SYNOD OF LAODICEA
A.D. 343-381
Elenchus

THE CANONS OF THE SYNOD HELD IN THE CITY OF LAODICEA, IN PHRYGIA PACATIANA, IN WHICH MANY BLESSED FATHERS FROM DIVERS PROVINCES OF ASIA WERE GATHERED TOGETHER.(1)

The holy synod which assembled at Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, from divers regions of Asia; set forth the ecclesiastical definitions which are hereunder annexed.

CANON I.

IT is right, according to the ecclesiastical Canon, that the Communion should by indulgence be given to those who have freely and lawfully joined in second marriages, not having previously made a secret marriage; after a short space, which is to be spent by them in prayer and fasting.

CANON II.

THEY who have sinned in divers particulars, if they have persevered in the prayer of confession and penance, and are wholly converted from their faults, shall be received again to communion, through the mercy and goodness of God, after a time of penance appointed to them, in proportion to the nature of their offence.

CANON III.

HE who has been recently baptized ought not to be promoted to the sacerdotal order.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

Notwithstanding this provision, that great light, Nectarius, just separated from the flock of the catechumens, when he had washed away the sins of his life in the divine font, now pure himself, he put on the most pure dignity of the episcopate, and at the same time became bishop of the Imperial City, and president of the Second Holy Ecumenical Synod.

CANON IV.

THEY who are of the sacerdotal order ought not to lend and receive usury, nor what is called hemioliae.

CANON V.

ORDINATIONS are not to be held in the presence of hearers.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

This canon calls elections "laying on of hands," and says that since in elections unworthy things are often said with regard to those who are elected, therefore they should not take place in the presence of any that might happen to come to hear.

Zonaras also agrees that election is here intended, but Aristenus dissents and makes the reference to ordinations properly so-called, as follows:

ARISTENUS.

The prayers of ordination are not to be said out loud so that they may be heard by the people.

CANON VI.

IT is not permitted to heretics to enter the house of God while they continue in heresy.

NOTES.

ARISTENUS.

Heretics are not to be permitted to enter the house of God, and yet Basil the Great, before this canon was set forth, admitted Valens to the perfecting of the faithful [i.e., to the witnessing the celebration of the Divine Mysteries].

CANON VII.

PERSONS converted from heresies, that is, of the Novatians, Photinians, and Quartodecimans, whether they were catechumens or communicants among them, shall not be received until they shall have anathematized every heresy, and particularly that in which they were held; and afterwards those who among them were called communicants, having thoroughly learned the symbols of the faith, and having been anointed with the holy chrism, shall so communicate in the holy Mysteries.

NOTES.


CANON VIII.

PERSONS converted from the heresy of those who are called Phrygians, even should they be among those reputed by their as clergymen, and even should they be called the very chiefest, are with all care to be both instructed and baptized by the bishops and presbyters of the Church.

CANON IX.

THE members of the Church are not allowed to meet in the cemeteries, nor attend the so-called martyries of any of the heretics, for prayer or service; but such as so do, if they be communicants, shall be excommunicated for a time; but if they repent and confess that they have sinned they shall be received.

NOTES.
ZONARAS.

By the word "service" (<greek>qerapeias</greek>) in this canon is to be understood the healing of sickness. The canon wishes that the faithful should under no pretence betake themselves to the prayers of heretical pseudo-martyrs nor pay them honour in the hope of obtaining the healing of sickness or the cure of their various temptations. And if any do so, they are to be cut off, that is for a time forbidden communion (and this refers to the faithful who are only laymen), but when they have done penance and made confession of their fault, the canon orders that they are to be received back again.

BALSAMON.

As canon vi. forbids heretics to enter the house of God, so this canon forbids the faithful to go to the cemeteries of heretics, which are called by them "Martyries." ... For in the days of the persecution, certain of the heretics, calling themselves Christians, suffered even to death, and hence those who shared their opinions called them "martyrs."

CANON X.

THE members of the Church shall not indiscriminately marry their children to heretics.

CANON XI.

PRESBYTIDES, as they are called, or female presidents, are not to be appointed in the Church.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

In old days certain venerable women (<greek>presbutides</greek>) sat in Catholic churches, and took care that the other women kept good and modest order. But from their habit of using improperly that which was proper, either through their arrogancy or through their base self-seeking, scandal arose. Therefore the Fathers prohibited the existence in the Church thereafter of any more such women as are called presbytides or presidents. And that no one may object that in the monasteries of women one woman must preside over the rest, it should be remembered that the renunciation which they make of themselves to God and the tonsure brings it to pass that they are thought of as one body though many; and all things which are theirs, relate only to the salvation of the soul. But for woman to teach in a Catholic Church, where a multitude of men is gathered together, and women of different opinions, is, in the highest degree, indecorous and pernicious.

CANON XII.

BISHOPS are to be appointed to the ecclesiastical government by the judgment of the metropolitans and neighbouring bishops, after having been long proved both in the foundation of their faith and in the conversation of an honest life.


CANON XIII.

THE election of those who are to be appointed to the: priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

From this canon it is evident that in ancient times not only bishops but also priests were voted for by the multitude of the people. This is here forbidden.

ARISTENUS.

Bishops are elected by metropolitans and other bishops. If anyone in this manner shall not have been promoted to the Episcopate, but shall have been chosen by the multitude, he is not to be admitted nor elected.

[It is clear from this that by "the Priesthood" Aristenus understands the episcopate, and I think rightly:]

CANON XIV.

THE holy things are not to be sent into other dioceses at the feast of Easter by way of eulogiae.

CANON XV.

No others shall sing in the Church, save only the canonical singers, who go up into the ambo and sing from a book.

CANON XVI.

THE Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath [i.e. Saturday], with the other Scriptures.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

Before the arrangement of the Ecclesiastical Psalmody was settled, neither the Gospel nor the other Scriptures were accustomed to be read on the Sabbath. But out of regard to the canons which forbade fasting or kneeling on the Sabbath, there were no services, so that there might be as much feasting as possible. This the fathers prohibit, and decree that on the Sabbath the whole ecclesiastical office shall be said.

Neander (Kirchengesch., 2d ed., vol. iij., p. 565 et seq.) suggests in addition to the interpretation just given another, viz.: that it was the custom in many parts of the ancient Church to keep every Saturday as a feast in commemoration of the Creation. Neander also suggests that possibly some Judaizers read on the Sabbath only the Old Testament; he, however, himself remarks that in this case <greek>euaggekia</greek> and <greek>eterwn</greek> <greek>graqpn</greek>would require the article.

CANON XVII.

THE Psalms are not to be joined together in the congregations, but a lesson shall intervene after every psalm.

ARISTENUS.

It was well to separate the Psalms by lessons when the congregation was gathered in church, and not to keep them continuously singing unbroken psalmody, lest those who had assembled might become careless through weariness.

ZONARAS.

This was an ancient custom which has been laid aside since the new order of ecclesiastical matters has been instituted.(2)

CANON XVIII.

THE same Service of prayers is to be said always both at hones and at vespers.


CANON XIX.

AFTER the sermons of the Bishops, the prayer for the catechumens is to be made first by itself; and after the catechumens have gone out, the prayer for those who are under penance; and, after these have passed under the hand [of the Bishop] and departed, there should then be offered the three prayers of the faithful, the first to be said entirely in silence, the second and third aloud, and then the [kiss of] peace is to be given. And, after the presbyters have given the [kiss of] peace to the Bishop, then the laity are to give it [to one another], and so the Holy Oblation is to be completed. And it is lawful to the priesthood alone to go to the Altar and [there] communicate.

CANON XX.

IT is not right for a deacon to sit in the presence of a presbyter, unless he be bidden by the presbyter to sit down. Likewise the deacons shall have worship of the subdeacons and all the [inferior] clergy.

CANON XXI.

THE subdeacons have no right to a place in the Diaconicum, nor to touch the Lord's vessels.

NOTES.

ARISTENUS.

The ecclesiastical ministers shall not take into their hands the Lord's vessels, but they shall be carried to the Table by the priests or deacons.

Both Balsamon and Zonaras agree that by <greek>uperetai</greek> is here meant subdeacons.

CANON XXII.

THE subdeacon has no right to wear an orarium [i.e., stole], nor to leave the doors.

NOTES.

CANON XXIII.

THE readers and singers have no right to wear an orarium, and to read or sing thus [habited].

CANON XXIV.

No one of the priesthood, from presbyters to deacons, and so on in the ecclesiastical order to subdeacons, readers, singers, exorcists, door-keepers, or any of the class of the Ascetics, ought to enter a tavern.

CANON XXV.

A SUBDEACON must not give the Bread, nor bless the Cup,

NOTES.

ARISTENUS.

Subdeacons are not allowed to perform the work of presbyters and deacons. Wherefore they neither deliver the bread nor the cup to the people.

CANON XXVI.

THEY who have not been promoted [to that office] by the bishop, ought not to adjure, either in churches or in private houses.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

Some were in the habit of "adjuring," that is catechising the unbelievers, who had never received the imposition of the bishop's hands for that purpose; and when they were accused of doing so, contended that as they did not do it in church but only at home, they could not be considered as deserving of any punishment, For this reason the Fathers rule that even to "adjure" (<greek>eforkizen</greek>) is an ecclesiastical ministry, and must not be executed by anyone who shall not have been promoted thereto by a bishop. But the "Exorcist" must be excepted who has been promoted by a Chorepiscopus, for he can indeed properly catechize although not promoted by a bishop; for from Canon X. of Antioch we learn that even a Chorepiscopus can make an Exorcist.

Zonaras notes that from this canon it appears that "Chorepiscopi are considered to be in the number of bishops."

CANON XXVII.

NEITHER they of the priesthood, nor clergymen, nor laymen, who are invited to a love feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order.

CANON XXVIII.

IT is not permitted to hold love feasts, as they are called, in the Lord's Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God.

CANON XXIX.

CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

Here the Fathers order that no one of the faithful shall stop work on the Sabbath as do the Jews, but that they should honour the Lord's Day; on account of the Lord's resurrection, and that on that day they should abstain from manual labour and go to church. But thus abstaining from work on Sunday they do not lay down as a necessity, but they add, "if they can." For if through need or any other necessity any one worked on the Lord's day this was not reckoned against him.

CANON XXX.

NONE of the priesthood, nor clerics [of lower rank] nor ascetics, nor any Christian or layman, shall wash in a bath with women; for this is the greatest reproach among the heathen.

CANON XXXI.

IT is riot lawful to make marriages with all [sorts of] heretics, nor to give our sons and daughters to them; but rather to take of them, if they promise to become Christians.

CANON XXXII.

IT is unlawful to receive the eulogiae of heretics, for they are rather <greek>alogiai</greek> [i.e., fol-lies], than eulogiae [i.e., blessings].

CANON XXXIII.

No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics.

CANON XXXIV.

No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those, therefore, who go after them, be anathema.

CANON XXXV.

CHRISTIANS must not forsake the Church of God, and go away and invoke angels and gather assemblies, which things are forbidden. If, therefore, any one shall be found engaged in this covert idolatry, let him be anathema; for he has forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has gone over to idolatry.

CANON XXXVI.

THEY who are of the priesthood, or of the clergy, shall not be magicians, enchanters, mathematicians, or astrologers; nor shall they make what are called amulets, which are chains for their own souls. And those who wear such, we command to be cast out of the Church.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

"Magicians" are those who for any purpose call Satan to their aid. "Enchantors" are those who sing charms or incantations, and through them draw demons to obey them. "Mathematicians" are they who hold the opinion that the celestial bodies rule the universe, and that all earthly things are ruled by their influence. "Astrologers" are they who divine by the stars through the agency of demons, and place their faith in them.

CANON XXXVII.

IT is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.

CANON XXXVIII.

IT is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.

CANON XXXIX.

IT is not lawful to feast together with the heathen, and to be partakers of their godlessness.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

Read canon lxx. and canon lxxj. of the Holy Apostles, and Canon lx(1) of the Synod of Carthage.

ARISTENUS.

Light hath no communion with darkness. Therefore no Christian should celebrate a feast with heretics or Jews, neither should he receive anything connected with these feasts such as azymes and the like.

CANON XL.

BISHOPS called to a synod must not be guilty of contempt, but must attend, and either teach, or be taught, for the reformation of the Church and of others. And if such an one shall be guilty of contempt, he will condemn himself, unless he be detained by ill health.

CANON XLI.

NONE of the priesthood nor of the clergy may go on a journey, without the bidding of the Bishop.

CANON XLII.

None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may travel without letters canonical.

CANON XLIII.

THE subdeacons may not leave the doors to engage in the prayer, even for a short time.

CANON XLIV.

Women may not go to the altar.

NOTES.

ZONARAS.

If it is prohibited to laymen to enter the Sanctuary by the lxixth canon of the Sixth synod [i.e. Quinisext], much more are women forbidden to do so who are unwillingly indeed, but yet truly, polluted by the monthly flux of blood.

CANON XLV.

[CANDIDATES] for baptism are not to be received after the second week in Lent.

CANON XLVI.

THEY who are to be baptized must learn the faith [Creed] by heart, and recite it to the bishop, or to the presbyters, on the fifth day of the week.

CANON XLVII.

THEY who are baptized in sickness and afterwards recover, must learn the Creed by heart and know that the Divine gifts have been vouchsafed them.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

Some unbelievers were baptized before they had been catechized, by reason of the urgency of the illness. Now some thought that as their baptism did not follow their being carechumens, they ought to be catechized and baptized over again. And in support of this opinion they urged Canon XII. of Neocaesarea, which does not permit one clinically baptized to become a priest rashly. For this reason it is that the Fathers decree that such an one shall not be baptized a second time, but as soon as he gets well he shall learn the faith and the mystery of baptism, and to appreciate the divine gifts he has received, viz., the confession of the one true God and the remission of sins which comes to us in holy baptism.

CANON XLVIII.

THEY who are baptized must after Baptism be anointed with the heavenly chrism, and be partakers of the Kingdom of Christ.

NOTES.

AUBESPINE.

(Lib. i., Observat. cap. xv.)

Formerly no one was esteemed worthy of the name Christian or reckoned among the perfect who had not been confirmed and endowed with the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The prayers for the consecration of the Holy Chrism according to the rites of the East and of the West should be carefully read by the student. Those of the East are found in the Euchologion, and those of the West in the Pontificale Romanum, De Officio in feria v. Coena Domini.

CANON XLIX.

DURING Lent the Bread must not be offered except on the Sabbath Day and on the Lord's Day only.

CANON L.

THE fast must not be broken on the fifth day of the last week in Lent [i.e., on Maunday Thursday], and the whole of Lent be dishonoured; but it is necessary to fast during all the Lenten season by eating only dry meats.

BALSAMON.

Those, therefore, who without being ill, fast on oil and shell-fish, do contrary to this law; and much more they who eat on the fourth and sixth ferias fish.

CANON LI.

The nativities of Martyrs are not to be celebrated in Lent, but commemorations of the holy Martyrs are to be made on the Sabbaths and Lord's days.

NOTES.

BALSAMON.

The whole of Lent is a time of grief for our sins, and the memories of the Saints are not kept except on the Sabbaths.

Van Espen remarks how in old calendars there are but few Saints-days in those months in which Lent ordinarily falls, and that the multitude of days now kept by the Roman ordo are mostly of modern introduction.

CANON LII.

MARRIAGES and birthday feasts are not to be celebrated in Lent.

CANON LIII.

CHRISTIANS, when they attend weddings, must not join in wanton dances, but modestly dine or breakfast, as is becoming to Christians.

CANON LIV.

MEMBERS of the priesthood and of the clergy must not witness the plays at weddings or banquets; but, before the players enter, they must rise and depart.

NOTES.

ARISTENUS.

Christians are admonished to feast modestly when they go to weddings and not to dance nor <greek>ballizein</greek>, that is to clap their hands and make a noise with them. For this is unworthy of the Christian standing. But consecrated persons must not see the play at weddings, but before the thymelici begin, they must go out.

Compare with this Canons XXIV. and LI., of the Synod in Trullo.

This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratian's Decretum, Pars III., De But Consecrat. Dist. v., can. xxxvij.

CANON LV.

NEITHER members of the priesthood nor of the clergy, nor yet laymen, may club together for drinking entertainments.

CANON LVI.

PRESBYTERS may not enter and take their seats in the bema before the entrance of the Bishop: but they must enter with the Bishop, unless he be at home sick, or absent.

CANON LVII.

BISHOPS must not be appointed in villages or country districts, but visitors; and those who have been already appointed must do nothing without the consent of the bishop of the city. Presbyters, in like manner, must do nothing without the consent of the bishop.

CANON LVIII.

THE Oblation must not be made by bishops or presbyters in any private houses.

CANON LIX.

No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments.

CANON LX.

THESE are all the books of Old Testament appointed to be read: 1, Genesis of the world; 2, The Exodus from Egypt; 3, Leviticus; 4, Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, Joshua, the son of Nun; 7, Judges, Ruth; 8, Esther; 9, Of the Kings, First and Second; 10, Of the Kings, Third and Fourth; 11, Chronicles, First and Second; 12, Esdras, First and Second; 13, The Book of Psalms; 14, The Proverbs of Solomon; 15, Ecclesiastes; 16, The Song of Songs;17, Job; 18, The Twelve Prophets; 19, Isaiah; 20, Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle; 21, Ezekiel; 22, Daniel.

And these are the books of the New Testament: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Acts of the Apostles; Seven Catholic Epistles, to wit, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon.

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