314 A.D.


 Preaching at a Council, Med. illum MS

The Following is adapted from: The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. Cross, Livingstone; (OUP, 1983).

COUNCIL (or Synod) of ARLES At least 15 Councils were held at Arles between 314 and 1275. Among the more important were: (1) 314. Summoned by Constantine to deal with the Donatist schism. It passed 22 canons dealing with abuses resulting from the persecutions. [an additional 7 canons are included in the Novara Collection: beginning with the introduction of CS, it then continues with the so-called comma and canons 1-3 of LS; then it returns to CS and gives all 22 canons (numbered as 1-23), concluding with 6 additional canons, a concluding paragraph, and subscriptions.]

(1) Hardouin, 1 (1715), cols. 259–70; Mansi, 2 (1759), cols. 463–512. Crit. edns. of Canons in Turner, EOMIA 1. 2. 2 (1939), pp. 372–416, and C. Munier (ed.), Concilia Galliae A. 314–A. 506 (CCSL 148; 1963), pp. 3–24, repr., with Fr. tr. and introd. by J. Gaudemet, Conciles Gaulois du IVe Siècle (SC 241; 1977), pp. 35–63. Hefele and Leclercq, 1 (1; 1907), pp. 275–98. F. X. Funk, ‘Die Zeit der ersten Synode von Arles’, Th. Q. 72 (1890), pp. 296–304, repr. in id., Kirchengeschichtliche Abhandlungen und Untersuchungen, 1 (1897), pp. 352–8; L. Duchesne, ‘La Date du concile d’Arles’, Mélanges d’Archéologie et d’Histoire, 10 (1890), pp. 640–4. H. Schrörs, ‘Drei Aktenstücke in Betreff des Konzils von Arles’, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, 42, Kan. Abt., 11 (1921), pp. 429–39.

Hardouin J. Hardouin [Harduinus], Acta Conciliorum et Epistolae Decretales, ac Constitutiones Summorum Pontificum (12 vols., Paris, ‘1714–15’).

Mansi J. D. *Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio (31 vols., Florence, 1759–98).

Turner [see EOMIA].

EOMIA Ecclesiae Occidentalis Monumenta Iuris Antiquissima, ed. C. H. Turner (Oxford, 1899 ff.).

CCSL Corpus Christianorum, Series Latina (Turnhout, 1954 ff.).

SC Sources Chrétiennes (Paris, 1942 ff.).






Concilia Galliae 314-506 - Concilium Arelatense a. 314 (CPL 1776 a) SL 148,





THE assembly of bishops who were gathered at the town of Arles, to our lord and most holy brother Sylvester:

Domino sanctissimo fratri siluestro coetus episcoporum qui adunati fuerunt in oppido arelatensi.

That which we in common council have decreed, we hereby make known to your most esteemed person, so that also [all] the bishops may know what should be observed in future.

Quid decreuerimus communi consilio caritati tuae significauimus, ut et <omnes> episcopi sciant quid in futurum obseruare debeant.









1. In the first place, concerning the celebration of Easter Sunday: That it be observed by us on one day and at one time in all the earth, and that you should send out letters to all, as is the custom.

Primo in loco de obseruatione paschae dominicae: vt uno die et uno tempore per omnem orbem a nobis obseruaretur, ut iuxta consuetudinem litteras ad omnes tu dirigas.









2. Concerning those who have been ordained ministers in certain places: They are to continue to serve in those same places.

De his qui in quibuscumque locis ordinati fuerint ministri: in ipsis locis perseuerent.









3. Concerning those who lay down their weapons in peacetime,[1] be it resolved that they be excluded from fellowship.

De his qui arma proiciunt in pace, placuit abstineri eos a communione.









4. Concerning charioteers who are among the faithful, be it resolved that as long as they continue to drive in chariot races they be excluded from fellowship.

De agitatoribus qui fideles sunt, placuit eos, quamdiu agitant a communione separari.









5. Concerning actors, be it further resolved that as long as they continue to carry on that occupation they be excluded from fellowship.

De theatricis, et ipsos placuit, quamdiu agunt, a communione separari.









6. Concerning those who in time of sickness wish to confess the faith, be it resolved that they ought to receive the laying on of hands.

De his qui in infirmitate credere uolunt, placuit eis debere manum imponi.









7. Concerning officials who are among the faithful who serve in the government, be it is resolved thus,  that when they are transferred, they should receive letters of reference from their churches, so that, therefore, in whatever places they serve, they can be cared for by the bishop of that place, and when they begin to act against the church’s discipline, that only then they be excluded from fellowship.

De praesidibus qui fideles ad praesidatum prosiliunt, ita placuit ut, cum promoti fuerint, litteras accipiant ecclesiasticas communicatorias, ita tamen ut, in quibuscumque locis gesserint, ab episcopo eiusdem loci cura illis agatur, et cum coeperint contra disciplinam agere, tunc demum a communione excludantur.









8. Similarly also concerning those who wish to pursue a public career.

Similiter et de his qui rem publicam agere uolunt.









9 (8). Concerning the Africans who use their own special law in that they practice rebaptism, it is resolved that if any come to the church from heresy, they question him on the creed (used at his baptism), and if they consider him to have been baptized into the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, let him only receive the laying on of hands so that he receive the Holy Spirit; but if when questioned he does not solemnly confess this Trinity, let him be baptized.

De afris quod propria lege sua utuntur ut rebaptizent, placuit ut si ad ecclesiam aliquis de haeresi uenerit, interrogent eum symbolum, et si peruiderint eum in patrem et filium et spiritum sanctum esse baptizatum, manus ei tantum imponatur ut accipiat spiritum (sanctum); quod si interrogatus non responderit hanc trinitatem, baptizetur.









10 (9). Concerning those who carry letters from the confessors, be it resolved that, when they have handed over those letters, they receive other letters of reference.

De his qui confessorum litteras afferunt, placuit ut, sublatis eis litteris, alias accipiant communicatorias.









11 (10). Concerning those who apprehend their wives in adultery, and the same persons are faithful youths and are prevented from marrying (again), be it resolved that, as much as is able, they be counseled not to take other wives while their own wives are still living, even if the latter are adulterous.

De his qui coniuges suas in adulterio depraehendunt, et idem sunt adulescentes fideles et prohibentur nubere, placuit ut, quantum possit, consilium eis detur ne alias uxores, uiuentibus etiam uxoribus suis licet adulteris, accipiant.









12 (11). Concerning young women among the faithful who are getting married to unbelievers, be it resolved that they be excluded from fellowship for a considerable period of time.

De puellis fidelibus quae gentilibus iunguntur, placuit ut aliquanto tempore a communione separentur.









13 (12). Concerning clergy who lend money at interest, be it resolved that, in accordance with the divinely given model, they be excluded from fellowship.

De ministris qui fenerant, placuit eos iuxta formam diuinitus datam a communione abstineri.









14 (13). Concerning those who are said to have handed over the Holy Scriptures or sacred vessels or the names of their brothers, be it resolved by us that any of those who from the public records, not from words alone, are discovered to have done so be removed from the office of the clergy. But if that same person who was exposed has ordained others, and the affairs of those ordained are all in order, let their ordination not be revoked. And whereas there were many who seemed to fight against the church and who thought they could disprove the accusations made against them by the testimony of paid witnesses they should not be cast out altogether, but only, as stated above, if their guilt is shown by public records.[2]

De his qui scripturas sanctas tradidisse dicuntur uel vasa dominica uel nomina fratrum suorum, placuit nobis ut quicumque eorum ex actis publicis fuerit detectus, non uerbis nudis, ab ordine cleri amouetur.

Nam si idem aliquos ordinasse fuerint depraehensi, et de his quos ordinauerunt ratio subsistit, non illis obsit ordinatio.

Et quoniam multi sunt qui contra ecclesiam repugnare uidentur et per testes redemptos putant se ad accusationem admitti debere, omnino non permittantur, nisi ut supra diximus, actis publicis docuerint.









15 (14). Concerning those who have falsely accused their brothers, be it resolved that they not be given fellowship as long as they live.

De his qui falso accusant fratres suos, placuit eos usque ad exitum non communicare.









16 (15). Concerning deacons who we have learned are conducting services in many places, be it resolved that this ought to happen as little as possible.

De diaconibus quos cognouimus multis locis offerre, placuit minime fieri debere.









17 (16). Concerning those who have been excluded from fellowship because of their own wrongdoing, be it resolved thus, that in whatever place they have been excluded, they must be re-admitted to fellowship in that same place (17), so that no bishop oversteps another bishop.

De his qui pro delicto suo a communione separantur, ita placuit ut, in quibuscumque locis fuerint exclusi, eodem loco communionem consequantur, ut nullus episcopus alium episcopum inculcet.









18. Concerning the deacons of a city[3]: That they not presume too much for themselves, but reserve honor for the presbyters, so that they do nothing of importance without the presbyter’s knowledge.

De diaconibus vrbicis: vt non sibi tantum praesumant, sed honorem presbyteris reservent, ut sine conscientia ipsorum nihil tale faciant.









19. Concerning foreign bishops who are accustomed to come into a city[3], be it resolved that they be given a place where they can conduct services.

De episcopis peregrinis qui in vrbem solent uenire, placuit eis locum dari ut offerant.









20. Concerning those who assume that they have the right individually by themselves to ordain a bishop, be it resolved that no one presume to do this by himself; but only if there are an additional seven bishops with him; if, however, it is not possible <to have seven present>, they dare not ordain someone with less than three bishops present.

De his qui usurpant sibi solis debere episcopum ordinare, placuit ut nullus hoc sibi praesumat, nisi assumptis se cum aliis septem episcopis; si tamen non potuerit <septem>, infra tres non audeant ordinare.









21. Concerning presbyters and deacons who were accustomed to leave the place where they were ordained and have gone to different <places>, be it resolved that they serve in those places; but if, they leave these places and wish to transfer themselves to yet another locale, they should be deposed.

De presbyteris aut diaconibus qui solent remittere loca sua in quibus ordinati sunt et ad alia <loca> se transferunt, placuit ut his locis ministrent; quod si relictis locis suis ad alium se locum transferre uoluerint, deponantur.









22. Concerning those who apostasize and never present themselves again to the church, neither seeking to do acts of repentance nor even afterwards; if then they are seized by sickness and seek to be received into fellowship, be it resolved that they not be given fellowship, unless they recover their strength and bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.

De his qui apostatant et nunquam se ad ecclesiam repraesentant, ne quidem paenitentiam agere quaerunt et postea, infirmitate arrepti, petunt communionem, placuit eis non dandam communionem, nisi reualuerint et egerint dignos fructus paenitentiae.

The following canons are not found in many ancient MSS.










23. It is decreed that, as far as possible, [a man] is forbidden to shun or dismiss his wife while she lives, in order to take another [wife]. Whoever does this is separated from the Catholic communion.

Placuit ut, quantum potest, inhibeatur uito ne dimissa uxore uiuente liceat ut aliam ducat super eam. Quicumque autem hoc fecerit, alienus erit a catholica communione.









24. It is decided that a cleric may not take a corrupt woman as his wife; and a layman who leads a woman into corruption may not be admitted to the clergy

Placuit ut mulierem corruptam clericus non ducat uxorem, uel is qui laicus mulierem corruptam duxerit, non admittatur ad clerum.









25. No bishop may usurp the [authority of an]other by ordaining someone from a foreign church as a cleric

De aliena ecclesia clericum ordinare alibi nullus episcopus usurpet.









26. One who does this must know that he is judged [even] when this has been sought by the brethren

Quod si fecerit, sciat se esse iudicandum, cum inter fratres de hoc fuerit petitus.









27. An absentee cleric is not to be admitted [to function] in a foreign church; but for the sake of peace among the brethren should be simply acknowledged.

Absentem clericum alterius ecclesiae alia non admittat, sed pacem in ecclesia inter fratres simplicem tenere cognoscat.









28. Those who come [away] from the Donatists or Montenses are to be received by the laying on of hands: [for] those among them who have opposed the ecclesiastical order are [nevertheless] regarded as baptized

Venientes de donatistis uel de montensibus per manus impositionem suscipiantur, ex eo quod contra ecclesiasticum ordinem baptizare uidentur.









29. Moreover, [out of concern for] what is worthy, pure, and honest, we exhort our brothers [in the episcopate] to make sure that priests and deacons have no [sexual] relations with their wives, since they are serving the ministry every day. Whoever acts against this decision will be deposed from the honor of the clergy.

Praeterea, quod dignum, pudicum et honestum, suademus fratribus ut sacerdotes et leuitate cum uxoribus suis non coeant, quia ministerio quotidiano occupantur. Quicumque contra hanc constitutionem fecerit, a clericatus honore deponatur.



















Pagan Priests who offer sacrifice after baptism

II. De sacerdotibus gentilium, qui post baptismum immolaverunt.










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