His presence, at the wedding in Cana, that is to say. For even the Lord’s utterance in the Gospel says unequivocally: Let no man sunder those who have been united by God; and the Apostle teaches that marriage is honorable and the marriage bed is undefiled; and again, if you have been tied up with a wife, do not try to separate from her. But just as the Fathers of the Council held in Carthage, in providing for the decency of those in holy orders, decreed that subdeacons, deacons, and presbyters who come in contact with the divine mysteries must practice temperance by abstaining from their helpmates (or consorts), in accordance with their own rules (or definitions) in accordance with c. XXXIII, in order that we may keep likewise ourselves the tradition handed down through the Apostles from antiquity, in accordance with c. III of the same Council (that is to say, both the written traditions and the unwritten traditions, according to Zonaras and Balsamon), so and in like manner do we, who say the same things as these Fathers, decree that the above three ranks of those in holy orders must temperately abstain from their wives in time of fasting and of praying, in accordance with the words of St. Paul. For those who presiding at the sacrificial altar ought to be temperately abstinent from everything at the time they are engaged in the celebration of sacred rites, in order that by means of this abstinence they may obtain from God that which they seeking in general, or indiscriminately, that is to say, according to Zonaras, or for the common interest of the laity (according to c. III, that is to say, of the same Carthaginian Council). So whoever dares, in disregard of the Apostolic Canons, to prevent subdeacons, deacons, and presbyters from lawfully mingling with their wives, let him be deposed from office. It ingeminates word for word Ap. c. V, the Interpretation of which you may read for yourself.

14. Let the Canon of our holy and God-bearing Fathers be observed also in respect to this, that a Presbyter may not be ordained before he is thirty years old, though the man be thoroughly worthy; but, instead, let him be obliged to wait. For our Lord Jesus Christ was baptized when He was thirty years old, and then He began teaching. Likewise, let no Deacon be ordained before he is twenty-five years old, nor a Deaconess before she is forty years old.

(c. XIX of the 1st; c. XV of the 4th; c. XI of Neocaes.; c. XXI of Car.)


The present Canon ingeminates word for word the fifteenth of the C. in Neocaesarea. Accordingly, it decrees that no one must be ordained a presbyter until he has reached the age of thirty, even though the candidate for ordination be otherwise quite deserving of holy orders; on the contrary, let him await his time. For even the Lord was baptized in His thirtieth year and began to teach the preachment of the Gospel. (“And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age,” says Luke, 3:23). Certainly He ought to be imitated by presbyters, who are ordained through the presbytery to act as teachers of the faithful. Likewise neither can anyone be ordained a deacon until he has reached the age of twenty-five. That is exactly what c. XXI of Carthage also says. Nor can a woman become a deaconess until she has reached the age of forty. But may God be lenient in regard to the present-day transgression of these Canons. And even though the transgressors of these Canons are not abashed by the sacred and God-bearing and holy Fathers, let them at any rate be abashed by a mundane layman such as was Emperor Justinian, who in his Novel 123 says: “We do not allow a man to become a presbyter below the age of thirty, nor a deacon below the age of twenty-five, nor a subdeacon below the age of twenty.” Read also c. XIX of the 1st, and the Footnote to c. XI of Neocaesarea.

15. Let no one be ordained a Subdeacon if he is less than twenty years old. If anyone should be ordained in any sacerdocy whatever without having reached the years decreed, let him be deposed from office.


As for a subdeacon (says the present Canon), let no one be ordained such when he is less than twenty years of age. If anyone has been ordained in any of the four classes in question, outside the age specified, let him be deposed from office.


According to c. XIX of Carthage a young man could be ordained an Anagnost (or Reader) when he reached the age of adolescence, or, more explicitly, the fourteenth year of his life. But according to Novel 123 of Justinian (recorded in Book III of the Basilica, Title I, ch. 28) he had to be eighteen. (For the Novel purporting to ordain him when eight years of age was omitted when the laws were purged, and was not entered in the Basilica; and consequently it fell into desuetude). As for how old one must be in order to be ordained a bishop, see the Interpretation of Ap. c. I. Inasmuch as the civil law bids like to be judged by like, of course both an Anagnost and a Bishop when ordained before the fixed time, are to be deposed from office like the others, in accordance with the present Canon of the Sixth.

16. Since in the Book of Acts the Apostles instruct us to appoint seven Deacons, the Fathers of the Council held in Neocaesarea have thus clearly asserted in the Canons they promulgated that there must be seven Deacons according to the Canon, even though the city be a quite big one: witness the Book of Acts. In the course of fittingly harmonizing the sense of the Fathers with the Apostolic saying, we discovered that their words in this connection did not pertain to the men serving as ministers to the mysteries, but to those attending to the needs of the table, the text of the Book of Acts being as follows: “And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Hellenists against the Hebrews, because their widows were being neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said, We do not like to forsake the word of God to serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of a good reputation, full of Holy Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint for this task. We will apply ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. And their assertion pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Par-menas, and Nicolas an Antiochian proselyte; whom all they set before the Apostles” (Acts 6:1–6). In the course of interpreting this passage, John Chrysostom, the teacher of the Church, dilates thus: “It is to be marveled that the multitude did not split apart in choosing the men! that the Apostles were not frowned upon by them! It is to be wondered what sort of dignity of office they possessed, and what sort of ordination they received. This is something that needs to be learned. Was it the ordination of Deacons? we well might wonder. But then, that is not in the churches. Or was the arrangement one of Presbyters? So far, though there had been no Bishop, but only Apostles. Hence, I opine, it is plain and obvious that neither the name of Deacons nor that of Presbyters is appropriate.” Resting upon these words, therefore, we too proclaim that as respects the aforesaid seven Deacons they were not selected to minister to the mysteries, according to what has been said in connection with the previous interpretation of the teaching, but, on the contrary, that they were selected to serve the common need of the Christians then gathered together; and that they continue to be an example to us, as they actually became, of philanthropy and diligence in regard to the needy.

(c. XV of Neocaesarea.)


This Canon corrects, or rather improves, c. XV of Neocaesarea. The latter decreed that there should be but seven deacons, and not more, even in the largest city, as recorded in the Book of Acts. The Fathers of the present Council, therefore, say that after comparing the interpretation given by the Fathers with the assertions concerning these seven deacons contained in the Acts of the Apostles, they found that these deacons were not ministers (or deacons) of the Mysteries, but of the (dining) tables. For the Acts say: “In those days, because the Christians had multiplied, the believers among the Greeks (or according to others among the Jews who accepted the Old Testament, not as provided by the Hebrew original, but according to the Greek translation of it), because at the daily service (or ministration) of the common dinners then being given their widows who had need of them were being ignored.” At the suggestion of the Apostles, therefore, the multitude selected these seven deacons by name, men full of Holy Spirit, and held in good repute by all; and appointed them to serve at table, while the Apostles busied themselves in prayer and the service of teaching. In interpreting these words, after first marveling that that multitude did not split apart on account of such a selection of the deacons, others wanting this man, and others wanting that man, divine Chrysostom goes on to say that those deacons did hold the office of either deacons or presbyters of the Mysteries, since such offices had not yet been created in the Church, owing to the fact that the Church was then in her initial, and infantile, so to speak, stage. Hence these Fathers, in agreement with divine St. Chrysostom, hereby proclaim that these deacons, as we have said, are not deacons of the Mysteries, but of the common need and of the mess tables of the Christians of that time, who became an example to us of philanthropy and care which we ought to exercise in behalf of the poor. Not only did these Fathers not follow the instructions of the Canon of the Council held in Neocaesarea, but even of the Emperors preceding them Justinian appointed a hundred deacons, and Heraclius more than a hundred, in the great church. And in general all churches have the number of deacons and of clergymen apportioned to their requirements.

17. Inasmuch as Clergymen of various churches have abandoned their own churches, in which they were ordained, and have run over to other Bishops, and without the consent of their own Bishop have had themselves enrolled in the others’ churches, and as a result of this they came to be insubordinate, we decree that, beginning with the month of January of the last fourth induction, not a single one of all the clergymen, regardless of what rank he happens to be in, has permission, unless furnished by a written dimissory of his own Bishop, to be enrolled in a different church. For, whoever fails to abide by this rule hereafter, but, on the contrary, so far as lies in his power disgraces him who bestowed the ordination on him, let both him and the one who illogically accepted him be deposed from office.

(Ap. cc. XII, XV, XXXII; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; cc. V, X, XI, XIII, XX, XXIII; c. XV of the 7th; cc. III, VII, VIII, XI of Antioch; cc. XLI, XLII of Laodicea; cc. VII, VIII, XV, XVI, XIX of Sardica; cc. XXXI, LXIII, XCVII, XCVIII, CXVI of Carthage.)


The present Canon does not permit clergymen to leave their churches and go to others without the consent and a dimissory letter of their own bishop, because this results in their becoming insubordinate. So, beginning with month of January, and the fourth indiction last past (for indiction is meant by the word epinemesis, as is evident from c. III of the present Council), which is the same as saying, from now on, whoever dares to do this, and disgrace and scorn the one who ordained, by such an act, let both him and the one who unreasonably took him in be deposed from office. Read also Ap. cc. XII and XV.

18. Clergymen who on the pretext of an incursion of barbarians, or as a result of any other circumstance, have emigrated, whenever their exigency has ceased, or the incursions of barbarians, on account of which they made their departure, are commanded to return to their own churches, and not to stay away from them for a long time without a good excuse. If anyone fails to conduct himself agreeably to the present Canon, let him be excommunicated until he returns to his own church. Let this same rule apply also to the Bishop who is keeping him.

(Ap. c. XV; cc. XV, XVI of the 1st; cc. V, X, XX, XXIII of the 4th; c. XVII of the 6th; c. XV of the 7th; c. III of Antioch; cc. XV, XVI, XIX of Sardica; cc. LXIII, XCVIII of Carthage.)


Not only does this Canon refuse to let clergymen leave their churches without cause, but not even those who depart from them either on account of an incursion of barbarians, or perhaps on account of heavy debts or taxes, or on account of hunger, or on account of a deadly visit of the plague, or on account of any other circumstance. For it commands that when that cause ceases on account of which they departed, they must return again to their churches. Whoever, on the other hand, fails to comply with this Canon, let him be excommunicated, as well as the bishop who is keeping him in his eparchy (or bishopric), until he goes back where he belongs. See also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XV.

19. We declare that the deans of churches., on every day, but more especially on Sundays, must teach all the Clergy and the laity words of truth out of the Holy Bible, analyzing the meanings and judgments of the truth, and not deviating from the definitions already laid down, or the teaching derived from the God-bearing Fathers; but also, if the discourse be one concerning a passage of Scripture, not to interpret it otherwise than as the luminaries and teachers of the Church in their own written works have presented it; and let them rather content themselves with these discourses than attempt to produce discourses of their own, lest, at times, being resourceless, they overstep the bounds of propriety. For by means of the teaching afforded by the aforesaid Fathers, the laity, being apprised of the important and preferred things, and of the disadvantageous and rejectable, are enabled to adjust their lives for the better, and do not become a prey to the ailment of ignorance, but, by paying due attention to what is taught, they sharpen their wits so as to avoid suffering wrongly, and for fear of impending punishments they work out their own salvation.

(Ap. c. LVI; cc. II, XVI of the 1st; c. XIX of Laodicea; cc. LXXIX, CXXXI, CXXXII, CXXXIII of Carthage; c. X of Peter; c. VI of the Faster.)


The Canon decrees that the Deans of churches, by which term is meant preeminently the Bishops, but secondarily also the Presbyters, must teach all the Clergy and the laity every day in the week, and especially and above all on Sundays (or even other holidays). For on these days, since Christians are wont to rest from their manual work, they congregate in the churches and listen to the divine words. Consequently those teaching therein afford them additional benefit. But such men must not teach with their own words and thoughts, but with those of divine Scripture, without straying away from the definitions adopted and confirmed by Councils and the dogmas of the faith, or away from the teaching handed down by the God-bearing Fathers. And if at any time they repeat words of the Bible, they are not to explain them in any other way than as the teachers of the Church have explained them in their written works; and they must endeavour more to make headway by teaching the discourses of the divine Fathers than by composing sermons of their own, lest by employing thoughts and conceptions of their own, and being unable sometimes to understand things aright, they fall out of line with what is proper and the truth. For by learning things from this teaching of the doctrines taught by the Fathers, the laity learn what things are of advantage to their souls, and what are disadvantageous, and they accordingly change their mode of living from viciousness to virtuousness, and are freed from the darkness of ignorance. By paying attention, again, to that teaching, and hearing about the chastisements and punishments which bad persons are bound to suffer, for fear of these they abstain from vices and bring about their salvation. Besides this, however, c. XIX of Laodicea says that the Bishop must first give a didache (or “teachment”) in the liturgy. Read also Ap. c. LVIII.

20. Let not any Bishop teach publicly in another city that does not belong to his see. If anyone be caught doing this, let him be deposed from the office of Bishop and perform the functions of a Presbyter.

(Ap. c. XXXV; c. II of the 2nd; c. VIII of the 3rd; cc. XIII, XXII of Antioch; cc. III, XI, XII of Sardica.)


It is not permissible (says the present Canon) for any bishop to teach openly and publicly in a foreign province, without the consent, that is to say, of the local bishop, since this public teaching would be done to the dishonor of the latter, by making it seem to indicate that he himself is a learned teacher, while the former is one that is unlearned and ignorant. Therefore if anyone is found to be doing this, let him be removed from the office of bishop, and let him perform only the functions, or sacred duties, of a presbyter. The Canon states definitely that a strange bishop may not teach publicly, because if he merely answers questions asked him in private by certain persons, he is not sinning by doing so. The present Canon does not conflict with c. XXIX of the 4th, on account of what is said in Ap. c. XXXV, which you may read for yourself.

21. Those who become responsible for canonical crimes, and on this account are subject to complete and permanent deposition from office, and are thrust into the status of laymen, if with a view to returning they voluntarily forgo the sin on account of which they lapsed from grace, and render themselves utter strangers thereto, let them be tonsured in Clerical guise. But if they fail to do this of their own accord and as a matter of choice, let them grow back the hair of their heads, on the ground that they have preferred the return into the world to the heavenly life.

(Ap. c XXV; c, IX of the 1st; e. IV of the 6th; c. IX of Neocaesarea; cc. III, XVII, XXXII, L, LXX of Basil.)


Those in holy orders who have been completely and permanently deposed from office, and have assumed the guise of a layman, and have to stand with the laymen, on account of canonical crimes, such as fornication, say, or adultery, or other such sins, commands the present Canon, if they themselves voluntarily and spontaneously repent, and actually effect complete abstinence from the sin on account of which they lost the grace of holy orders, let them tonsure the hair of their head, or, in other words, let them have a so-called papalethra (or “patch”) at the point of the head, which was a guise and token of clerics. But if they fail to repent willingly and spontaneously, they must let the hair of their head grow back like worldlings, in order that the lay guise may so shame them as to bring them sooner or later to a sense of their viciousness and cause them to repent. Read also Ap. c. XXV.

22. We command that those men be deposed from office, whether they be Bishops or Clergymen whatsoever, who have been ordained or are being ordained for money, and not in accordance with a test and choice of life.

(Ap. c. XXIX; c. II of the 4th; c. XXIII of the 6th; ec. IV, V, XIX of the 7th; c. XCI of Basil; letters of Gennadius and Tarasius.)


The present Canon commands that bishops and all other clerics whatsoever that are ordained for giving money, and not for their worthiness and virtuous life; and not only they themselves, but also those who ordained them, are to be deposed from office. See also Ap. c. XXIX. Read, and sigh, my brother, at the violation of such sacred and such momentous Canons; for today that is the manner in which simony is practiced, as though it were a virtue, and not a heresy detested by God, as most saintly Gennadius calls it. If in consulting the abstracts of the sacred Canons anyone should chance to look for the ecclesiastical affairs connected with the present set of conditions, he will find plenty to wonder at and not the slightest similarity to the former conditions to abate his wonder. For all ecclesiastics take orders illegally, and in like manner live and die. On this account the iron collar of slavery is being tightened more and more and keeps getting more painful, yet we remain insensible and break the law more impudently than ever.

23. Concerning the rule that no one, whether a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, that imparts of the intemerate Communion shall collect from the partaker coins or any compensation whatsoever in exchange for such communion. For neither is grace bought, nor do we impart the sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit for money; but, on the contrary, it must be imparted to the worthy without the incentive of knavishness. If, however, any person enrolled in the Clergy should be found to be demanding compensation of any kind of him to whom he imparts of the intemerate Communion, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he is votary of Simon’s delusion and maleficence.

(Ap. c. XXIX; c. II of the 4th; c. XXII of the 6th; cc. IV, XV, IX of the 7th; c. XCI of Basil; letters of Gennadius and Tarasius.)


The present Canon decrees that no bishop, or presbyter, or deacon shall demand money of those to whom he imparts the divine mysteries, nor shall he ask for any other compensation, even though it should be the very slightest, for the sake of partaking of the divine communion. For the grace of the Mysteries cannot be sold, nor do we impail the sanctification of the Holy Spirit for money, but, on the contrary, we impart it without being bribed to do so, to those who are worthy of it. For it is on this account that the divine Communion is called among the masses the gift (or dorea), because, according to Balsamon, it is imparted without gifts. As for anyone that should do this, let him be deposed from office, as having become an imitator of the delusion and heresy of Simon the Sorcerer, who thought that the grace of the All-holy Spirit could be sold for money. Read also Ap. c. XXIX.

24. Let none of those enrolled in the sacerdotal list, nor any Monks, attend horse races or become involved in pastimes. But if any Clergyman should be invited at a wedding, whenever fraudulent games are introduced, let him rise up and protest, and thereupon let him depart, since the teaching of our Fathers thus commands. In case anyone is caught and found guilty of this, let him either cease or be deposed.

(Ap. cc. XLII, XLIII; cc. LI, LXII, LXVI of the 6th; c. XXII of the 7th; cc. III, LIV of Laodicca; cc. XVII, LXX of Carthage.)


No one in holy orders, nor any monk, according to the present Canon, is permitted to go to those places where men race horses, or to look at and listen to effeminate games. If, on the other hand, any clergyman be invited to a wedding, he may go, but when it comes to playing such deceptive and Satanic games, he must get up at once and depart, just as the Fathers’ teaching commands, that is to say, c. LIV of the Council held in Laodicea (though that Canon adds that those in holy orders must not look at other spectacles either that mark weddings and suppers, and that they must depart before the time has even come for the games). As for anyone caught doing this, either he must cease or he must be deposed.

25. In addition to all the others we renew the Canon which prescribes that the rural or district parishes belonging to each church are to remain immutably assigned to the Bishops holding them, and especially in the case of those who managed to hold them for a period of thirty years without resorting to force. But if within thirty years there has been, or should be, any dispute about them, those who claim to have been wronged shall be permitted to bring the matter before the Synod of the province.

(c. XVII of the 4th; c. CXXVIII, CXXIX, CXXX of Carthage.)


The present Canon renews c. XVII of the 4th, which it quotes verbatim, though not all of it, but only a part of it; wherefore see also the Interpretation of it there.

26. As for a Presbyter who has unwittingly entangled himself in an unlawful marriage, let him retain his rights to sitting with his rank, in accordance with what has been prescribed to us as legislation by the sacred Canon, but let him refrain from the rest of functions and activities. For a pardon is sufficient for him; but for him to bless another person when he ought to be looking after his own wounds, is inconsistent: for blessing is the impartation of sanctification. But how can one who lacks this, on account of his lapse as a result of ignorance, impart it to another? Let him therefore bless no one either publicly or privately; neither let him distribute the body of Christ to others, nor perform any other liturgical office. On the contrary, while contenting himself with the presidency, let him persistently weep to others, and to the Lord, to be pardoned for the iniquitous deed which he has unwittingly perpetrated. For it is obvious that any such unlawful marriage must be dissolved, and that the man will have no essential share in the sacred office of which he has been deprived.

(Ap. c. XIX; c. III of the 6th; c. II of Neocaesarea; cc. XXIII, XXVII, LXXVIII of Basil.)


This Canon is the same as the twenty-seventh Canon of St. Basil the Great, which prescribes that that priest who unwittingly marries any female relative of his, must, because of his not knowing about the relationship, be pardoned, and must also retain the honor of sitting with the priests, but must refrain from all other activities of the priesthood. For it is enough that such a person is not subjected to canonical penances, but is pardoned. But for him to bless another person when he himself ought to be trying to heal his own wounds, or, in other words, to be repentant of his unlawful marriage, is not at all becoming. For blessing is an impartation of sanctity. So, inasmuch as such a priest is destitute of that sanctity, how can he give it to another person? Therefore let him neither openly nor secretly pronounce any blessing upon or administer any communion to others, or do anything else of the kind; but, on the contrary, contenting himself as best he may with the honor of occupying the high seat, as we have said, let him set himself to praying, first of all to God, in order to have his unwitting iniquity pardoned, and, as a further recourse, to others, in order that they too may entreat the Lord in his behalf. Up to this point it is the Canon of St. Basil. But the Council adds that he is to enjoy this honor of sitting in the high seat only after he has first annulled that illegitimate marriage on account of which he has been deposed from holy orders. For if he does not annul it, not only will he be deprived of the honor of sitting in the high seat, but he will even be compelled to undergo penances. Read also Ap. c. XIX.

27. Let no one on the Clerical List don inappropriate clothing, either when living in the city or when walking the road; but, on the contrary, let him wear costumes that have already been assigned to the use of those who are enrolled in the Clergy. If anyone should commit such a violation, let him be excommunicated for one week.

(c. XVI of the 7th; cc. XII, XXI of Gangra.)


Clergymen and all who are in Holy Orders ought to be modest and decent even in respect of their outward guise. For God looks into the heart, it is true, but human beings look at the external condition of the body, according to what has been written: “A human being will look at a face, but God at a heart” (Sam. 12:7). Hence from what they can see on the outside they draw inferences as to what is in the heart. That is why the present Canon commands that no clergymen shall wear clothes that are not becoming to his profession; that is, for instance, costly and silk garments, or military uniforms, neither when he is staying in the city nor when he is walking on the road: on the contrary, he must wear the garments that are habitual to clerics — decent, that is to say, and frugal. Should anyone do the contrary, let him be excommunicated for one week.


It is further to be noted that c. XVI of the 7th imposes penances on those in holy orders who wear splendid garments and fail to correct matters; likewise on those who anoint themselves with perfumes. Though it is true that c. XII of Gangra anathematizes those who criticize persons wearing silk garments with reverence, it does not conflict with the present Canon: 1) because this is speaking specifically of clerics wearing them, whereas that speaks of both clergymen and laymen in general who are wearing them; 2) because this Canon is speaking of those who are wearing garments of an uncustomary kind; 3, and lastly) because the same Council is correcting what it asserted in its said c. II by what it asserts in its c. XXI, which says: “We praise frugal and cheap garments, but we detest garments that are ornamented and soft.” And if that Council disparages soft garments in regard to worldlings, it disparages them far more when they are worn by clerics. So that not only is that Council not opposed in principle to the present one, but indeed it is in agreement with it and more strict in regard to this matter. But the Lord also says: “Beware of those who want to walk about in costumes” (Luke 20:46). And if the Apostle Peter forbids women, who are by nature a race of beings that love adornment, to wear luxurious garments (1 Peter 3:3); and if Paul forbids the same things to the same creatures (1 Tim. 2:9), do they not still more firmly forbid these things to clergymen? St. Basil the Great, too, wants us to have clothing that is decorous; and in his Homily 11 on the Six Days of Creation he says that if you see anyone clothed in a robe adorned with flowers or flowery figures, and dressed up with silk threads, scorn him outright. And St. Chrysostom, too, in his Homily 12 on the First Epistle to Timothy says: “Seest thou a human being wearing silk garments? Laugh him to scorn.” Isidorus Pelousiotes (in his seventy-fourth letter) when commenting on the question, What was the tunic of Christ that was woven from above and unsewed? says: “But who is ignorant of the paltriness of that dress which the poor among the Galileans used to wear, and that indeed with them it used to be a garment woven by some art and with some skill as close as corsets.” And at the end he says: “If, then, you desire these garments, imitate the paltry dress of Jesus. For luxuriousness here becomes stupidity there, and not a bright illumination.”

28. Since we have learned that in various churches when grapes are offered at the sacrificial altar, in accordance with a certain custom which has gained prevalence, by affixing them to the bloodless sacrifice of the offering (or oblation), the ministers thus distribute both to the laity, we have seen fit to decree that no one in holy orders shall do this any more; but, on the contrary, for the purpose of vivification, and remission of sins, they shall impart to the laity of the oblation only, regarding the offering of grapes as first fruits offered by way of thanks to the giver of fruits, whereby our bodies, in accordance with the divine definition, is enabled to grow and to be nourished. If, then, any Clergyman does contrary to what has been commanded, let him be deposed.

(Ap. cc. III, IV; cc. XXXII, LVII, XCIX of the 6th; c. XL of Carthage.)


Since in some regions, in accordance with a certain custom, some persons used to offer grapes at the Holy Table, which the priests would combine with the intemerate mysteries and then impart both together to the laity, on this account and for this reason the present Canon from now on and henceforth commands that no priest shall do this, but, on the contrary, he must give the Holy Communion alone to the worthy, for vivification, and for remission of their sins, whereas he blesses the grapes as first fruits of the season with a special prayer and hands them out to the laity, by way of thanking God for giving us such fruits, by means whereof our bodies are nourished and grow. As for anyone that does anything in violation of this Canon, let him be deposed from office. Read also Ap. c. III.

29. The Canon of the Fathers met in Carthage prescribes that the holy rites of the sacrificial altar, unless performed by men under a fast, are not to be celebrated at all, except on one day of the year on which the Lords Supper is celebrated, perhaps having decided to employ such an economy of the divine Fathers on account of certain pretexts advantageous to the Church in such seasons. Since there is nothing to compel us to abandon rigorism, we decree, pursuantly to the traditions of the Apostles and of the Fathers, that the fasting during the Thursday which falls in the last week in Great Lent (or Tessaracoste) must not be omitted, and the whole fast of Great Lent dishonored by being prematurely broken.

(Ap. c. LXIX; c. LXXXIX of the 6th; cc. XLIX, L, LI, LII of Laodicea; cc. XLVIII, LVI of Carthage; c. I of Dionysius; cc. VIII, X of Timothy.)


Just as our Lord Jesus Christ on the evening of the Great Thursday first ate a common supper and thereafter delivered the divine mysteries to the Apostles, in the same manner it may be said that a custom came to prevail in Africa for the people there to eat certain more luscious foods on Great Thursday, according to Zonaras, which served to break the usual course of eating dry things on other days of Great Lent, and thereafter to celebrate and to partake of the divine mysteries. So the present Council, as an improvement over c. XLVIII of Carthage which contained this custom, decrees that perhaps those Fathers employed this economy for some beneficial reasons of benefit to those regions, but inasmuch as we have no reason that would compel us to abandon the strictness of the Canons, we follow the instructions handed down by the Apostles, in their c. LXIX, that is to say, which makes it incumbent upon all to fast throughout Great Lent (both Great Thursday and the entire Great Week are included in the period of Great Lent, as well as during the fasts of the Fathers, that is to say, those in c. L of the Fathers of Laodicea, which decrees that no one shall break the fast of the Thursday in the last week in Great Lent (that is to say, of Great Thursday), and by breaking it dishonor and disparage the fast of the entire Great Lent, but, instead, everyone must fast throughout the period of Great Lent by eating nothing but dry things, including, of course, Great Thursday itself.


Note, however, that not only this c. XLVIII of Carthage decrees that priests must officiate on an empty stomach (as we say in English, though in Greek the same idea is expressed differently by saying “fastingly”), but c. LVI of the same Council states that this was also confirmed by the Council held in Nicaea. Nevertheless, if anyone is in danger of dying, he must commune even after having eaten, according to c. IX of Nicephorus. When St. Chrysostom was blamed for having administered the communion to some persons after they had eaten, and wrote in his letter to Bishop Kyriakos: “If it is true that I did this, may my name be stricken from the book of bishops. But if they say this to me once, and start quarreling, let them consider St. Paul, who baptized a whole household right after supper. Let them also consider Christ Himself, who gave the Communion to the Apostles right after supper.” Hence it is evident that those who are about to commune have permission up to midnight to drink water, and thereafter they must not put anything in their mouth until they have communed. Read also Ap. c. LXIX.

30. Wishing to do everything for the edification of the Church, we have decided to make concessions to priests in Barbarian churches, so that if they are seeking to circumvent Apostolic Canon V by not expelling their wife, on the pretext of reverence, and to do what is beyond the limits set by it, by coming to a private agreement with their spouses to abstain from intercourse with each other. We decree that these priests shall cohabit with these wives no more, in any manner whatsoever, so as to afford us thereby positive proof that they are carrying out their promise. We make this concession to them, not for any other reason, but because of the pusillanimity of their thought, and the bizarre character of their ideas of morality, and the unsettled state of their mind.

(Ap. c. V; cc. XII, XIII, XLVIII of the 6th; c. IV of Gangra; cc. III, IV, XXXIIII of Carthage.)


Since those in holy orders who are located in Barbary, Africa, as we have said, in the desire to circumvent, or get round, the legislation embodied in Ap. c. V, which commands that no one in holy orders shall separate his wife on the pretext of reverence, agree with their wives and abstain from carnal intercourse, therefore the present Canon decrees that those who have done this are not to cohabit with their wives any longer in any way: for one thing, in order to show, by this abstention from cohabitation, that they made this promise and agreement not on account of any hypocritical and false reverence, but truly on account of a longing after sobriety and virginity; and for another thing, because continual sight of and association with their wives prompts them to have carnal intercourse with them again. Nevertheless, says this Canon, we have given them this permission, not for any other reason, but simply on account of the pusillanimity of their way of thinking, on account of their wild character, according to Zonaras, or on account of their having a strange notion of what constitutes good order as respecting ecclesiastical morals, according to Balsamon, and because of their lack of firmness of faith (and notice that this same thing which the Council permits in regard to Barbary for these reasons, it does not permit to occur in Rome, on account of the docility of the moral character of the Romans, on account of their ecclesiastical orderliness, etc.; and in spite of the fact that this custom originally came from Rome to Barbary, according to c. IV of Carthage). Read also Ap. c.V, cc. XII and XIII of the 6th.

31. As for those Clergymen who hold a liturgy in oratories or prayerhouses or in private residences, or who carry out a baptism therein, without having obtained the consent of the local Bishop to do this, we decree that if any Clergyman fail to guard against doing this, let him be deposed from office.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XXXIV, LIX of the 6th; c. XII, XIII, XIV, XV of the lst-&-2nd; c. VI of Gangra; c. V of Antioch; c. LVIII of Laodicea; cc. X, LXII of Carthage.)


The present Canon does not permit those in holy orders to conduct a liturgy or to baptize inside a room or in the parlor of a private dwelling, or in a house of prayer, or one called an oratory and devoted to prayer, which has not been consecrated in the Orthodox manner, without the permission and consent of the local bishop: because this would amount to a conventicle (or “parasynagogue”) and apostasy; but they may do this with his consent and permission. Anyone who fails to abide by this rule, let him be deposed from office.


This same Canon is iterated verbatim by the lst-&-2nd Council in its c. XII, and confirmed, and that Council adds that priests who are to officiate in the oratories of private houses must be appointed by a prelate. Anyone that dares to officiate in them without being duly appointed and permitted by a bishop is to be deposed, and laymen who have joined with him in communion are to be excommunicated. Canon LVIII of Laodicea, on the other hand, which says that neither bishops nor priests may conduct sacred services in houses, does not conflict with the present Canon, because it does not specify that sacred rites may not be performed in the oratories of houses, as this Canon says, but only in houses in general, that is to say, more plainly speaking, in ordinary houses, a thing which is prohibited except in case of great necessity. Canon LIX of the present 6th deposes those clergymen who baptize anyone inside the prayerhouse of anyone, and not in the common church; and it excommunicates laymen who have joined in communion with them. Read also the Interpretation of Ap. c. XXXI.

32. Since it has come to our knowledge that in the country of the Armenians those conducting the bloodless sacrifice are wont to offer wine alone at the sacred table, without mixing water with it, on the alleged ground that the teacher of the Church John Chrysostom said in his commentary of the Gospel according to St. Matthew the following: “On what account did He not drink water after He rose, but wine? — another wicked heresy being thus eradicated, roots and all. For since there were some who used water in the Mysteries, He showed both when He delivered the Mysteries and when He rose from the grave, that he set a mere table without mysteries and used wine, derived, he says, from the product of the vine” (Homily 82). But a vine produces wine, not water. Hence they infer that the teacher disallowed the offering of water in the sacred sacrifice (Matt. 26:29). Lest they remain henceforth in ignorance of the facts, we proceed to reveal the father’s meaning Orthodoxically. For, in view of the fact that the wicked heresy of the Aquarians was an old one, wherein they use water alone instead of wine in their own sacrifice, by way of refuting the unlawful doctrine of that particular heresy and showing that they are contravening the Apostolical tradition, this God-bearing man asserted the said words. Since even in the church of his jurisdiction, where he had the pastoral rulership in his hands, he taught that water should be admixed whenever it was requisite to perform the blood sacrifice, pointing out that from the precious flank of our Redeemer and Savior Christ the God there had exuded a mixture of blood and water, which mixture was shed, or poured out, for vivification of all the world and redemption from sins. And in connection with all churches where the spiritual luminaries shone forth, this God-given procedure prevails. For this is also in keeping with the fact that both James the carnal brother of Christ our God, who was the first to be entrusted with the throne of the church of the Jerusalemites, and Basil the Bishop of the Caesareans and one whose renown rapidly spread over the whole inhabited earth, having each of them handed down to us in writing the mystical hierurgy, have given out that the sacred chalice (or cup) is to be filled full of water and wine in the Divine Liturgy. And the devout Fathers assembled in Carthage, too, thus expressly mentioned that in the holy elements nothing more than the body and the blood of the Lord should be offered, just as the Lord Himself taught, that is, bread and wine, mixed with water. If, therefore, any Bishop, or Presbyter, fail to follow the procedure taught by the Apostles, and, mixing water with wine, thus to offer the intemerate sacrifice, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he has been divulging the mystery imperfectly or deficiently and novating the rites handed down.


The present Canon corrects the bad custom which came to prevail in the country of the Armenians — that of conducting the liturgy, that is to say, with wine alone, without combining it with water in accordance with the tradition of the Church. Since they adduce in support of such custom evidence resting upon the explanation which John Chrysostom gives to the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and think that that divine Father, by saying there that both before and after His resurrection the Lord used wine, is denying in these words the admixture of water in the Mysteries, therefore, owing to this mistaken view of theirs, these Fathers are making known the true meaning of the saint’s words, which say that because there was an old heresy called that of the Aquarians, who used water alone in the Eucharistic celebration, and not wine, divine Chrysostom, in refuting this heresy, employed these words thus, and not as one accepting that wicked custom of the Aquarians, since the same Chrysostom himself in his divine Liturgy taught the church of Constantinople that in the bloodless sacrifice of the Mysteries water must be mixed with the wine by way of representing the blood and water which emerged from the precious side of the Lord’s body while it was hanging on the cross, for the remission of the sins and the vivification of all the world, according to that Gospel saying that “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). But not only St. Chrysostom, but also James the brother of God and first hierarch of Jerusalem, as well as St. Basil the Great in their Liturgies gave directions for the holy chalice to be filled full of wine and water. In addition, the Fathers in Carthage in c. XLIV, which they set forth verbatim, do so too. So if any bishop or priest in the divine service of the hierurgy fails to mix water with the wine, in accordance with the Apostolic tradition, let him be deposed from office. For by failing to do so, he renders the mystery of the divine Eucharist incomplete or imperfect, and upsets what has been handed down. Read also Ap. c. III.

33. Since we have learned as a matter of fact that in the country of the Armenians only those who are of hieratical (or priestly) lineage are eligible to the clergy, pursuantly to Jewish customs, in an attempt to practice these, and that some of them do not even tonsure their Psalts and Anagnosts when installing them in the divine Temple, we have seen fit to concur in decreeing that from now on those who wish to promote certain persons to the clergy are not allowed to pay any regard to the lineage of the ordinee. But, on the contrary, after first testing them as to whether they are worthy according to the definitions laid down in the sacred Canons to be enrolled in the clergy, they shall ordain them ecclesiastics, whether they have been born of ancestors who were priests, or not. Nor, furthermore, shall they permit anyone to speak from the pulpit to the laity the divine words, in accordance with the order of enrollment in the clergy, unless such person has something to show in the way of a priestly tonsure and receives the blessing canonically from the proper pastor. If anyone be caught acting contrary to the rules prescribed, let him be excommunicated.

(Ap. c. LXXVII; c. XIV of the 4th; c. XXIII of Laodicea; c. XXII of Carthage.)


This Canon too corrects those who inhabit the country of the Armenians, who not only made priests only of those who were descended from a priestly line, following the custom of the Jews, who made priests only of those who were descendants of the tribe of Levi, but also appointed psalts and anagnosts in the church with the formality of the bishop’s laying his hands on them. Decreeing that henceforth they are not to pay regard to whether the candidate for ordination is or is not descended from a priestly line, but are to test him as to whether he is in truth worthy to become a member of the clergy, the Fathers of this Council further decree that they must not let anyone read on the pulpit the divine words to the laity unless he first receives the canonical seal of an anagnost from the prelate. If anyone does anything contrary to these rules, let him be excommunicated.


Canon IV of the 7th also prohibits anyone from reading from the pulpit, even though he be a monk, without having received a chirothesy, or imposition of the hands, from the bishop. Canon XXII of Carthage, on the other hand, forbids anagnosts to bow to the laity after reading. Read also Ap. c. LXXVIL

34. In view of the fact that the sacerdotal Canon clearly states that as the crime of conspiracy or of faction is utterly forbidden even by civil laws, it is much more fitting still that this be prohibited from occurring in the Church of God, we too are sedulous to insist that if any Clergymen or Monks be found either conspiring together or engaging in factional intrigues or hatching plots against Bishops or fellow Clergymen, they shall forfeit their own rank altogether.

(Ap. c. XXXI; c. XVIII of the 4th; cc. XIII, XIV, XV of the lst-&-2nd; c. V of Antioch; cc. X, LXII of Carthage.)


This Canon is the same as c. XVIII of the 4th; and read its Interpretation there, but also see the Interpretation of Ap. c. XXXI.

35. Let none of all the Metropolitans, when a Bishop dies who is under his throne, have any right to remove or to usurp his belongings or those of his church, but let them be under the safe keeping of the Clergy of the church of which the deceased happened to be president until the induction or installation of another Bishop, unless there be no Clergymen left in the same church. For the Metropolitan shall safely keep all such things undiminished and hand all of them over to the Bishop who is to be ordained.

(Ap. c. XL; c. XXII of the 4th; c. XXIV of Antioch; cc. XXX, LXXXIX of Carthage.)


No Metropolitan, says the present Canon, has any right or permission, when any bishop dies, to plunder and appropriate his belongings or those of his episcopate; but, on the contrary, these are to be held for safe keeping by the clergymen of the episcopate until another bishop has been installed. But if no clergymen have been left in that bishopric, then the Metropolitan shall take charge of them and keep them safe and nothing missing until he can turn them over to the bishop who is going to be ordained. See also Ap. c. XL.

36. Renewing the laws made by the one hundred and fifty Holy Fathers who assembled in this God-guarded imperial capital city, and by the six hundred and thirty of those who assembled in Chalcedon, we decree that the throne of Constantinople shall enjoy equal seniorities (or priorities) with the throne of older Rome, and in ecclesiastical matters shall be magnified like the latter, coming second after the latter; after which the throne of the great city of the Alexandrians shall come next, then that of Antioch, and after this the throne of the city of the Jerusalemites.

(Ap. c. XXXIV; c. III of the 2nd; c. XXVIII of the 4th.)


The present Canon renews c. III of the 2nd Ecum. C. and c. XXVIII of the 4th, which deal with the privileges of the Bishop of Constantinople, prescribing that he shall enjoy equal and same privileges with the one of Rome, and shall be magnified in ecclesiastical affairs in a similar manner to him, coming second after him only in point of order, while the Bishop of Alexandria is third, the one of Antioch fourth, and the one of Jerusalem fifth, solely in the matter of this order of prenumeration and subnumeration so conceived and so called. Read also the above-mentioned Canons, and c. VI of the First Ecum. C. and the Footnote thereto, in which we speak about the five Patriarchs.

37. Since at various times there have been inroads of barbarians, and many cities have as a result become subject to the iniquitous, so that the President of such a city has been unable after ordination to take possession of his own throne and to be installed therein in sacerdotal state, and thus to act and employ himself in accordance with the prevailing custom of bestowing ordinations and to do everything that pertains to a Bishop, we, being determined to safeguard the rights of the priesthood to honor and respect, and being nowise disposed to consent to any curtailment of ecclesiastical rights or to allow the heathen influence to be exercised over those so ordained, and on account of the cause recited above since they are unable to gain possession of their own thrones, we have seen fit to concur in decreeing that no prejudice shall result therefrom to prevent them from bestowing ordinations canonically upon various Clergymen, and from employing the authority of the presidency in accordance with the same definition; and that any and all administration advanced by them shall be sure and duly established. For the definition of economy shall not be restricted or limited by the circumstances of necessity or be circumscribed as touching its rigor.

(Ap. c. XXXVI; c. XVIII of Ancyra; cc. XVII, XVIII of Antioch.)


The present Canon decrees that inasmuch as some prelates after being duly ordained have been unable to go to their thrones and eparchies, owing to the fact that their thrones have been captured by incursions of barbarians, for this reason, maintaining the respect and honor due to the prelacy, and being unwilling to let the fact of capture by barbarians become an obstacle to thwart ecclesiastical rights, we decree that those who have been thus ordained, and owing to the occasion and fear of barbarians have been unable to seat themselves upon their thrones, shall not be prejudiced as to their right to perform ordinations of various clergymen within their eparchy, even though they are far away from it (and see the Footnote to c. XVI of Antioch), as the Canons prescribe, and to have the honor and authority of the presidency in accordance with the same definition, or, more plainly speaking, according as their eparchy has been defined to be the first, say, or the second, the third, and so on; and anything they may do by virtue of any prelatical right, or, in other words, as prelates, is to be firm and legal. For although rigor, meaning the theoretical possibility of their going to their thrones and doing such things, has been lessened by the necessity of the time and of barbarians, yet the definition of economy, or more plainly speaking the right to do these things on their same throne even though far away from it, shall not be lessened on that account. Read also Ap. c. XXXVI.

38. We too retain the Canon which was laid down by our Fathers and which reads as follows: If any city has been rebuilt by imperial authority, or has been built anew again, pursuant to civil and public formalities, let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes be followed.

(c. XVII of the 4th.) (The present Canon is included in c. XVII of the 4th, and see the Interpretation of it there.)

39. Seeing that our brother and fellow minister John the president of the island of the Cyprians has departed thence with his laity and has come to the eparchy of the Hellespont, both because of barbarian assaults and because they have been freed from heathen slavery and have become subject to the ruling powers of the most Christian empire, by the providence of the philanthropic (or man-loving) God, and by the hard work of our Christ-loving and pious emperor, we see fit to concur in decreeing that the privileges conferred upon and granted to the throne of the man aforesaid by the God-bearing Fathers who convened in Ephesus long ago shall be preserved without any innovations, so that the new Justinianopolis shall have the right of Constantinople, and the most God-beloved Bishop appointed over it shall preside over all those in the eparchy of the Hellespontians and be ordained by his own bishops, in accordance with the ancient custom. For our God-bearing Fathers have already decided that the customs obtaining in each Church are to be continued, the Bishop of the city of the Cyzicenians being subject to the president of the said Justinianopolis, in imitation of the rest of all the Bishops who are under the said most God-beloved president John, by whom, if the need arises, the Bishop of the same city of the Cyzicenians shall be ordained.

(Ap. c. XXXIV; cc. VI, XII of the 1st; cc. II, III, VIII of the 2nd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; c. XXXVI of the 6th; c. IX of Antioch.)


In the time of Emperor Justinian II the Archbishop of Cyprus John departed from his eparchy (or province) together with his laity and came to the eparchy of the Hellespont (the Hellespont, according to Balsamon, is the eastern territory extending from Abydus, or, in other words the eastern Castron from the outside, to Thrace; but according to Chrysanthus the strait extending from Tenedus to Callipolis, or Gallipoli), as much on account of incursions of the barbarians as because of the fact that he was freed from their captivity, by the providence of God and through the diligence of the Emperor, and became a subject of the Roman Empire. For this reason the present Canon decrees that the privileges conferred upon the Bishop of Cyprus by c. VIII of the 3rd Council shall be preserved entire, and that this new city of Justinianoplis is to enjoy the right of Constantinople (that is to say, the right to be like her autocephalous, or, just as the Asian, the Pontic, and the Thracian provinces became subject to the Bishop of Constantinople, as we have said in c. XXVIII of the 4th, so and in like manner is the Hellespontian province, or eparchy, subject to Cyprus); and its Archbishop is to be ordained by his own bishops, in accordance with the ancient custom. So that the Metropolitan of the city of Cyzicus shall be subject to him, just as are also all the bishops in Cyprus, and whenever there is need he shall be ordained by him. Read also c. VIII of the Third Council.

40. Since it is very conducive to salvation for one to become closely attached to God by retiring from the turmoil of life, we must not welcome without examination those who unseasonably choose the solitary (or monastic) life, but must observe the definition handed down to us by the Fathers even in these matters, so as to make it incumbent upon us to welcome the confession (or promise, as we say in English) of a life in accordance with God then, when it is already certain and has been done with consent and judgment, after the completion of the reason. Therefore let anyone who is about to submit to the monastic yoke and who is not less than ten years old, the test for this resting with the president, if he deems the time to be more advantageous for growth as preparation for entrance into and continuance in the solitary life. For even though St. Basil the Great in his sacred Canons welcomes the girl who voluntarily offers herself to God and embraces virginity when passing through her seventeenth year, and makes it a law for her to be enrolled in the battalion of Virgins, yet, even so, following the example with respect to widows and deaconesses closely we have allowed those choosing the solitary life the said time proportionately. For in the divine Apostle it is written: “Let not a widow be taken into the number under sixty years old if she has been the wife of one husband” (1 Tim. 5:9). The sacred Canons, on the other hand, give instructions to the effect that a deaconess can be ordained only when she is at least forty years old, the Church having by the grace of God become mightier and advancing forward, and the tendency of the faithful to keep the divine commandments having become firmly fixed and secure, after exquisitely perceiving which fact quite recently we have seen fit to decree the blessing of grace upon the one about to undertake the struggle of living in accordance with God, impressing it precisely like a seal quickly and hence seeking to prevent him from lingering too long, and urging him forward into the arena, or rather indeed we might say impelling him to the choice and state of what is good.

(c. XIX of the 1st; c. XV of the 4th; c. XIV of the 6th; cc. VI, LI, CXXXV of Carthage; cc. XVIII, XXIV of Basil.)


Those who wish to become monks or nuns ought not, according to the present Canon, to be accepted without examination, and at an unseasonable or improper time and in defiance of the definition prescribed by the divine Fathers (and especially St. Basil the Great), but only then ought the confession and promise they make to God to be accepted as reliable and representative of their state of mind, when the judgment of their reasoning faculty has reached its maturity, as Basil the Great asserts in his c. XVIII and especially in his Definition 15 in extenso. So, in sum, let the one who is about to become a monk be not less than ten years old; but, nevertheless, let it be in the power of the bishop to try him out and to increase the number of years for him (in proportion, that is to say, to his natural knowledge) if he deems it more to the person’s interest. For although Basil the Great specifies in his aforesaid Canon that a virgin girl over sixteen or seventeen years may be admitted to the battalion of virgins, we nevertheless, following the example of the widows and deaconesses, have reduced the sixteen or seventeen years of St. Basil to ten years, because the Apostle prescribes that a widow may be admitted to the Church if she is not less than sixty years old, while the Fathers of the 4th say that a woman may be ordained a deaconess when she is forty years old, in their c. XV, seeing the Church of God to be advancing with the grace of God, and the constancy shown by Christians in the keeping of the divine commandments. Giving these facts due thought, we have decreed this Canon, engraving in the tender soul of the one about to commence the spiritual struggles of monks, as a seal, the blessing of divine grace, and bracing him by means of this Canon, not to neglect the business of virtue for a long time, but rather to choose the good portion so much the sooner. But c. VI of Carthage says also that virgins ought to be consecrated to God by only the bishop; and c. LI of the same Council says that they ought to be provided for by him also, or, in his absence, by the presbyter.

41. Those wishing to depart from cities or villages where they are living in cloisters, and to look after themselves alone by themselves, must first enter a Monastery, and become duly accustomed to anchoretic conduct, and to submit for three years straight to the Prior of the Monastery in fear of God, and to fulfill obedience fittingly in all respects; and thus while confessing a predilection for such a life, they may embrace this with all their heart, and the fact must appear and be verified by test of trial by the local president. It is wishable, though, that they may spend another year staying outside by waiting with fortitude in the cloister so that their aim may come to light more clearly. For they shall afford such clear evidence that they are not hunting empty glory, i.e., are not in pursuit of vainglory, but are striving after this quietude for the sake of what is really good itself. When such a long time has been completed, those who persist in the same preference shall be shut up and it shall no longer be possible for them to leave this solitary confinement when they want to, except and unless it be for the common advantage and benefit, or some other necessity forcing them towards death, and they are being drawn towards this alternative, and thus, with the blessing of the local Bishop. But apart from the said pretexts, in case they should attempt to make an exit from their resorts (or dungeons), the first formality is that they must be duly imprisoned in the said cloister against their will, and must be forced to fast again and again, and to submit to other hardships, so as to be made well aware of the fact that “No one who, after putting his hand to the plow, looks back, is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven” (Luke 9:62.)


It is a great and bold stroke for one to depart mundane life right at the very start and be shut up inside of cloisters, and from one extravagation to jump over to another extravagation — from the turbulent sea, I mean, of life into the untoward and difficult sea of quietude. For this reason these Fathers in the present Canon decree that those who wish to do this must go to a monastery, and after showing obedience to the prior in every respect for three years, they must be examined by the bishop and confess that of their own accord and with all their heart they are yearning for such a departure. Afterwards, following this, they are to quietly rest themselves and remain quiet for a year outside of the cloister, in order to furnish still more convincing evidence that it was not out of vainglory, but out of a desire for the good of quietude that they have been longing for this kind of life. And if after all these steps they stand solidly on the same conclusion and eagerness, then they are to be shut up and are no longer to have permission to get out when they wish, except only if this be for the common benefit of the people and on account of a danger of dying. Nevertheless even then they are to come out with the blessing and permission of the local bishop. But if without having any such reasons as these they should try to get out, they are to be forcibly shut up again in their said cloister, and be penanced (or “canonized”) canonically both with fastings and with other kinds of hardships and harsh treatment in order to be taught that, as the Lord said, whoever puts his hand to the plow, or, in other words, whoever commences a career in accordance with God’s way and afterward goes back to a worldly life, cannot succeed in traveling straight to the Kingdom of Heaven.

42. As touching so-called hermits, who dressed in black and with a growth of hair on their head go about the cities and associate with laymen and women, and insult their own profession, we decree, if they choose to tonsure their hair and adopt the habit (or garb) of other Monks, that they be installed in a Monastery and be enrolled with their brethren there. But if they do not prefer to do so, they must be driven out of the cities altogether and be forced to dwell in deserts, from which they formed the name they have applied to themselves.


Because of the fact that of old many deceivers of the people calling themselves hermits, wearing black and growing hair on their head, roamed round cities, mixing with men and women, and discrediting their monastic profession, the present Canon decrees that if such men are willing to cut off their hair, like the rest of monks who live in monasteries, and to be settled down in a monastery, well and good; but if they are unwilling, let them be driven out of the cities entirely, and let them go and dwell in the deserts, from which they falsely, and not truly and truthfully, came to call themselves “hermits.” (Note of Translator. — This word hermit in English has somehow or other acquired an initial h which does not belong to it. It is derived from the Greek word for desert eremia, whence the Greek word in question is eremites, meaning “(a monk) inhabiting the desert or wilderness.”)

43. It is permissible for a Christian to choose the ascetic mode of life and abandoning the turbulent whirl of ordinary life to enter a Monastery, and to take a tonsure in accordance with monkish habit, even though he should have been found guilty of any offense whatsoever. For our Savior God said: “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). As therefore monachal life represents to us a state of repentance as though engraved upon a pillar, we join in sympathizing with anyone that genuinely adopts it, and no manner of means shall prevent him from accomplishing his aim.

(c. II of the lst-&-2nd; c. XXVII of John the Faster.)


It would seem that some persons who wished to lead a monastic life were being prevented from doing so by others, perhaps because of sins they had committed. Hence the present Canon decrees that every Christian (who is under his own control, that is to say, and not under the authority of another person; and see Ap. c. LXXXII) is permitted to renounce and abjure the world, and to go to a monastery and get tonsured, even though he may have committed the greatest sin, seeing that the Lord said, “I won’t chase away anyone that comes to me.” So, then, inasmuch as the life of monks is a picture of repentance, just as a pillar is a picture of what is engraved upon it, therefore and on this account we too are pleased to congratulate those persons who prefer it, and no cause (of any sin, that is to say, and not of any allegiance to authority) shall prevent such persons from carrying out their avowed aim. Canon XXV of Nicephorus, too, says that if anyone who is ill asks for the monachal habit, it must be given to him at once without postponing the time, or procrastinating, and that the grace must not be withheld from it on any account. Both Balsamon and Symeon of Thessalonica say this same thing too. Without an “old man,” however, at hand to welcome into admission and submission, no monk ought to be solemnized, according to c. II of the lst-&-2nd.

44. Any Monk that is found guilty of the act of fornication, or of accepting a woman for the purpose of matrimony and with a view to living with her (as his wife), shall be compelled to suffer the penalty of undergoing the penances prescribed by the Canons.

(c. XVI of the 4th; c. XIX of Ancyra; cc. VI, XVIII, XIX, XX, LX of Basil.)


If any monk be proved to have committed fornication, or if he marries, he is to be penanced as a fornicator, i.e., for seven years, in accordance with the Canons; the unlawful marriage being first dissolved. That is what the present Canon decrees. As for the Canons it refers to, these are c. XIX of Basil. Read also c. XVI of the 4th.

45. Since we have learned that in some convents (or nunneries) the women about to be deemed worthy of that sacred habit, first dress themselves up in fine style with silken and all sorts of fancy costumes, and, what is more, worn in worldly fashion and ornamented with gold and precious stones, and show themselves off before those who are inducting them, and that while they are approaching the altar they take off all these materials, and that thereupon and without further ado the blessing of the habit is pronounced upon them and they are clothed in the black garment; we decree that henceforth this shall no longer be done. For it is not pious or meritorious for any woman that has already of her own free will and preference renounced every pleasure of delightfulness of life and has embraced the career modeled after God, and has confirmed this with undeviating strict vows, and thus has come to the Monastery, once more in remembrance to pass through this repetition of that perishable and flowing world whereof she has already committed herself to forgetfulness. As a result thereof she is rendered doubtful, and her soul is agitated, like as though billows were surging over it, and turning it this way and that, so that after all they do not even shed a tear, be it only once in a while, nor do they exhibit any contrition in their heart through their body. But even if a tear do for an instant, as is but natural, well up and leap out, it is less on account of any disposition in favor of the ascetic struggle than for their having abandoned the world and the things in the world, and rather with a thought to having others see it.

(c. CXXXV of Carthage.)


The present Canon prohibits women from adorning themselves in attractive costumes and silk dresses when they are about to become nuns, and with jewelry of gold and gems, and while thus adorned to approach the holy Bema of the church in a convent (or nunnery) for nuns, and there to take off all these vain ornaments and at once put on the black garments of nuns, and receive the blessing of the habit. For it is not becoming in a woman who of her own free will has previously rejected every pleasure of life and has fallen in love with a career modeled after God, and with firm vows has confirmed this choice of hers, and has gone to the monastery thus on a solid basis, to recollect again such ornaments of those things which she previously had scorned and forgotten. And not only this, but also for her soul to be agitated as a result of these ornaments and because worldly imaginations rise up against her like billows, so as not to let her shed even a tear as she is being tonsured and show thereby that contrition which ought to be in her heart. But even if she should let one little tear drop from the corner of her eye, it is perhaps just to make onlookers think that she shed it not so much because of her having been deemed worthy of the angelic habit, as because she has forsaken the world and all that is in the world.

46. As touching women who prefer the ascetic life and are enrolled in a convent, in general let them not step outside of it, but if they are compelled to do so by any inexorable (or “indispensable”) necessity, let them do so with the blessing and permission of the abbess. Even then let them not go out all alone by themselves, but let them be accompanied by some presbyteresses and mother-superiors in the convent provided with a warrant from the Prioress. They must not be permitted to sleep outside of the building at all. But men who are leading the solitary life (of monasticism) may themselves step out, when there is urgent need of their doing so, only with the blessing of the one in charge of the monastery. So that those who violate the rule which we have now made, whether they be men or women, must be subjected to suitable penances.

(c. XLVII of the 6th.)


These Fathers do not want nuns to go away from their convents at all. But if any unavoidable and urgent need arise that compels them to do so, let them fare forth with the blessing and permission of the Abbess; even then, however, not alone, but with other women who are much older both in point of age and in point of prudence. For them to sleep at night outside of their convents is utterly forbidden them in any case whatsoever. But monks, too, when similarly compelled by some urgent and unavoidable need, may go out from their monasteries only with the blessing of the Prior. All those who do otherwise are to be reprimanded with suitable penances, which the Prior or Prioress is acquainted with, whether the delinquents be men or women.


St. Basil the Great also commands (in his Epitome of Definitions, Def. 120) that a monk go to no place without permission of the prior. As for any monk that should go away from the monastery without a blessing, he says for him to be deprived of communion (Penance 1); but not even for the sake of visiting their relatives may monks depart from their brethren, and live an unwitnessed life (in extenso Def. 32). The second ordinance of Title I of the Novels in proceeding forward makes it a law that even with the foresight and diligent care of the bishop neither monks nor nuns ought to go away from their monastery or convent, respectively, and roam about town, but only through the medium of menytae and apoctisiarii make any replies that are necessary, while they themselves stay inside their monasteries (in Photius, Title XI, ch. 4).

47. Let neither any woman sleep in the men’s quarters in a Monastery, nor any man in the women’s quarters of a Convent. For the faithful believers must be remote from any offensiveness of scandal, and must regulate their own life to be seemly and accordant to the Lord. If anyone do this, whether he be a clergyman or a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(cc. XVIII, XX, XXII of the 7th.)


This Canon decrees that neither may any woman in general sleep at night in the monastery of monks, nor may any man in general sleep at a convent mutually with any of the nuns there. For Christians in general must not cause any others any scandal or suspicion, but must pass their life in a seemly manner and in a manner agreeable to the Lord. But much more ought monks to guard themselves against committing this impropriety. As for women sleeping in a monastery of monks, and conversely for men to sleep in a convent of nuns, this should cause them to be scandalized themselves because of its kindling the innate fire of desire both in the men and in the women; and it should scandalize others too still worse because of its inducing them to entertain improper suspicions about them. As for anyone that does this, he is to be excommunicated, no matter whether he be a clergyman or a layman.

48. As touching any woman who is the wife of a man who is being elevated to the presidency of an Episcopate, and who by mutual agreement gets divorced from her own husband in advance after his ordination to the Episcopate, let her enter a Convent that is in a location far removed from the home city of the Bishop, and let her be taken care of by the Bishop. But if she also appears to be worthy, let her also be elevated to the office of Deaconess.


The present Canon commands that any woman who is the wife of a man who is about to become a bishop must first divorce by common consent of both her and him. And after he has been duly ordained, she must enter a convent (or monastery) that is far away from his eparchy, or province, by which expression it is implied that she is to become a nun in some remote convent, but is to be provided with the necessities of life by him (if, that is to say, she is needy). The Canon commanded this to be done, in order that they might not from seeing each other be led to recollect their former conduct and association in life, and consequently be burned up with a desire for carnal love. But if the wife, however, is worthy, she may be made a deaconess. Read also Ap. c. V, and c. XII of the 6th, and the second Footnote to c. XL of the same 6th. From this Canon Blastaris rightly infers that neither ought the wife of deceased priests marry a second time.

49. Renewing this sacred Canon too, we decree that Monasteries that have once been consecrated and established in accordance with the consent and approval of a Bishop shall remain Monasteries unto perpetuity, and the property that belongs to them shall be kept safe in the Monastery, and that they can no longer become worldly resorts, nor be let out by anybody whatever to any worldly tenants whatever. Though this has been done up till now, we nevertheless decree that it shall not be continued in any way whatever. Those who attempt to do this hereafter shall be subject to the penances provided by the Canons.

(c. XXIV of the 4th; c. XIII of the 7th.)


The present Canon renews c. XXIV of the 4th, which it repeats verbatim, and see the Interpretation there. All it adds thereto is this, that neither shall monasteries be let out by anybody (whether a clergyman or a layman or a monk, that is to say) to worldly men, to manage them, that is to say; and though this has been the practice hitherto, from now on, however, and hereafter it must not be done.

50. From now on nobody, whether a clergyman or a layman, is permitted to gamble (or to play dice). In case anyone be caught doing this, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office, but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(Ap. cc. XLII, XLIII.)


These Fathers forbid everybody to gamble, or, in other words, to play dice, or cards, or draughts, or any other such games, no matter whether he be a clergyman or a layman. Anyone that should play these games after publication of this Canon, if he be a clergyman, shall be deposed from office, but if he be a layman, he shall be excommunicated. See also Ap. c. XLII.

51. The holy and ecumenical Council universally prohibits so-called pantomimes and their theatrical exhibitions; afterwards, in keeping with this, also the spectacles of wild-animal fury and of hunters’ prowess, and the execution of dances on the stage. If anyone flouts the present Canon, and gives himself over to any of the things herein prohibited, in case he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but in case he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(cc. XXIV, LXII, LXVI of the 6th; cc. XVII, LXX of Carthage.)


With a vengeance the present Canon prohibits the doings of so-called pantomimes, some of whom were Arabs mimicking gestures, while others were Armenians, at other times slaves, sometimes even slapping each other’s face, and moving the spectators to uncontrollable laughter. What is here called “spectacles of wild-animal fury and of hunters’ prowess” as translated into English (though but two words in Greek, meaning, approximately, “hunting scenes” — translated, however, as above in order to bring out the implications more clearly) are the spectacles beheld when one sees wild beasts, such as, for instance, lion, say, or bears, or other savage animals, fighting, either among themselves, or with human beings who have been condemned to death. For it is a piece of great inhumanity and barbarity to look at such bloodshed and laugh at it. But in addition to these spectacles, the Canon also forbids dances and indecent wriggles performed whether by men or by women on the stage. The stage was a tent within which they used to engage in all kinds of theatrical presentations and pretenses, or where someone would stand up and display examples of skillful acting, according to Title XIII of Photius, ch. 21, and hence they are called actors who at times pretend that they are masters or lords, and at other times that they are slaves or servants. As for anyone that flouts the present Canon and gives himself to watching such displays, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office, but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. Read also c. XXIV of the same 6th.

52. On all the days of the holy Lent devoted to fasting, with the exception of Saturday and Sunday and the days of the holy Annunciation, let the sacred liturgy of the presanetified be celebrated.

(Ap. c. LXIX; cc. XLIX:LI of Laodicea).


The days of holy Lent are days of mourning and of contrition and of penitence. But for a perfect sacrifice to be offered to God, and indeed in the commemorations of saints, is deemed by the majority of people to be a matter of heydey, and of joy, and of festivity. That is why they are wont to indulge in merry-making during this period. For this reason the present Canon commands that on the other days of Lent there shall be a celebration of the liturgy of the presanetified, which is the same as saying the second offering of the finished and offered sacrifice, whereas on Saturdays and Sundays, as more hilarious days and not devoted to fasting, likewise also on Annunciation Day, as being the commencement of our salvation and the exordium, and consequently as a feast day and festival, it allows a perfect sacrifice and liturgy to be celebrated.


Canon XLIX of Laodicea is in agreement with the present Canon in decreeing that bread is not to be offered during Lent, or, in other words, a perfect liturgy, but only on Saturday and Sunday. Furthermore, c. LI of the same prohibits the celebration of commemorations and birthdays of martyrs on fasting days in Lent, but allows it only on the Saturdays and Sundays therein. Balsamon, in his Interpretation of c. LI of this C. of Laodicea, and, above all, Blastaris, in ch. 5, stich. 300, say that not even memorials for the sleeping are to be held on the other days in Lent, the sole exception being Saturday, just as the rituals conformably prescribe. See also Ap. c. LXIX.

53. Since familiarity with respect to the spirit is superior to the association of bodies, while, on the other hand, we have learned that some persons, after becoming sponsors to children subjected to the formalities of a holy and salvatory baptism, have entered into a marriage contract with the widowed mothers of those children, we decree that henceforth nothing of the kind shall be done. If any persons be detected doing this hereafter, first and foremost let such persons desist from such unlawful state of matrimony, and afterwards let them be compelled to undergo the penances prescribed to be suffered by those guilty of fornication.


The present Canon forbids anybody to take to wife the mother of his goddaughter who has become a widow and whose child he has stood sponsor for at holy baptism, since this relationship based upon the spirit, whereby the godfather and the spiritually related mother of the child he has sponsored become spiritually brother and sister, is superior (superior, however, not in respect of quantity and rank; for blood relationship holds as an obstacle only to the third degree of rank — but in respect of quality and familiarity: and see in the section concerning marriage contract, ch. 8). As for any persons that may dare to do this, they are first of all to be divorced from this unlawful wedding, and next they are to be canonized (i.e., canonically punished) as fornicators on account of that unlawful marriage. This same provision, however, which the Canon makes in regard to sponsorship, ought to apply likewise to adoption solemnized by sacred rites and prayers, according to the twenty-fourth Novel of Leo the Wise.

54. In view of the fact Holy Scripture clearly teaches us that which is embodied in the following passage, to wit: “Thou shall not intrude upon any relative of thy flesh to expose his private parts” (Lev. 18:6), God-bearing Basil merely enumerated some of the forbidden marriages in his Canons relating thereto, passing over most of them in silence, and pointing out to us on both hands that which is of benefit. For after eschewing the multitude of obscene appellations, as though to avoid defiling his discourse with the words, he dealt with the filth in general terms, in which he pointed out concisely the marriages that are unlawful. But inasmuch as such silence and inability to discern what marriages are prohibited as illicit led nature to get confused, we have concurred in seeing fit to present the facts concerning this matter more nakedly. Accordingly, we decree that henceforth anyone who enters into matrimonial relationship with his own (female) cousin; or any father and his son who likewise take a mother and her daughter, or two sisters; or a mother and her daughter likewise take two brothers; or two brothers take two sisters — shall incur a seven years’ canon (or penance), after they have canceled the unlawful marriage contract.


Since the divine Scripture clearly teaches us by telling us, “O man, thou shalt not take in marriage any carnal relative of thine,” in reference to this saying St. Basil the Great in his c. LXXVI enumerated some marriages forbidden in his Canons (as, for instance, in his c. LXXVI that of a man taking his sister-in-law to wife; in his c. LXXVIII, that of one who takes two sisters; and others in other cc.), but passed over the most in silence, on the ground of their being too shameful to mention, in order to avoid defiling his discourse with the names of them, but concisely alluded to all unlawful marriages by the general designation of them as filth (but as for what the Council says that Basil said, Basil asserts that Scripture has said it — which is to say, divine St. Paul, who said: “But fornication and all (other) filth, let it not even be named among you,” etc. (Eph. 5:3). As a result of this silence men’s nature was confused by consanguinity, and for this reason we define these matters more clearly in the present Canon by decreeing that from this time forth whoever takes to wife his (female) cousin, or any father and his son if they take to wife a mother and her daughter, or two sisters, or if two brothers take a mother and her daughter, or two sisters — all these persons must first be separated from this unlawful marriage contract, and afterwards be canonized (i.e., penanced) seven years. St. Basil, however, in his c. LXVIII decrees generally that marriage within forbidden degrees of relationship is to be canonized with the penalty of adulterers, i.e., 15 years. See also in the teaching concerning marriage contracts.

55. Since we have learned that those in the city of the Romans during the holy fast of Lent are fasting on the Saturdays thereof, contrary to the ecclesiastical practice handed down, it has seemed best to the holy Council for the Church of the Romans to hold rigorously the Canon saying: “If any Clergyman be found fasting on Sunday, or on Saturday, with the exception of one only let him be deposed from office. If, however, a layman, let him be excommunicated.”


By the present Canon this Council forbids the old Romans to fast (either by abstaining entirely from food of all kinds, that is to say, or by eating only dry food in the ninth hour) on the Saturdays of holy Lent (for on these the consumption of wine, oil, and shellfish is allowed), and decrees that c. LXIV of the Holy Apostles must be kept rigorously in Rome too, iterating it verbatim — read the Interpretation of it.

56. Likewise we have learned that in the country of the Armenians and in other regions on the Saturdays and on the Sundays of holy Lent some persons eat eggs and cheese. It has therefore seemed best to decree also this, that the Church of God throughout the inhabited earth, carefully following a single procedure, shall carry out fasting, and abstain, precisely as from every kind of thing sacrificed, so and especially from eggs and cheese, which are fruit and produce from which we have to abstain. As for those who fail to observe this rule, if they are Clergymen, let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated.


It would seem that the Christians living in Armenia, being told that the Apostolic Canon forbids one from fasting on Saturday and Sunday, and not understanding it aright, were wont to eat eggs and cheese on the Saturdays and Sundays of Lent. Hence this Council in the present Canon decrees that the entire Church of Christ, which is spread over the whole inhabited face of the earth, must follow one and the same procedure and fast on these days (by consuming on these days only wine, oil, and shellfish), and just as it abstains during Lent from animals that are sacrified, so must it also abstain from cheese and eggs, which are fruit and produce of such animals. As for those who fail to keep this rule, if they are clergymen, let them be deposed from office, but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated. Read also Ap. cc. LXIV and LXIX.

57. That honey and milk must not be offered at the Altars.

(Ap. c. III.)


The present Canon decrees that milk and honey must not be offered in the holy Bema on the holy Table, in agreement with Ap. c. III; see the Interpretation of the latter. This Canon, however, improves and corrects c. LXIV of Carthage, which decrees that such are to be offered, in accordance with some local custom. 

58. Let no one ranked among Laymen administer the divine Mysteries to himself, when a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon is present. Let anyone that dares to do any such thing he excommunicated for a week on the ground that he is doing contrary to what has been ordered. Thus will he be instructively persuaded “not to think contrary to what he ought to think” (Rom. 12:3).


For a layman himself to partake of the divine Mysteries by himself, i.e., by helping himself thereto, without there being any need of doing so (when a Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, that is to say, is not present, according to Zonaras), is a work of presumption, and whoever does it is usurping unlawfully the office of the priesthood. For this is the function of priests, not of laymen. So for this reason the present Canon excommunicates from the Church for a week anyone that dares to do this, in order to teach him not to think in excess of what he ought to think according to the Apostle.

59. Let no Baptism be performed for anyone that is in an oratory within a house at the time; but let those who are going to be deemed worthy of the intemerate illumination come to the catholic churches and there enjoy this gift. If, however, anyone be caught not keeping what has been laid down by us as rules, if he should be a Clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he should be a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The present Canon commands that no baptism is to be carried out in an oratory contained in a private house, but only in catholic, and consequently enthroned, churches. As for anyone that fails to keep this rule, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he is a layman, the one who concerned in such a baptism, let him be excommunicated. See also Ap. c. XXXI.

60. In view of the fact that the Apostle loudly proclaims that “he that cleaves to the Lord is one spirit” (1 Cor. 6:17), it is obvious also that he that makes himself intimate with the adversary becomes one with him by association. As touching, therefore, those who pretend to be possessed with demons, and who with their vileness of manners are wont to sham the habits of those persons, it has seemed best to penalize them by all means and to subject them to such hardships and pains as those who are really possessed with demons would be deservedly subjected to for the purpose of ridding them of the demon’s energy.


Some persons, because of the vileness of their frame of mind and with an eye to making a profit, were wont to pretend that they were possessed with a demon, and to go through the gesticulations of persons under the control of demons and make irregular motions by pretense while going about the cities and causing people a disturbance and making a theatrical show of themselves. Hence the present Canon commands that such persons be penalized by all means and be subjected to such great hardships and pains as would be inflicted upon persons really possessed with demons in order to free them from the demon accompanying them, with which these men too who feign themselves to be under the control of demons have become familiar and have become one with them, just as he that cleaves to the Lord and becomes intimate with the Lord becomes one spirit with Him, as St. Paul says. Balsamon states that such persons at various times were actually chained and shut up in prisons by many Patriarchs and Bishops. See also Ap. c. LXXIX.

61. Those who consult soothsayers or so-called “hecantontarchs” of other such fortune-tellers in the hope of learning from them whatever may be revealed to them, in accordance with what the Fathers had formerly decided in regard to them, let them incur the canon of six years. The same penalty ought to be inflicted also upon those who lead bears after them, or other such animals, for the purpose of sport and harm of the more simple-minded, and who tell the fortune, and fate, and genealogy, and other such things to the populace, in accordance with the rigmarole of delusion. As for those who are called cloud-chasers and enchanters and amuletics and soothsayers, if they persist in these professions, and refuse to change their occupation and to eschew these ruinous practices and Greek “rackets,” we decree that they be thrown out of the Church altogether, in conformity with what the sacred Canons also prescribe. “For what communion hath light with darkness?” as the Apostle says; “or what agreement hath a temple of God with idols? Or what portion hath a believer with an infidel? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?” (II Cor. 6:15–16).


Christians must not affect any of those wicked things which the Greeks used to affect — divination, that is to say, and charms, and other similar things. On this account the present Canon decrees that those Christians shall be compelled to abstain from the Mysteries for six years who consult soothsayers, and men calling themselves hecantontarchs, and others of the kind, with a view to learning from them whatever occult things they wish (in order to find money or other things they have lost, for instance), just as previous Fathers have canonically penalized them. It also in like manner with the above canonizes for six years also those who drag bears or other such animals along with them for sport and harm of simple-minded persons; and also those who tell fortunes of men and what they are to get in the future and that they were born on a lucky or unlucky day and other such delusive sayings. It likewise canonizes also those persons who were called “cloud-chasers,” and “enchanters,” and “amuletics”and soothsayers. Accordingly, all of them are to receive this canon if they repent and abandon such ruinous, devilish, and Greek “rackets.” If, however, they persist in this wickedness and delusion, and do not give it up, they are to be driven away from the Church of Christ altogether and are to be excluded from the society of Christians, just as the divine Canons prescribe. For what communion has light with darkness? or what union has the temple of God with the altar of idols? what portion has a believer with an unbeliever? or what concord has Christ with the Devil, as St. Paul says? But we must note that the penalty provided by the present Canon is provided for laymen only, as much for those who perform such diabolical works and magic as we have enumerated above, as for those who consult them. For any clergymen and persons in holy orders that should do such things would surely be deposed from office, according to Balsamon and Zonaras, without fail.


As regarding persons engaged in divination and following Greek customs, and bringing wizards to their homes in order to discover the bewitchments certain persons may have cast a spell upon them, the Fathers of the Council in Ancyra canonize them five years in their c. XXIV, while Basil the Great makes it six in his c. LXXXIII, which this Council followed mentioning as previous Fathers both him and those in Ancyra. Canon XXXVI of Laodicea expressly throws out of the Church those who wear amulets, and prohibits clergymen and priests from becoming wizards, or enchanters, or mathematicians, or astrologers, and from making amulets. It is mainly this Canon that the Council is referring to in saying “in conformity with what the sacred Canons also prescribe, but perhaps it is referring also to the ones following. For c. III of Nyssa decrees that those who go to fascinators and soothsayers must be well questioned, and if it turn out that they became small-souled (or pusillanimous) as a result of being forced by any unendurable necessity and were deluded by such men, they are to be more leniently dealt with (or canonized), just as are those who have been induced by tortures to deny Christ. But if it be as a result of their having flouted the faith of Christ and of their having failed to believe that Christ is a God and well able to free them from every ill plight and calamity, they are to be canonized like those who have voluntarily denied Christ, which is the same as saying, that they are not to commune throughout the duration of their lifetime, unless at last they separate from the Church, and pray only by themselves alone, as the same Gregory of Nyssa in his c. II plainly states this. But also c. VII of Basil also in dealing likewise with those Christians who have sacrificed to idols and have consequently been separated from the Church of Christians, penalizes sorcerers. The same Basil, on the other hand, in his c. LXV canonizes as willing murderers those who declaim about the fascination and sorcery which they have practiced, and also those who give themselves to soothsayers in his c. LXXII.

62. We wish once for all to extirpate from the life of the faithful the so-called (festival of) the calends, or kalends, and the so-called Vota, and the so-called Brumalia, and the public festival celebrated on the first day of March. Furthermore, the public dances of women, which are calculated to wreak great harm and injury. Furthermore we dismiss also the dances and ritualistic ceremonies performed by men or women in the name of what are falsely called gods among Greeks, after an old custom which is alien to the life of Christians, at the same time decreeing that no man shall put on any feminine costume, nor shall a woman put on any that befits men. But neither shall anybody put on comic, or satyric, or tragic masks; neither shall anybody shout the name of abominable Dionysus while engaged in squeezing grapes in the wine-presses; nor, when pouring the wine into the casks shall they provoke laughter by a show of ignorance or of vanity, by producing the effects of demoniacal delusion. As for those who from now on attempt to carry out any of the aforesaid improprieties, while well aware of what they are doing, if they should be clergymen, we command that they be deposed from office; but if laymen, that they be excommunicated.


The calends (also spelled kalends) were the first days of every month, on which the Greeks were accustomed to celebrate in order as they hoped to pass the whole month merrily. The Vota and Brumalia, on the other hand, were Greek festivals. The Vota, referring to grazing and sheep, were celebrated in honor of the god Pan, who was supposed by the Greeks to be the patron of sheep and other animals. The Brumalia were celebrated in honor of Dionysus; for the epithet of Dionysus among the Greeks of the north was Bromius, derived from bromos, a Greek word signifying a peal as of thunder. By the Romans he was called Brumalius, and his festival Brumalia, in the plural, which is the equivalent of Dionysia, as the Greeks called it. So the present Canon commands that such festivals, but especially the public one celebrated on the first day of March, for the pretended purpose of securing good weather in spring, be eliminated altogether from the public and private life of Christians. Nor must public dances in general of women be held, nor festivals and dances by men or women in honor of the name of the pseudo gods of the Greeks. It decrees in addition that neither must men wear women’s clothing, nor women men’s clothing. But neither must they disguise themselves with false faces and masks that are comic, or, in other words, calculated to provoke laughter, or tragic, or calculated to provoke laments and tears, or satyric, or, in other words peculiar, to Satyrs and Bacchi, who in honor of Dionysus were wont to dance ecstatically and as if demon-possessed. And that no one should invoke, or call upon, the name of despicable Dionysus (who was supposed to be the giver and patron of wine) when treading the grapes in the winepresses, nor laugh and guffaw when the new wine is being transferred to the pitharia, as these are called in modern Greek, being a kind of earthen casks. So whoever from now on, after becoming fully aware of these prohibitions, shall attempt to do any of the aforesaid things which are demonish and Greekish, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office but if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.


Note also that in Deuteronomy (ch. xxii, v. 5) God prohibits a woman from wearing men’s clothing, and a man from wearing women’s clothing: “a woman shall not wear the apparel of a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for all who do so are an abomination unto the Lord thy God.” The Council held in Gangra does not even allow a woman to wear masculine attire for the sake of supposed exercise. For it anathematizes any woman doing so, c. XIII. Read also c. XXIV of the present Council.

63. With regard to the falsely compiled martyr-lists fabricated by the enemies of the truth, as if with an intention to dishonor the Martyrs of Christ and to lead those paying attention to it into disbelief, we command that it must not be read publicly even in the churches, but that these things must be consigned to fire. As for those who accept them and recognize them as veridical, or those who bestow any attention upon them as true, we anathematize such persons.


Infidels and enemies of the truth, wishing to bring accusations against Christians’ records, composed, it would seem, certain ludicrous and grotesque utterances and deeds with the allegation that the Martyrs of Christ said and did those things, in order that the Martyrs might incur insults as a consequence thereof, and the Orthodox faith be laughed to scorn. Hence the present Canon commands that no such fictitious lists be read publicly in churches, but instead that they be burned up. Those, on the other hand, who accept them as true are anathematized. See also Ap. c. LX.

64. That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly. For in the one Church God created different members, according to the utterance of the Apostle, in interpreting which St. Gregory the Theologian clearly presents the right procedure in these matters by saying: “Let us have respect for this procedure, brethren, and let us observe it. First, let one man be a listener, as the hearing recipient; another, the tongue; another, a hand; another, something else; let one man teach, and let another man learn; and after short periods, as touching one who learns in a state of obedience, and one who leads the chorus in hilarity, and one who renders service in cheerfulness and willingness, let us not all be a tongue, heeding the most apt saying: “Let us not all be Apostles; let us not all be Prophets; let us not all be Interpreters” (1 Cor. 12:29), and after somewhat: “Why are you making out that you are a shepherd, when you are a sheep? Why are you becoming a head, when you happen to be a foot? Why are you attempting to be a general, when you are placed in the ranks of (ordinary) soldiers? And from another quarter Wisdom bids: “Be not hasty in words; vie not with a rich man when thou art indigent” (Prov. 23:4); nor seek to be wiser than the wise. If anyone be caught disobeying the present Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days.


The present Canon prohibits any layman from teaching openly and in church as a teacher; instead he should rather himself be taught by those who have received the gracious gift of teaching. For, just as there are various members belonging to one and the same body, as St. Paul says, so and in like manner there are various persons in the one Church, in the order in which placed each of them. Hence in interpreting this saying of the Apostle’s (in his Homily concerning due order in discussions) he says that one person in the Church must be an ear, another a tongue, another a hand, and another some other member; and neither must all of them be a tongue, or, in other words, teachers, nor must all of them be Apostles, nor all of them Prophets. So, O man, being a sheep, why are you trying to make yourself out to be a shepherd? Being a foot, why are you trying to be a head? Being a soldier, why are you undertaking to be a general? or a leader of soldiers? Solomon, too, says: “Be not glib of speech and ready to say things; nor, when poor, quarrel with the rich; nor seek to become wiser than the wise, or more learned than the learned.” If anyone does things in violation of this Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days. But if any layman chance to be experienced in discourse and modest in manner, he is not prohibited from answering and teaching in private those asking questions, as Zonaras states, and ch. 32 of Book VIII of the Apostolic Injunctions declare. For they shall be, it says, all taught of God: in which manner Apollos spoke, and taught the facts about the Lord, and in spite of the fact that he only knew the baptism of the Lord (Acts 28:25), and Aquilas and Priscilla, who taught the same Apollos the way of God more exactly (ibid.).

65. We command that henceforth the bonfires lit by some persons on the occasion of the New Moon in front of their own workshops or houses, and over which some persons even leap, in accordance with an ancient custom, it is babled, shall be abolished and done away with. Whoever, therefore, who does any such thing, if he be a Clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. For it is written in the Fourth Book of Kings: “And Manasseh built an altar to the whole host of heaven, in the two courts of the Lord’s house, and passed his children through fire, and consulted augurs, and appointed ventriloquists, and multiplied seers, and he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to wrath” (II Kings 23:4–6).


Since, and in imitation of the Greeks and heathen, some Christians used to light a bonfire in front of their workshops and houses, over which bonfire they would leap and pass over it and above it, this Council deposes any clergymen that do such a thing, while, in the same connection, it excommunicates laymen guilty of the same offense. Wishing to show that if such Greek customs when observed by the imperfect Jews sufficed to provoke God to indignation and wrath, how much more they provoke Him when observed by us Christians who are perfect and disciples of the Gospel! It says that King Manasseh built an altar, implying that he offered sacrifices to the host and force of heaven, to the stars, that is to say (and especially to the moon; just as is written in Jeremiah: “to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out libations unto her” — unto the moon, that is to say) within the two courts of the temple, and he passed his children through the fire, and consulted augurs, and was wont to divine future events by auspication, and appointed many ventriloquists and seers. And he perpetrated wickedness in the eyes of the Lord and provoked His wrath. Note, too, that the expression “he passed his children through fire” is taken by the Council here to mean that Manasseh made his children hop over or through the fire, whereas Cyril of Alexandria, in his Commentary of Isaiah, interpreted it to mean that he made a burnt-offering of his children in the fire as a sacrifice to the demons.

66. The faithful are required to spend the time in a state of leisure without fail in the holy churches from the holy days of resurrected Christ our God to New Sunday in psalms and hymns, and in spiritual songs called odes, while taking cheer in Christ and celebrating, and paying close attention to the reading of the divine Scriptures, and delighting themselves to their heart’s content in the Holy Mysteries. For thus shall we be jointly resurrected and jointly exalted with Christ. Therefore during the days in question let no horse races or other popular spectacle be held at all.


Inasmuch as all of Novation week is reckoned as a single day devoted to the name of the Lord, therefore does the present Canon decree that all Christians during this week ought to remain in the churches, taking cheer and celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, paying attention to the words of the divine Scriptures and partaking of the divine Mysteries. For in this sort of way we shall be resurrected and exalted jointly together with Christ. Hence on these days horse racing must not be indulged in, nor must any other popular spectacle, disorderly game, that is to say, or dances, or wrestling matches, and any other such amusement. See also Ap. c. IX and c. XXIV of this 6th.

67. Divine Scripture has commanded us to “abstain from blood, and strangled flesh, and fornication” (Gen. 9:3–4; Lev. ch. 17 and 18:13; Acts 15:28–29). We therefore suitably penance those who on account of their dainty stomach eat the blood of any animal after they have rendered it eatable by some art. If, therefore, anyone from now on should attempt to eat the blood of any animal, in any way whatsoever, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman let him be excommunicated.


The present Canon commands that no Christian eat the blood of any animal, no matter in what manner or by what art it may have been prepared, and even though it be mixed with other foods, whether these be “suntzukia” or any other things. For the divine Scripture of the Old Testament, and especially that of the New expressly commanded Christians to abstain from blood, from strangled meats, and from fornication (and from things sacrificed to idols). If a clergyman should eat this, let him be deposed from office; but if a layman do so, let him be excommunicated. Read also Ap. c. LXIII.

68. As regards the fact that it is not permissible for anyone to destroy, or to cut up, or to turn over to book stores or to so-called druggists, or anyone else whatsoever for destruction any of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, or of our holy and eminent Preachers and Teachers, unless it be completely useless because of having been damaged by bookworms or water or in some other way. Anyone caught doing such a thing from now on, let him be excommunicated for a year. Likewise anyone buying such books, unless he keeps them for his own use and benefit, nor should he give them away to others to keep, but who attempts to destroy them, let him be excommunicated.


It is not permissible, says the present Canon, for anyone to destroy or to cut up books of the Old and New Testaments, and of the eminent teachers, or, in other words, of those who have been approved and accepted after tests (for many books have been written, but have been rejected and disapproved); nor must he give these away to book stores, or to persons who extinguish or otherwise destroy books, or to those selling drugs and perfumes, or to anyone else to destroy or make away with them — except only if they have been entirely eaten up by worms, or have rotted and have become illegible from having become too old to be read. As for anyone who might do such a thing, let him be excommunicated for a year. Likewise let him be excommunicated who buys such books, not in order to benefit himself by reading them, nor in order to give them to anyone else to have the benefit of them, but in order to spoil them or to destroy them.

69. Let it not be permitted to anyone among all the laity to enter within the sacred altar, with the exception that the Imperial power and authority is in no way or manner excluded therefrom whenever it wishes to offer gifts to the Creator, in accordance with a certain most ancient tradition.


The holy Bema is consecrated to those in holy orders. For this reason the present Canon prohibits every layman from entering it, except only that person who is the Emperor or King; and he is excepted not as a layman, but as having power and authority and as one anointed of the Lord, who has been permitted to enter it, in accordance with a most ancient tradition, whenever he wishes to offer gifts to God his Creator, and to partake of the Holy Mysteries.


That explains why c. XLIV of Laodicea forbids women to enter the sanctuary of the sacrificial altar. Canon I, however, of Patriarch Nicholas allows those monks to enter the Holy Bema who are not guilty of any transgression reflecting upon the modesty of the monastic habit, in order to light the candles or wax tapers. But even St. Nicephorus, in his c. XV, says that nuns ought to enter the Holy Bema for the purpose of lighting the lights and setting things in order and sweeping it. If, however, a person is not a monk but only a novice, he cannot go into the Holy Bema, according to what Balsamon says in his interpretation of c. I of Nicholas, q.v.

70. Let it not be permissible for women to talk during Holy Mass, but in accordance with the words of Paul the Apostle, “let your women remain silent. For it has not been permitted them to talk, but to obey, as the law directs. If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home.”

“As in all churches of the saints,” says Paul the Apostle, “in the churches let your women remain silent. For it has not been permitted them to talk but to obey, as the law directs. If they wish to learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home” (1 Cor. 14:33–35.)

“Let the women learn quietly with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be quiet. For Adam was formed first, and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman having been deceived became at fault. But she shall be saved through child-bearing, if they abide in faith and love and sanctity with sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:11–15).


According to the words of this Canon and according to the words of St. Paul, women are prohibited from teaching either in holy temples (churches) or outside thereof, for St. Paul does not mean by “church” the temple itself, but a “congregation of people” anywhere; and still more are they prohibited from chanting either in a choir of their own or along with men.

“For it is a shame for women to talk in church” (1 Cor. 14:35). This means that women should keep silent in church, and out of church wherever there is a congregation of people. The fact that the word talk is used here, and not the word speak, controverts and overthrows the allegation put forward by some persons that only teaching is forbidden to women but not chanting; for talk includes any sort of vocal utterance, and not merely articulate speech. In fact, women are not allowed to let their voice be heard at all within the sacred temple of the church. They may, of course, sing and chant in their hearts praises and blessings to God, but not with their lips.

Before God formed Eve, He said: “It is not good that man should be alone; let us make for him a helper meet for him” (Gen. 2:18). This means that woman was created, not to rule man, but to help him and to be ruled by him. Woman is a teacher of every virtue by word and deed within her own province at home; but she is not allowed even to speak or sing within the sacred precincts of the church. Woman’s job is to bear children and rear them in the belief and love of God, to uphold the sanctity and sobriety of marriage, and to shun adultery as a thing that is odious to God. By so doing she will be saved, and not otherwise; by leaving this path and failing in these duties, she invites perdition.

“If anyone think himself a prophet or a spiritual agent, let him acknowledge that what I write unto you are commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Cor. 14:37–38). A true prophet or teacher or spiritual agent has the spirit of Christ and does not disagree with Christ’s Apostle; he easily discerns and believes that St. Paul’s commandments are commandments of Christ. Whoever, on the other hand, does not discern and believe this, yet thinks that he is a prophet or a spiritual agent, is merely deluding himself; he is a false prophet lacking the spirit of Christ.

Teaching and chanting are inconsistent with the nature and destiny of a Christian woman, just as are the priesthood and the bishopric. Eve, the woman formed by God, was the first to teach Adam once, in Paradise, and she ruined everything; that is why women are forbidden to talk in churches. The greatest adornment of women is silence. Let their example be Mary, the New Woman and Child of God, who alone has the honor of having had her speech recorded in history and handed down in the ninth ode of the Church; this refers to her speech and that of Elizabeth. Therefore let Christian women emulate her. The ancient idolaters had priestesses to officiate at the altars and in the temples of idols, in which demons were worshiped; and hence it is that deluded heretics derived this impious custom of theirs of letting women teach and sing and govern in their churches. Shall we Orthodox Christians imitate them? By no means!

It is recorded in the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius (Book 7, ch. 30) that a council of bishops met in Antioch in the third century after Christ from various cities for the purpose of trying Paul the bishop of Samosat, who was rather a sophist and magician than a bishop and who, in addition to other heresies, had introduced a choir of women into the church of Antioch. That council addressed a letter to bishops Dionysius of Rome and Maximus of Alexandria containing the following phrases: “Having suppressed the psalms to our Lord Jesus Christ on the pretext that they are modern psalms and the writings of modern men, who is preparing women to chant to himself in the midst of the church on the great day of Easter whom one would shudder merely to listen to.”

Women were never permitted to teach or to chant in the church along with the sacred cantors or in a choir of their own. Female choirs are an unexampled innovation involving many perils and capable of leading to many scandals, for woman’s voice is more attractive and more pathetic than man’s. The appearance of women in the church choir constitutes a stumbling block; for the eyes and ears of the congregation are at once turned to them, and, becoming intoxicated with the sight and sound of the highstrung melodramatic voices of women, they are languorously effeminated in mind and rendered incapable of enjoying the modest and contrite songs of the Church; thus the church choir gradually becomes transformed into a theatrical chorus!

Canon LXXV of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod decrees the following with reference to church choirs: “It is our wish that those who come to church to chant should neither employ disorderly yelling and strain their natural voices to scream, nor recite anything inappropriate and not suited to a church, but that they should offer such psalmodies with great care contrition to God, who listens and looks on in secret.” “The children of Israel shall be reverent,” saith the sacred saying (Lev. 15:31).

The holy liturgy and sacred hymnody presented in church has the purpose of offering prayers to propitiate God for our sins. Whoever prays and supplicates should be of humble and contrite mind; yelling indicates rudeness and irreverence of mind. But voices and faces of female choirs and the psalmody of European quartets represent a theatrical mind rather than a modest ecclesiastical mind. What is it that is unsuited to the church? Effeminate songs (melodies) and trills (which means the same thing as the warbles of old) and an excessive variety of tones that inclines to whorish songs, Zonaras, an interpreter of the Canons, says.

The children of Israel after Christ are the pious Christians, who should be imbued with fear of God and reverence while within the church. God is not pleased with variety of melodies and voices, but with contrition and repentance of the heart. This is easily understood when we remember that man is pleased to listen to melodies and to look at pretty faces, whereas God looks into man’s soul in the depths of the heart and delights in its reverence, which is manifested by humbleness of behavior.

71. Those being taught the civil laws (i.e., civil law) must not resort to the Greek customs, nor moreover must they appear upon the theater stage, or engage in so-called cylistrae, or garb themselves in robes not in common use, either at the time they are commencing their course of study, or at the time they are finishing it, or, to speak more generally, at any time in the midst of their education. From now on if anyone dare to do so, let him be excommunicated.


Just as the more foolish of the learned men among the Athenians used to fight with their adversaries, as St. Gregory the Theologian writes in the epitaph of St. Basil the Great, and block up the cities and streets, and to do other such things usual to the young sophists, in like manner were Christians who were being taught civil law wont to adopt these Greek customs, and would let themselves be judged on the stage as to who was the best of them in argumentation, and would engage in what were called cylistrae, or would don clothes out of the ordinary. The present Canon prohibits them from doing any of those things either at the commencement or in the midst or at the end of their law course. Anyone doing such things thereafter is to be excommunicated.

72. Let no Orthodox man be allowed to contract a marriage with a heretical woman, nor moreover let any Orthodox woman be married to a heretical man. But if it should be discovered that any such thing is done by any one of the Christians, no matter who, let the marriage be deemed void, and let the lawless marriage tie be dissolved. For it is not right to mix things immiscible, nor to let a wolf get tangled up with a sheep, and the lot of sinners get tangled up with the portion of Christ. If, therefore, anyone violates the rules we have made let him be excommunicated. But in case persons who happen to be still in the state of unbelief (i.e., infidels) and to be not yet admitted to the fold of the Orthodox have joined themselves to each other by lawful marriage, then and in that event, the one of them having chosen the good start by running to the light of truth, while the other, on the contrary, has been held down by the bond of delusion for having failed to welcome the choice of gazing at the divine rays (whether it be that an infidel woman has looked with favor upon a man who is a believer, or vice versa an infidel man upon a woman who is a believer), let them not be separated, in accordance with the divine Apostle: “For the infidel husband is sanctified by the wife, and the infidel wife by the husband” (1 Cor. 7:14).

(c. XIV of the 4th.)


The present Canon declares that it is not permissible for an Orthodox man to marry a heretical woman, or for an Orthodox woman to get married to a heretical man. But if anyone should do this, the marriage is to be void, and this unlawful matrimonial tie is to be sundered. For no wolf should ever be united with a sheep, and the lot of sinners and heretics with the portion of Christ and of Orthodox Christians. Whoever transgresses the present Canon, let him be excommunicated. If, however, both parties were married while infidels in infidelity and community of religion, but afterwards one party believed in Christ, while the other remained in the darkness of infidelity, though the infidel party is still pleased to cohabit with the believing party, let the couple not be separated, as St. Paul says, and indeed even St. Basil’s c. IX. For one thing, because the infidel husband becomes sanctified by living with his believing wife, or the infidel wife by living with her believing husband. And for another thing, because perhaps as a result of such cohabitation the other party may be led to piety. “For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?” demands the same St. Paul, “or how knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save they wife?” (1 Cor. 7:16). See also c. XIV of the 4th.

73. Seeing that the vivifying Cross has shown us the way to Salvation, we ought to make every endeavour to render the honor deserved to that which has been the means whereby we have been saved from the old lapse. Hence both in mind and in word and in sentiment paying it adoration, we by all means command that imprints of the Cross on the ground made by some persons be erased, lest the symbol signifying the trophy of victory to us be desecrated by being trodden upon by people walking over the ground. We therefore decree that henceforth those who make the sign or imprint of the Cross upon the ground shall be excommunicated.


By virtue of the vivifying Cross we have been saved and have been freed from the bondage of sin. Hence (says the present Canon) we ought to make endeavour to render due honor and adoration to it, both with the mind, by remembering how many good things we have gained through it; and with words by telling these things to others and thanking Christ who was crucified upon it; and with feeling by kissing and honoring it wherever we see it. But inasmuch as certain simple-minded people mark the figure of this precious Cross everywhere, so far even as upon the ground of the earth, under the pretext of supposed reverence and in order to pay more honor to it, on this account the Council commands that wherever the figure of the Cross be found printed upon the ground it shall be erased and spoiled in order to prevent its being trodden underfoot and consequently dishonored by people walking upon the victorious trophy of our salvation. As for all those who hereafter make the figure of the Cross upon the ground, let them be excommunicated.

74. That so-called agapae, or love-feasts, must not be held at the Lord’s suppers, or at the churches, and that one is not to eat them inside of a house, or to lay a table with accubita (or couches). As for those who dare to do this, let them either cease or be excommunicated.


The present Canon is word for word the same as c. XXVIII of Laodicea, which prohibits Christian people from holding agapae, or so-called love-feasts (i.e., banquets held as a token of love, and designed to lead the banqueters to love and union), on the occasion of the Lord’s suppers, or, as we may say, in the churches. Nor must they provide soft and high couches thereat, which it calls “accubita,” using a Latin word derived from the verb accumbo, which means in Latin to lean or recline upon, and thus to sit at table; for Christians were wont to sit on these when eating. As for any persons that might dare to do this, they must either cease or be excommunicated. We must first note that Balsamon opines that by “Lord’s suppers” the Canon means here any place dedicated to the Lord, including, that is to say, both the Narthex and the Pronaos, reserving the word “church” for the Temple itself. Hence the particle “or” is not to be taken as explanatory, as Zonaras asserts, but as disjunctive: so that, according to him, one must not eat, not only in churches, but not even in the Narthex of churches.


Likewise c. XLIX of Carthage prohibits bishops, clerics, and laymen from holding banquets except when some passing guests have to be entertained. Note that though the Canons forbid the holding of agapae, or love-feasts, they do not forbid their being held at common houses. Hence c. XXVII of the same Council of Laodicea commands that those in holy orders and laymen shall not take any portions of meals away with them as tidbits when they are invited to such love-feasts. Canon XI of Gangra anathematizes those who scorn those who hold such love-feasts (outside of the church, that is to say) and invite the brethren to assemble in honor of the Lord, and those who make light of the affair by refusing to attend them. Canon LXXVI of the present 6th excommunicates those who sell wine and food stuffs or other merchandise within the sacred precincts. But, besides this, c. XCVII of the same deposes clerics and excommunicates laymen who bring any domestic animal into a sacred temple, except as a result of some great necessity. See also the Footnote to c. LXXXIII of this same 6th.

75. We wish those who attend church for the purpose of chanting neither to employ disorderly cries and to force nature to cry out aloud, nor to foist in anything that is not becoming and proper to a church; but, on the contrary, to offer such psalmodies with much attentiveness and con-triteness to God, who sees directly into everything that is hidden from our sight. “For the sons of Israel shall be reverent” (Lev. 15:30), the sacred word has taught us.


The chanting, or psalmody, that is done in churches is in the nature of begging God to be appeased for our sins. Whoever begs and prayerfully supplicates must have a humble and contrite manner; but to cry out manifests a manner that is audacious and irreverent. On this account the present Canon commands that those who chant in the churches refrain from forcing their nature to yell, but also from saying anything else that is unsuitable for the church. But what are the things that are unsuitable for the church? The expositor Zonaras replies that they are womanish members and warblings (which is the same as saying trills, and an excessive variation or modulation in melodies which inclines towards the songs sung by harlots). The present Canon, therefore, commands that all these things be eliminated from the Church, and that those chant therein shall offer their psalmodies with great care to God, who looks into the hidden recesses of the heart, i.e., into the psalmody and prayer that are framed mentally in the heart rather than uttered in external cries. For the sacred word of Leviticus teaches us sons of Israel to be reverent to God.


David the prophet, too, says, “chant ye understandingly” (Ps. 47:7). In expounding this text St. Basil the Great (Epitomized Definitions, No. 279) says: “Understanding the words of the Holy Scripture is like the quality of meals which the mouth eats; since, according to Job (12:11), ‘The throat tastes foods, but the mind discerns words.’ So if anyone’s soul discerns the power of every word just as the sense of taste discerns the quality of every food, he is fulfilling that commandment of David’s.” St. Basil himself adds (Epitomized Definitions, No. 281) that whoever does not go to chant in church eagerly should either be corrected or be ousted. If there are enough psalts available — many, I mean — the same saint (Epitomized Def., No. 307) says that they should practice chanting in rotation, once a week, that is to say. Canon XV of Laodicea, on the other hand, commands that no one else must chant in church but canonical chanters, or psalts, and parchment-chanting chanters, or psalts, or, in other words, except those who chant with a membraneous or other paper chant. In addition, c. XXIII of the same Council says that psalts are not to wear an orarion when they are chanting. Between the chants there ought to be reading (or praying) too, according to c. XVII of the same Council.

76. That within the sacred precincts no tavern or showcase for the display of perfumes or of other kinds of merchandise must be set up; for the respectability of the Church must be preserved, seeing that our Savior and God, instructing us by His conduct while living in the flesh, bade us not to make His Father’s house a house of merchandise (John 2:16). He even poured out the coins of the money-changers, and drove them all out of the temple who were making it a market place. If, therefore, anybody be caught in doing what is here prohibited, let him be excommunicated.


The Lord told the Jews (19:46): “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’ (Isa. 56:7); but ye have made it a ‘robbers’ cave” (Jer. 7:11). Hence, in order to avoid having these fearful words said to the faithful, the Fathers prohibited by means of this Canon the establishment of a tavern, or, in other words, the sale of wine, or of raki, or even of other kinds of comestibles, according to Zonaras, or of perfumes, according to Balsamon or of other kinds of merchandise within the sacred precincts, or, in other words, within the confines of the vestibule and the grounds of the divine Temples and Churches, in order to keep up respect for them. For even the Lord admonished us and said for us not to make the house of his Father a house of merchandise, and He even dumped out the money of the money-changers, or, more explicitly speaking, he scattered their small coins; and turning upon those who were making the temple a common house, he drove them away with a scourge of cords. As for anyone that may do this, let him be excommunicated.Read also c. LXXIV for the same 6th.

77. That those who have been admitted to the priesthood, or clerics, or ascetics ought not to bathe in public baths with women, nor ought any Christian layman do so. For this is the first thing heathen find to condemn. In case, however, anyone be caught in the act of committing this impropriety, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The present Canon is word for word c. XXX of the Council held in Laodicea, except only for the penance. It says, then, that those in major holy orders, or clergymen admitted to the Holy Bema, or monks and ascetics, or in general any Christian layman ought not to bathe in a public bath together with women; since this impropriety in the eyes of heathen appears to be an offense of the first magnitude, and the greatest scandal as against Christians. But the Apostle commands us to become sentinels to the Jews and Greeks, and to the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32). And if, as Zonaras says, merely meeting a woman in general on the street or at a house is enough to disturb the reasoning process, how can the mind of those men who are bathing together with women fail to be overwhelmed and moved to desire. But not even married couples ought to bathe together, according to Balsamon, either at a public bath, that is to say, or in the sea, or in a river. For they possess their bodies for the purpose of procreating children, and not in order to strip themselves and look at their ugly parts. The Canon adds that whoever appears to be doing this, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The Apostolic Injunctions, Book 1, ch. 9, prohibit the bathing of a woman with a man. This disorderly act is also mentioned by Epiphanius (Haer. 30) and by Clement of Alexandria (Book 3, ch. 5, of his Pardagogus).

78. That those being enlightened (through baptism) must learn all about the faith, and on every Thursday must recite to the Bishop or to the Presbyter.


This Canon too is likewise word for word c. XLVI of Laodicea, which says that those who are getting prepared for enlightenment and baptism as catechumens (see the Interpretation of c. XIV of the 1st) ought throughout the period of their catechization (but what was the length of this period? See the Footnote to c. II of the 1st) to learn the dogmas of the Orthodox faith well and on Thursday of each week, according to Zonaras, they have to recite them by heart to the bishop, or to the presbyters who are catechizing them, lest, being ignorant of the mystery involved in our religion, they be baptized, and lest, being without supporting knowledge as a result of their ignorance, they be easily deceived by heretics.


Canon XLVII of the same Council of Laodicea says that those who are baptized while ill must learn the particulars of the faith when they get well.

79. Confessing the divine childbirth to have resulted from the Virgin without confinement (i.e., childbed), as well as without its being induced by seed; and preaching to all the flock, we require those who have done anything that was not proper to submit to correction. Hence, in view of the fact that after the holy birthday of Christ our God some persons are shown to be boiling fine flour (called in Greek semidalis) and giving thereof to one another, on the pretext of paying honor to the alleged puerperium of the All-intemerate Parthenometor (i.e., the perfectly immaculate Virgin Mother), we decree that nothing of the kind shall be done by the faithful. For this is no honor to the Virgin, at any rate, who gave birth to the Logos in the flesh who is incapable of being spatially bounded and whose birth was beyond the mind and reason of man, from common knowledge and our own experience to define and subscribe to the events attending Her ineffable childbirth. Henceforth, therefore, in case anyone should be caught in the act of doing this, if he be a cleric, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.


Inasmuch as some Christians, actuated by their lack of positive knowledge, on the second day after Christmas boiled fine flour and other foodstuffs, which they ate and gave one another to eat, doing this for the sake of allegedly honoring the puerperium of the Theotoke (just as it is the custom to do in the case of other women who gave birth to children in a natural manner). On this account and for this reason the present Canon decrees that hereafter such a thing shall not be done by Christians. For by such a custom to liken the inexplicable childbirth of the Ever-Virgin to the common and humble birth of us human beings cannot be considered any honor to Her, who beyond the conceivability of man’s mind and reason gave birth in the flesh to the God Logos, who cannot be bounded spatially; on the contrary, it is rather a dishonor. For just as we confess the Conception of the Theotoke to have been seedless and to have resulted from action of the Holy Spirit, so and in like manner we also join in confessing Her childbirth to have been one above every accompaniment of any confinement due to what is commonly called childbed, which consists in giving birth to an infant with the accompanying pangs of childbirth and is followed by a flux of blood, according to Zonaras. Whoever should do this, if he be a Cleric, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.


See also St. Epiphanius (Haer. 79), who in speaking against Collyridiani says that certain are wont to place a baked ring-cake on a square bed provided with linen bedclothes, and afterwards to eat it; and that they do this under the pretense of offering adoration to Mary the Theotoke, and say certain other things that are blasphemous.

80. In case any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or anyone else on the list of the Clergy, or any layman, without any graver necessity or any particular difficulty compelling him to absent himself from his own church for a very long time, fails to attend church on Sundays for three consecutive weeks, while living in the city, if he be a Cleric, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be removed from Communion.


The present Canon decrees that any bishop, presbyter, or deacon, or any clergyman in general, or any layman, without being under any grave necessity or difficulty forcing him to stay away from his church, while he is living in the city, fails to attend church along with the rest of the faithful on three consecutive Sundays, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. For one of two things must be true: either such a person is not a believer; or, though a believer, he scorns the common offering of hymns and prayers to God.


The present Canon is gleaned word for word from c. XI of Sardica — though, on the one hand, the statement that a bishop under no graver necessity or difficulty forcing him to absent himself from his own church is contained as a separate item in the Sardican Canon, which says that bishops must not leave their eparchy for a long time, whereas the present Council has taken it that bishops must not absent themselves from the congregation of the faithful in the church, conjoining this statement with the one below it. Instead of the words “while living in the city, . . . three consecutive Sundays,” etc., the Sardican Council says these words with regard to laymen only, whereas the present Council says them with regard also to bishops. Just as c. XII of the same Sardican Council, that is to say, would have it that even a bishop who is living on his real estate, which is in some foreign eparchy, for three consecutive Sundays, he must join the other faithful in the neighboring church; whereas c. V of Gangra anathematizes anyone that scorns the Church and the congregation of the faithful therein. Likewise also c. XX of the same Council anathematizes those who haughtily disparage the “memoriae” of martyrs and the congregations and liturgies thereat. Canon XXI, too, of the same Council praises congregation in the church as being of public benefit.

81. Precisely because we have learned that in some countries, in the hymn called the Trisagion, by way of addition after the words “Holy and Immortal” there are inserted the words, “who was crucified for our sake, have mercy upon us,” but this addition was elided from that hymn by the Holy Fathers of old on the ground that it is alien to piety, considering that such an utterance must be due to some innovating and disloyal heretic, we too, hereby confirming and ratifying the decisions piously made in the way of legislation by our Holy Fathers heretofore, do anathematize those who still persist after this definition in allowing this utterance to be voiced in church, or to be joined to the Trisagion hymn in any other manner. Accordingly, if the transgressor of the rules laid down here be a member of the Clergy, we command that he be shorn of his sacerdotal standing; but if he be a layman, that he be excommunicated.


Peter Fullo (i.e., “the Fuller”) and the Theopaschites following him were the first to add to the Trisagion Hymn the words “who was crucified for our sake,” after the words “Holy and Immortal.” These heretics, therefore, together with such addition, were condemned by the Council which was held in Rome A.D. 487 under Pope Felix before the Fifth Ecum. Council, and Peter Fullo indeed was anathematized by it (see the Preface to the Fifth Ecum. C.O. But inasmuch as there are still some successors to the heresy of Fullo to be found reciting the Trisagion hymn together with this blasphemous addition, the present Council anathematizes those who accept it and who either in church and publicly or in private join this addition to the Trisagion. Accordingly, if they happen to be clerics, it deposes them from office; but if they happen to be laymen, it excommunicates them.

82. In some of the paintings of the venerable icons, a lamb is inscribed as being shown or pointed at by the Precursor’s finger, which was taken to be a type of grace, suggesting beforehand through the law the true lamb to us, Christ our God. Therefore, eagerly embracing the old types and the shadows as symbols of the truth and preindications handed down to the Church, we prefer the grace, and accept it as the truth in fulfillment of the Law. Since, therefore, that which is perfect even though it be but painted is imprinted in the faces of all, the Lamb who taketh away the sin of the world Christ our God, with respect to His human character, we decree that henceforth He shall be inscribed even in the icons instead of the ancient lamb: through Him being enabled to comprehend the reason for the humiliation of the God Logos, and in memory of His life in the flesh and of His passion and of His soterial death being led by the hand, as it were, and of the redemption of the world which thence accrues.


Since some painters paint Christ as a sheep and lamb, with the Forerunner pointing his finger at him and saying, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,” therefore and on this account the present Canon commands that hereafter in the future this shall not be done, but instead Christ Himself shall be painted a full-grown man, with respect to His human character, in order that by means of the human aspect we may be enabled to recall to memory His life in the flesh and His passion and His death, and the salvation of the world resulting therefrom. For, as regarding those old types of the Law, we honor and value them, out of consideration for the fact that they prefigured the truth of the Gospel and of grace, among which one was that of the lamb slaughtered on the occasion of the Passover (or Easter), taken in the image of Christ, the true Lamb which taketh away the sin of the world. But now that this truth and the realities themselves have come, we prefer it and accept it rather than the types.

83. Let no one impart of the Eucharist to the bodies of the dying. For it is written, “Take, eat” (Matt. 26:26); but the bodies of dead persons can neither take nor eat anything.


This Canon is nearly the same as the twenty-fifth of Carthage. For since it used to be, according to Zonaras, an old custom to impart the Eucharist, or, more explicitly speaking, the divine Mysteries, to the bodies of dying persons, this Canon prohibits this as does also that Canon, explaining that when the Lord gave the mystic bread to His disciples, and through them consequently to all the faithful, He said, “Take, eat.” But the bodies of the dead can neither take it nor eat it. But neither ought one to baptize the dead, according to the remainder of the same c. XXV of Carthage. St. Chrysostom, in his homily on the Epistle to the Hebrews, excommunicates from the Church for a long time as an idolater any Christian that pays and hires women called moerologetriae (corresponding to what the Irish call keeners, i.e., professional mourners) to lament and mourn his dead relatives, and when admonished not to do so will not listen. On top of this, he also excommunicates even the moerologetriae themselves if they dare to go to wail.

84. Closely following the Fathers’ institutions, we decree also as concerning infants, whenever there can be found no reliable witnesses who can state beyond a doubt that they have been duly baptized, and neither are they themselves owing to their infancy able to give any information at all in reply to questions respecting the mystagogical rite administered to them, they must be baptized without putting any obstacle in the way, lest any such hesitation may deprive them of such purifying sanctification.


This Canon too is likewise word for word c. LXXX of Carthage, decreeing that whenever no witnesses can be found to testify that infants have been baptized (perhaps because they were captured by barbarians and abducted to distant regions, and were thereafter redeemed from captivity by Christians), nor can they themselves give any information that they have been baptized, owing to infancy, or, more explicitly speaking, owing to the infantile age at which they were baptized. Such infants, I say, ought to be baptized without any hindrance, lest any doubt as to whether they have been baptized or not result in depriving them of the purification effected through and by virtue of the bath. And see the Footnote to Ap. c. XLVII.

85. “By the mouth of two or three witnesses must every word be verified” (Deut. 17:6 and 19:15; cf. Matt. 18:16), we are taught by Scripture. In the case therefore of those slaves who are being freed by their masters, we prescribe that they shall enjoy this honor pursuant to the testimony of three witnesses. Those having present knowledge shall offer verification to the freedom which they are bestowing of their own accord.


Since according to the civil laws the freedom of slaves was a thing which had no honor attached to it, therefore and on this account whenever any testimony was being offered concerning it, five or even more witnesses had to be presented, in order to insure the proof of it. In annulling this, the present Canon decrees that only three witnesses are sufficient to verify the liberation of such a slave: since the Holy Writ says that every word must be established, or, more explicitly speaking, must be verified by the mouth of two or three witnesses. See also Ap. c. LXXXII.

86. As for those who procure and train prostitutes and harlots to the detriment of souls, if they should be Clerics, we decree that they be excommunicated and deposed from office; but if they be laymen, that they be excommunicated.


Even the civil laws forbid and punish the practices of whoremongers, or, at any rate, the collection and nurture of whores, harlots, and prostitutes (the Greek language making no distinction between these species of the same genus) to the injury of souls with a view to gaining reward from their prostitution; and much more do the ecclesiastical laws do so. On this account the present Canon excommunicates and at the same time also deposes from office those Clerics who do this (which penalty is a very severe one and double chastisement, since for the most part deposition alone suffices to punish Clerics), while, on the other hand, it excommunicates laymen.

87. A woman who has abandoned her husband is an adulteress if she has betaken herself to another man, according to sacred and divine Basil, who most excellently and aptly extracted this item of knowledge from the prophecy of Jeremiah, which says that “if a wife transfers herself to another man, she shall not return to her husband, but by polluting herself she shall remain polluted” (Jer. 3:1); and again, “Whosoever hath an adulteress (as his wife), is foolish and impious” (Prov. 18:22). If, therefore, a woman appears to have departed from her husband without a good reason, the man deserves to be pardoned, while the woman deserves a penance. The pardon shall be given to him so that he may have communion with the Church. Any husband, however, who abandons his lawful wife, and takes another, according to the Lord’s decision, is subject to the judgment attached to adultery. It has been canonically decreed by our Fathers that such men shall serve a year as weepers, two years as listeners, three years as kneelers, and during the seventh year shall stand together with the faithful, and thus be deemed worthy to partake of the prosphora if indeed they verily repent with tears.


The present Canon is composed of three Canons of St. Basil the Great. Thus, the commencement of this Canon is gleaned from c. IX of Basil. It says in effect that any wife who leaves her husband and takes another is an adulteress, just as divine Basil wisely concluded both from the prophecy of Jeremiah which says in effect that if a wife takes another man, she can no longer return to her first husband (without his wanting her, that is to say, according to Zonaras), since she has become polluted: and from the Proverbs of Solomon, who says that any man is impious and wanting in sense who keeps his wife in his house after she has been adulterously employed by another man. The rest of this Canon is gleaned from c. XXXV of St. Basil. It says: If, therefore, it should appear that a wife has departed from her husband without a good reason and cause (which means without the reason based on fornication; so that from this it is easy to understand by contradistinction that a wife may with good reason leave her husband: but no other occasion is a good reason except the reason of fornication or adultery), the husband deserves to be pardoned on the ground that he has afforded no just cause for this unreasonable departure of his wife, and he can take another wife. But the wife, on the contrary, deserves the penances attached to the commission of adultery, on the ground that she has become the cause of this departure. The pardon which the husband shall receive because thereof is that he may stand along with the faithful in the church and not be excommunicated, though he is not entitled to partake of the divine Mysteries. The rest of this Canon is word for word c. LXXVII of St. Basil the Great. It says: He, however, who (except on grounds of fornication) leaves his lawful wife and takes another is subject to the penance attached to adultery, in accordance with the Lord’s decision, which says: “Whosoever shall put away his wife, save on account of fornication, is causing her to commit adultery.” By concession, however, if he repent with tears, such a man and his likes are canonized by the Fathers (assembled, that is to say, in Ancyra, in their c. XX; and by St. Basil the Great, in his c. LXXVII) to abstain from Communion for seven years, passing two of them with the weepers, two with the listeners, three with the kneelers, and during seventh year standing together with the co-standers, or consistentes, and thus acquiring the right to commune. Read also the Interpretation and Footnote of Ap. c. XLVIII, and c. XX of Ancyra.

88. Let no one introduce into a sacred Temple any beast whatsoever, unless it be that when someone is journeying, and being under the greatest necessity and without a habitation or resort of any kind, he puts up in such a Temple. For if he does not let his beast stay inside, it will perish. But with the loss of his beast of burden and as a result of his being thus left without any means of carriage he will expose himself to the danger of death. For we are taught that “the sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27), so that through all it is preferable to consider the salvation and safety of the man. But if anyone should be caught introducing a beast into the Temple without there being any real necessity, as has been said, if he be a Cleric, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The present Canon prohibits anyone from introducing into any sacred temple any kind of animal. For sacred things deserve honor and respectful reverence, save only if anyone be engaged in a long journey, and there arise a great need due to wintry weather and a heavy rain, and he has no place to take refuge, he takes his beast into the temple in order to avoid leaving it outside to perish and himself exposed to the danger of death, as not being able to make the journey from here on with his own feet alone, or as being grieved because he has no money wherewith to buy another. The Canon adduces testimony from Scripture, which says that the Sabbath was made for man. This can be taken in two different senses: either that just as the Sabbath was declared a holiday by the law in order to allow the slave a day of rest, and likewise the beast of burden in the service of man, so that it might as a result of such rest be able to serve its master the better, so and in virtually the same way it maybe said that the animal is allowed to rest in the Temple on such an occasion not for the sake of the animal itself, but for the sake of the man who owns the animal. Or that just as the holiday of the Sabbath used to be interrupted in order to enable men to water their animals (Luke ch. 13), or to get them out of a pit if they happened to fall into one on a Sabbath, in order that as a result of all such exceptions man might be served. Thus too is the honor of the Temple temporarily shelved in order to provide for the salvation of the man owning the beast. But if anyone should take any animal into a temple without any such necessity, in case he be a clergyman, let him be deposed; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated. Read also c. LXXIV of this same 6th.

89. The faithful celebrating the days of the soterial Passion with fasting and prayer and contrition must cease their fast about the middle hours of the night after Great Saturday, the divine Evangelists Matthew and Luke having signaled us the lateness of night, the one by adding the words “at the end of the sabbath” (Matt. 28:1) and the other by saying “very early in the morning” (Luke 24:1).

(c. I of Dionysius.)


This Canon decrees that Christians must celebrate all the Great Week of the Holy Passion with fasting and prayer and contrition of the heart — real contrition, that is to say, and not hypocritical (exceptionally, however, and especially on Great Friday and Great Saturday they ought to be forced to spend the entire day without any nourishment at all); but about midnight — that is to say, after the midnight of the past Great Saturday — of the coming Great Sunday they must cease fasting, since the Lord has already risen, as is plainly evidenced by the divine Evangelists. For St. Matthew by saying that the women came at the end of the Sabbath to inspect the sepulcher revealed that the day of the Sabbath had past as well as a large part of the night after the Sabbath; while Luke, on the other hand, by saying that they came “very early in the morning” revealed that there still remained a large part of the night until Sunday dawned. Hence, from the statements of both of them it may be inferred that the Lord rose about midnight, the sixth hour having passed and the seventh having begun.


As concerning the precise time of the Lord’s Resurrection c. I of Dionysius goes into the matter more fully; in fact, it was from him that the present Council derived its information on these matters. He adds that those who broke their fast before midnight were accused of being pusillanimous and intemperate, whereas those who waited with fortitude till daybreak were praised as being magnanimous and temperate. But even the Apostolic Injunctions, Book V, ch. 19, say that Christians must cease fasting at the dawn of the first hour of Sabbath, or, more plainly speaking, at the dawning of Sunday. See also the Interpretation and Footnote to c. XXIX of the present 6th and Ap. c. LXIX.

90. We have received it canonically from our God-bearing Fathers not to bend the knee on Sundays when honoring the Resurrection of Christ, since this observation may not be clear to some of us, we are making it plain to the faithful, so that after the entrance of those in holy orders into the sacrificial altar on the evening of the Saturday in question, let none of them bend a knee until the evening of the following Sunday, when, after the entrance during the Lychnic, again bending knees, we thus begin offering our prayers to the Lord. For inasmuch as we hare received it that the night succeeding Saturday was the precursor of our Savior’s rising, we commence our hymns at this point spiritually, ending the festival by passing out of darkness into light, in order that we may hence celebrate en masse the Resurrection for a whole day and a whole night.


Since we have received it traditionally (as the present Canon decrees) not to bend the knee on Sundays, from the God-bearing Fathers of the First Synod, i.e., St. Peter and St. Basil the Great, for the resurrection of the Lord, we bring it to the notice of the faithful that they are to refrain from genuflection after the entrance which the priests make into the Holy Bema during Saturday vespers; this is the same as saying from the one evening to the next. For taking the night after Saturday to be the precursor and preamble of the Lord’s resurrection, we begin chanting the resurrection hymns called the Anastasimi, and from the darkness of the night after Saturday (which is counted as that of Sunday) we commence the festival, and keep it up until the light of day of Sunday, when we end it, in order that in this manner we may celebrate the Resurrection en masse for a whole night and day. See also c. XX of the 1st. 

91. As for women who furnish drugs for the purpose of procuring abortion, and those who take foetus-killing poisons, they are made subject to the penalty prescribed for murderers.


Some women, who happen to conceive as a result of secretly practicing coition with men, in order to escape detection swallow certain poisonous draughts or herbs by means of which they kill the foetus in their womb and thus expel it dead. For this reason the present Canon condemns to the penalty of murderers all women (or men) who furnish such means, as well as the women who take these and swallow them.


Canon VIII of Basil decrees this same thing verbatim. But treating such women more kindly, the Fathers in Ancyra, in their c. XXI, and St. Basil the Great, in his c. II, do not canonize for life, but only for ten years. Drugs for procuring abortion, termed abortifacients, are, as some note, and more especially Suidas, the destructive herb named in c. XXI of Ancyra, but the same term is also applied (in Greek) to the foetus destroyed by it. Even in Book LX of the Basilica, Title 39, both women furnishing and those taking these poisonous herbs are condemned as murderesses. Athenagoras, too, in his Apology for Christians, says this very thing. See also Ap. c. LXVI.

92. As for those who grab women on the pretext of marriage, or who aid and abet those who grab them, the holy Council has decreed that if they be clergymen, they shall forfeit their own rank, but if they be laymen, they shall be anathematized.


This present Canon is word for word the same as c. XXVII of the 4th, and read its interpretation there.

93. After her husband’s departure and when he has vanished, yet before becoming convinced of his death, any woman that cohabits with another man is committing adultery. Likewise the wives of soldiers, who, when their husbands have disappeared, get married (again), are subject to the same rule precisely as those who fail to await the return of their husband when he has left home. Nevertheless, in this case there is room for condoning their conduct because there is more suspicion of death. The woman, on the other hand, who has unwittingly married a man who has been temporarily abandoned by his wife, and has been left afterwards because of his former wife’s return to him, is indeed guilty of having committed fornication, but unknowingly. Though she shall not be denied the right to marry, yet it would be better if she should remain as she is. If the soldier should ever return in time whose wife on account of his protracted absence has taken another husband, he shall have the right, if he so should choose, to take back again his own wife, a pardon being granted to her on account of lack of knowledge and to the man who has cohabited with her in the course of a second marriage.


This Canon is composed of three Canons of St. Basil the Great (for its beginning is word for word his c. XXXI) saying that if the husband of a woman departs and does not come back for a long time, and she, before hearing and being informed that her husband has died, takes another man she is an adulteress; (the part following this is word for word the same as c. XXXVI of St. Basil. Likewise if the wives of soldiers get married a second time, on account of not having heard that their husbands are coming back, are adulteresses. However, these women who marry a second time have some claim to pardon (more, that is to say, than have wives of non-soldiers who have married a second time) inasmuch as their husbands, being soldiers and engaged in wars are more to be suspected of having died than of being still alive). That woman, on the other hand, who (this part of the Canon is word for word c. XLVI of Basil) takes to husband that man who was left a long time before by his wife, without knowing that he was married, and who afterwards lets him go when his former wife returns to him, has indeed committed fornication, but quite unwittingly, and she is not to be condemned as adulteress. Hence she shall not be prevented from taking a lawful husband if she wish to do so. It would be better, however, and safer for her not to get married. The rest of the Canon is a decree framed by the Council itself. But if the soldier should return from war after years whose wife has got married a second time because of his having been many years in foreign lands, he, I say, if he so wish, can take back his wife, pardoning both her and her second husband because they married without knowing that he was still alive. 

94. As for those who take Greek oaths, the Canon makes them liable to penances; and we decree their excommunication.


Greek customs ought to be hated by Christians. For this reason the present Canon excommunicates those Christians who in accordance with the custom of the Greeks swear, either by the gods falsely so called of the Greeks, by saying, for instance, “by Jupiter” or “by Zeus,” or who swear by the elements, by saying, for instance, “by the Sun,” or “by the Heaven above us,” and the like; just as c. LXXXI of Basil subjects them to penances. St. Basil, however, canonizes eleven years those men who without any great necessity due to tortures deny the faith or eat things that have been sacrificed to idols and take the oaths of the Greeks, just as they themselves, that is to say, believe in them. The present Canon of the Council excommunicated, as Balsamon says, not only these men, but also Christians who have not denied the faith but have taken oaths in accordance with the custom of the Greeks. Wherefore no such oath, nor indeed any other oath taken in the face of an unrecognized or disreputable religion, is to be kept, according to ch. 19 of Title XIII of Photius.


Not only are oaths that are taken in accordance with the custom of the Greeks forbidden to Christians, but every oath in general. For the Lord says that we are not to swear at all under any conditions whatsoever, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by Jerusalem, nor by our own head; but, instead of any oath, we are to say only yea, yea, and nay, nay; whatever else we say beyond this is of the Devil (Matt. 5:34–37). This very same thing is affirmed also by James the Brother of God. But then again even the prophet of the Old Testament Hosea prohibits oaths by saying: “and swear not, As the Lord liveth” (Hosea 4:15; James 5:12). That is why St. Basil the Great in his c. XXIX says that swearing an oath is forbidden once for all, and so much the more that oath which is taken with a view to injuring someone else. Hence those rulers who swear to injure the ones who are ruled and who are their subjects, are commanded by him to repent because of their having taken an oath all too rashly and not to insist upon those oaths to wreak injury on others. But also in his c. X he accuses Severus of acting contrary to Canon and binding the Presbyter Kyriakos by an oath contravening the legislation of the Gospels. So much for the fact that one ought not to take oaths. But in case anyone should actually do so anyhow, and violate it, he is canonized in a general way and indefinitely in c. LXIV by the same St. Basil to abstain from Communion for ten years. But in his c. LXXXII the delinquent is canonized definitely and according to circumstances: if it were due to violence and necessity that he violated the oath, he is penanced six years; but if he violated it without being under any necessity to do so, he is sentenced to seven years’ penance. In his c. XXVIII, and particularly in Def. 137 of his Epitomized Definitions, the same St. Basil says that it is ludicrous for anyone to promise God not to eat pork, or to sentence himself to abstain for such a length of time from some other food or drink. Accordingly no such uneducated promises ought to be made, and the use of foods should be a matter of indifference. If, nevertheless, in accordance with his c. XVII he allowed Bianor to celebrate the Liturgy notwithstanding that he had sworn not to celebrate the Liturgy, the fact is that he did not do this as a matter of course, but, on the contrary, 1) because that man had taken the oath as a result of violence and under threat of danger; 2) he allowed him to conduct the Liturgy secretly and in another place, and not there where he had taken the oath; and 3) he adds that he must repent because he took an oath. But as for all perjurers that are in holy orders and those that are clerics, they are deposed from office according to Ap. c. XXV; see the Interpretation of the latter.

95. As for heretics who are joining Orthodoxy and the portion of the saved, we accept them in accordance with the subjoined sequence and custom. Arians and Macedonians and Novations, who called themselves Cathari and Aristeri,and the Tessarakaidekatitae, or, at any rate, those called Tetradites and Apolinarists, we accept, when they give us certificates (called libelli); and when they anathematize every heresy that does not believe as the holy catholic and Apostolic Church of God believes, and are sealed, i. e., are anointed first with holy myron on the forehead and the eyes, and the nose and mouth, and the ears, while we are anointing them and sealing them we say, “A seal of a gift of Holy Spirit.” As concerning Paulianists who have afterwards taken refuge in the Catholic Church, a definition has been promulgated that they have to be rebaptized without fail. As for Eunomians, however, who baptize with a single immersion, and Montanists who are hereabouts called Phrygians and Sabellians, who hold the tenet Hyiopatoria (or modalistic monarchianism) and do other embarrassing things; and all other heresies — for there are many hereabouts, especially those hailing from the country of the Galatians — as for all of them who wish to join Orthodoxy, we accept them as Greeks. Accordingly, on the first day, we make them Christians; on the second day, catechumens; after this, on the third day we exorcise them by breathing three times into their faces and into their ears. And thus we catechize them, and make them stay for a long time in church and listen to the Scriptures, and then we baptize them. As for Manicheans, and Valentinians, and Marcionists, and those from similar heresies, they have to give us certificates (called libelli) and anathematize their heresy, the Nestorians, and Nestorius, and Eutyches and Dioscorus, and Severus, and the other exarchs of such heresies, and those who entertain their beliefs, and all the aforementioned heresies, and thus they are allowed to partake of holy Communion.


As for the present Canon, from the beginning of it to the point where it says “and then we baptize them,” it is word for word the same as c. VII of the 2nd. The interval beginning “As concerning Paulianists” to “without fail” is taken from c. XIX of the 1st verbatim. For this reason we do not even trouble to interpret these parts here again; see their interpretation there. The rest of the Canon is a decree of the present Council’s own, which says that the Manicheans, and Valentinians, and Marcionists, when they join Orthodoxy, must be baptized, as also the Eunomians and Montanists, according to the interpretation given by Balsamon. Nestorians, and Eutychians, Dioscorites, and Severians, have to anathematize in writing their own heresy and their heresiarchs, and all those persons who believe in their heresies, among whom are numbered also the Monotheletes, as well as the Novatians and the Macedonians, and after doing so they are allowed to partake of the divine Mysteries.


St. Basil the Great, in his c. XL, says that Encratites, and Saccophori, and Apotactites, all have to be baptized, because their heresy too is an offshoot of the Marcionists and holds their wicked dogmas.

96. Those who have put on Christ through baptism have solemnly promised to emulate and imitate the manner of life He led in the flesh. As touching, therefore, those who arrange and dress the hair of their head by contriving to plait or wave it in a fashion which has disastrous effects on beholders, and hence offers a lure to unbolstered souls, we undertake to treat them in a fatherly fashion with a suitable penance, while training them like children and teaching them how to live in a sober and sane manner, with the object of enabling them to lay aside the deception and vanity resulting from materiality in order that they may bend their minds towards a life which is perpetually unruffled and blissful, and to enjoy chaste association in fear, and to approach God as near as possible through their purity of life, and to adorn the inner rather than the outer man with virtues and benignant and blameless manners, so that they may not have any trace left in them of the rudeness of the adversary. If, however, anyone should conduct himself in a manner contrary to the present Canon, let him be excommunicated.


“As many of you as have been baptized in Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27), says the great Apostle Paul. Hence the present Canon adds that those who have put on Christ must also adopt his mode of life and practice every chastity and purity, and not adorn their body in a manner that is both superfluous and artificial. On this account it excommunicates those Christians who braid the hair of their head, and comb it and wave it and flaunt it as a lure to those souls who are of weak faith and easily led astray, as much of men as of women, and while training such persons with the penalty of excommunication it teaches them to abandon every deception and vanity and embellishment of matter, and of this perishable body, and, on the other hand, to lift their mind up to that blissful and imperishable life, approaching God as near as possible with their purity of life, and preferring to adorn themselves, that is to say, the inner man, or soul, with virtues and benignant manners, without paying attention to the outer man, or body, with such deceptive and vain adornments or embellishments, in such a way as to avoid bearing any longer any sign of the wickedness of the Devil, whom they have renounced through holy baptism.


It is on this account that God commands in Leviticus (19:27) that no shall form a topknot from the hair of his head — or, in other words, a lock of hair, according to an unknown commentator. Hence it is that all the Apostles in common in their Injunctions, Book I, ch. 3, command men not to exercise undue care in combing their hair or to perfume their hair, or to braid it into one or more pleats, in order to prevent them from thereby attracting women into love, but to cut their hair off. But in particular St. Paul, with special regard to this artificial hairdressing and the idea of prohibiting it, said that if a man has hair it is a mark of dishonor in him; and in the same vein divine Epiphanius, too, said that long hair is a thing that is alien to the Catholic Church. Note, however, that just as one is forbidden to refrain from cutting his hair for the sake of beautification and good looks, and a bad purpose, so, on the other hand, it is also forbidden to cut it and to shave it with certain circularities roundabout, and, generally speaking, for the purpose of improving its appearance and enhancing its attractiveness. On this account, indeed, it was that as regards the topknot mentioned in Leviticus, Symmachus said: “You shall not shave round in a circle the face of your head.” Aquila, on the other hand, says: “You shall not encircle the crown of your head.” So the conclusion from all these facts is that the laity ought to cut their hair unaffectedly, unpretentiously, and inartificially.

97. As regards those who are living with a wife or are otherwise indiscreetly commonizing sacred places and treating them contemptuously, and thus domiciling therein, we command them to be evicted even from the catechumenates in the religious houses. In case anyone should fail to observe this rule, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The Canon does not employ the expression “sacred places” here to designate the divine temples, but the habitations connected with the divine temple, such as the so-called catechumenates, in which some persons dwelt with their wives and which they treated like other, ordinary places, indiscreetly, that is to say, without drawing any distinction between a holy and a profane place. On this account it commands that such persons be ousted from them. Anyone failing to observe this rule, if he be a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; or if he be a layman, let him be excommunicated.


That is why Book V of the Basilica, Title I, ch. 12, in agreement with the present Canon decrees that those who, on account of any cowardice or other wickedness, take refuge in a church building, throwing away their weapons at the same time, shall enjoy security and safety as far as the boundaries of the church. But they are not to have any right to eat, or to drink, or to sleep inside the temple, but are to stay in the gardens or grounds outside of it, or else in the vaults, or in the courtyards, or in the residences which are roundabout attached to the temple (in Photius, Title V, ch. 2). According to Armenopoulos, no one could remove persons that took refuge within the confines of a church and take them away, except only if they were murderers or adulterers or had ravished virgins (according to ch. 21 of Book V of the Basilica).

98. Whoever takes by way of matrimonial union any woman betrothed to another man, while the man to whom she has been betrothed is still alive, shall be deemed liable to the penalty provided for the crime of adultery.


An engagement which is entered into in accordance with laws, at the legal age, that is to say, of a man and of a woman, and which has been duly signaled by a gift of wedding rings or other earnests, and solemnized in church, and accompanied by the usual exchange of kisses on the part of the engaged — such an engagement, I say, has the same force and effect as a complete wedding (and see the Footnote to Ap. c. XVII). For this reason the present Canon decrees that anyone taking to wife a woman who has been engaged in such a manner as this to another man, who, as her betrothed, is still alive, let him be penalized as an adulterer, precisely, that is to say, like a man who takes to wife a woman married to another. That is why a man betrothed to a woman is also called the conjugate of his own fiancee, in the same way, for instance, that just Joseph the Bridegroom is called in the Gospels the husband of the holy Virgin, and conversely the holy Virgin is called the wife of Joseph, because even in the old Law a betrothal had the force of a marriage. 

99. And this too occurs in the country of the Armenians, we have learned, to wit, that some persons, roasting pieces of meat within the space of the sacrificial altars of sacred temples, offer parts assigned to priests, distributing them in a Jewish fashion. Hence, with the object of maintaining the unblemished sanctity of the Church, we decree that none of her priests shall be permitted to accept consecrated pieces of meat from those offering them, but shall be content with only what the offerer is pleased to offer, any such offer being made outside of the church. If anyone fail to do so, let him be excommunicated.


Zonaras, and Balsamon, and Aristenus, and the Anonymous Expositor all in common explain that the Armenians were wont to roast meat inside of the sacrificial altars. But to me it seems that these expositors, failing to punctuate, but, on the contrary, running together the words “roasting pieces of meat” with the words “within the space of the sacrificial altars,” fell into an error. Such was not the meaning intended. For the phrase “within the space of the sacrificial altars” is not to be combined with the phrase “roasting pieces of meat,” but, on the contrary, being divided off with a comma, it should be combined with the phrase “offer parts assigned.” For it is highly improbable and too absurd to believe, that meat should be actually roasted within the space of the holy Bema wherein is situated the sacrificial altar of the church, thus turning it into a kitchen. So what the present Canon says is that this custom which was practiced in Armenia, where some persons would roast meat at home and afterwards offer parts of it in the holy Bema to the priests (just as the Jews offer the breast or a leg or some other part of the animals being sacrificed to their priests) — that custom, I say, is not to be followed hereafter, but neither are priests to have permission to take those parts of an animal which they want, but, on the contrary, must be content with whatever parts a Christian offers them; the offer of such meat, moreover, must take place outside of the church, and not inside of the sanctuary, or sacred Bema, of the church. Hence the sense of the words as set forth by us above becomes evidently manifest from the context. For had it been an actual fact that they were roasting that meat in the Bema, the Canon ought necessarily to have prohibited this, as something highly improper, as it prohibited the offering of the meat. Let anyone guilty of violating this rule be excommunicated. But Balsamon states (in his interpretation of Ap. c. III) that he saw an abbot-priest deposed and ousted from the abbacy because he brought meat and cheese into the holy Bema. See also the Interpretation of Ap. c. III.


Note, according to Zonaras, that the Canon permitted priests to take parts of the meat, not in common and on a universal basis, throughout the world, but only in Armenia, and this on account of the custom, which had then come to prevail among the Armenians.

100. “Let thine eyes look aright, and keep thy heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:25 and 23), wisdom bids us. For the sensations of the body can easily foist their influence upon the soul. We therefore command that henceforth in no way whatever shall any pictures be drawn, painted, or otherwise wrought, whether in frames or otherwise hung up, that appeal to the eye fascinatingly, and corrupt the mind, and excite inflammatory urgings to the enjoyment of shameful pleasures. If anyone should attempt to do this, let him be excommunicated.

(No interpretation of this Canon is in the Greek edition.)


Inasmuch as some men were wont to paint or draw on walls and boards lascivious pictures, such as women stark naked or bathing or being kissed by men, and other such shameful scenes, which deceive the eyes of beholders and excite the mind and heart to carnal desires, therefore and on this account the present Canon commands that no such pictures shall by any means whatsoever be painted or drawn or sketched. If anyone should make any such pictures, let him be excommunicated, since all the five senses of the body, and especially the first and royalest one, the eyesight, is easily led to impress the pictures of those things which it sees into the soul. That is why Solomon recommends that our eyes look aright at things that are fine and good and beautiful, and that everyone of us keep his mind and heart away from the shameful objects of the senses.

101. The divine Apostle loudly proclaims the man created in the image of God to be a body of Christ and a temple. Standing, therefore, far above all sensible creation, and having attained to a heavenly dignity by virtue of the soterial Passion, by eating and drinking Christ as a source of life, he perpetually readjusts both his eternal soul and his body and by partaking of the divine grace he is continually sanctified. So that if anyone should wish to partake of the intemerate body during the time of a synaxis, and to become one therewith by virtue of transessencc, let him form his hands into the shape of a cross, and, thus approaching, let him receive the communion of grace. For we nowise welcome those men who make certain receptacles out of gold, or any other material, to serve instead of their hand for the reception of the divine gift, demanding to take of the intemerate communion in such containers; because they prefer soulless (i.e., inanimate) matter and an inferior article to the image of God. In case, therefore, any person should be caught in the act of imparting of the intemerate communion to those offering such receptacles, let him be excommunicated, both he himself and the one offering them.

(1 Cor. 12:27; 2Cor.6:16.)


In that time there prevailed a custom of laymen communing, just like priests, by taking the holy bread in their hands, in the manner in which they nowadays receive the antidoron. But since some men, on the pretense of reverence, and of paying greater honor to the divine gifts, used to make gold vessels, or vessels of some other precious material, and were wont to partake of the intemerate body of the Lord by receiving it in such vessels; therefore, and on this account, the present Canon will not admit this procedure, even though it be employed for the sake of reverence. Because, in view of the fact that a man is one who has been made in the image of God, and who eats the body and drinks the blood of Christ, and thereby becomes sanctified, and since he is in fact a body and temple of Christ, according to the Apostle, he transcends all sensible things and inanimate creatures, and consequently his hands are far more precious than any vessel. Hence anyone that wishes to partake of the Lord’s body, let him form his two hands into the shape of a cross, and let him receive it therein. As for any layman that may receive the body of the Lord in a vessel, and any priest who may impart it in any such thing, let both of them be excommunicated, because they prefer an inanimate (i.e., soulless) vessel to the human being molded in the image of God.

102. Those who have received from God authority to bind and to loose must take into consideration the quality of the sin, and the willingness and readiness of the sinner to return, and thus offer a treatment suited to the sin in question, lest by employing an immoderate adjustment in one direction or the other, they fail in compassing the salvation of the one ailing. For, the diseases called sin are not simple affairs, but, on the contrary, various and complex, and they produce many offshoots of the injury, as a result whereof the evil becomes widely diffused, and it progresses until it is checked by the power of the one treating it. So that a person who is professing the science of treating ailments as a spiritual physician ought first to examine the disposition of the sinner, and ascertain whether he tends to health or on the contrary provokes the malady to attack him by his own actions; at the same time bearing in mind that he must provide against any reversion, and considering whether the patient is struggling against the physician, and whether the ulcer of the soul is being aggravated by the application of the remedy; and accordingly to mete out mercy in due proportion to the merits of the case. For all that matters to God and to the person undertaking pastoral leadership consists in the recovery of the straying sheep, and in healing the one wounded by the serpent. Accordingly, he ought not to drive the patient to the verge of despair, nor give him rein to dissoluteness and contempt of life, but, on the contrary, in at least one way at any rate, either by resorting to extremer and stringent remedies, or to gentler and milder ones, to curb the disease, and to put up a fight to heal the ulcer for the one tasting the fruits of repentance, and wisely helping him on the way to the splendid rehabilitation to which the man is being invited. We must therefore be versed in both, i.e., both the requirements of accuracy and the requirements of custom. In the case of those who are obstinately opposed to extremities, we must follow the formula handed down to us, just as sacred Basil teaches us outright.


After this Council had decreed concerning many different penances, lastly in the present Canon it leaves everything to the judgment of the bishops and spirituals (i.e., confessors), the authority to bind and to loose, saying that they ought to conjecture, or surmise, both the quality of the sinfulness, whether it be pardonable or deadly, and the disposition of the sinner with respect to repentance, and thus to offer the right treatment for his illness; lest by giving persons who are magnanimous and willing to repent lenient penances, and persons who are more unconcerned and pusillanimous on the contrary extreme penances, they fail to correct either the former or the latter, but rather wind up by losing both. Because sin is so complex and various, and grows so fast, that it resists, that is, overcomes, the power and art of the spiritual physician (or, it may be, so complex and various is sin, and so fast does it grow, before it can be checked and overcome by the art of the spiritual physician). So, for this reason, the physician of souls must first and foremost conjecture the disposition and inclination of the sinner, and discern whether he loves the health of his soul with fervid repentance, or, on the contrary, whether he actually is coaxing sin to attack him, and how he behaves in regard to sin, whether he is not opposed to the salutary remedies which he is giving him (as is done by the demented who are opposed to the salutary remedies of physicians of bodies), and whether he is not actually aggravating, or increasing, the lesion of sin with such measures. The confessor, I say, must first of all make conjectures respecting all these things, and thus with due proportion mete out mercy, mitigating, or lightening, the penances in dealing with the man who is unconcerned and pusillanimous, but intensifying, or making them heavier, in the case of a man who is magnanimous; and doing both for mercy’s sake, in order, on the one hand, to cleanse the magnanimous man from sin, and, on the other hand, to avoid making the pusillanimous man’s case worse. And, generally speaking, the whole aim both to God and to the confessor is simply this, to bring about the return of the straying sheep, to cure the one who has been wounded or hurt by the figurative serpent commonly called the Devil, and neither to drive him to despair by heavy penalties, nor again to let him take the bit in his teeth, like a horse, by light penalties, and hence encourage him to contemptuousness and unconcern, but in every possible way, whether with austere or with mild remedies, to endeavor to restore the sinner to health and free him from the wounds of sin, so that he may taste the fruits of repentance, and with wisdom managing to help him to ascend to the splendor of the Holy Trinity above (which is the kingdom of heaven, according to St. Gregory the Theologian). So, then, the confessor must have knowledge of both requirements (just as is said verbatim in c. III of Basil), to wit, accuracy and custom. In case sinners do not care to observe this accuracy, on account of which they are compromisingly allowed a reduction of years and of penances for their sin, let him at least command them to observe the custom, the entire number of years, that is to say, and the penances prescribed by the Canons.”

Cummings, D. with Agapios, Orthodox Eastern Church, and Nicodemus. The Rudder. Trans. D. Cummings. Chicago, IL: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957. Print.

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