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   Chapter 15 The Foundation Of The Ecclesiastical Institutions Of The Middle Ages

A Source Book for Ancient Church History By Joseph Cullen Ayer, Jr., Ph.D. Characters: 72001

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


In the period between the conversion of the Franks and the rise of the dynasty of Charles Martel, or the period comprising the sixth and seventh centuries, the foundation was laid for those ecclesiastical institutions which are peculiar to the Middle Ages, and found in the medi?val Church their full embodiment. In the Church the Latin element was still more or less dominant, and society was only slowly transformed by the Germanic elements. In the adjustment of Roman institutions to the new political conditions in which Germanic factors were dominant, the Germanic and the Roman elements are accordingly found in constantly varying proportions. In the case of the diocesan and parochial organization, only very slowly could the Church in the West attain that complete organization which had long since been established in the East, and here Roman ideas were profoundly modified by Germanic legal principles (§ 101). But at the same time the Church's body of teaching and methods of moral training were made clearly intelligible and more applicable to the new conditions of Christian life. The teaching of Augustine was received only in part at the Council of Orange, A. D. 529 (v. supra, § 85), and it was profoundly modified by the moralistic type of theology traceable to Tertullian and even further back (v. supra, § 39). It was, furthermore, completed by a clearer and more precise statement of the doctrines of purgatory and the sacrifice of the mass, and to the death of Christ was applied unequivocally the doctrine of merit which had been developed in the West in connection with the early penitential discipline, and which was seen to throw a new light upon the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. These conceptions served as a foundation for new discussions, and confirmed tendencies already present in the Church (§ 102). Connected with this theology was the penitential discipline, which, growing out of the ancient discipline as [pg 616] modified by the earlier form of monastic life, especially in Ireland, came under the influence of the Germanic legal conceptions (§ 103). In the same period monasticism was organized upon a new rule by Benedict of Nursia (§ 104), and the need of provision for the education of the young and for the training of the clergy was felt and, to some extent, provided for by monastery schools and other methods of education (§ 105).

§ 101. Foundation of the Medi?val Diocesan and Parochial Constitution

An outline of some of the legislation is here given, whereby the parish as organized in the West was built up, and the diocese was made to consist of a number of parishes under the bishop, who, however, did not exercise an absolute control over the incomes and position of the priests under him.

The selections are given in chronological order.

(a) Council of Agde, A. D. 506, Canons. Bruns, II, 145.

This is one of the most important councils of the period. Its various canons have all been embodied in the Canon Law; for the references to the Decretum of Gratian, in which they appear, see Hefele, § 222. It is to be noted that it was held under Alarich, the Arian king of the Visigoths. The preface is, therefore, given as being significant.

Since this holy synod has been assembled in the name of the Lord and with the permission of our most glorious, magnificent, and most pious king in the city of Agde, there, with knees bent and on the ground, we have prayed for his kingdom, [pg 617] his long life, for the people, that the lord who has given us permission to assemble, may happily extend his kingdom, that he may govern justly and protect valiantly; we have assembled in the basilica of St. Andrew to treat of the discipline and the ordination of pontiffs and other things of utility to the Church.

Canon 21. If any one wishes to have an oratory in the fields outside of the parishes, in which the gathering of the people is lawful and appointed, we permit him to have a mass there with the proper license on the other festivals, on account of the weariness of the family [i.e., in going to the distant parish church], but on Easter, Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension Day, Pentecost and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, or if there are any other very high festival days observed, let them hold no masses except in the cities and parishes. But if the clergy, without the command or permission of the bishop, hold and perform the masses on the festivals above mentioned in the oratories, let them be driven from the communion.

Canon 30. Because it is appropriate that the service of the Church be observed in the same way by all, it is to be desired that it be done so everywhere. After the antiphones the collects shall be said in order by the bishops and presbyters, and the hymns of Matins and Vespers be sung daily; and at the conclusion of the mass of Matins and Vespers,266 after the hymns a chapter of the Psalms shall be read, and the people who are gathered shall, after the prayer, be dismissed with a benediction of the bishop until Vespers.

Canon 38. Without letters commendatory of their bishops, it is not permitted to the clergy to travel. The same rule is to be observed in the case of monks. If reproof of words does not correct them, we decree that they shall be beaten with rods. It is also to be observed in the case of monks that it [pg 618] is not permitted them to leave the community for solitary cells, unless the more severe rule is remitted by their abbot to them who have been approved in the hermit life, or on account of the necessity of infirmity; but only then let it be done so that they remain within the walls of the same monastery, and they are permitted to have separate cells under the authority of the abbots. It is not permitted abbots to have different cells or many monasteries, or except on account of the inroads of enemies to erect dwellings within walls.

(b) I Council of Orleans, A. D. 511, Canons. Bruns, II, 160.

Canon 15. Concerning those things which in the form of lands, vineyards, slaves, and other property the faithful have given to the parishes, the statutes of the ancient canons are to be observed, so that all things shall be in the control of the bishop; but of those things which are given at the altar, a third is to be faithfully given to the bishop.

Canon 17. All churches which in various places have been built and are daily being built shall, according to the law of the primitive canons, be in the control of the bishop in whose territory they are located.

(c) IV Council of Orleans, A. D. 541, Canons. Bruns, II, 208.

Canon 7. In oratories on landed estates, the lords of the property shall not install wandering clergy against the will of the bishop to whom the rights of that territory belong, unless, perchance, they have been approved, and the bishop has in his discretion appointed them to serve in that place.

Canon 26. If any parishes are established in the houses of the mighty, and the clergy who serve there have been admonished by the archdeacon of the city, according to the duty of his office, and they neglect to do what they ought to do for the Church, because under the protection of the lord of the house, let them be corrected according to the ecclesiastical discipline; and if by the agents of these lords, or by these [pg 619] lords themselves of the place, they are prevented from doing any part of their duty toward the Church, those who do this iniquity are to be deprived of the sacred rites until, having made amends, they are received back into the peace of the Church.267

Canon 33. If any one has, or asks to have, on his land a diocese [i.e., parish], let him first assign to it sufficient lands and clergy who may there perform their duties, that suitable reverence be done to the sacred places.

(d) V Council of Orleans, A. D. 549, Canons. Bruns, II, 208.

At this council no less than seven archbishops, forty-three bishops and representatives of twenty-one other bishops were present. It was, therefore, a general council of the Frankish Church, although politically the Frankish territory was divided into three kingdoms held respectively by Childebert, Chlothar, and Theudebald. Orleans itself was in the dominion of Childebert. Cf. preface to the canons of II Orleans, A. D. 533, which states that that council was attended by five archbishops and the deputy of a sixth, as well as by bishops from all parts of Gaul, and was called at the command of the "Glorious kings," i.e., Childebert, Chlothar, and Theudebert.

Canon 13. It is permitted to no one to retain, alienate, or take away goods or property which has been lawfully given to a church, monastery, or orphan asylums for any charity; that if any one does do so he shall, according to the ancient canons [cf. Hefele, §§ 220, 222], be regarded as a slayer of the poor, and shall be shut out from the thresholds of the Church so long as those things are not restored which have been taken away or retained.

(e) Council of Braga, A. D. 572, Canons. Bruns, II, 37.

Canon 5. As often as bishops are requested by any of the faithful to consecrate churches, they shall not, as having a claim, ask any payment of the founders; but if he wishes to give him something from a vow he has made, let it not be despised; [pg 620] but if poverty or necessity prevent him, let nothing be demanded of him. This only let each bishop remember, that he shall not dedicate a church or basilica before he shall have received the endowment of the basilica and its service confirmed by an instrument of donation; for it is a not light rashness for a church to be consecrated, as if it were a private dwelling, without lights and without the support of those who are to serve there.

Canon 6. In case of any one who builds a basilica, not from any faithful devotion, but from the desire of gain, that whatsoever is there gathered of the offerings of the people he may share half and half with the clergy, on the ground that he has built the basilica on his own land, which in various places is said to be done quite constantly, this therefore ought hereafter to be observed, that no bishop consent to such an abominable purpose, that he should dare to consecrate a basilica which is founded not as the heritage of the saints but rather under the condition of tribute.

(f) II Council of Toledo, A. D. 589, Canons. Bruns, I, 217.

Canon 19. Many who have built churches demand that these churches, contrary to the canons, shall be consecrated in such a way that they shall not allow the endowment, which they have given the church, to belong to the control of the bishop; when this has been done in the past, let this be void, and in the future forbidden; but let all things pertain to the power and control of the bishop according to the ancient law.

§ 102. Western Piety and Thought in the Period of the Conversion of the Barbarians

In the century following Augustine, the dogmatic interest of the Church was chiefly absorbed in the Christological controversies in the East. There were, however, some discussions in the West arising from the manifest difficulty of reconciling the doctrine of predestination, as drawn from Augustine, with [pg 621] the efficacy of baptism. For the adjustment of the teaching of Augustine to the sacramental system of the Church and to baptism more particularly, see the Council of Orange, A. D. 529, of which the principal conclusions are given above (§ 85). In the sixth century and in the early part of the seventh, doctrines were clearly enunciated which had been abundantly foreshadowed by earlier writers, but had not been fitted into an intelligible and practical system. These were especially the doctrine of purgatory and the sacrifice of the mass. The doctrine of purgatory completed the penitential system of the early Church by making it possible to expiate sin by suffering in a future existence, in the case of those who had died without completely doing penance here. By the sacrifice of the mass the advantages of Christ's death were constantly applied, not merely to the sin of the world in general, but to specified objects; the believer was brought into closest contact with the great act of redemption, and a centre was placed around which the life of the individual and the authority of the hierarchy could be brought into relation.

Additional source material: The works of Gregory the Great, PNF.

(a) C?sarius of Arles, Sermon 104. (MSL, 39:1947, 1949.)

C?sarius presided at the Council of Orange A. D. 529. He died in 543. Not a few of his sermons have been mixed up with those of Augustine, and this sermon is to be found in Appendix to the works of Augustine in the standard editions of that Father. It should be noted that this conception of purgatory is not wholly unlike that of St. Augustine; see his Enchiridion, chs. 69, 109 (v. supra, § 84); also De Civ. Dei, 20:25; 21:13.

Ch. 4. By continual prayers and frequent fasts and more generous alms, and especially by forgiveness of those who sin against us, we diligently redeem our sins, lest by chance when collected together against us at once they make a great mass and overwhelm us. Whatsoever of these sins shall not have been redeemed by us is to be purged by that fire concerning which the Apostle said: "Because it will be revealed by fire, [pg 622] and if any man's work is burned he will suffer loss" (I Cor. 3:15). If in tribulation we do not give thanks to God, if by good works we do not redeem our sins, we will remain so long in that fire of purification268 until the little, trifling sins, as hay, wood, and stubble are consumed.

Ch. 8. All saints who serve God truly strive to give themselves to reading and prayer, and to perseverance in good works, and building no mortal sins and no little sins, that is, wood, hay, and stubble, upon the foundation of Christ; but good works, that is, gold, silver, and precious stones, will without injury go through that fire of which the Apostle spoke: "Because it will be revealed by fire." But those who, although they do not commit capital sins, yet are prone to commit very little sins and are negligent in redeeming them, will attain to eternal life because they believed in Christ, but first either in this life they are purified by bitter tribulation, or certainly in that fire of which the Apostle speaks they are to be tormented, that they may come to eternal life without spot or wrinkle. But those who have committed homicide, sacrilege, adultery and other similar sins, if there does not come to their aid suitable penitence, will not deserve to go through that fire of purification to life, but they will be thrown into death by eternal fire.

(b) Gregory the Great, Dialogorum libri IV, de Vita et Miraculis Patrum Italicorum, IV, 56. (MPL, 77:425.)

The sacrifice of the mass.

See also the selection below on the doctrine of purgatory.

It should be considered that it is safer to do to men, while one is living, the good which one hopes will be done by others after one's death. It is more blessed to depart free than to seek liberty after chains. We ought, with our whole mind, despise the present world, especially since we see it already [pg 623] passing away. We ought to immolate to God the daily sacrifice of our tears, the daily offerings of His flesh and blood. For this offering peculiarly preserves the soul from eternal death, and it renews to us in a mystery the death of the Only begotten, who, although being risen from the dead, dieth no more, and death hath no more dominion over Him (Rom. 6:9); yet, while in Himself He liveth immortal and incorruptible, for us He is immolated again in this mystery of the sacred oblation. For it is His body that is there given, His flesh that is divided for the salvation of the people, His blood that is poured, no longer into the hands of unbelievers, but into the mouths of the faithful. For this let us ever estimate what this sacrifice is for us, which for our absolution ever imitates the passion of the only begotten Son. For what one of the faithful can have any doubt that at the very hour of the offering [immolatio], at the word of the priest, the heavens are opened, the choirs of angels are present at the mystery of Jesus Christ, the lowest things are united to the highest, earthly things with heavenly, and from the invisible and the visible there is made one?

(c) Gregory the Great, Dialog., IV, 39. (MSL, 77:393.)

The doctrine of purgatory.

Gregory hardly adds anything to Augustine more than a clearer definition after the lines laid down by C?sarius of Arles.

From these sayings [John 12:35; II Cor. 6:2; Eccles. 9:10] it is evident that as one left the earth so one will appear before the judgment. Yet still it is to be believed that for certain slight sins there is to be before that judgment a fire of purification, because the Truth says that, if one utters blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, his sin will be forgiven him neither in this world nor in the future [Matt. 12:31]. From this saying one is given to understand that some sins can be forgiven in this life, others in a future life.

(d) Gregory the Great, In Evangelia, II, 37, 8. (MSL, 76:1279.)

[pg 624] The application of the sacrifice of the mass to persons in purgatory.

Not long before our time the case is told of a certain man who, having been taken captive, was carried far away [cf. Dialog., IV, 57], and because he was held a long time in chains his wife, since she had not received him back from that captivity, believed him to be dead and every week she had the sacrifice offered for him as already dead. And as often as the sacrifice was offered by his spouse for the absolution of his soul, the chains were loosed in his captivity. For having returned a long time after, greatly astonished he told his wife that on certain days each week his chains were loosed. His wife considered the days and hours, and then knew that he was loosed when, as she remembered, the sacrifice was offered for him. From that perceive, my dearest brothers, to what extent the holy sacrifice offered by us is able to loose the bonds of the heart, if the sacrifice offered by one for another can loose the chains of the body.

§ 103. The Foundation of the Medi?val Penitential System

The penitential system, as it was organized in the Western Church in the sixth, seventh, and eighth centuries, was but the carrying out of principles which had appeared elsewhere in Christendom and were involved in the primitive method of dealing with moral delinquents by the authorities of the Church. [See the epistles of Basil the Great to Amphilochius (Ep. 189, 199, 217) in PNF, ser. II, vol. VIII.] Similar problems had to be handled everywhere whenever the Church came to deal with moral conduct, and much the same solution was found everywhere. There is, however, no known connection between the earliest penitentials of the Western Church, those of Ireland, and the similar books of the East. There is no need of supposing that there was a connection. But in the case of the works attributed to Theodore of Tarsus, archbishop of Canterbury, himself a Greek and probably a [pg 625] native of Tarsus, there is a provable connection which is evident to any one reading his work, as he refers to Basil and others. The characteristics of the Western penitentials are their minute division of sins, their exact determination of penances for each sin, and the great extent to which they were used in the practical work of the Church. They serve as the first crude beginnings of a moral theology of a practical character, such as would be needed by the poorly trained parish clergy of the times in dealing with their flocks. On account of the nature of these works, it is hardly necessary or expedient to give more than a few brief extracts in addition to references to sources. Much of the matter is extremely offensive to modern taste.

(a) King ?thelberht, Laws. Thorpe, Ancient Laws and Institutes (Rolls Series), 1 ff.

The Early Germanic Codes are full of regulations whereby for an injury the aggrieved party, or his family in case of his death, could be prevented from retaliating in kind upon the aggressor and his family. This was effected by a money payment as compensation for damages sustained, and the amount for each sort of injury was carefully regulated by law, i.e., by ancient custom, which was reduced to writing in the sixth century in some cases. The Laws of ?thelberht are written in Anglo-Saxon and are probably the earliest in a Teutonic language. For a translation of characteristic portions of the Salic Law, which should be compared with the Laws of ?thelberht to show the universality of the same system, see Henderson, Select Historical Documents of the Middle Ages, p. 176, London, 1892; also Hodgkin, Italy and Her Invaders, VI, 183, for the Lombard law of Rothari, a little later, but of the same spirit.

21. If any man slay another, let him make bot with a half leod-geld of 100 shillings.

22. If any man slay another at an open grave, let him pay 20 shillings and pay the whole leod within 40 days.

23. If a stranger retire from the land, let his kindred pay a half leod.

24. If any one bind a freeman, let him make bot with 20 shillings.

[pg 626] 25. If any one slay a ceorl's hlaf-aeta,269 let him make bot with 5 shillings.

38. If a shoulder be lamed,270 let bot be made with 12 shillings.

39. If the ear be struck off, let bot be made with 12 shillings.

40. If the other ear hear not, let bot be made with 25 shillings.

41. If an eye be struck out, let bot be made with 50 shillings.

51. For each of the four front teeth, 6 shillings; for the tooth that stands next to them, 4 shillings; for that which stands next to that, 3 shillings, and then afterward 1 shilling.

(b) Vinnian, Penitential. Wasserschleben, Die Bussordnungen der abendl?ndischen Kirche, 108 ff.

This is one of the earliest of the penitentials and belongs to the Irish Church.

1. If one has committed in his heart a sin of thought and immediately repents of it, let him smite his breast and pray God for forgiveness and perform satisfaction because he has sinned.

2. If he has often thought of the sins and thinks of committing them, and is then victor over the thought or is overcome by it, let him pray God and fast day and night until the wicked thought disappears and he is sound again.

3. If he has thought on a sin and determines to commit it, but is prevented in the execution, so is the sin the same, but not the penance.271

6. If a cleric has planned in his heart to smite or kill his neighbor, he shall do penance half a year on bread and water according to the prescribed amount, and for a whole year [pg 627] abstain from wine and the eating of meat, and then may he be permitted again to approach the altar.

7. If it is a layman, he shall do penance for a whole week; for he is a man of this world and his guilt is lighter in this world and his punishment in the future is less.

8. If a cleric has smitten his brother [i.e., a clergyman] or his neighbor and drawn blood … he shall do penance a whole year on bread and water; he may not fill any clerical office, but must with tears pray to God for himself.

9. Is he a layman, he shall do penance for 40 days, and according to the judgment of the priest or some other righteous man pay a determined sum of money.

(c) Theodore of Tarsus, Penitential, I. Haddan and Stubbs, III, 73 ff.

For Theodore of Tarsus, archbishop of Canterbury, see W. Stubbs, art. "Theodorus of Tarsus" in DCB. That he wrote a penitential is not certain. But that he was regarded as the author of a penitential is clear enough. In fact, his name is attached to penitentials in much the same way as David's name is attached to the whole book of Psalms. For a discussion of the various works attributed to Theodore, see Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, loc. cit. This is a characteristic penitential and may be regarded as following closely the decisions and opinions of Theodore. Much of it is unprintable in English.

Cap. I. On drunkenness. 1. If any bishop or other person ordained is customarily given to the vice of drunkenness, let him cease from it or be deposed.

2. If a monk vomit from drunkenness, let him do 30 days' penance.

3. If a presbyter or deacon do the same, let him do 40 days' penance.

4. If any one by infirmity or because he has abstained for a long time, and it is not his habit to drink or eat much, or for joy at Christmas or at Easter, or for the commemoration of any of the saints, does this, and he has not taken more than is decreed by the elders, he has done no wrong. If the bishop [pg 628] should have commanded, he does no harm to him unless he himself does likewise.

5. If a believing layman vomits from drunkenness, let him do 15 days' penance.

6. He who becomes drunk against the commandment of the Lord, if he has a vow of holiness let him do penance 7 days on bread and water, and 70 days without fat; the laity without beer.

7. Whoever out of malice makes another drunk, let him do penance 40 days.

8. Whoever vomits from satiety let him do penance 3 days.

9. If with the sacrifice of the communion, let him do penance 7 days; but if out of infirmity, he is without guilt.

Cap. II. On fornication.

Cap. III. On theft.

Cap. IV. On the killing of men. [This should be compared with the secular laws.]

1. If any one out of vengeance for a relative kill a man, let him do penance as for homicide 7 or 10 years. If, however, he is willing to return to relatives the money of valuation [Weregeld, according to the secular rating], the penance will be lighter, that is by one-half the length.

2. He who kills a man for vengeance for his brother, let him do penance 3 years; in another place he is said to do penance 10 years.

3. But homicides 10 or 7 years.

4. If a layman kills another man with thoughts of hatred, if he does not wish to relinquish his arms, let him do penance 7 years, without flesh and wine 3 years.

5. If any one kills a monk or a clergyman, let him relinquish his arms and serve God272 or do 7 years' penance. He is in the judgment of the bishop. But he who kills a bishop or a presbyter, the judgment concerning him is in the king.

6. He who by the command of his lord kills a man, let [pg 629] him keep away from the church 40 days; and he who kills a man in a public war, let him do penance 40 days.

7. If out of wrath, 3 years; if by chance, 1 year; if by drink or any contrivance, 4 years or more; if by strife, let him do penance 10 years.273

Cap. V. Concerning those who are deceived by a heresy.

Cap. VI. Concerning perjury.

Cap. VII. Concerning many and various wrong acts and those necessary things which are not harmful.

Cap. VIII. Concerning various failings of the servants of God.

Cap. IX. Concerning those who are degraded or cannot be ordained.

Cap. X. Concerning those who are baptized twice, how they shall do penance.

Cap. XI. Concerning those who violate the Lord's Day and the appointed fasts of the Church.

Cap. XII. Concerning the communion of the eucharist or the sacrifice.

Cap. XIII. Concerning reconciliation.

Cap. XIV. Especially concerning the penance of those who marry.

Cap. XV. Concerning the worship of idols.

(d) Bede, Penitential, ch. XI. Haddan and Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents, III, 32.

The Penitential of Bede is to be distinguished from the Liber de Remediis Peccatorum attributed to him, cf. Haddan and Stubbs, op. cit., who print the genuine penitential. It belongs to the period before 725. In not a few points it closely resembles that of Theodore. The concluding passage here given is to be found in many penitentials with but little variation. It is probably as early as the work itself, although apparently not by Bede. It is a method of commuting penances. In place of fasting inordinate or impossible lengths of time, other penances could be substituted. In later ages still other forms of commutation were introduced. Even money payments were used as commutation of penance.

[pg 630] XI. On Counsel to be Given.

We read in the penitential of doing penance on bread and water, for the great sins one year or two or three years, and for little sins a month or a week. Likewise in the case of some the conditions are harsh and difficult. Therefore to him who cannot do these things we give the counsel that psalms, prayers, and almsgiving ought to be performed some days in penance for these; that is, that psalms are for one day when he ought to do penance on bread and water. Therefore he should sing fifty psalms on his knees, and if not on his knees seventy psalms inside the church or in one place. For a week on bread and water, let him sing on his knees three hundred psalms in order and in the church or in one place. And for one month on bread and water, one thousand five hundred psalms kneeling, or if not kneeling one thousand eight hundred and twenty, and afterward let him fast every day until the sixth hour and abstain from flesh and wine; but whatsoever other food God has given him let him eat, after he has sung the psalms. And he who does not know psalms ought to do penance and to fast, and every day let him give to the poor the value of a denarius, and fast one day until the ninth hour, and the next until vespers, and after that whatsoever he has let him eat.

§ 104. The New Monasticism and the Rule of Benedict of Nursia

In the first centuries of monasticism in the West, the greatest variety was to be found among the constitutions of the various monastic houses and the rules drawn up by great leaders in the ascetic movement. This variety extended even to the nature of the vows assumed and their obligation. Benedict of Nursia (circa 480 to circa 544), gave the rule according to which for some centuries nearly all the monasteries of the West were ultimately organized. The first great example of this rule in operation was Benedict's own monastery at Monte Cassino. For a time the rule of Benedict came into conflict [pg 631] with that of Columbanus in Gaul.274 But the powerful recommendation of Gregory the Great, who had introduced it in Rome, and the intrinsic superiority of the rule itself made the Benedictine system triumphant. It should be noted that the Benedictine cloisters were for centuries independent establishments and only formed into organized groups of monasteries in the great monastic reforms of the tenth and following centuries. It is a question how far the Benedictine rule was introduced into England in the early centuries of the Anglo-Saxon Church, although it is often taken for granted that it was introduced by Augustine. Critical edition of the Benedictine rule by W?lfflin, Leipsic, 1895; in Migne's edition there is an elaborate commentary with many illustrative extracts and formul?, as well as traditional glosses.

Additional source material: An abbreviated translation of the Benedictine rule may be found in Henderson, Select Historical Documents, 1892, and in full in Thatcher and McNeal, A Source Book for Medi?val History, 1905.

(a) Benedict of Nursia, Regula. (MSL, 66:246.)

1. Concerning the kinds of monks and their modes of living. It is manifest that there are four kinds of monks. The first is that of the cenobites, that is the monastic, serving under a rule and an abbot. The second kind is that of the anchorites, that is the hermits, those who have learned to fight against the devil, not by the new fervor of conversion, but by a long probation in a monastery, having been taught already by association with many; and having been well prepared in the army of the brethren for the solitary fight of the hermit, and secure now without the encouragement of another, they are able, God helping them, to fight with their own hand or arm against the vices of the flesh or of their thoughts. But a third and very bad kind of monks are the sarabites, not tried as gold in the furnace by a rule, experience being their teacher, but softened after the manner of lead; [pg 632] keeping faith with the world by their works, they are known by their tonsure to lie to God. Being shut up by twos and threes alone and without a shepherd, in their own and not in the Lord's sheepfold, they have their own desires for a law. For whatever they think good and choose, that they deem holy; and what they do not wish, that they consider unlawful. But the fourth kind of monk is the kind called the gyrovagi, who during their whole life are guests for three or four days at a time in the cells of different monasteries throughout the various provinces; they are always wandering and never stationary, serving their own pleasures and the allurements of the palate, and in every way worse than the sarabites. Concerning the most wretched way of all, it is better to keep silence than to speak. These things, therefore, being omitted, let us proceed with the aid of God to treat of the best kind, the cenobites.

2. What the abbot should be like. An abbot who is worthy to preside over a monastery ought always to remember what he is called and to carry out in his deeds the name of a superior. For in the monastery he is believed to be Christ's representative, since he is called by His name, the Apostle saying: "We have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba, Father" [Rom. 8:15]. And so the abbot ought not (and oh that he may not!) teach or decree or order anything apart from the precepts of the Lord; but his order or teaching should be sprinkled with the leaven of divine justice in the minds of his disciples.… No distinctions of persons shall be made by him in the monastery. One shall not be loved by him more than another, unless the one whom he finds excelling in good work and obedience. A free-born man shall not be preferred to one coming from servitude, unless there be some reasonable cause. But when it is just and it seems good to the abbot he shall show preference no matter what the rank shall be. But otherwise they shall keep their own places; for, whether we be bound or free, we are all one in Christ, and under God we perform an equal [pg 633] service of subjection; for God is no respecter of persons [Acts 10:34].…

3. Concerning calling the brethren to take counsel. As often as anything unusual is to be done in the monastery, let the abbot call together the whole congregation and himself explain the question before them. And having heard the advice of the brethren, he shall consider it by himself, and let him do what he judges most advantageous. And for this reason, moreover, we have said that all ought to be called to take counsel; because it is often to a younger person that the Lord reveals what is best. The brethren, moreover, ought, with all humble subjection, to give their advice so that they do not too boldly presume to defend what seems good to them, but it should rather depend upon the judgment of the abbot; so that, whatever he decides upon as the more salutary, they should all agree to it.…

4. Concerning the instruments of good works.

5. Concerning obedience. The first grade of humility is prompt obedience. This becomes those who, on account of the holy service which they professed, or on account of the fear of hell or the glory of eternal life, consider nothing dearer to them than Christ; so that as soon as anything is commanded by their superior, they may not know how to suffer delay in doing it, even as if it were a divine command.…

6. Concerning silence. 7. Concerning humility. 8. Concerning the Divine Offices at night. 9. How many Psalms are to be said at night. 10. How in summer the Nocturnal Praises shall be carried on. 11. How Vigils shall be conducted on Sunday. 12. Concerning the order of Matins on Sunday. 13. Concerning the order of Matin

s on week days. 14. Concerning the order of Vigils on Saints' days. 15. Concerning the occasions when the Alleluias shall be said. 16. Concerning the order of Divine Worship during the day. 17. On the number of Psalms to be said at these times. 18. Concerning the order in which the Psalms are to be said. 19. Concerning the art of singing. 20. Concerning the reverence in prayer. 21. Concerning [pg 634] the Deans of monasteries. 22. How monks shall sleep. 23. Concerning excommunication for faults. 24. What ought to be the measure of excommunication. 25. Concerning graver faults. 26. Concerning those who without being ordered by the Abbot, associate with the excommunicated. 27. What care the Abbot should exercise with regard to the excommunicated. 28. Concerning those who, being often rebuked, do not amend. 29. Whether brothers who leave the monastery ought to be received back. 30. Concerning boys under age, how they should be corrected. 31. Concerning the Cellarer of the monastery, what sort of person he should be. 32. Concerning the utensils or property of the monastery.

33. Whether monks should have anything of their own. More than anything else is this special vice to be cut off root and branch from the monastery, that one should presume to give or receive anything without order from the abbot, or should have anything of his own; he should have absolutely nothing, neither a book nor tablets nor a pen, nothing at all-for indeed it is not allowed to have their own bodies or wills in their own power. But all things necessary they must receive from the father of the monastery; nor is it allowable to have anything which the abbot has not given or permitted.…

34. Whether all ought to receive necessaries equally. 35. Concerning the weekly officers of the kitchen. 36. Concerning infirm brothers. 37. Mitigation of the rule for the very old and the very young. 38. Concerning the weekly reader.

39. Concerning the amount of food. We believe, moreover, that for the daily refection of the sixth and for that of the ninth hour as well two cooked dishes, on account of the infirmities of the different ones, are enough in all months for all tables; so that whoever, perchance, cannot eat of one may partake of the other. Therefore let two cooked dishes suffice for all the brethren; and if it is possible to obtain apples or fresh vegetables, a third may be added. One full pound of bread shall suffice for a day, whether there be one refection or breakfast and supper. But if they are to have supper, the [pg 635] third part of that same pound shall be reserved by the cellarer to be given back to those when they are about to sup. But if perchance some greater labor shall have been performed, it shall be in the will and power of the abbot, if it is expedient, to increase anything.… But to younger boys the same quantity shall not be served, but less than to the older ones, as moderation is to be observed in all things. But every one shall abstain altogether from eating the flesh of four-footed beasts except alone in the case of the weak and the sick.

40. Concerning the amount of drink. Each one has his own gift from God, one in this way and another in that. Therefore it is with some hesitation that the amount of daily sustenance for others is fixed by us. Nevertheless, considering the weakness of the infirm, we believe that a half pint of wine a day is enough for each one. Those, moreover, to whom God has given the ability of enduring abstinence should know that they will have their own reward. But the prior shall judge if either the needs of the place, or labor, or heat of the summer require more; considering, in all things, lest satiety or drunkenness creep in. Indeed, we read that wine is not suitable for monks at all. But, because in our times it is not possible to persuade monks of this, let us agree at least as to the fact that we should not drink until we are sated, but sparingly. For wine can make even the wise to go astray. Where, moreover, the limitations of the place are such that the amount written above cannot be found, but much less or nothing at all, those who live there shall bless God and shall not murmur. And we admonish them as to this, above all, that they be without murmuring.

41. At what hours the brethren ought to take their refection. 42. That after Compline no one shall speak. 43. Concerning those who come late to Divine Service or to table. 44. Concerning those who are excommunicated and how they shall render satisfaction. 45. Concerning those who make mistakes in the oratory. 46. Concerning those who err in other matters. 47. Concerning the announcement of the hour of Divine Service.

[pg 636] 48. Concerning the daily manual labor. Idleness is the enemy of the soul. Therefore at fixed times the brethren ought to be occupied in manual labor; and again at fixed times in sacred reading. Therefore we believe that according to this disposition both seasons ought to be so arranged that, from Easter until the first of October, going out early from the first until about the fourth hour, they shall labor at what might be necessary. Moreover, from the fourth until about the sixth hour, they shall give themselves to reading. After the sixth hour, moreover, rising from table, they shall rest in their beds with all silence; or perchance he that wishes to read may so read to himself that he shall not disturb another. And nones shall be said rather early, about the middle of the eighth hour; and again they shall work at what is necessary until vespers. But if the exigency or the poverty of the place demands that they shall be occupied by themselves in picking fruits, they shall not be cast down; for then they are truly monks if they live by the labor of their hands, as did also our Fathers and the Apostles.

From the first of October until the beginning of Lent, they shall give themselves unto reading until the second full hour. At the second hour tierce shall be said, and all shall labor at the task which is enjoined upon them until the ninth. When the first signal of the ninth hour shall have been given they shall each leave off his work and be ready when the second signal strikes. Moreover, after the refection they shall give themselves to their reading or to the Psalms.

And in the days of Lent, from dawn until the third full hour, they shall give themselves to their reading; and until the tenth hour they shall do the labor that is enjoined upon them. In the days of Lent they shall all receive separate books from the library, which they shall read through completely in order; these books shall be given out on the first day of Lent. Above all, there shall certainly be appointed one or two elders to go around the monastery at the hours in which the brethren are engaged in reading and see to it that [pg 637] no troublesome brother is to be found who is given to idleness and chatting and is not intent upon his reading and is not only of no use to himself but disturbing the others. If such an one (and may there not be such!) be found, he shall be admonished once and a second time. If he does not amend, he shall be subject under the rule to such punishment that others may fear. Nor shall the brethren assemble at unsuitable hours.

On Sundays all shall give themselves to reading except those who are deputed to various duties. But if any one be so negligent and lazy that he will not or cannot meditate or read, some task shall be imposed upon him which he can perform, so that he be not idle. On feeble and delicate brothers such a labor or art is to be imposed that they shall neither be idle nor so oppressed by the burden of labor as to be driven to take to flight. Their weakness is to be taken into consideration by the abbot.

49. The observance of Lent. 50. Concerning brothers who labor far from the oratory or are on a journey. 51. Concerning brothers who do not journey very far. 52. Concerning the oratory of the monastery. 53. Concerning the reception of guests. 54. As to whether a monk should be allowed to receive letters or anything. 55. Concerning the Vestiarius and Calciarius. 56. Concerning the table of the Abbot. 57. Concerning the artificers of the monastery.

58. Concerning the manner of receiving brethren. When any one newly comes for conversion of life, an easy entrance shall not be granted him, but as the Apostle says: "Try the spirits whether they be of God" [I John 4:1]. Therefore if one who comes perseveres in knocking, and is seen after four or five days to endure patiently the insults heaped upon him and the difficulty of ingress and to persist in his request, let entrance be granted him, and let him be for a few days in the guest cell. After this let him be in the cell of the novices, where he shall meditate and eat and sleep. And an elder shall be appointed for him such as shall be capable of winning [pg 638] souls, who shall altogether intently watch him, and be zealous to see if he in truth seek God, if he be zealous for the work of God, for obedience, for suffering shame. And above all the harshness and roughness of the means through which one approaches God shall be told him in advance. If he promise perseverance in his steadfastness after the lapse of two months, this Rule shall be read over to him in order, and it shall be said to him: Behold the law under which thou didst wish to serve; if thou canst observe it, enter; but if thou canst not, depart freely. If he shall have stood firm thus far, then he shall be led into the aforesaid cell of the novices, and again he shall be proven with all patience.

And after the lapse of six months, the Rule shall be reread to him, that he may know upon what he is entering. And if he persist thus far, after four months the same Rule shall still again be read to him. If, after deliberating with himself, he shall promise that he will observe all things and to obey all the commands laid upon him, then he shall be received into the congregation, knowing that it is decreed that by the law of the Rule he shall from that day not be allowed to depart from the monastery, nor to shake free from his neck the yoke of the Rule, which after such painful deliberation he was at liberty to refuse or receive.

He who is to be received shall make in the oratory, in the presence of all, a promise before God and His saints concerning his stability [stabilitas loci] and the change in the manner of his life [conversio morum] and obedience [obedientia],275 so that if at any time he act contrary he shall know that he shall be condemned by Him whom he mocks. And concerning this, his promise, he shall make a petition addressed by name to the saints whose relics are there, and to the abbot who is present. And this petition he shall write out with his own hand; or, if he be really unlearned in letters, let another at his request write it, and to that the novice shall make his sign. With his own hand he shall place it upon the altar. And when [pg 639] he has placed it there, the novice shall immediately begin this verse: "Receive me O Lord according to Thy promise and I shall live; and cast me not down from my hope" [Psalm 119:116, Vulgate version]. And this verse the whole congregation shall repeat three times adding: Glory be to the Father, etc. Then that brother novice shall prostrate himself at the feet of each one that they may pray for him. And already from that day he shall be considered as in the congregation.

If he have any property, he shall first either present it to the poor or, making a solemn donation, shall confer it on the monastery, receiving nothing at all for himself; and he shall know for a fact that from that day he shall have no power even over his own body. Immediately thereafter, in the monastery, he shall take off his own garments in which he was clad, and shall put on the garments of the monastery. Those garments, furthermore, which he has taken off shall be placed in the vestiary to be preserved; so that if, at any time, on the devil's persuasion, he shall wish to go forth from the monastery (and may it never happen) then, taking off the garments of the monastery let him be cast out. But the petition he made and which the abbot took from upon the altar, he shall not receive again, but it shall be preserved in the monastery.

59. Concerning the sons of nobles and poor men who are presented. If by chance any one of the nobles offers his son to God in the monastery, and the boy himself is a minor in age, his parents shall make the petition of which we have spoken above. And with an oblation, they shall wrap the petition and the hand of the boy in the linen cloth of the altar; and thus shall they offer him. Concerning their property, either they shall promise in the present petition, under an oath, that they will never, either indirectly or otherwise, give him anything at any time, or furnish him with means of possessing it. Or, if they be unwilling to do this, and wish to offer something as alms to the monastery for their salvation, they shall make a donation of those things which they wish to give to the monastery, [pg 640] retaining for themselves the usufruct if they so wish. And let all things be so observed that no suspicion may remain with the boy; by which, as we have learned from experience, being deceived, he might perish (and may it not happen). The poorer ones shall do likewise. Those who have nothing at all shall simply make their petitions; and with an oblation they shall offer their sons before witnesses.

60. Concerning priests who may wish to dwell in the monastery. 61. Concerning pilgrim monks, how they are to be received. 62. Ordination of monks as priests. 63. Concerning rank in the congregation. 64. Concerning the ordination of an Abbot. 65. Concerning the Prior of the monastery. 66. Concerning the Doorkeepers of the monastery. 67. Concerning brothers sent on a journey. 68. If impossibilities are imposed on a brother. 69. That in the monastery one shall not presume to defend another. 70. That no one shall presume to strike another. 71. That they shall be obedient to one another. 72. Concerning the good zeal which monks ought to have.

73. Concerning the fact that not every just observance is decreed in this Rule. We have written down this Rule, that we may show those observing it in the monasteries how to have some honesty of character or beginning of conversion. But for those who hasten to the perfection of living, there are the teachings of the holy Fathers; the observance of which leads a man to the heights of perfection. For what page or what discourse of divine authority in the Old or New Testament is not a more perfect rule of human life? Or what book of the holy and Catholic Fathers does not trumpet forth how by the right road we shall come to our Creator?

Also the reading aloud of the Fathers, and their decrees and lives; also the Rule of our holy Father Basil-what else are they except instruments of virtue for good living and obedient monks? But to us who are idle and evil livers and negligent there is the blush of confusion. Thou, therefore, whoever hastens to the heavenly fatherland, perform with Christ's aid this Rule written out as the least beginnings; and then at [pg 641] length, under God's protection, thou wilt come to the greater things that we have mentioned-to the summits of teaching and virtue.

(b) Formul?.

The following formul? are given to illustrate the Rule in its working. The first group bear upon the vow of stabilitas loci. The case not infrequently arose that a brother wished to go to a monastery in which the observance of the Rule was stricter. In case a new foundation was begun anywhere, the first monks were almost always from another monastery. If therefore the monk is to remove, he must obtain permission of his abbot, and this was not regarded as a violation of the vow of stabilitas loci and obedience to his abbot. These formul? were not uniform throughout the Church, but the following are given as samples of early practice.

1. Letters dimissory. (MSL, 66:859.)

(a) To all bishops and all orders of the holy Church, and to all faithful people.

Be it known unto you that I have given license to this our brother, John or Paul by name, that where he finds it agreeable to dwell in order to lead the monastic life, he shall have license to dwell for the benefit of himself and the monastery.

(b) Since such a brother desires to dwell in another monastery, where, as it seems to him, he can save his soul and serve God, know then that by these letters dimissory, we have given him license to go to another monastery.

(c) From the Consuetudines of the Monastery of St. Paul at Rome.

I, a humble abbot. You should know, beloved, that this brother, John or Paul by name, has asked us to give him permission to dwell with you. And, because we know that you observe the Rule of the order, we assent to his dwelling with [pg 642] you. I now commend him to you, that you may treat him as I would, and for him you are to render an account to God as I would have had to render.

(d) Another from the same.

To the venerable father the abbot of ( … ) monastery, the abbot of ( … ) monastery greeting with a holy kiss. Since our monastery has been burdened with various embarrassments and poverty, we beseech your brotherliness that you will receive our brother to dwell in your monastery, and we commend him by these letters of commendation and dismission to your jurisdiction and obedience.

Alternate conclusion:

We send him from our obedience to serve the Lord under your obedience.

2. Offering of a child to a monastery. (MSL, 66:842.)

The following forms should be compared with chapter 59 of the Rule. Children so offered were known as oblati, i.e., offered. These forms are from a manuscript of the ninth century.

(a) To offer children to God is sanctioned in the Old and New Testaments as Abraham276 … are related to have done. Moved by the example of these and many others, I ( … ) do now, for the salvation of my soul and for the salvation of the souls of my parents, offer in the presence of the abbot ( … ) this my son ( … ) to Almighty God and to St. Mary His mother, according to the Rule of the blessed Benedict in the Monastery of Mons Major, so that from this day forth it shall not be lawful for him to withdraw his neck from the yoke of this service; and I promise never, by myself or by any agent, to give him in any way opportunity of leaving, and that this writing may be confirmed I sign it with my own hand.

(b) Brief form.

[pg 643] I give this boy in devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ, before God and His saints, that he may remain all the days of his life and become a monk until his death.

3. Ceremony of receiving a monk into a Benedictine monastery. (MSL, 66:829.)

(a) From Peter Boherius, Commentary on the Regula S. Benedicti, ch. 58 of the Rule, v. supra.

When the novice makes his solemn profession, the abbot vests to say mass, and after the offertory the abbot interrogates him saying:

Brother (such a one): Is it your will to renounce the world and all its pomps?

He answers: It is.

Abbot: Will you promise obedience according to the Rule of St. Benedict? Answer: I will.

Abbot: May God give you his aid.

Then the novice, or some one at his request, reads the aforesaid profession, and when it has been read he places it upon his head, and then upon the altar. After this, when he has prostrated himself on his knees in four directions in the form of a cross, he says the verse: Receive me, O Lord, etc. And then the Gloria Patri, the Kyrie Eleison, the Pater Noster and the Litany are said, the novice remaining prostrate on the ground before the altar, until the end of the mass. And the brothers ought to be in the choir kneeling while the Litany is said. When the Litany has been said, then shall follow very devoutly the special prayers as commanded by the Fathers, and immediately after the communion and before the prayer is said, the garments of the novice, which have been folded and placed before the altar, shall be blessed with their proper prayers; and they shall be anointed and sprinkled with holy water by the abbot. After "Ite, missa est"277 the novice rises from the ground, and having put off his old garments which were not blessed he puts on those which have been blessed, while the abbot recites: Exuat te Dominus, etc.

[pg 644] And when the kiss has been given by the abbot, all the brothers in turn give him the kiss of peace, and he shall keep silence for three days continuously after this, going about with his head covered and receiving the communion every day.

(b) From Theodore of Canterbury, ibid., 827.

In the ordination of monks the abbot ought to say mass, and say three prayers over the head of the novice; and for seven days he veils his head with his cowl, and on the seventh day the abbot takes the veil off.

(c) The Vow. From another form, ibid.

I promise concerning my stability and conversion of life and obedience according to the Rule of St. Benedict before God and His saints.

§ 105. Foundation of Medi?val Culture and Schools

Schools never wholly disappeared from Western society, either during the barbarian invasion or in the even more troublous times that followed. Secular schools continued throughout the fifth century. During the sixth century they gave way for the most part to schools fostered by the Church, or were thoroughly transformed by ecclesiastical influences. In the fifth and sixth centuries, the great compends were made that served as text-books for centuries. Boethius, Cassiodorus, Isidore of Seville, and Bede represent great steps in the preparation for the medi?val schools. But, apart from the survival of old schools, there was a real demand for the establishment of new schools. The new monasticism needed them. It required some reading and study every day by the monks. As children were constantly being received, ordinarily at the age of seven, these oblati needed instruction. The monastic schools, which thus arose, early made provision for the instruction of those not destined for the monastic life in the external schools of the monasteries. Then again, the need of clergy with some literary training, however simple, [pg 645] was felt, especially as the secular schools declined or were found not convenient, and conciliar action was taken in various countries to provide for such education. In the conversion of the English, schools seem very early to have been established, and the encouragement given these schools by the learned Theodore of Tarsus, archbishop of Canterbury, bore splendid fruit, not merely in the great school of Canterbury but still more in the monastic schools of the North, at Jarrow and Wearmouth and at York. It was from the schools in the North that the culture of the Frankish kingdom under Charles the Great largely came. There was always a marked difference of opinion as to the value of secular literature in education, as is shown by the attitude already taken by Gregory the Great in his letter to Desiderius of Vienne, a letter which did much to discourage the literary study of the classics.

(a) Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, II, 40 (§ 60). (MSL, 34:63).

The Christian's use of heathen writers.

The whole book should be examined carefully to see the working out of the same idea in detail. St. Augustine was a man of literary culture, although he was imperfectly acquainted with Greek. He speaks from his own experience of the help he had derived from this culture. The work On Christian Doctrine is, in fact, not at all a treatise on theology but on pedagogy, and was of immense influence in the Middle Ages.

If those who are called philosophers and especially the Platonists have said anything true and in harmony with the faith, we ought not only not to shrink from it, but rather to appropriate it for our own use, taking it from them as from unlawful possessors. For as the Egyptians had not only the idols and heavy burdens, which the people of Israel hated and fled from, but also vessels and ornaments of gold and silver and clothing which the same people on going out of Egypt secretly appropriated to themselves as for a better use, not on their own authority but on the command of God, for the Egyptians in their ignorance lent those things which they [pg 646] themselves were not using well [Ex. 3:22; 12:35]; in the same way all branches of heathen learning have not only false and superstitious fancies and heavy burdens of unnecessary toil which each of us, in going out under the leadership of Christ from the fellowship of the heathen, ought to hate and avoid; but they contain also liberal instruction which it is well to adapt to the use of truth and some most useful precepts of morality; and some truths in regard even to the worship of the one God are found among them. Now these are, so to speak, their gold and silver, which they themselves did not create, but dug, as it were, out of certain mines of God's providence, which are everywhere scattered abroad, and are perversely and unlawfully misused to the worship of devils. These, therefore, the Christian, when he separates himself in spirit from the miserable fellowship of these men, ought to take away from them for their proper use in preaching the Gospel. Their clothing also, that is, human institutions, adapted to that intercourse with men which is indispensable for this life, it is right to take and to have so as to be turned to Christian use.

(b) John Cassian. Institutiones, V, 33, 34. (MSL, 49:249.)

Cassian, born 360, was one of the leaders of the monastic movement. He founded monasteries near Marseilles, and did much to spread the monastic movement in Gaul and Spain. His Institutiones and Collationes were of influence, even after his monasteries had been entirely supplanted by the Benedictines. The opinion here given is probably that prevalent in the monasteries in Egypt. It is utterly different from the spirit of Basil, and the great theologians of Asia Minor who, in the matter of secular studies, hold the same opinion as the older Alexandrian school of Clement and Origen.

Ch. 33. We also saw the abbot Theodore, a man endowed with the utmost holiness and with perfect knowledge not only of things of the practical life but also of the meaning of the Scriptures, which he had acquired, not so much by study and reading, or secular scholarship, as by purity of heart alone; [pg 647] since he was able only with difficulty to understand or speak even but a few words in the Greek language. This man, when he was seeking an explanation of some most difficult question, continued indefatigably seven days and nights in prayer until, by a revelation of the Lord, he knew the answer to the question propounded.

Ch. 34. This man, therefore, when some of the brethren were wondering at the splendid light of his knowledge, and were asking him some meanings of Scripture, said: "A monk desiring to attain to a knowledge of the Scriptures ought in no wise to spend his labor on the books of the commentators, but rather to keep all the efforts of his mind and the intentions of his heart set on purification from carnal vices. When these are driven out, at once the eyes of the heart, when the veil of passions has been removed, will begin, as it were, naturally to gaze on the mysteries of Scripture, since these were not declared unto us by the grace of the Holy Ghost to remain unknown and obscure; but they are rendered obscure by our vices, as the veil of our sins cover the eyes of the heart, and for these, when restored to their natural health, the mere reading of Holy Scripture is amply sufficient for the perception of the true knowledge; nor do they need the instruction of commentators, just as these eyes of flesh need no man's assistance to see provided they are free from the dimness or darkness of blindness."

(c) Gregory the Great, Ep. ad Desiderium, Reg. XI, ep. 54. (MSL, 77:1171.)

Desiderius was bishop of Vienne. This letter was sent with several others written in connection with the sending of Mellitus to England; see Bede, Hist. Ec., I, 27, 29.

Many good things have been reported to us regarding your pursuits, and such joy arose in our hearts that we could not bear to refuse what your fraternity had requested to have granted you. But afterward it came to our ears, what we cannot mention without shame, that thy fraternity is in the habit [pg 648] of expounding grammar to certain persons. This thing pained us so and we so strongly disapproved of it that we changed what had been said before into groaning and sadness, since the praises of Christ cannot find room in the one mouth with the praises of Jupiter. And consider thyself what a grave and heinous offence it is for bishops to sing what is not becoming even for a religious layman. And, though our most beloved son Candidus, the presbyter, who was strictly examined on this matter when he came to us, denied it and endeavored to excuse you, yet still the thought has not left our mind that, in proportion as it is execrable for such a thing to be related of a priest, it ought to be ascertained by strict and veracious evidence whether or not it be so. If, therefore, hereafter what has been reported to us should prove to be evidently false, and it should be clear that you do not apply yourself to trifles and secular literature, we shall give thanks to God, who has not permitted your heart to be stained with the blasphemous phrases of what is abominable; and we will treat without misgiving or hesitation concerning granting what you have requested.

We commend to you in all respects the monks whom, together with our most beloved son Laurentius, the presbyter, and Mellitus, the abbot, we have sent to our most reverend brother and fellow-bishop Augustine, that by the help of your fraternity no delay may hinder their journey.

(d) Council of Vaison, A. D. 529, Canon 1. Bruns, II, 183.

Vaison is a small see in the province of Arles. The synod was attended by about a dozen bishops. It is, therefore, not authoritative for a large district, but when taken in connection with the following selection indicates a wide-spread custom.

That presbyters in their parishes shall bring up and instruct young readers in their houses. It was decided that all presbyters who are placed in parishes should, according to a custom which we learn is very beneficially observed throughout Italy, receive young readers, as many as they have who [pg 649] are unmarried, into their house where they dwell, and as good fathers shall endeavor to bring them up spiritually to render the Psalms, and to instruct them in the divine readings, and to educate them in the law of the Lord, that so they may provide for themselves worthy successors, and receive from the Lord eternal rewards. But when they come to full age, if any of them, on account of the weakness of the flesh, wish to marry, they shall not be denied the right of doing so.

(e) II Council of Toledo, A. D. 531, Canon 1. Bruns, I, 207.

Concerning those whom their parents voluntarily give in the first years of their childhood to the office of the clergy, we have decreed this to be observed; namely, that as soon as they have been tonsured or have been given to the care of appointed persons, they ought to be educated by some one set over them, in the church building, and in the presence of the bishop. When they have completed their eighteenth year, they shall be asked by the bishop, in the presence of all the clergy and people, their will as to seeking marriage. And if by God's inspiration they have the grace of chastity, and shall have promised to observe the profession of their chastity without any necessity of marriage, let these who are more desirous of the hardest life put on the most gentle yoke of the Lord, and first let them receive from their twentieth year the ministry of the subdiaconate, probation having been made of their profession, that, if blamelessly and without offence they attain the twenty-fifth year of their age, they may be promoted to the office of the diaconate, if they have been proved by their bishop to be able to fulfil it.…

(f) Bede, Hist. Ec., III, 18. (MSL, 95:144.)

Sigebert became king of the East Angles about 631 and died 637. The facts known of him are briefly recorded in DCB.

At this time the kingdom of the East Angles, after the death of Earpwald, the successor of Redwald, was subject to his brother Sigebert, a good and religious man, who long before [pg 650] had been baptized in France, whilst he lived in banishment, flying from the enmity of Redwald; when he returned home and had ascended the throne he was desirous of imitating the good institutions which he had seen in France, and he set up a school for the young to be instructed in letters, and was assisted therein by Bishop Felix, who had come to him from Kent and who furnished him with masters and teachers after the manner of that country.

(g) Bede, Hist. Ec., IV, 2. (MSL, 95:173.)

Theodore arrived at his church the second year after his consecration, on Sunday, May 27, and held the same twenty-one years, three months and twenty-six days. Soon after he visited all the islands, wherever the tribes of the Angles dwelt, for he was willingly entertained and heard by all persons. Everywhere he was attended and assisted by Hadrian, and he taught the right rule of life and the canonical custom of celebrating Easter.278 This was the first archbishop whom all the English Church obeyed. And forasmuch as both of them were, as has been said, well read in sacred and secular literature, they gathered a crowd of scholars and there daily flowed from them rivers of knowledge to water the hearts of their hearers; and together with the books of the holy Scriptures they also taught them the arts of ecclesiastical poetry, astronomy, and arithmetic. A testimony of which is that there are still living at this day [circa A. D. 727] some of their scholars who are as well versed in the Greek and Latin tongues as in their own, in which they were born. Never were there happier times since the English came to Britain; for their kings were brave men and good Christians and were a terror to all barbarous nations, and the minds of all men were bent upon the joys of the heavenly kingdom of which they had just heard. And all who desired instruction in sacred reading had masters at hand to teach them. From that time also they began in all the churches of the English [pg 651] to learn sacred music which till then had been only known in Kent. And excepting James, mentioned above, the first singing-master279 in the churches of the Northumbrians was Eddi, surnamed Stephen, invited from Kent by the most reverend Wilfrid, who was the first of the bishops of the English nation that taught the churches of the English the Catholic mode of life.

(h) Council of Clovesho, A. D. 747, Canon 7. Haddan and Stubbs, III, 360.

They decreed in the seventh article of agreement that bishops, abbots, and abbesses should by all means take care and diligently provide that their families should incessantly apply their minds to reading, and that knowledge be spread by the voices of many to the gaining of souls and to the praise of the eternal King. For it is sad to say how few280 in these times do heartily love and labor for sacred knowledge and are willing to take pains in learning, but they are from their youth up rather employed in divers vanities and the affectation of vainglory; and they rather pursue the amusements of this present unstable life than the assiduous study of holy Scriptures. Therefore let boys be kept and trained up in such schools, to the love of sacred knowledge, and that, being by this means well learned, they may become in all respects useful to the Church of God.

[pg 652]

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