Banns of Matrimony
Banns Of Matrimony (bannum nuptiale), a phrase that has been for many ages used to signify the public announcement in church of the intention of two parties to become united in matrimony. Ignatius, in his Ep. to Polycarp, cap. 5, says that it becomes those who marry to do so with the consent or direction of the bishop. And Tertullian (ad Uxorem, lib. 2, cap. 2 and 9; De Pudicitia, cap. 4) implies that the Church, in the primitive ages, was forewarned of marriages. The earliest existing canonical enactment on the subject in the English Church is that in the 11th canon of the synod of Westminster, A.D. 1200, which enacts that "no marriage shall be contracted without banns thrice published in the church." It is supposed by some that the practice was introduced into France as early as the ninth century; and it is certain that Odo, bishop of Paris, ordered it in 1176. The council of Lateran, in 1215, prescribed it to the whole Latin Church; and the 62d canon of the synod of London, 1603-4, forbids the celebration of marriage "except the banns of matrimony have been first published three several Sundays or, holy-days in the time of divine service in the parish churches or chapels where the parties dwell," on pain of suspension for three years. Marriage without the publication of banns is valid in England, but the parties so married offend against the spirit of the laws. The principal motives which led to the order for the publication of banns were to prevent clandestine marriages, and to discover whether or no the parties have any lawful hindrance. The Church of England enacts that the banns shall be published in church immediately before the sentences for the offertory. If the parties dwell in different parishes, then banns must be published in both. In the Roman Church the banns are ordered to be published at the parochial mass, at sermon-time, upon some three Sundays or festivals of observance. With regard to dispensations of banns, the council of Lateran speaks of nothing of the kind. The council of Trent (De Reform. sess. 24, cap. 1) permits them in certain cases. Such dispensations have been granted by bishops in England ever since Archbishop Meopham's time at least, who died in 1333, which power of dispensing was continued to them by the statute law, viz. the Act 25. Hen. VIII, cap. 21, by which all bishops are allowed to dispense as they were wont to do. Before publishing the banns it was the custom for the curate anciently to affiance the two persons to be married in the name of the Blessed Trinity; and the banns were sometimes published at vespers, as well as during the time of mass. See Bingham, Or. Eccl. lib.
22, cap. 2, § 2; Martene, De Ant. Rit. lib. 2, cap. 9, art. v, p. 135, 136; Landon, s.v.