Mayence, Councils At

Mayence, Councils At Of the numerous councils of the Church of Rome convened here, special notice is due to those of 813, 847-8, 1225, and 1549.

(1.) The first of these, convened June 9, 813, by order of Charlemagne, was composed of thirty bishops and twenty-five abbots; Hildebald, archbishop of Cologne and arch-chaplain, presided. The object of this council was to restore the discipline of the Church. To this end the Gospels, the canons of the Church, and certain of the works of the fathers were read, among others the pastoral of St. Gregory; the abbots and monks also read the letter of St. Benedict. Fifty-six canons were published. 1, 2, and 3 treat of faith, hope, and charity. 4. Orders the administration of holy baptism after the Roman use, and restricts it to Easter and Pentecost, except in cases of necessity. 6. Orders bishops to take care of disinherited orphans. 9. Orders canons to eat in common, and to sleep in the same dormitory. 11. Relates to the life of the monks. 13. To that of nuns. 22. Is directed against vagabond clerks. 23. Gives entire liberty to clerks and monks who have been forced to receive the tonsure. 28. Orders all priests at all times to wear the stole, to mark their sacerdotal character. 32. Defines the difference between the exomologesis and litania; the former it states to be solely for confession of sin, the latter to implore help and mercy. 33. Orders the observance of the great Litany by all Christians, barefooted, with ashes. 35. Confirms the 19th canon of Gangra on fasting. 36 and 37. Relate to holidays and Sundays. 43. Forbids mass to be said by a priest alone; for how can he say Dominus vobiscum, and other like things, when no one is present but himself? 47. Orders godparents to instruct their godchildren. 52. Forbids all interments within the Church except in the case of bishops, abbots, priests, or lay persons distinguished for holiness of life. 54. Forbids marriage within the fourth degree. 55. Forbids parents to stand as sponsors for their own children, and forbids marriages between sponsors and their godchildren, and the parents of their godchildren. 56. Declares that he who has married two sisters, and the woman who has married two brothers, or a father and son, shall be separated, and never be permitted to marry again (Conc. 7:1239).

(2.) The next council convened there about Oct. 1 847, by order of Louis of Germany, under Rabanus, archbishop of Mayence, assisted by twelve bishops, his suffragans, and several abbots, monks, priests, and others of the clergy, including the chorepiscopi. Thirty-one canons were published. The most important are: 2. Warning bishops to be assiduous in preaching the Word of God. 7. Leaving the disposition of Church property to the bishops, and asserting their power over the laity. 11. Forbidding to endow new oratories with the tithes or other property belonging to churches anciently founded, without the bishop's consent. 13. Relating to the life to be observed by clerks and monks; forbids joking, gaming, unsuitable ornaments, delicate living, excess in eating or drinking, unjust weights or measures, unlawful trades, etc. 14. Ordering all monks holding livings to attend the synods and give an account of themselves. 15. Forbidding the clergy to wear long hair, under pain of anathema. 30. Forbidding marriage within the fourth degree (Conc. 8:39).

(3.) The next important council was held at Mayence in 1225, by cardinal Conrad, legate of Honorius III. It is by some called "a synod of Germany." Fourteen canons were published, which relate to the incontinence of the clergy, and simony. The sixth declares that excommunicated priests who dare to perform any clerical function while under excommunication shall be deposed both from their office and benefices, without hope of being ever restored; shall be treated as infamous, deprived of the power of leaving their property by will, and never again permitted to hold any kind of ecclesiastical benefice (Conc. 11:294).

(4.) Another very large body assembled in council at Mayence in 1549, called together by Sebastian Heusenstein, archbishop of Mayence, with the deputies of the bishops of his province and the principal of his clergy. Forty-seven canons were published concerning the faith, and fifty-seven canons of discipline. Among the first we find an exposition of the mystery of the sacred Trinity, according to the faith of the Church; it is further stated that man was created with righteousness and endued with grace, but that he was possessed of free-will; afterwards the fall of man and his justification are spoken of, and it is declared that this justification proceeds from the grace of God; that it is given before any merit; that this justification is given when man receives the Holy Spirit, with faith, hope, and charity, which gifts it declares to be inherent in him, and not merely imputed, so that man is not only accounted righteous, but is so in reality, yet not through his own merits, but by God's grace and righteousness communicated to him; that the charity which justifies must be accompanied by good works, of which grace is the source and principle (canons 7 and 8). The council moreover, in the canons of faith, set forth the doctrine of the sacraments, and decided, against the heretics, that they are not bare ceremonies, but effectual signs of grace, which they are, by divine operation, the means of conveying to those who receive them worthily.

With regard to ceremonies, it is decreed that such ought to be retained as incite the people to meditate upon God; among these are reckoned the sacraments, churches, altars, images, holy vestments, banners, etc. As to images, the council decrees that the people should be taught that they are not set up to be worshipped, and that none ought to be set up in churches which are likely to inspire worldly and carnal thoughts rather than piety. Curates are also enjoined to remove the image of any saint to which the people flocked, as if attributing some sort of divinity to the image itself, or as supposing that God or the saints would perform what they prayed for by means of that particular image, and not otherwise. Afterwards the following matters are treated of: devout pilgrimages, worship of saints, prayer for the dead, and the law of fasting.

Among the fifty-six canons of discipline and morality, we find it ruled (by canon 61) that when the lesser festivals fall on a Sunday, they shall be kept on some day following or preceding; that apostate monks, upon their return to their duty, shall be kindly treated; that nuns shall not leave their convent without the bishop's permission; that preaching shall not be allowed, nor the holy sacraments administered, in chapels attached to private houses; that care shall be taken that all school-masters be sound Catholics, etc. Finally, it is declared that the council received the acts of the holy oecumenical councils, and yielded entire submission to the catholic, apostolic, Roman Church in all things (Conc. 14:667; Landon, Manual of Councils, s.v.).

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