Page images

The offices of benediction of a processional or military banner, and of an episcopal seal will sufficiently explain themselves. The practice of consecrating military standards is very ancient: Charles Martel is said to have received one, consecrated and sent to him


by pope Gregory III. William the conqueror, says Ingulph, "præpropera [f. proposita] querela papam consuluit, et ab eo animatus etiam vexillum legitimæ victoriæ pro munere accepit." The prior of Hexham, in his history of the battle of the Standard, in 1135, not only relates how the holy banner of S. Peter was delivered to the barons by the archbishop of York, but also as follows: "Mox autem aliqui eorum in medio cujusdam machinæ quam ibi adduxerant, unius navis malum erexerunt, quod Standard appellaverunt : unde Hugo Eborac. archidiaconus :

'Dicitur a stando standardum, quod stetit illic
Militiæ probitas vincere sive mori.'

In summitate vero ipsius arboris quandam argenteam pixidem cum corpore Christi, et sanctorum Petri apos

sertation: (vol. 1. p.
ccl. etc.) and
I think it of sufficient interest to
add the following passage from
Catalani, in which the opinions of
the later canonists are briefly sum-
med up.
"Ratio differentiæ cur
episcopus possit inferiori presby-
tero, ea quæ sunt jurisdictionis
committere, non vero ea quæ
sunt ordinis, illa est: quia ea
quæ sunt jurisdictionis non ita
hærent personæ episcopi, ut ea
quæ sunt ordinis, quæ episcopus
in consecratione assequitur; quæ-

que ita episcopi propria sunt, ut ab eo cedi non possint alii quam episcopo; coepiscopoque cedantur, non ut alii, sed ut alteri ipsimet propter vinculum et necessitudinem sacerdotii, quæ episcopos omnes velut unum habet, omnesque ecclesias velut unam colligit." In Pontif. Rom. tom. 11. p. 229. Compare Lyndwood. lib. 2. tit. 1. Excussis. verb. commissarii.

37 Hist. p. 69. Script. Anglic. tom. 1.

toli, et Joannis Beverlacensis, et Wilfridi Ripensis confessorum ac pontificum vexilla suspenderunt.":



THE antiquity of the punishment of Degradation, the order of which is edited in the present volume, is so well known to every reader of ecclesiastical history, that I need not delay upon it. The Apostolical canons, and those of Nice, of S. Basil, and of Peter of Alexandria, all prove the universality of the practice : and although the severity of it differed at various times and in various churches, some degrading altogether, some only from a higher to a lower order, yet as a mode of punishment, it seems everywhere and at all times to have been acknowledged and inflicted.39

Both theologians and canonists not unfrequently confound deposition, and degradation: and indeed in one sense, perhaps the most ancient one, they may be regarded as the same; but strictly, in later practice, there was a difference between the two. Simple deposition prohibited a clerk either from exercising the powers of his order, or any ecclesiastical office; or from receiving the revenues of his benefice: but it did not remove him from the spiritual and subject him to

39 Ricardus Hagulstald. de gestis R. Stephani. script. x. tom. 1. p. 322.


A good general account may be found in Bingham, Antiquities, Book vi. cap. 2. But the stuIdent will do well to consult Martene, de ant. ecc. rit. 2. p. 317, and to examine the canonists, es

pecially Van Espen, Jus Eccles. par. 3. tit. xj., and the notes of Balsamon and Zonaras, Bevereg. Pandect., upon the conflicting canons of Nice and Chalcedon : the latter of which would not permit the more modified form of degradation, from a higher order to a lower.

lay jurisdiction. On the contrary, degradation included the infliction of all the penalties which accompanied deposition, and committed the offender also to the power of the temporal courts; depriving him of all the privileges and immunities attached to the clergy.

The settled form as it is below, was but of late introduction: and we have no records in the earliest pontificals which are extant, of the manner in which, very anciently, this solemnity was performed: still, it is scarcely probable, that no form or order was observed. I quote the following from Catalani. "Consuevisse depositionis sententiam calamo Christi sanguine intincto desumpto è sacro calice scribi, duo extant insignia exempla apud scriptores ecclesiasticos. Alterum refert Theophanes, ubi ait, Theodorum papam eo ritu sententiam depositionis contra Pyrrhum scripsisse alterum narrat Nicetas in vita S. Ignatii patriarchæ Constantinopolitani, ubi depositionem Photii describit." ❞ 40

I shall therefore, to be as brief as possible, confine myself to one or two illustrations of this office, relating to the English church. Upon the necessity of a certain number of bishops to be present on the occasion, we have in Wilkins a bull directed to cardinal Wolsey, dispensing with it; and that, on account of the difficulty of collecting the proper number, he might authorize one bishop to degrade criminous priests, 'adjunctis secum seu sibi assistentibus duobus abbatibus, seu dignitates seculares in cathedralibus seu collegiatis ecclesiis obtinentibus." " In the same collec

40 Comment. in. pontif. Rom. tom. 3. p. 138.

41 Concil. tom. 3. p. 713. By the "Reformatio legum," the bi


tion, is the full order, as it was to be observed at the degradation of archbishop Cranmer: ending with the usual formula, upon delivery to the civil power, "Domine judex, rogamus vos cum omni affectu, quo possumus, ut amore Dei, pietatis et misericordiæ intuitu, et nostrorum interventu precaminum, miserrimo huic nullum mortis, vel mutilationis periculum inferas." I must say, that notwithstanding the construction which is justly and properly to be put upon this clause in many cases, evidencing the fulness of mercy and pity which befits the Church of Christ, yet in the instance of archbishop Cranmer, and many others in that day, it was nothing but a bitter and disgraceful mockery. The ministers and rulers of the Church, could not canonically themselves inflict the punishment of death; but they knew well, what would be the sure effect of their delivering up of men, whom they had condemned as heretics, to the civil power. They were delivered, not to be forgiven, not even to be mercifully dealt with, but to receive at the hands of others a most sure and barbarous punishment. We can look upon such a recommendation, in no other light than we would now regard the conduct of a judge, who, having

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

passed sentence, should render the criminal into the hands of the executioner, and with every outward sign of solemn supplication, entreat that that sentence might not take effect, which he had himself decreed. Let the reader examine a writ "de hæreticis comburendis," how it speaks of the church having done all that was in her power: and therefore "quod sancta mater ecclesia non habet ulterius, --tibi præcipimus firmiter injungentes, quod præfatos, etc., statim post receptionem præsentium apud villam nostram de B.


ram populo igni committi, et in eodem igne realiter comburi facias, in hujusmodi criminis detestationem, aliorumque christianorum exemplum manifestum." Or again, let him remember that about the year 1521, among a number of doctrines condemned as heretical and pestiferous, was this: "Hæreticos comburi est contra voluntatem Spiritus." 43

In the chronicle of John, abbot of Peterborough, we have the following cases under the year 1222: he is speaking of the famous council at Oxford; "In concilio illo sacerdos quidam et diaconus sunt degradati a domino Cantuariensi archiepiscopo: sacerdos pro homicidio, diaconus pro sacrilegio et furto. Diaconus alius, qui ad Judaismum a fide apostataverat, et se fecerat circumcidi, extra ecclesiam degradatus fuit a domino Cantuar. coram populo, et post degradationem traditus judicio laicalis curiæ, igne comburitur. In degradando, cum archiepiscopus casulam, vel stolam,

43 Ibid. tom. 3. p. 693. Besides the authorities above named, I would recommend the reader to refer also to Alberti, de sacr. utens. c. xvj. 2. Ferraris, Bibl.

verb. Degradatio. Benedict xiv. de Synodo. lib. vij. Hostiensis, in Summa. lib. 5. rubr. 7. and to the later canonists, Bonacina, Devoti, &c.

« PreviousContinue »