Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Seventh Ecumenical Council. The Second Council of Nice.: Canon XVI
p. 566 Canon XVI.
That it does not become one in holy orders to be clad in costly apparel.
All buffoonery and decking of the body ill becomes the priestly rank. Therefore those bishops and clerics who array themselves in gay and showy clothing ought to correct themselves, and if they do not amend they ought to be subjected to punishment. So likewise they who anoint themselves with perfumes. When the root of bitterness sprang up, there was poured into the Catholic Church the pollution of the heresy of the traducers of the Christians. And such as were defiled by it, not only detested the pictured images, but also set at naught all decorum, being exceedingly mad against those who lived gravely and religiously; so that in them was fulfilled that which is written, “The service of God is abominable to the sinner.” If therefore, any are found deriding those who are clad in poor and grave raiment, let them be corrected by punishment. For from early times every man in holy orders wore modest and grave clothing; and verily whatever is worn, not so much because of necessity, as for the sake of outward show, savours of dandyism, as says Basil the Great. Nor did anyone array himself in raiment embroidered with silk, nor put many coloured ornaments on the border of his garments; for they had heard from the lips of God that “They that wear soft clothing are in kings houses.”
Ancient Epitome of Canon XVI.
Bishops and clergymen arraying themselves in splendid clothes and anointed with perfumes must be corrected. Should they persist, they must be punished.
Balsamon and Zonaras tell of the magnificence in dress assumed by some of the superior clergy among the Iconoclasts, wearing stuffs woven with threads of gold, and their loins girt with golden girdles, and sentences embroidered in gold on the edge of their raiment. It is curious to note how often heretics fall into extremes. We have seen how Eustathius wore a conspicuous garb and was not willing to appear in the ordinary dress of a clergyman of his day. His was the one extreme of ultra clerical or, I should say, ascetic clothing. These Iconoclasts went to the other extreme and dressed themselves like men of the world, giving themselves the dandy airs of the fops of the day, thus, as always, making themselves ridiculous in the eyes of the wise, and their office contemptible in the eyes of the common people.
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratians Decretum, Pars. II., Causa XXI., Quæst. IV., canon j.
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