Frankfurt, Council of
Frankfurt, Council of (CONCILIUM FRANCOFORDIENSE), a synod of great importance in Church history, held at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, A.D. 794. Some Roman writers deny the authenticity of the acts of the Council of Frankfurt (e.g. Barruel, Du Rom. Pope, Paris, 1803, 2:402), but Baronius (Aninales, A.D. 794) admits it, and Labbe publishes the canons enacted at it (Concil. 7:1057). Mansi publishes but two of the canons (Concil. 12:909), referring to Capit. Reg. Franc. (ed. Baluz. 1:263) for the rest. Dupin holds that it was considered in France to be a general council, and that three hundred bishops attended it (Eccles. Hist. cent. 8). They came from Germany, Gaul, Spain, Italy, and England, and there were two delegates from the pope.
The occasion of the council was as follows. After the close of the second Council of Nicea, A.D. 787, the pope sent a copy of its acts to Charlemagne, seeking the approval of the French bishops, which they declined on the ground that their worship of images, sanctioned at Nicea, was unauthorized in the Church, and unlawful. The Libri Carolini, SEE CAROLINE BOOKS, were composed under the name of Charlemagne, and by his order, to refute the canons of Nicmae. "Nothing can be stronger than the opposition which they offer to every act of or appearance of worship as paid to images, even to bowing the head and burning lights before them. Romanists pretend that the Gallican bishops, as well as the author of these books, were deceived by a false translation of the acts of the second Council of Nicea, which, they say, led them to fancy that the council had inculcated the paying divine honor and worship to images, and that it was this false notion which induced them to condemn the council; but this is evidently suntrue, since it is an historical fact that authentic copies of the acts of the council were sent into France by the pope, as also that Charlemagne received another copy direct from Constantinople" (Palmer,
On the Church, part 4, chapter 10 § 4). Roger de Hoveden has the following: "In the year 792, Charles, king of the Franks, sent into Britain" [to Offa, king of the Mercians] "a synodal cloak, sent to him from Constantinople, in which, alas! were found many things inconvenient, and contrary to the true faith, especially in this, that it was established by unanimous consent of almost all the doctors and bishops of the East, no less than three hundred, that images ought to be worshipped" [imagines adorari debere], "which the Church of God doth altogether abominate" [execrator]. "Against which Albinus" [Alcuinus] " wrote an epistle, fortified with the authority of the holy Scriptures." Matthew of Westminster, anno 793, gives a similar account.
Finally, Charlemagne called the Council of Frankfurt for A.D. 794, to consider this question, and also that of the Adoptianist heresy (q.v). Fifty- six canons were passed at the council, of which the following are the most important: Canon 1. Condemning Felix and Elipandus, the propagators of the Adoptian heresy. 2. Condemning the second Council of Nicea, and all worship of images. "Allata est in medium quaestio de nova Grecorum Synodo, quam de adorandis imaginibus Constantinopoli fecerunt, in qua scriptsum habebatur ut qui imaginibus sanctorum, ita ut deificae Trinitati, servitium aut adorationem non impenderent, anathema judicarentur. Qui supra sanctissimi patres nostri omnimodis adorationem et servitutem renuentes contempserunt atque consentientes condemnavermunt." 6. Ordering that bishops shall see justice done to the clergy of their diocese; if the clergy are not satisfied with their judgment, they may appeal to the metropolitan synod. 11. Ordering all monks to abstain from business and all secular employments. 16. Forbidding to take money for the ordination of monks. See, besides the authorities already cited, Gieseler, Church History, period 3, § 12; Landon, Manual of Councils, s.v.; Inett, History of the English Church, part 1, chapter 13; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, 3:635 sq.; Harduin, Conch. 4:904; Schrockh, Kirschengeschichte, 20:598; and the article SEE IMAGE WORSHIP.