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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:
The Fourth Ecumenical Council.  The Council of Chalcedon.: Canon XIV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Canon XIV.

Since in certain provinces it is permitted to the readers and singers to marry, the holy Synod has decreed that it shall not be lawful for any of them to take a wife that is heterodox.  But those who have already begotten children of such a marriage, if they have already had their children baptized among the heretics, must bring them into the communion of the Catholic Church; but if they have not had them baptized, they may not hereafter baptize them among heretics, nor give them in marriage to a heretic, or a Jew, or a heathen, unless the person marrying the orthodox child shall promise to come over to the orthodox faith.  And if any one shall transgress this decree of the holy synod, let him be subjected to canonical censure.

p. 279 Notes.

Ancient Epitome of Canon XIV.

A Cantor or Lector alien to the sound faith, if being then married, he shall have begotten children let him bring them to communion, if they had there been baptized.  But if they had not yet been baptized they shall not be baptized afterwards by the heretics.


The tenth and thirty-first canons of the Synod of Laodicea and the second of the Sixth Synod in Trullo, and this present canon forbid one of the orthodox to be joined in marriage with a woman who is a heretic, or vice versa.  But if any of the Cantors or Lectors had taken a wife of another sect before these canons were set forth, and had had children by her, and had had them baptized while yet he remained among the heretics, these he should bring to the communion of the Catholic Church.  But if they had not yet been baptized, he must not turn back and have them baptized among heretics.  But departing thence let him lead them to the Catholic Church and enrich them with divine baptism.


According to the Latin translation of Dionysius Exiguus, who speaks only of the daughters of the lectors, etc., the meaning may be understood, with Christian Lupus, as being that only their daughters must not be married to heretics or Jews or heathen, but that the sons of readers may take wives who are heretics, etc., because that men are less easily led to fall away from the faith than women.  But the Greek text makes here no distinction between sons and daughters.


It is to Victor that we owe the most striking of all anecdotes about readers.  During the former persecution under Genseric (or Gaiseric), the Arians attacked a Catholic congregation on Easter Sunday; and while a reader was standing alone in the pulpit, and chanting the “Alleluia melody” (cf. Hammond, Liturgies, p. 95), an arrow pierced his throat, the “codex” dropped from his hands, and he fell down dead (De Persec. Vand., i., 13).  Five years before the Council, a boy of eight named Epiphanius was made a reader in the church of Pavia, and in process of time became famous as its bishop.  Justinian forbade readers to be appointed under eighteen (Novel., 134, 13).  The office is described in the Greek Euchologion as “the first step to the priesthood,” and is conferred with delivery of the book containing the Epistles.  Isidore of Seville, in the seventh century, tells us that the bishop ordained a reader by delivering to him “coram plebe,” the “codex” of Scripture:  and after giving precise directions as to pronunciation and accentuation, says that the readers were of old called “heralds” (De Eccl. Offic., ii., 11).  (b) The Singers are placed by the xliijrd. Apostolic canon between subdeacons and readers, but they rank below readers in Laodic., c. 23, in the Liturgy of St. Mark (Hammond, p. 173), and in the canons wrongly ascribed to a IVth Council of Carthage, which permit a presbyter to appoint a “psalmist” without the bishop’s knowledge, and rank him even below the doorkeepers (Mansi, iii., 952).  The chief passage respecting the ancient “singers” is Laodic., xv.

The first part of this canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian’s Decretum, Pars I, Dist. xxxii. c. xv.

Next: Canon XV

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