Canons 1 to 13

Canon I.

In beginning either a discourse or an action of any kind the thoughtful find it best to begin with God, and to rely upon God, in accordance with the utterance of the Theologian. Hence, inasmuch as we have already preached piety in a clarion voice, and the Church in which Christ has been laid as the foundation is continually growing apace and waxing more and more capable, insomuch that it may be said to have outgrown the cedars of Lebanon, and now in commencing a recital of sacred words, by divine grace we decree that the faith which has been handed down to us shall be and remain exempt from any and every innovation and mutilation just as it has been delivered to us by those who have been both eye-witness and servants of the word of the God-approved Apostles, and further by the three hundred and eighteen holy and blissful Fathers who convened in Nicaea in the reign of Constantine, who became our Emperor, against ungodly Arius and the heathenish deity of a diverse god, or one might more aptly say of a multitude of diverse gods, which was dogmatized by him; and who in their unanimous consensus of opinion regarding the faith revealed and stated to us with convincing clearness the fact that the three hypostases of the thearchic nature are of the same essence, without allowing this important point to remain hidden under a bushel of ignorance, but, on the contrary, openly taught the faithful outright to adore the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit with one adoration, and deposed and denounced the opinion that divinity if of unequal grades (or ranks), and efficiently overthrew and demolished the puerile toys which the heretics had built up and erected upon sand in opposition to Orthodoxy. Likewise it is to be noted that we are determined to strengthen as much as we can the faith which was proclaimed by the one hundred and fifty Holy Fathers who convened in the Imperial City itself in the reign of Theodosius the Great, who also became our Emperor, embracing the utterance of the Theologian and driving out profane Macedonius along with previous enemies of the truth, on the ground that he impudently and arrogantly opined the head of lordship to be a servant and slave, and as having preferred as a matter of choice to split the indivisible unit in robber fashion, as though the mystery of the hope were not sufficient to sustain us. Along with this abominable fellow who waxed rabid against the truth they courageously condemned also Apolinarius the monstrous initiate of wickedness and vice, who vomited forth an ungodly view proclaiming the Lord to have been taken up in body without a mind and without a soul, so that it is hence evident that he too was addicted to the unwelcome conclusion that we have been left with an imperfect hope of salvation. But as a matter of fact we also gladly ratify the teachings set forth by the God-bearing Fathers who earlier assembled themselves in the city of Euphesus in the reign of Theodosius, who was the son of Arcadius and who also became our Emperor, and we hold them to be an unbreakable and mighty power of piety, preaching one Christ the Son of God who became incarnate, and the intemerate Ever-Virgin who seedlessly gave birth to Him, holding her to have been properly speaking (Note of Translator. Lest the exact meaning of this exceedingly important phrase be lost upon the unwary reader, it may not be amiss here to state that it would be more usually expressed in ordinary English by the word literally) and in truth a Theotocos (i.e., when interpreted into plain English, a woman who gives birth to God or to a god), and driving away into banishment the driveling dissension of Nestorius on the ground that it has lost all contact with the Divine Oracle, while at the same time it seeks to renew the prevalence of Jewish ungodliness and aversion to piety, and we dogmatize the one Christ to be human being in due form and a God in due form. But we do not stop here. We Orthodoxly confirm the faith which was engrossed upon a pillar in the Metropolis of the Chalcedonians in the reign of Marcianus, who also became our Emperor, by the six hundred and thirty God-approved Fathers, which conveyed to the ends of the earth in a loud voice the one Christ the Son of God composed of two natures and in these two same natures glorified; and we have driven out of the sacred precincts of the Church Eutyches the vain-minded, who declared it to be his opinion that great mystery of the Economy was only seemingly consummated, as something sinister and miasmatic, and along with him also Dioscorus and Nestorius, the former being a defender and champion of dissension, the latter of confusion, and both of them being diametrically opposite outlets of impiety, fallen out in the same direction towards one and the same yawning chasm of perdition and godlessness. But neither do we stop here. We take the pious utterances of the one hundred and sixty-five God-bearing Fathers who assembled upon the ground of this Imperial City in the reign of Justinian, who became our Emperor and who passed away at the termination of his pious career, and, recognizing them to have been inspired and uttered by the (Holy) Spirit, we teach them outright to our posterity; which Fathers indeed as a Council anathematized and consigned to abomination Theodore of Mopsuestia, the teacher of Nestorius, and in addition Origen and Didymus and Evagrius, who joined hands in refashioning the Greek myths and recounting to us periods and mutations of certain bodies and souls, prompted by raptures and hallucinations of the mind, and in drunken revelry impiously exulting over the resurrection of the dead; as well as what had been written by Theodoret against the right faith and correct belief and against the twelves heads (or chapters) of blissful Cyril; and also the so-called letter of Ibas. And again we faithfully join together in the promise and vow to preserve and safeguard and keep inviolable the faith declared by the Sixth holy Council recently assembled on the grounds of this Imperial City in the reign of Constantine, who became our Emperor and passed away at the termination of his divine career, and which received still greater validity by virtue of the fact that the pious Emperor himself sealed up the volumes containing it by impressing them with his own seals with a view to ensuring their safety in every succeeding age; and which has with the love of God clearly enabled us to entertain an Orthodox conception of the straightforward dogma which they outlined of the truth that there were and are two natural wills, or, that is to say, wishes, and two natural energies inherent in the incarnate economy of our one Lord Jesus, the true God; and which Council by a vote of piety condemned those who teach their laities outright the doctrine of a single will and of a single energy inherent in our one Lord and God Jesus Christ, among whom we cite by name Theodore the Bishop of Faran, Cyrus (the Patriarch) of Alexandria, Honorius (the Pope) of Rome, Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul, Peter, all four of whom have acted as presiding chairmen in this God-guarded city, Macarius who became the Bishop of the Antiochians, Stephanus his disciple, and foolish (or witless) Polychronius. Hence we solemnly decree that this Council, while preserving intact the common body of Christ our God, and, succinctly speaking, of all the men who have distinguished themselves in the Church of God and have become luminaries in the world, holding forth the word of life (Phil. 2:16), is committed to holding the faith firm and sure, even till the consummation of the age, and that it shall remain immutable and unaltered, as well as their God-imparted writings and dogmas; and rejecting and anathematized, on the ground that its authors were enemies of the truth, and snortingly and ravingly uttered vain things against God and made injustice and unrighteousness the highest objects of their study and meditation. If, however, there be anyone in the world who does not care to hold and embrace the aforesaid dogmas of piety, and believe and preach thus, but, on the contrary, attempts to by-pass them, let him be anathema, in accordance with the definition (or rule) already previously promulgated by the aforesaid holy and blissful Fathers, and let him be erased and expunged from the Christian Roll like an alien, and as one not belonging to our faith. For we are fully resolved and have been determined not to add anything to or to remove anything from what has previously been decreed, or any words whatsoever that we have been able to understand.


This first Canon was not explained by Zonaras, nor by Balsamon. The result is that there is nothing else than a brief summary both of the dogmas and of the definitions (or rules) of the faith of the holy and ecumenical six Councils which were held before this present Council was held; and of those heretics against whom each one of them was held, as well as the time and place in which each was held. And not only a repetition, but also a ratification of their dogmas. Hence, following those same interpreters, as concerns the definitions and dogmas of the said holy Councils, and the times and places, and above all the heretics against whom each of them was held, we refer readers to the original sources of the Canons of each Council, where they will learn about them in greater detail. We do this in order to avoid repeating here in vain what is said there. We shall therefore confine ourselves to elucidating only a few words which are not so easily intelligible to the unlearned. We proceed, therefore, to note that, starting with a maxim of St. Gregory the Theologian, which says that it is the best policy for one who is about to commence any discourse or work to begin with God, and to end with God (Note of Translator. This sounds plausible and may be true, although the Greek text of the Canon does not strictly say end, but instead employs the Greek word signifying repose, for which in my translation of the Canon I substituted the English word rely as better adapted to the English idiom). It decrees that there shall be no innovation or alteration in the faith which has been imparted and handed down both by the Holy Apostles and by the Fathers of the First Council (who were the ones that abolished the doctrine of the deity of a diverse god, or rather to say the doctrine of the deity of a multitude of diverse gods, of Arius; and who proclaimed that the Holy Trinity is coessential (or homousian), or, in other words, of the same essence and nature), and by the Fathers of the Second Council (whose theological utterances the Fathers of this Council assert that they embrace. These are those which were added by the Second Council into the Symbol of the Faith in regard to the Theology of the Holy Spirit. For in proximity to the Holy Spirit, which were words of the First Council, this Council added the words the Lordly, the Life-producing, which Proceeds out of the Father, and which is adored and glorified together with the Father and The Son, which hath spoken through the Prophets), and by the Fathers of the Third and Fourth, and Fifth, and Sixth Council; and, briefly speaking, the Fathers of the present Council solemnly decree that the faith shall remain firm and sure, and immutable and unaltered, even to the consummation (or finish) of the age, as well as the God-imparted dogmas of all the Holy Men who have shone in the Church of God and who have stood in the world as life-giving luminaries. And they too join hands in anathematizing all those enemies of the truth, the heretics, that is to say, whom their predecessors had anathematized. At the same time they go on to state this, that they neither know how nor can by any means whatever add anything to or remove anything from the dogmas of their predecessors. Furthermore, as for anyone who fails to keep the aforesaid Holy Fathers dogmas of piety, and who neither believes them with his mind nor preaches them with his tongue, but, on the contrary, tries to oppose them, let him be anathema, they say, and be removed and wiped off the Roll of the Christians, as an alien person and rotten member.

Canon II.

This too has appeared best to the this holy Council, as well as most important, that the 85 Canons handed down to us in the name of the holy and glorious Apostles, and as a matter of fact accepted and validated by the holy and blissful Fathers preceding us, be henceforth retained and left firm and secure for the care of souls and the cure of diseases. But inasmuch as we are ordered in these Canons to accept the Injunctions of the same holy Apostles (as transmitted) through Clemens, into some of which certain spurious passages destitute of piety have been interpolated long ago by the heterodox to the detriment of the Church, arid have tarnished the becoming and natural beauty of the divine dogmas for us, we have suitably weeded out such ordinances in furtherance of the edification and security of the most Christian flock, not in the least way being minded to approve the fantastic inventions of heretical mendacity that have been inserted in the genuine and uncorrupted didache (or teaching) of the Apostles. On the other hand, we ratify all the rest of the sacred Canons promulgated by our holy and blissful Fathers, to wit: the three hundred and eighteen foregathered in Nicaea, those convened in Ancyra, and furthermore also those who met in Neocaesarea, likewise those who attended the meeting in Gangra, but in addition to these also those who convened in Antioch, Syria, and furthermore also those who held a Council in Laodicea; further, again, the one hundred and fifty who convened in this God-guarded and imperial capital city, .and the two hundred who assembled at an earlier time in the metropolis of Ephesus, and the six hundred and thirty holy and blissful Fathers who met in Chalcedon. Likewise those who convened in Sardica; furthermore those in Carthage. Further and in addition to all these those now again convened in this God-guarded and imperial capital city in the time of Nectarius the president of this imperial capital city, and of Theophilus who became Archbishop of Alexandria. Furthermore also of Dionysius who became Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria, and of Peter who became Archbishop of Alexandria and a Martyr withal, and of Gregory the Thaumaturgus (or Miracle-worker) who became Bishop of Neocaesarea, of Athanasius the Archbishop of Alexandria, of Basil the Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, of Gregory of Nyssa, of Gregory the Theologian, of Amphilochius the Archbishop of Iconium, Timothy a former Archbishop of the great city of Alexandria, of Theophilus an Archbishop of the great city of the Alexandrians, of Cyril an Archbishop of Alexandria, and of Gennadius who became a Patriarch of this God-guarded imperial capital city. Furthermore, the Canon promulgated by Cyprian who became an Archbishop of the country of Africa and a martyr, and by the Council supporting him, who alone held sway in the places of the aforesaid presidents, in accordance with the custom handed down to them; and no one shall be permitted to countermand or set aside the Canons previously laid down, or to recognize and accept any Canons, other than the ones herein specified, that have been composed under a false inscription by certain persons who have taken in hand to barter the truth. If, nevertheless, anyone be caught innovating with regard to any of the said Canons, or attempting to subvert it, he shall be responsible in respect of that Canon and shall receive the penance which it prescribes and be chastised by that Canon which he has offended.


Since at every Council, and especially one that was Ecumenical, there was also a definition within which were comprised the dogmas of the faith, and Canons were composed in writing to serve in the way of contributions to the polity and good order of the Church, therefore and on this account, after having ratified and confirmed in its Canon I the definitions of the faith of the holy and Ecumenical Councils (preceding it), the present Council now in this Canon II ratifies and confirms also a) the Canons of the Holy Apostles, numbering eighty-five in all, which it says that the Fathers preceding it accepted and sanctioned (for it excludes the Apostolic Injunctions transmitted through Clement, because they had been garbled in certain parts by heterodox heretics to the injury of the Church, for the security of Christians. Nevertheless today, as they are found formulated, they appear to me to contain nothing improper or spurious. See concerning them also in Ap. c. LXXXV). b) Those of the four (previous) Ecumenical Councils. c) Those of the regional Councils and local Synods named. And d) those of the Holy Fathers individually, each by name. It goes on to add that no one has permission or any right whatever to corrupt or to refuse to recognize and accept any of the Canons previously mentioned, or to accept others instead thereof that have been given false titles. If, nevertheless, anyone should appear to be attempting to corrupt them, or to suppress any Canon among them, he is to receive the penalty prescribed by that Canon which he corrupts or suppresses. That is to say, in other words, if the Canon in question contains and prescribes excommunication, or deposition, or anathema, he that corrupts or suppresses it is to suffer these penalties, in order to compensate for his offense by paying the penalty fixed by the very Canon which he has violated. Read also Ap. c. LXXXV, c. I of the 4th, and the Prolegomena to the Apostolic Canons.

Canon III.

Whereas our Pious and Christ-loving Emperor, in his address to this holy and Ecumenical Council, has suggested that those enlisted the Clergy and conveying to others the Divine truths should be pure and faultless ministers, and worthy of the intellectual sacrifice of the great God and victim and high priest, and eliminate the hatred due to friction resulting from illicit marriages; and, in addition to this, seeing that the most holy Church of the Romans is disposed to observe the Canon of strict conformity; while, on the other hand, we under the throne of this God-guarded and imperial capital city, have neither carried meekness to excess nor have left on acrid impression of austerity; and especially in view of the fact that failure due to ignorance extends to a multitude of not a few men therefore we concur in decreeing that, as regards bigamists who have been enslaved to sin and have not chosen to recede therefrom, as of the fifteenth day of the month of January last past, in the last fourth Indiction, in the year six thousand one hundred and ninety, they are to be subjected to canonical deposition; but as for those bigamists who have taken cognizance of their own interest before we had notice of their doing anything wrong, and who cut out the evil besetting them, and chased this foreign and spurious engagement far away; or even those whose wives by a second marriage have died, if they too have seen their way to return to good sense after later learning sobriety, and have quickly come to forget their former misdeeds and violations of the law, whether they happen to be Presbyters or Deacons it has seemed best to us for these men to be dismissed from every sacerdotal office, or priestly activity, having already been penanced for an express length of time. But we have decided that in the case of those who have committed the iniquitous act unwittingly and who are weeping to the Lord to be pardoned therefor, they deserve to share in the honor of standing and sitting in the place reserved for the presidency: for to bless one that ought to take care of his own wounds is inconsistent. But, on the other hand, as for those who have contracted but one marriage, and this with a woman that was a widow, and likewise as for those who after ordination have involved themselves in an illegal marriage, that is to say, Presbyters and Deacons and Subdeacons, not long ago excluded from the sacred liturgy and penanced, we order them to be restored to their former ranks, without being in any way promoted to any higher rank, it being obvious that their illegal marriage has been dissolved. We have made these decrees effective as of the said fifteenth day of the month of January, in the fourth Indiction, in regard to those guilty of the offenses before specified and in priestly offices; but besides this we henceforth decree and renew the Canon prescribing that anyone who has become involved in two marriages after baptism, or has acquired a concubine, cannot become a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or anything else in the roll of the priesthood. Likewise in regard to anyone that has taken a widow, or a divorcee, or a harlot, or house servant, or an actress to wife, we decree that he cannot be a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, or anything else in the roll of the priesthood.


The Fathers of the present Council, both correcting the evil condition then obtaining, and securing matters as respecting the future, issued the present economic Canon. For inasmuch as the Emperor had asked them to cleanse those in holy orders at that time from the uncleanliness of illicit marriages, and unlawful ones, into which they had fallen; and, on the one hand, the legates and representatives of Rome had proposed that the strict letter of the Canons be observed in regard to them, while, on the other hand, the bishops under the Patriarch of Constantinople were disposed to allow them some leniency and philanthropy, they themselves, deeming it wise to conjoin both to temper strictness, I mean, with leniency (and especially in view of the fact that a great number of those then in holy orders had fallen into marriages unwittingly as a result of ignorance), on account of the Emperors request, they decreed that, as concerning all those in holy orders who had married a second time and had remained unrepentant down to the time of this Council, and had not abandoned the illegal marriages, they were to be deposed altogether and to be made laymen. All those, on the other hand, who were bigamists in holy orders Presbyters, that is to say, or Deacons before the Council was held, and who had repented and had abandoned that illegal marriage, or who had returned to sobriety and repentance because of their second wives having died, they, I say, it was judged reasonable for them to cease officiating or performing any functions in connection with the duties of holy orders for a certain length of time, but to participate in the honor outside the sanctuary of sitting and standing with those in holy orders, while weeping to God to be pardoned for the iniquitous act which they had committed as a result of their own ignorance, and not blessing anyone. For it is not fitting anyone to bestow a blessing upon others when he himself ought to be healing the wounds of his soul through the process of repentance, just as c. XXVII of St. Basil the Great says. All those Presbyters, again, Deacons, and Subdeacons, on the other hand, who have taken a widow to wife, or who, after being ordained, married likewise too, after being suspended from every sacred office for a short while, are again to perform the duties of their priestly offices; yet they are not to be elevated to any higher rank, but each one of them is to stay in the rank in which he happened to be at the time when he was suspended. This, however, is to occur only after they have dissolved the illegal marriages. Having decreed these things economically, and as a matter of leniency, these Fathers, in regard to those in holy orders previously mentioned, henceforth renew, or, in other words, vote for the continuance in force of, Canons XVII and XVIII of the Holy Apostles, that is to say, those which they set forth verbatim the Interpretation of which see, together with that of Ap. c. XIX.

Canon IV.

If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon, or Subdeacon, or Anagnost (Reader), or Psalt (Chanter), or Janitor (Doorkeeper), has (carnal) intercourse with any woman that has been consecrated to God, let him be deposed from office, on the ground that he has contributed to the delinquency of a bride of God. If, on the other hand, he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.

(Ap. c. XXV; c. IX of the 4th; c. XVI of the 4th; cc. XXI, XL, XLIV, XLV of the 6th; c. XIX of Ancyra; c. IX of Neocaesarea; cc. III, VI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XXXII, LI, LX, LXX of Basil.)


The present Canon deposes clergymen who commit fornication with a woman consecrated to God that is to say, more explicitly speaking, a nun; but it excommunicates laymen who do this or have done this: the reason being that it regards them as having corrupted and violated a bride of the bridegroom of souls Christ the God, whether she had been a virgin thitherto, or had become a nun, or was even a widow. But those in holy orders and clergymen are deposed from office not only if they commit fornication with a nun, but even if they commit fornication with a lay-woman. Read also Ap. c. XXV and c. XVI of the 4th.

Canon V.

Let no one on the sacerdotal list acquire a woman or housemaid except persons mentioned in the Canon as being above suspicion, but let him safeguard his reputation in this respect. Let even eunuchs safeguard themselves in this very same situation too, by providing themselves with a blameless character. As for those who transgress this injunction, if they are Clergymen, let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen let them be excommunicated.

(c. III of the 1st; cc. XVIII, XXII of the 7th; c. XIX of Ancyra; c. XLV of Carthage; and c. LXXXIX of Basil.)


What the present Canon decrees is the following. Let none of those in holy orders who are living modestly have a woman staying in their house, or a servant girl, unless she be among those specified in a Canon as being above suspicion this refers to c. III of the First Ec. C. such persons being a mother and a sister and an aunt; so as to keep himself from becoming liable to incur blame from either the father or the mother in relation to the laity. Anyone among persons that transgresses this Canon, let him be deposed from office. Likewise eunuchs, too, must keep themselves safe from any accusation against them, and therefore let them not dwell together with suspicious persons. In case they dare to do this, if they are clergymen (as having been involuntarily, that is to say, or by nature made eunuchs), let them be deposed from office; but if they are laymen, let them be excommunicated. Read also c. III of the First Ec.

Canon VI.

Inasmuch as it has been declared in the Apostolic Canons that of those being promoted to the Clergy only Anagnosts and Psalts may marry, we too, in keeping with this prohibition, decree that henceforth no Subdeacon, or Deacon, or Presbyter at all, after the ordination bestowed upon him, has permission to contract a matrimonial relationship for himself: if he should dare to do this, let him be deposed from office. But if anyone wants to contract a legal marriage with a woman before being admitted to the Clergy as a Subdeacon, or a Deacon, or Presbyter previous to ordination, let him do so.

(Ap c. XXVI; cc. XIV, XV of the 4th; c. XIII of Ancyra; and cc. XIX, XXXIII of Carthage.)


Since Canon XXVI of the Holy Apostles decrees that only Anagnosts and Psalts may marry after being ordained, the Fathers of this Council confirm that Canon by means of the present, and decree that from now on no Subdeacon, or Deacon, or Presbyter, after being ordained shall be permitted to marry. If he should do so anyhow, let him be deposed. But if any of these wants to marry, let him marry before being ordained a subdeacon, deacon, or presbyter.

Canon VII.

Since we have learned that Deacons having ecclesiastical offices in some of the churches have hence had the impudence and self-assertion to sit down ahead of the Presbyters, we decree that no matter in what office, that is to say, ecclesiastical position, a Deacon may happen to be, he must not sit down before the presbyter does so, unless he is acting as the personal representative of his own Patriarch or Metropolitan and has come to another city on some errand. For then, on the ground that he is filling the place of the latter, he shall be honored. If, nevertheless, anyone should dare to do such a thing, by resorting to tyrannical audacity, let that person, after being deprived of his proper rank, become the lowest of all those who belong to the list in which he is enrolled, in the church to which he belongs, in view of the fact that our Lord admonishes not to enjoy being called the first, according to the teaching of our Lord and God Himself as found in the Gospel of the Evangelist St. Luke. (Luke 14:7). For he told those called something like the following parable: When you have been invited by anybody to a wedding, do not take your seat at the first call, lest someone else more honorable than you have been invited by him, and when he who has invited both you and him comes, he tell you bluntly, Give this man your seat and then to your shame you will begin taking the last seat in the house. But, instead, when you have been invited, slump into the last seat, so that, when the host comes round, he may say to you: Friend, take a better seat. Then glory wilt be yours in the midst of those making up the rest of the company: since whoever exalteth himself shall be humbled, and whoever humbleth himself shall be exalted. The same rule shall be observed also with respect to the other sacred orders, since we know spiritual dignities to be superior to mundane offices.

(c. XVIII of the 1st; c. XX of Laodicea.)


The present Canon decrees that since some deacons, on account of their having ecclesiastical offices (which are called incumbencies and positions of honor, and benefices (i.e., sources of income), according to Balsamon (such as are, for instance, those of clerical magnates like the grand Steward, that is to say, the grand Sacellarius, Skevophylax, Chartophylax, the lesser Sacellarius, and the Protecdicus), wax audacious and sit down ahead of Presbyters, henceforth no deacon, in whatever ecclesiastical office he may be, has any right to take his seat ahead of the Presbyter, except only in case he should happen to be acting as the agent and personal representative of a Patriarch or Metropolitan, sent to another region, on any ecclesiastical matter. For in such a case as that he will be given the preference and precedence over all Presbyters, not because he is a deacon, but because he is acting in the place of a Patriarch or Metropolitan, as we have said. Any deacon that, assuming tyrannical audacity and impudence, goes right ahead and sits down before the Presbyter does, shall, if so be he has precedence over the rest of the deacons, become the last and least and lowest of all deacons. For the Lord teaches us not to enjoy first and highest seats of honor, in the sacred Gospel of St. Luke, wherein He says: For he himself used to tell them such a parable as this when they were invited to suppers and dinners: Man, when you are invited by anybody to a wedding, dont sit down in the first place, lest there be some other guest who is your superior, and the host who has invited both him and you come round and tell you unceremoniously, Give this man the seat you have taken so that he may sit down. And then you will shamefacedly retire to the lowest and least honorable seat. But, instead of incurring such a predicament, when you are invited, sit down in the lowest seat, so that your host may come and say to you, My friend, take a higher and better seat for yourself, and sit down, and make yourself at ease. And then you will be enveloped in a halo of glory before the glances of all those sitting at the table. For anyone that tries to exalt himself shall be humbled and humiliated, but anyone that humbles himself shall be exalted. But not only must deacons not take precedence of Presbyters and sit down ahead of them, but neither must any of the lower members of holy orders and lower clerical ranks presume to sit down ahead of the higher ranks; that is to say, neither Subdeacons ahead of Deacons, nor Anagnosts ahead of Subdeacons: since if in relation to secular and mundane office, those of lower dignity do not take their seats in advance of those of higher dignity, nor have they the preference and precedence of honor over their superiors, who have a higher office or higher dignity, far more ought this to be observed as an inviolable principle in the case of spiritual dignities and office bestowed as gifts by the divine grace of the Spirit, which dignities and offices are superior to and higher than the mundane. Read also c. XVIII of the First Ec. C.

Canon VIII.

With a desire to hold fast to whatever our Holy Fathers have decreed, in everything, we hereby renew the Canon prescribing that synods or councils of the Bishops in each province must be held every year, in whatever place the Bishop of the Metropolis may designate. But since on account of incursions of barbarians and on account of other incidental causes, the presidents of the churches find it impossible to hold synods or councils twice a year, it has seemed best for a synod or council of the aforementioned Bishops to be held by all means once a year for ecclesiastical matters that naturally arise in every province, to last from the festival of Holy Easter till the end of the month of October in each year, in the locality which the Bishop of the Metropolis, as we have said, shall designate. As for those Bishops who fail to attend the meeting, but who, instead of doing so, remain at home in their respective cities, leading their lives therein in good health and free from every indispensable and necessary occupation, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way.

(Ap. c. XXXVII; c. V of the 1st; c. XIX of the 4th; c. VI of the 7th; c. XX of Antioch; cc. XXVI, LXXXI, LXXXIV, LXXXV, and CIV of Carthage.)


These Fathers confirm and renew the Canon of the Holy Fathers preceding them which commands that two synods or councils be held in each province every year. But inasmuch as the prelates find it difficult to assemble twice a year, on account of incursions and fears of barbarian foes, and on account of other occasional circumstances, they command that a synod of Bishops be held in any event and by all means once a year in each province (or eparchy), for the purpose of considering and correcting or adjusting ecclesiastical matters that come up. This synod, or council, has to be held, as respects the time, from Holy Easter to the end of the month of October, and as respects the place, wherever the Metropolitan of each province (or eparchy) may deem it advisable. As for any bishops that remain in their bishoprics, and are in good health, and free from every necessary care, and fail to present themselves at the meeting of the synod, they are to be reprimanded in a brotherly way. Read also Ap. c. XXXVII.

Canon IX.

No clergyman shall be allowed to operate a tavern or dramshop. For if such a person is not permitted to enter a tavern, much less is he permitted to serve others in one and do what it is not lawful for him to engage in. But assuredly if he should perpetrate such an enormity, let him either be suspended, or be deposed from office.

(Ap. cc. XLII, XLIII, LIV; c. XXII of the 7th; c. XXIV of Laodicea; cc. XVIII, XLVII, and LXIX of Carthage.)


The present Canon decrees that it is not permissible for any clergyman to own or operate a tavern or dramshop of any kind, and to serve therein. For, if it is not permissible for him even to enter taverns at all, it is still less permissible for him to stay in one and serve customers and do things that are not in keeping with his profession. As for anyone that should employ himself in such a capacity, let him either be suspended or else be deposed. If, on the other hand, he owns a tavern, but employs others to serve in it, this does not amount to causing him any harm or impediment, according to Zonaras. It is better, however, for him to sell it, and buy some other more decent property that is more in keeping with the profession of clergyman. Read also Ap. c. XLII.

Canon X.

Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon who takes interest, or what is called a percentage, on money either cease doing so or be deposed from office.

(Ap. c. XLIV; c. XVII of the 1st; c. IV of Laodicea; cc. V, XX of Carthage; c. XIV of Basil.)


As for any bishop (says the present Canon), or any presbyter, or any deacon, that charges interest on money which he has lent, or takes twelve or six per cent, say, for the use of money, let him either cease doing so or be deposed from office. Read also Ap. c. XLIV.

Canon XI.

Let no one enrolled in the sacerdotal list, or any layman, eat the unleavened wafers manufactured by the Jews, or in any way become familiar with the Jews or call them in case of sickness, or take any medicines from them, or even bathe with them in public bathing beaches or bathhouses. If anyone should attempt to do this, in case he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; or, in case he is a layman, let him be excommunicated.


The present Canon commands that no person in holy orders and no layman may eat any unleavened wafers sent him by Jews, nor indeed be in any way friendly with Jews, nor when he finds himself ill may he call them and take their remedies, or even bathe writh them in baths and bathing places. In case anyone should do this, or any of these things, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed from office; but if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated. Read also Ap. cc. VII and LXX.

Canon XII.

And this too has come to our knowledge, that both in Africa and Libya and other regions the most God-beloved Presidents there continue living with their own wives even after the ordination has been conferred upon them, and will not abandon their wives, thus becoming an object of offense and a scandal to others. We have therefore made it a matter of great concern to us to do everything possible for the benefit of the flocks under hand, and it has seemed best not to allow such a thing to occur hereafter at all. We assert this, however, not with any intention of setting aside or overthrowing any legislation laid down Apostolically, but having due regard for the salvation and safety of peoples and for their better advancement with a view to avoiding any likelihood of giving anyone cause to blame the priestly polity. For the divine Apostle says: Do all for the glory of God. Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Greeks, nor to the Church of God: even as I try to please all men in everything, without seeking any advantage of mine own, but the advantage of the many in order that they may be saved. Become ye imitators of me, just as I also am (an imitator) of Christ (1 Cor. 10:32, 33 and 11:1). If anyone should be shown to be doing this, let him be deposed from office.


Since we have learned that in Africa and Libya (either two names are applied to the same region, since one of the four continents of the earth which is situated to the south was formerly called Libya, and the name was afterwards changed to Africa, according to Chrysanthus, or else the name Libya is applied generally to the whole of that continent, and the name Africa to a particular province contained therein, according to Meletius), and in other regions, the prelates there, even after being ordained, keep on living with their wives, and thus cause others a scandal. Hence we are making it our serious business to do everything possible that is calculated to contribute to the common benefit of the Christians who are being pastured and shepherded by us, and to this end we decree that from now on no prelate may live with his wife after he has been ordained. We decree this, not with a view to overthrowing and setting aside so much the common Canon of the Apostles, their c. V, that is to say, which excommunicates any bishop who on the pretext of reverence forcibly separates his wife, as the injunction which St. Paul addresses specially to Titus in saying: Ordain elders (or presbyters) in every city, as I have appointed thee, if any be blameless, the husband of one wife (Titus 1:5, 6) (in this passage the word elders means bishops, according to St. Chrysostom, since a bishop also takes the name of elder, as we have said previously at the beginning of Ap. c. I. This fact is plainly evident also from what the Apostle goes on to say, when he adds For a bishop must be blameless, etc.): no, I say, we decree this not by way of refuting them, but by way of providing for their salvation, and for the advancement of Christians to a state of greater perfection, and to prevent their causing any accusation against the prelacy. For though prelates may live with their wives in sobriety and continence, yet the common people are scandalized and are inclined to accuse them, supposing the contrary to be the actual result of their living together in such a manner. The divine Apostle commands that whatever we do we must do it for the glory of God, and that we must not become a scandal to Jews and Greeks and Christians. Just as I, says he, try to please all persons by not seeking my own interest, but that of the multitude, that they may be saved, become ye imitators of me, just as also I am an imitator of Christ. If any of the prelates is living with his wife, let him be deposed. See also Ap. c. V.

Canon XIII.

Since we have learned that in the church of the Romans it is regarded as tantamount to a canon that ordinands to the deaconry or presbytery must solemnly promise to have no further intercourse with their wives. Continuing, however, in conformity with the ancient canon of apostolic rigorism and orderliness, we desire that henceforward the lawful marriage ties of sacred men become stronger, and we are nowise dissolving their intercourse with their wives, nor depriving them of their mutual relationship and companionship when properly maintained in due season, so that if anyone is found to be worthy to be ordained a Subdeacon, or a Deacon, or a Presbyter, let him nowise be prevented from being elevated to such a rank while cohabiting with a lawful wife. Nor must he be required at the time of ordination to refrain from lawful intercourse with his own wife, lest we be forced to be downright scornful of marriage, which was instituted by God and blessed by His presence, as attested by the unequivocal declaration of the Gospel utterance: What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder (Matt. 19:6); and the Apostles teaching: Marriage is honorable, and the bed is undefiled (Heb. 13:4), and: Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be freed (1 Cor. 7:27). We are cognizant, though, that those who met in Carthage and made provision of decency in the life of ministers declared that Subdeacons and Deacons and Presbyters, busying themselves as they do with the sacred mysteries, according to their rules are obliged to practice temperance in connection with their helpmates, in order that we may likewise keep the injunction handed down through the Apostles, and continued from ancient times in force, well knowing that there is a proper season for everything, and especially for fasting and praying. For those who assist in the ceremonies at the sacrificial altar have to be temperate in all things at the time when they are handling holy things, so that they may be able to gain whatever they ask God for. If, therefore, anyone acting contrary to the Apostolic Canons require any person who is in sacred orders any Presbyter, we mean, or Deacon, or Subdeacon to abstain from intercourse and association with his lawful wife, let him be deposed from office. Likewise, if any Presbyter or Deacon expel his own wife on the pretext of reverence, let him be excommunicated; and if he persist, let him be deposed from office.


What the present Canon decrees is this. Since we have learned that in Rome it is kept as inviolable canon that those who are about to become deacons and presbyters must promise and agree at the time of ordination that after the ordination they will have intercourse with their wives no more, we, following the old Canon of the Holy Apostles, Ap. c. V, that is to say, desire and hereby decree the marriage ties of those in holy orders to remain solid and inseverable, without requiring their separation after ordination from intercourse with their own wives when held at the proper time when, that is to say, there is no fast, and when they are not engaged in celebrating the divine and sacred mysteries. So that whoever is married with a lawful wife and is worthy to become a Subdeacon, Deacon, or Presbyter, let him become one; and let him not be obliged necessarily to promise that he will separate from his wife lest as a result of this we be forced to dishonor marriage, sanctioned by the laws laid down by God, and blessed by His presence, at the wedding in Cana, that is to say. For even the Lords utterance in the Gospel says unequivocally: Let no man sunder those who have been united by God; and the Apostle teaches that marriage is honorable and the marriage bed is undefiled; and again, if you have been tied up with a wife, do not try to separate from her. But just as the Fathers of the Council held in Carthage, in providing for the decency of those in holy orders, decreed that subdeacons, deacons, and presbyters who come in contact with the divine mysteries must practice temperance by abstaining from their helpmates (or consorts), in accordance with their own rules (or definitions) in accordance with c. XXXIII, in order that we may keep likewise ourselves the tradition handed down through the Apostles from antiquity, in accordance with c. III of the same Council (that is to say, both the written traditions and the unwritten traditions, according to Zonaras and Balsamon), so and in like manner do we, who say the same things as these Fathers, decree that the above three ranks of those in holy orders must temperately abstain from their wives in time of fasting and of praying, in accordance with the words of St. Paul. For those who presiding at the sacrificial altar ought to be temperately abstinent from everything at the time they are engaged in the celebration of sacred rites, in order that by means of this abstinence they may obtain from God that which they seeking in general, or indiscriminately, that is to say, according to Zonaras, or for the common interest of the laity (according to c. III, that is to say, of the same Carthaginian Council). So whoever dares, in disregard of the Apostolic Canons, to prevent subdeacons, deacons, and presbyters from lawfully mingling with their wives, let him be deposed from office. It ingeminates word for word Ap. c. V, the Interpretation of which you may read for yourself.