An ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish, to the beginning of the thirteenth century , Compiled from the works of the most esteemed authors ... who have written and published on matters connected with the Irish church; and from Irish annals an online

. (page 34 of 45)
Online LibraryUnknownAn ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish, to the beginning of the thirteenth century , Compiled from the works of the most esteemed authors ... who have written and published on matters connected with the Irish church; and from Irish annals an → online text (page 34 of 45)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

sunt ; sive etiam decreta, quae sancti Patres et synodi in diversis
gentibus vel linquis constnixerunt. Afterwards Martene found
a more correct copy of it in the Bigot Library at Rouen, which
had belonged to the monastery of Tiscam, and thence inserted
in the Thesaurus novus Anecdotorum (Tom 4. p. 1. seqq) a
large number of canons, which D'Achery had omitted. He men-
tions also the names of various synods, by which said ' canons had
been made, such as Synodus Fervensis^ Consulensis, Valensis,
Laudatiae, Erenensis, Hibernensisy Ancoritana, Luci Victoriae,
Sapientia, &c. Some of these names do not indicate places ; and
such of them as do I confess I am not able to explain, excepting
the synodus Hibernensis, which occurs several times likewise in
D'Achery's collection, and which must mean not a single Irish
synod, but divers ones called in general Hibemensis. Martene
mentions also a synod of N. Britain, and gives Excerpeta de libris
Romanorum et Francorwn, the Canones Adomnani (of which
see Chap, xviii. §. 14.) a Libellus de Remediis peccatorum chiefly
from Theodore of Canterbury, besides canons from the book of
David (of Wales) and some articles from Gildas. In both
D'Achery's and Martene's collections there are some canons the
same as in Ware's, although now and then with a slight variation
of words. In the collection of canons, &c. called Excerptiones
or Excerpta from the Jus Sacerdotale of Ecgbert, archbishop of
York, who lived in the eighth century, by Hucarius Levita, that
is, a deacon, there are also some Irish canons, and a Synodus
Hibernen&is is now and then quoted. This collection is in Wilkin's
Coimcils eye. Vol. 1. p. 101. seqq. Hucarius was perhaps ihe same
as Haelhucar above mentioned, who was fond of collecting canons,
and might have, when only a deacon, drawn up those Excerp-
tiones, before he directed, when abbot, Abedoc in compiling the
great collection in Q5 books. It is not to be wondered at, that the
Irish church had a great number of canons ; for one of her an-
cient decrees lays down, that councils be held twice in the year ;
*' Sancta synodus bis in anno decrevit habere concilia." {Ap.
Usher, Discourse on the Religion, S^c. ch, 6.) Perhaps by Sancta
synodus was meant the council of Nice, which, as well as other
councils, had established that rule as to provincial synods; but


from its being repeated in our canons we may suppose, that it
was observed in Ireland.

(80) It is at cap, 4. in these words ; Audi Dominum dicentem :
Si tibi non aiidierit, sit tibi ijelut gentilis et piiblicanus. Non ma-
ledices, sed repelles excommunicatum a communione et mensa, et
missa, et pace. Et si haereticus est, post unnm correptionem de-

(81) D'Acherj' has from L. 39- cap. 1. " Synodus Hibernen-
sis sex modos dicit, a celebratione, a communication e Missae, a
cohabitatione, a benedictione, a colloquio pacifico, a corameatu."
(Compare with Not. 32. to Chap, xiii.)

(82) This canon is in cap.l. of the synod of St. Patrick;
'• Statuunt ne rebaptizati (sint) qui Symboli traditione (traditionem)
a quocunque acceperunt, quia non inficit semen seminantis ini-
quitas." It mentions the delivery of the Creed as the usual pre-
liminary to baptism. It is by no means relative to the question of
the validity of baptism administered by lay persons, as Ledwich
supposes, Antiqu. SfC. p, 423. But enough has been said already
fNot. 101. to Chap. XXIV.) concerning his unlearned effusions on
this point.

(83) In cap. 19, of said synod we read ; " Octavo die Catechu-
meni sunt; postea solemnitatibus Domini baptizantur, id est,
Pascha, Pentecoste, et Epiphania." Without entering into the
Practice of some Eastern churches, and that, although disapproved
of, followed in Spain and Sicily, it is known that Epiphany was a
solemn time of baptism down to a rather late period in the Afri-
can churches, as appears from Victor Uticensis referred to by Bing-
ham ; (OrigineSf S^c. B. xi. ch. 6. sect. 7.) to whom I may add,
that, as Tillemont relates, (Memoirs, Sfc. Tom. xvi. p. 5oQ,) it
was on the night of Epiphany A. D. 484-, that St. Eugenius, bi-
shop of Carthage, cured one Felix of blindness at the time of
blessing the baptismal font for those that were to be baptized. It
is not improbable, that the Irish founded their practice on some
African canons.

(84) It is in cap. 13. of the said synod, and entitled De Sacri-
Jicio i " In nocte Paschae si fas est ferre foras. Non for as fertur,

sed fidelibus deferatur. Quid aliud significat quod in una domo
sumitur agnus, quam sub uno Jidei cidmine creditur et communi-
catur Christus ?"


(85) It is in cap. 25. of the same synod, and has been quoted
above Not. 51. to Chap. xxvi.

(86) This canon is among what are called Judicia Compendia
ap. Martene (loc. cit. col. 19.) and is thus expressed; " Vir si
nupserit duabus sororibus, vel mulier duobus fratribus, abjiciantur
a communione usque ad mortem ; verum tamen in exitu vitae
propter misericordiam, si in columes permiserint hujus conjuncti-
onis vincula dissolvere, poenitentiam sequantur. Quod si defe-
cerint, in talibus nuptiis difficilis est poenitentia pennanenti-

(87) See, for instance. Notes 96 and 97. to Chap. xxiv.

(88) One of them is in cap. 30. of the Synod of St. Patrick in
these words ; " Nunquam vetitus (vetitum) licet, verum observan.
dae sunt leges Jubilaei, hoc est, quinquaginta anni, ut non adfir-
mentur incerta veterato temporis." Ware has another (Opuse. S.
Pair. p. 118.) from an Irish synod, entitled De his quae non elu-
dit Jubilaeiis, which enters into distinctions concerning the sorts
of property comprized or not under the law of the Jubilee.
D'Acherj' has from Lib. 35. some canons relative to it, one of
which fcap. 8.) is thus headed; " De eo quod observandae sunt
leges Jubilaei etiam in novo" (Testamento). This system must
have been introduced and kept up with the concurrence and ap-
probation of the civil power, as indeed is plain from the very terms
of some of those canons. It seems to have originated in the mode
of tenure, by which the Irish tribes and septs held their lands.

(89) The first of the nine canons attributed to St. Patrick (see
above Not. 78.) is entitled " De judicio clericorum, ut non sit
apud iniquos, aut apud infideles ;" then it has, " Omnis mundialis
sapiens, si (etsi; sapiens sit, non judicet judicia Ecclesiae." Ware
floe. cit. p. 119.) quotes another to the same purpose ^ *' Cleri-
cus, qui causam suam, sive justam sive injustam, ad judicium al-
terius fidei judicis provocat, excommunicetur.

(90) Can. 13. of the synod of Patrick, Auxilius, and Isser-

(91) See the 2d and Sd of the nine canons above mentioned,
and the rules about princes ap. D'Achery from Lib. 24i. (in which
passages are quoted", in the name of St. Patrick as the author, from
De abusiofiibus seculi) and from Lib. 36, some of which, however,
relate to ecclesiastical chiefs.


(92) It is the 6th of the nine canons ap. Ware, and in L. 20.
cap. 5. ap, Dachery, premised by the words, Patrictus ait* Hav-
ing quoted it and made some remarks on it already, (Not. 35. to
Chap, XV.) I need not repeat it here.

§. 12. The marriage of a nun was considered as
adultery, and punished by excommunication. But,
should she repent, and quit that state, she was to do
penance, and not to live near the man, whom she
had married. (93) There is a caution given not to
break ecclesiastical unity, which is recommended by
the example of the first believers. (94) Next after
this is a canon declaring the punishment of a per-
son, who had robbed a church, which must have
been enacted in one of those mixed assemblies so
common in Ireland, in which princes and chieftains
used to sit jointly with the clergy. It orders, thnt
his hand or foot be cut off, or that he be thrown into
prison, or exiled and make double restitution, and
swear not to return until he has fulfilled his penance.

(95) I find a canon, purely ecclesiastical, whereby
three years penance is imposed for such a theft, and
in case of a murder in a holy place seven years, both
penances to be performed in a state of pilgrimage.

(96) Penances were also enjoined, but not so se-
vere, for every common theft ; (97) and there was
a general order to drive thieves, robbers, and plun-*
derers out of the Church. (98) The age for a priest
is fixed at his thirtieth year, and for a bishop at the
thirtieth, fortieth, or ififtieth. But if a man had
been married until he was thirty years old, and
wished to become a clergyman, he was bound to re-
main a subdeacon for five years, and a deacon for
five years more, after which he might be ordained
a priest in his fortieth year. (99) A bishop was to
be consecrated with the consent of the clergy, laity
(of the diocese), and of the bishops of the whole
province, chiefly the metropolitan. (100) No bi-
shop was allowed to appoint his successor ; but the


appointment was to take place after his death. Yet
he might, with the consent of a synod and the ap*
probation of the people of the district, ordain, to-
wards the end of his life, a bishop to succeed him.
(101) With regard to the Divine service, a canon
states, that the Church offers to God, 1. for itself;
2. for the commemoration of Jesus Christ ; and 3.
for the departed souls. (102) This last oblation is
explained in another, according to which the Church
offers for the souls of the deceased iu four ways ; for
the very good the oblations are mere thanksgivings ;
for the very bad they are consolations of the living ;
for those not very good they are made for the obtain-
ing of full remission ; and for such as were not very
bad, that their punishment may be rendered more
tolerable. (103) By punishment, or, as the origi-
nal has, damnatio, we must understand not eternal
punishment or damnation, but the imrgatorial suf-
ferings ; whereas, besides the universal rule of not
offering for souls, of whose being in hell no doubt
was entertained, there is an Irish canon directing,
that the holy sacrifice be not offered for such deceas-
ed persons as were guilty of the sin unto death, that
is, as most probably meant by it, final impenitence.
(104) There is f^ very severe canon agahist per-
sons, who falsely accuse others, depriving them of
communion until the end of their lives. (105)

(93) The 17th canon of the synod of Patrick, Auxilius, &c. is
as follows ; Virgo, quae voverit Deo, permanet casta, et postea
nupserit carnaleni sponsum, excoramunionis sit donee converta-
tur. Si conversa fuerit, et dimiserit adulterium, poenitentiam
agat, et postea non in una domo nee in una villa habitent."

(94-) The first of the three particular canons ascribed to St. Pa-
trick (see above Not. 78) is entitled De unitate subditorum, after
which we read ; " Quis ergo audet scindere unitatem, quam ne-
mo hominum solvere vel reprehendere potest ? Then comes a
quotation from Acts iv. 32. seqq. Instead of Quis ergo that sen-
tence begins ap, Martene (from L. 21. cap, 10.) with Si/nodus di-


cit ; Si quis antem, SfC, and ends with anathema sit, thus forming
a canon.

(95) " Quifuratus fuerit pecuniam ab ecclesia sancta, ubi mar-
tjTes et corpora sanctorum dormiunt, illius manus vel pes circum-
cidatur, aut in carcerem mittatur, aut in peregrinationem ejicia-
tur et restituat dupluni ; et jurabit quod non revertetur donee im-
pleverlt poenitentiam." This canon, although attributed to St-
Patrick, could not have been made in his time, as the Irish Chris-
tian princes were not as yet powerful enough to estabhsh such a
law. There is a similar canon, and called an Irish one, in No,
74? of the Excerptioiies from the Jus Sacerdotale of Ecgbert,
and another in D'Achery's collection from L. 28. cap. 6.

(96) It is in D'Achery from L. 4«2. cap. 15. " Quicumque
reliquias episcoporum vel martyrum (alluding to holy places) homi-
cidio violaverit, septem annis peregrinus poeniteat ; si vero furto,
tribus annis." After this, rules are laid down for cleansing the
pollutions of such places.

(97) See canon 15. of the synod of Patrick, Auxilius, &c.

(98) " Synodus ; Fures, et latrones, etraptores de Ecclesia
ejiciendi sunt;" ap. D'Achery from Z. 41. cap. S.

(99) L. 1. cap. 9. ap. D'Achery.

(100) The canon on this point fap. D'Achery ib. cap. 5.) was
originally of a council of Carthage, as observed by D'Achery.
Considered relatively to Ireland, it must be understood of the bi-
shops of regular sees ; for, as has been often observed already fex,
c. Chap. XXIV. }. 12. and Not. 104-. to Chap, xi.) the Irish church
had Chorepiscopi, whose appointment and consecration did not
require all that apparatus. We have also seen, that those Chore-
piscopi used to be consecrated by one bishop ; but such was not
the case with regard to the bishops of established sees, whereas
for their consecration three bishops, at least, were required in Ire-
land as well as elsewhere. Tims we read in the Tripartite Life of
St. Patrick, (L. 2 c. 4-3.) that, when consecrating Carellus for
the church of Tamnacha in Huanonella (Tirellil, Sligo), he was
assisted by the bishops Bron and Bitaeus Juxta Ecclesiae consue-
tudinem. Whether such consecration took place or not, is of lit-
tle consequence ; but the pointing to the custoin of the Church
adds to the proofs of the rule of consecration by no fewer than
three bishops having been observed by the Irish church.



(101) D'Achery has (ib. cap, 17.); " Synodus alt; Nullus
episcopus successorem in vita sua faciat, sed post obitum ejus boni
bonum eligant. Item, Synodus; definivit episcopum ordinare suc-
cessorem in exitu vitae consensu synodi et regionis ipsius senten-
tia, ne imtum fiat."

(102) This canon is from L, 2. cap. 9- ap. D'Achery ; " Sy-
nodus ; Nunc Ecclesia multis modis ofFert Deo ; primo pro seipsa ;
secundo pro commemoratione Jesu Christi, qui dixit, Hoc facite
in meam commemorationem ; tertio pro animabus defunctis.

(103) It is in cap. 20. ib. thus expressed; " Synodus ait; Qua-
tuor modis ofFert Ecclesia pro animabus defunctorum. Pro valde
bonis gi-atiarum actiones sunt, in quibus nihil oblatio habet quod
deleat ; pro valde malis consolationes vivorum ; pro non valde bo-
nis, ut plena remissio fiat ; pro non valde malis, ut tolerabihor
fiat damnatio ista." Nothing can be more contrary than this ca-
non to Usher s system relative to tlie practice and doctrine of the
Irish church in praying for the dead. (See Not. 157. to Chap.


(104) Cap. 12. among the thirty-one of the synod of St. Pa-
trick (see above Not. 78.)- I have elsewhere (Not. 157. to Chap.
XXI.) referred to this canon, the original of which is headed, De
oblationepro defunctis ; then follows; " Audi Apostolum dicen-
tem ; Est antem peccatum ad mortem, non pro illo dico ut roget
quis. Et Dominus, Nolite donare sanctum canibus. Qui enim
in vita sua sacrificium non merebitur accipere, quomodo post mor-
tem illi poterit adjuvare." The unfortunate persons here alluded
to were such as led notoriously bad lives, and could not be brought
to show even symptoms of repentance. They were different from
those, called very bad in the canon, (Not. prec.J who might
have been so without pubhcly appearing as hardened obstinate sin-

(105) "Synodus; Qui falso accusant /ra^re^, usque ad exi-
tum vitae non communicent. (Ap. D'Acheiy from L. 16. cap. 13.)
From the word, fratres, it might seem, that this canon was re-
lative to the brethren in monasteries ; but it may be well under-
stood of persons in general bearing false witness against their

§. XIII. I find a singular canon declaring that an
VOL. IV. c c


oath of a son or daughter, unknown to the father,
one of a monk without the knowledge of his abbot,
and that of a boy, are void. (106) Among many re-
gulations relative to Church property there is, allud-
ing to pious donations, particularly, it seems, made
by will, one, in which it is ordered, that sons,
or brothers, or relatives be not defrauded of their
due, and that the church do receive only a certain
portion, called the portion of God, leaving to the
rightful heirs what they are justly entitled to. (107)
A spirit of disinterestedness was required from the
clergy ; and accordingly there was a canon enjoin-
ing, that the superfluous of a priest, cr whatever he
possessed beyond his wants, should be given to the
church. (108) This was intended partly for the use
of the church itself, such as for repairs, necessary ex-
penses, &c. and partly for the poor, in the same
manner as the usual offerings of the faithful, con-
cerning which there are two canons ; one empower-
ing the bishop to divide them between the church
and the poor, and another condemning a clergyman,
who should seize upon said offerings, to be removed
from the church, (109) We find some canons re-
lative to the ecclesiastical lands or tracts, called Ter^-
minus, and their boundaries or marks. '* Let the
Terminus of a holy place have marks about it—
Wherever you find the sign of the Cross of Christ,
do not do any injury.— Three persons consecrate a
Terminus of a holy place, a king, a bishop, and the
people." (1 10) Tiiere are several canons respect-
ing succession to property, wills, debts, pledges,
bargains, &c. which were evidently drawn up in
those mixed assemblies, above mentioned, of clergy-
men and laymen. (Ill) Among the Irish canons
there are two taken from the council of Gangra in
ra])hlagonia, which was held against the heretic Eus-
tathius and his followers, who, besides other errors,
condemned matrimony, and taught that married per-
sons could not be saved. By these canons persons,


observing virginity to please the Lord, are ordered
under pain of anathema aiot to insult married per-
sons, nor to express an abhorrence of marriage or of
persons engaged in it. (11 2) They are by no means
relative to the question of marriage of the clergy, as
a certain author, who was always raving about ma-
trimony, strives to insinuate. (113) But there is
a canon, whereby clerks are prohibited to frequent
women, not their relations, and are ordered to live
with no other females than their mother, or aunt,
or sister, or niece, so as to guard against even the
suspicion of scandal. (114) In other respects the
clergy were bound to observe a very grave and strict
line of conduct. For instance, they were not al-
lowed to be spectators of games or sports under pain
of degradation ; (115) nor, under the same penalty,
to walk about in fairs or markets, unless they wanted
to buy something. (Il6) And a clergyman, sing-
ing at a banquet, and not edifying religion, was liable
to an excommunication ; as was also a swearing cler-
gyman. (117) There are some very remarkable ca-
nons relative to matrimonial continence, prescribing
abstinence from the exercise of conjugal rights at
certain stated times, among which are mentioned the
three lents or chief fasting seasons of the year. ( 1 1 B)
I shall quote only one canon more, which is that
against leaders of barbarians, that is of invaders,
plunderers, and destroyers. Such leaders are con-
demned to penance of fourteen years. (119)

(106) D'Achery has it from L. 34. cap. 5. " Synodus Hiber-
iiensis ; Juranientum filii aut filiae nesciente patre, juramentum mo-
nachi nesciente abbate, JLiramentum pueri, irrita sunt."

(107) This canon is from L. 41. cap. 6. in these words ; " Sy-
nodus ; Nullum oportet fraudare filios, aut fratres, aut propinquos.
Item, Ecclesia nonnisi partem Dei acciplat: cum enim heres
mundi venerit, retrahet ea quae mundi sunt." According to a
fixed rule (L. 2. c. 14). a certain part of the property of a de-
ceased person was reserved for the priests, that is, for the use o'

c c 2


the church, including their maintainance, and for his funeral ob-
sequies, beyond which, in virtue of this canon, the church was
not allowed to exact or receive any more. According to the sixth
decree of the council of Cashel it was the third part of a man's
moveable goods. (See Chap. xxix. §, 3.)

(108) Ap. D'Achery, L. 2. cap. 20. " Synodus decrevit, ut
sacerdos onine, quod supei*fluum habet, det in Ecclesia, et
ut quantum Ecclesiae dimiserit tantum Ecclesia demat de super-
fluis ejus."

(109) The 25th canon of the synod of Patrick, Auxilius. &c.
is as follows ; " Si quae a religiosis hominibus donata fuerint diebus
illis, quibus pontifex in singuhs habitaverit ecclesiis, pontificialia
dona, sicut mos antiquus, ordinare, ad episcopum pertinebunt,
sive ad usum necessarium, sive egentibus distribuendum, prout
ipse episcopus moderabit." Then comes canon 26. ib, " Si quis
vero clericus contravenerit, et dona invadere fuerit deprehensus,
ut turpis lucri cupidus ab Ecclesia sequestretur."

(110) D'Achery has from L. 42. cap. 11. " Synodus Hibernen-
sis ; Terminus sancti loci habeat signa circa se — Synodus dicit ; Ubi-
cumquc inveneritis signum Crucis Christi, ne laeseritis — Tres per_
sonae consecrant terminum loci sancti ; rex, episcopus, populus,'*
Of what was meant by Tenninus in the ecclesiastical sense I have
treated already (Not. 63 to Chap. xxvi.). It appears, that crosses
used to be erected in such holy places, and that this might have
been done by either a king, a bishop, or by the people. For it
is more probable, that this is the meaning of the canon, than that
all the three parties were to concur in rendering a place a Termi-

(Ul) See ap. D'Achery from Libb. 31, 32, 33.

(112) D'Achery has these canons from L, 43. cap.2. " Sy-
nodus ; Si quis ex his, qui virglnitatem propter Dominum servant
extollitur adversus conjugatos, anathema sit. — Item, Unusquis-
que, qui virglnitatem custodit, propter Dominum faciat, non propter
execrationem conjugii ; qui enim virum fidelem et religiosam foe-
minam detestatur, aut culpabiles acstimat, anathema sit." These
canons were copied from the ninth and tenth of the council of
Gangra, and also from the first.

(113) The reader will easily perceive, that I allude to Dr.
Ledwich, who touching (Antiq. 8fc. p, 325.) on the former of these


canons introduces the Trullan canons, &c. concerning tlie manriage
of the clergy. Now neither in that canon, nor in the one annexed
to it, is there a word relative to the clergy; but this antiijuary,
with his usual blundering logic, infers that, because the Irisli
church, following the council of Gangra, condemned the Eusta-
thian impiety, it therefore authorized the marriage of clergymen !
He boasts {lb. p. 422.) of having perused with care all our printed
canons, and explained many of them; but from the specimen,
which he has given us, {ib, seqq.) a reader will be able to judge of
his vaunted explanations.

(114) Martenehas this canon from Lib. 9. '' Clerici frequen-
tandi extraneas mulieres non habeant potestatem, sed cum matre,
vel thia filia, sorore, nepte, tantum vivant, de quibus omnibus
nefas est aliquid quani natura constituit suspicari." The words,
thiajilia, if, as it seems, they are to go together, must mean an
unmarried aunt ; for thia signifies an aunt. (See Ducange at Thia.)
But, if they be understood of two distinct persons, and that Jilia
mean daughter, a case is supposed of a clerk having been married
before he became an ecclesiastic, and of his liaving a daughter,
that survived her mother. Be this as it may, the canon is plainly
contrary to the opinion, that the Irish clergy were, at least in ge-
neral, allowed in ancient times to have wives. (Compare v/ith ^.
8. above. )

(115) " Oranis clericus, qui ludum spectare dcsiderat, degra-
detur." Ap. D'Achery, from L. 39. cap. 14.

(116) Martene has from Lib. 9. " Clericus, qui non pro
emendo aliquid in imndinis vel in foro deambulat, ab officio suo
degradetur." I suspect, that by degradeticr is to be understood
in these two canons not total degradation from the clerical order,
but merely a temporary suspension.

(117) We read «;?. Martene ib. " Clericus inter epuias can-
tans, fidem non aedificans, sed auribus tantum pruriens, excom-
munis sit — Clerius jurans excomnmnicandus est." The punish-
ment in the former case probably refers to one of those minor sorts
of excommunication mentioned above ). ll.andiVo^. 81.

(118) D'Achery has the following regulations from L. 44. cap,

Online LibraryUnknownAn ecclesiastical history of Ireland, from the first introduction of Christianity among the Irish, to the beginning of the thirteenth century , Compiled from the works of the most esteemed authors ... who have written and published on matters connected with the Irish church; and from Irish annals an → online text (page 34 of 45)