Elvira Council of

Elvira Council Of

(Concilium Eliberitanum or Illiberitanum), held in the town of Elvira (or Illiberis, Iliberi, or Liberini), in the Spanish province of Baetica. The town, which no longer exists, was situated not far from the modern Granada. That it was not Illiberis, in Gallia Narbonensis, is shown by the fact that all the signers were Spanish bishops. The council was most probably held at the beginning of the fourth century, but the year (303, 305, 309) is uncertain. Some of the early Protestant writers (as the authors of the Magdeburg Centuries) inferred, from the resolutions concerning pictures and the lighting of candles, that the synod took place as late as the year 700; but this opinion has now been abandoned. The Synod of Elvira is the most ancient among those of which all the canons (eighty-one) are extant. It was attended by nineteen bishops, among them Hosius of Cordova, and twenty-six priests. Some of the canons show that the Church of Spain was at that time strongly under the influence of Novatian and Montanist principles. The most important of the resolutions were, 1, depriving of communion, i.e., of absolution, even in death, those who, after baptism, have voluntarily sacrificed to idols; 3, relaxing the penalty in canon 1 in favor of those who have not gone beyond offering a present to the idol. It allows of admitting such to communion at the point of death, if they have undergone a course of penance; canons 6 and 7 forbid communion even at the point of death to those who have caused the death of another maliciously, and to adulterers who have relapsed after entering upon the course of penance; 12 and 13 forbid communion even in death to mothers who prostitute their own daughters, and to women who, after consecrating themselves in virginity to God, forsake that state; 33 prohibits the clergy from the use of marriages; 34 prohibits the lighting of candles during daytime in cemeteries, "for the spirits of the saints must not be disturbed;" 36 declares that pictures ought not to be in a church, lest the object of veneration and worship be depicted upon walls; 63 and 64 forbid communion even in death to adulteresses who have willfully destroyed their children, or who abide in a state of adultery up to the time of their last illness; 65 forbids communion even in death to one who has falsely accused of a crime a bishop, priest, or deacon. The canons may be found in Mansi, 2:2 sq., and in Routh, Reliquiae, volume 4. Special treatises on the canons were written by the bishop Ferdinand de Mendoza (De Confirmando concil. Illiberitano, in Mansi. l.c.), and bishop Aubespine of Orleans (Mansi. l.c.). The canons, together with some explanatory remarks, may also be found in the Tibingen Theolog. Quartalschriff, 1821, page 144. — Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 3:775; Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lex. 3:543; Gams, Kirchengesch. von Spanien ; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, 1:122 sq. (A.J.S.)

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