Ante-nicene fathers

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That the man who refuses to be reconciled to his brother should be reduced by the severest fastings.1

IF any injured person refuses to be reconciled to his brother, when he who has injured him otters satisfaction, he should be reduced by the severest fastings, even until he accepts the satisfaction offered him with thankful mind.


The man is rendered infamous who knowingly presumes to forswear himself.2

Whosoever has knowingly forsworn himself, should be put for forty days on bread and water, and do penance also for the seven following years; and he should never be without penance; and he should never be admitted to bear witness. After this, however, he may enjoy communion.


A man and a woman subject to madness cannot enter into marriage.3

Neither can a mad man nor a mad woman enter into the marriage relation. But if it has been entered, then they shall not be separated.


Marriage relations in the fifth generation may unite with each other; and in the fourth generation, if they are found, they should not be separated.4

Concerning relations who enter affinity by the connection of husband and wife, these, on the decease of wife or husband, may form a union in the fifth generation; and in the fourth, if they are found, they should not be separated. In the third degree of relationship, however, it is not lawful for one to take the wife of another on his death. In an equable manner, a man may be united in marriage after his wife’s death with those who are his own kinswomen, and with the kinswomen of his wife.

To the immediately preceding notice.5

Those who marry a wife allied by blood, and are separated, shall not be at liberty, as long as both parties are alive, to unite other wives with them in marriage, unless they can plead the excuse of ignorance.


Blood connections alone, or, if offspring entirely fails, the old and trustworthy, should reckon the matter of propinquity in the synod.6

No alien should accuse blood connections, or reckon the matter of consanguinity in the synod, but relations to whose knowledge it pertains,—that is, father and mother, sister and brother, paternal uncle, maternal uncle, paternal aunt, maternal aunt, and their children. If, however, offspring entirely fails, the bishop shall make inquiry canonically of the older and more trustworthy persons to whom the same relationship may be known; and if such relationship is found, the parties should be separated.


Every one of the faithful should communicate three times a year.7

Although they may not do it more frequently, yet at least three times in the year should the laity communicate, unless one happen to be hindered by any more serious offences,—to wit, at Easter, and Pentecost, and the Lord’sNativity.


A presbyter should not be ordained younger than thirty years of age.8

If one has not completed thirty years of age, he should in no way be ordained as presbyter, even although he may be extremely worthy; for even the Lord Himself was baptized only when He was thirty years of age, and at that period He began to teach. It is not right, therefore, that one who is to be ordained should be consecrated until he has reached this legitimate age.

The Decrees of the Same

from the Codex of Decrees in Sixteen Books from the Fifth Book, and the Seventh and Ninth Chapters.



That the oblation of the altar should be made each Lord’s day.

We decree that on each Lord’s day the oblation of the altar should be made by men and women in bread and wine, in order that by means of these sacrifices they may be released from the burden of their sins.


That an illiterate presbyter may not venture to celebrate mass.

The sacrifice is not to be accepted from the hand of a priest who is not competent to discharge the prayers or actions (actiones) and other observances in the mass according to religious usage.



From Clement to Melchiades, p. 607.

The early Bishops of Rome, who till the time of Sylvester (a.d. 325) were, with few exceptions, like him pure and faithful shepherds, and not lords over God’s heritage, shall here be enumerated. But first let us settle in few words the historic facts as to the See.

St. Paul was, clearly, the Apostolic founder of the Roman church, as appears from Holy Scripture. St. Peter seems to have come to Rome not long before his martyrdom. Linus and Cletus could not have been Bishops of Rome, for they were merely coadjutors of the Apostles during their lifetime. Clement was the first who succeeded to their work after their death; and thus he should unquestionably be made the first of the Roman bishops,—a position of which he was eminently worthy, for his was the spirit of St. Peter himself,1 as set forth in that incomparable passage of his first Epistle,2 in which the Apostle bids all his brethren to be shepherds indeed, and “ensamples to the flock.” We may therefore give the outline of this history as follows:—

1. St. Paul was the “Apostle of the Gentiles,” and St. Peter of “the Circumcision.”

2. St. Paul came first to Rome, and organized the Christians he found there after the pattern “ordained in all the churches.”

3. He had Linus for his coadjutor, being himself a prisoner, until he went into Spain.

4. St. Peter came to Rome (circa a.d.64), and laboured with the Jewish Christians there, St. Paul recognising his mission among them.

5. This Apostle (soon thrown into prison) had Cletus for his coadjutor.

6. In the Neronian persecution Linus seem to have suffered with St. Paul, and probably Cletus as well. The latter died before St. Peter.

7. St. Peter, therefore, about to suffer himself, ordains Clement to succeed him.

8. As he was the first “successor of the Apostles,” therefore, in the See of Rome, and the first who had jurisdiction there (for the Apostles certainly never surrendered their mission to their coadjutors), it follows that Clement was the first Bishop of Rome.

9. This is confirmed by the earliest testimony,—that of Ignatius.

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