Presence-money is the small daily payment in specie made by Roman Catholics to the canons for their presence in the choir at defunct cathedral or collegiate churches. After the dissolution of the communal life of those ecclesiastics, the bulk of the revenue of the chapters was divided into individual portions, to be distributed partly as daily stipends, called distributiones
quotidiance, or quotidiana stipendia, in opposition to the prebends, which went by the name of fructus grossi or annui. The purpose of this daily distribution was to induce the canons to a stricter obedience to the law of residence, and to more assiduous attendance to the public choir-prayers, as only those canons came in for their share who were either present in the choir or officiated during the service. Yet there were some grounds on which their absence could be excused without loss of their share. (These legal exceptions are formulated in the canonic regulations in De cler. aegr. 3, 6; De cler. non resid. 3, 3; Conc. Trid. sess. 22:c. 3, and sess. 24:c. 8 fin. De ref.) The Council of Trent directed that in those cathedral or collegiate congregations where there existed no presence-money, or where it reached but an insignificant amount, a third of the whole revenue of the chapter should be set apart and used for such distributions (Conc. Trid. sess. 21:c. 3, De ref.). The portions of the canons absent without reasonable excuse were to be divided among the members present pro rata, or given to the fabric of the church, if it stood in need of such help, or employed for any pious purpose the bishop might devise (sess. 22:c. 3, De ref.). It was not always the negligence of the canons, but also the peculiar- and partly abusive-composition of the chapters, which was the cause that their members so frequently dispensed with personal service in the choir, and were represented in it by simple vicars. The personal obligation of the canons has been insisted upon by the most ancient canonic rules, by the Council of Trent, and by the last circumscription bulls for the reorganization of the German bishoprics. Special presence-money is no more in use; for as the dotation of the restored bishoprics and chapters is not founded on immovable property, as the prebends flow, in the form of fixed salaries, out of the public treasure, the direction of the Council of Trent that a part of the revenue should be set apart and used for such distributions is not acted upon. See Schmidt, Thesaurus jut. Ec 4:16 sq.