Reading, Councils of

Reading, Councils Of (Concilia Redingesia). The first of these was held in July, 1279, by archbishop Peckham of Canterbury, assisted by his suffragans. The twelve following constitutions were published:

1. Renews the twenty-ninth constitution of Othobon against pluralities, and directs bishops to cause a register to be kept of all incumbents in their dioceses, with all particulars relating to them and their livings.

2. Relates to commendairies, and declares such as are held otherwise than the constitution of Gregory, made in the Council of Lyons, 1273, permits, to be vacant.

3. Orders all priests, on the Sunday after every rural chapter, to explain to the people the sentences of excommunication decreed by the Council of Oxford in 1222; and to publish four times in each year the constitutions of Othobon concerning baptism at Easter and Pentecost, and that concerning concubinaries at the four principal rural chapters, the laity being first dismissed.

4. Orders that children born within eight days of Pentecost and Easter shall be reserved to be baptized at these times; but that children born at other times shall be baptized at once, for fear of sudden death.

5. Orders the eighth constitution of Othobon (1268) against concubinary priests to be read openly in the four principal rural chapters, and declares that such readings shall be taken as a monition. If the dean or his deputy neglect this, he is directed to fast every Friday on bread and water until the next chapter.

6. Relates to the chrism orders that what remains of the old chrism shall be burned when the new is consecrated; directs that priests shall be bound to fetch the chrism for their churches every year from their bishops before Easter; forbids to use any other than the new chrism, under the heaviest penalties.

7. Orders that the consecrated host be kept in a fair pyx, within a tabernacle; that a fresh host be consecrated every Lord's day; that it be carried to the sick by a priest in surplice and stole, a lantern being carried before and a bell sounded, that the people may "make humble adoration wheresoever the King of Glory is carried under the cover of bread."

8. Declares the custom of praying for the dead to be "holy and wholesome;" and ordains that upon the death of any bishop of the province of Canterbury his surviving brethren shall perform a solemn office for the dead, both singly in their chapels, and together, when called to assemble in council or otherwise, after the death of the said bishop; orders, farther, every priest to say one mass for the soul of his deceased diocesan, and entreats all exempt religious priests and seculars to do likewise.

9. Relates to the preaching of indulgences, and orders caution in so doing, "lest the keys of the Church be despised."

10. Forbids to set free, or admit to purgation, on slight grounds, clerks who, having been put in prison for their crimes, are delivered to the Church as convicts.

11. Enjoins that care be taken to preserve the chastity of friars and nuns; forbids them to sojourn long in the houses of their parents and friends.

12. Forbids parishioners to dispose of the grass, trees, or roots growing in consecrated ground; leaves such produce at the disposal of the rectors; forbids the latter, without sufficient cause, to spoil or grub up such trees as are an ornament to the churchyards and places thereabouts.

Then follows (in some copies) an injunction that the clergy of each diocese should send at least two deputies to the next congregation, to treat with the bishops for the common interests of the Church of England. This injunction, however, is by some persons said to be not genuine. In this same council a deed protecting the liberties of the scholars at Oxford was drawn up, in which the archbishop declared that, "moved by their devout prayers, he received under his protection their persons and property, and confirmed to them and their successors the liberties and immunities granted to them by bishops, kings, and others of the faithful;" it is also provided that sentences of suspension and excommunication passed by the chancellor, or his deputies, etc., upon men on account of offences committed by them in the university shall be put into execution throughout the province of Canterbury; further, it is ordered that the benefices of clerks found in arms by day or night, to the disturbance of the peace of the university, shall be sequestered for three years; and if the clerks so offending be unbeneficed, they shall be incapable of holding any benefice for five years, unless they shall make competent satisfaction in the interim.

Thirteen prelates attended this council, viz. the archbishop, and the bishops of Lincoln, Salisbury, Winchester, Exeter, Chichester, Worcester, Bath, Llandaff, Hereford, Norwich, Bangor, and Rochester. — Johnson, Eccle. Canons; Labbd, Concil. 11:1062; Wilkins, Concil. ii, 33.

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