Canon (from κανών, or canna1 a straight reed used for ruling lines), in ecclesiastical usage, is (1) A rule (Ga 6:6) ordained by the Fathers; a constitution of the Church. (2) The creed, as the criterion for distinguishing a Christian; the "rule of faith" of Tertullian, Irenueus, and Jerome. (3) A clerk who observes the apostles' rule, or fellowship (Ac 2:42); one borne on the list, or canon of a cathedral or collegiate church, as the term is used by the councils of Nice and Antioch, and bound to observe its: statutes or canons, and the rule of a good and honest life. Hence, in later times, when the names of benefactors were inserted in the rolls or canons of numberless communities, the popes confined the term canonization to those whom they admitted to the title of saint. The word is one of rank and precedence, and should be prefixed in addressing a prebendary. Canons are primarii among all others of the clergy of the city or diocese. The name is attributed to pope Pelagius or Gregory, and was certainly common in the reign of Charlemagne; in the 6th century it designated all clergy on the Church register affording a perfect example of liturgical obedience, and receiving a canonical portion — a regular annual pension -out of its revenues. This list is called Album by Sidonius Apollinarius; Matricula by the Council of Nice; and by Augustine the Table of Clerks.

Definition of can

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