The Council of Trent
The Twenty-Third Session

The canons and decrees of the sacred
and oecumenical Council of Trent
Ed. and trans. J. Waterworth (London: Dolman, 1848), 170-92.

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned by Hanover College students in 1995.
The page numbers of Waterworth's translation appear in brackets.

[Page 170]


Being the seventh under the Sovereign Pontiff, Pius IV., celebrated on the fifteenth day of July, MDLXIII.


On the institution of the Priesthood of the New Law.

Sacrifice and priesthood are, by the ordinance of God, in such wise conjoined, as that both have existed in every law. [Page 171] Whereas, therefore, in the New Testament, the Catholic Church has received, from the institution of Christ, the holy visible sacrifice of the Eucharist; it must needs also be confessed, that there is, in that Church, a new, visible, and external priesthood, into which the old has been translated. And the sacred Scriptures show, and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught, that this priesthood was instituted by the same Lord our Saviour, and that to the apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, was the power delivered of consecrating, offering, and administering His Body and Blood, as also of forgiving and of retaining sins.

On the Seven Orders.

And whereas the ministry of so holy a priesthood is a divine thing; to the end that it might be exercised in a more worthy manner, and with greater veneration, it was suitable that, in the most well-ordered settlement of the church, there should be several and diverse orders of ministers, to minister to the priesthood, by virtue of their office; orders so distributed as that those already marked with the clerical tonsure should ascend through the lesser to the greater orders. For the sacred Scriptures make open mention not only of priests, but also of deacons; and teach, in words the most weighty, what things are especially to be attended to in the Ordination thereof; and, from the very beginning of the church, the names of the following orders, and the ministrations proper to each one of them, are known to have been in use; to wit those of subdeacon, acolyth, exorcist, lector, and door-keeper; though these were not of equal rank: for the subdeavonship is classed amongst the greater orders by the Fathers and sacred Councils, wherein also we very often read of the other inferior orders.

[Page 172]

That Order is truly and properly a Sacrament.

Whereas, by the testimony of Scripture, by Apostolic tradition, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, it is clear that grace is conferred by sacred ordination, which is performed by words and outward signs, no one ought to doubt that Order is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of holy Church. For the apostle says; I admonish thee that thou stir up the grace of God, which is in thee by the imposition of my hands. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love of sobriety.

On the Ecclesiastical hierarchy, and on Ordination.

But, forasmuch as in the sacrament of Order, as also in Baptism and Confirmation, a character is imprinted, which can neither be effaced nor taken away; the holy Synod with reason condemns the opinion of those, who assert that the priests of the New Testament have only a temporary power; and that those who have once been rightly ordained, can again become laymen, if they do not exercise the ministry of the word of God. And if any one affirm, that all Christians indiscrimately are priests of the New Testament, or that they are all mutually endowed with an equal spiritual power, he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy, which is as an army set in array; as if, contrary to the doctrine of blessed Paul, all were apostles, all prophets, all evangelists, all pastors, all doctors. Wherefore, the holy Synod declares that, besides [Page 173] the other ecclesiastical degrees, bishops, who have succeeded to the place of the apostles, principally belong to this hierarchial order; that they are placed, as the same apostle says, by the Holy Ghost, to rule the Church of God; that they are superior to priests; administer the sacrament of Confirmation; ordain the ministers of the Church; and that they can perform very many other things; over which functions others of an inferior order have no power. Furthermore, the sacred and holy Synod teaches, that, in the ordination of bishops, priests, and of the other orders, neither the consent, nor vocation, nor authority, whether of the people, or of any civil power or magistrate whatsoever, is required in such wise as that, without this, the ordination is invalid: yea rather doth It decree, that all those who, being only called and instituted by the people, or by the civil power and magistrate, ascend to the exercise of these ministrations, and those who of their own rashness assume them to themselves, are not ministers of the church, but are to be looked upon as thieves and robbers, who have not entered by the door. These are the things which it hath seemed good to the sacred Synod to teach the faithful in Christ, in general terms, touching the sacrament of Order. But It hath resolved to condemn whatsoever things are contrary thereunto, in express and specific canons, in the manner following; in order that all men, with the help of Christ, using the rule of faith, may, in the midst of the darkness of so many errors, more easily be able to recognise and to hold Catholic truth.


CANON I.--If any one saith, that there is not in the New Testament a visible and external priesthood; or that there is not any power of consecrating and offering the true body and blood of the Lord, and of forgiving and retaining sins; but only an office and bare ministry of preaching the Gospel, or, that those who do not preach are not priests at all; let him be anathema.

[Page 174] CANON II.--If any one saith, that, besides the priesthood, there are not in the Catholic Church other orders, both greater and minor, by which, as by certain steps, advance is made unto the priesthood; let him be anathema.

CANON III.--If any one saith, that order, or sacred ordination, is not truly and properly a sacrament instituted by Christ the Lord; or, that it is a kind of human figment devised by men unskilled in ecclesiastical matters; or, that it is only a kind of rite for choosing ministers of the word of God and of the sacraments; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.--If any one saith, that, by sacred ordination, the Holy Ghost is not given; and that vainly therefore do the bishops say, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; or, that a character is not imprinted by that ordination; or, that he who has once been a priest, can again become a layman; let him be anathema.

CANON V.--If any one saith, that the sacred unction which the Church uses in holy ordination, is not only not required, but is to be despised and is pernicious, as likewise are the other ceremonies of Order; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.--If any one saith, that, in the Catholic Church there is not a hierarchy by divine ordination instituted, consisting of bishops, priests, and ministers; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.--If any one saith, that bishops are not superior to priests; or, that they have not the power of confirming and ordaining; or, that the power which they possess is common to them and to priests; or, that orders, conferred by them, without the consent, or vocation of the people, or of the secular power, are invalid; or, that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.--If any one saith, that the bishops, who are assumed by authority of the Roman Pontiff, are not legitimate and true bishops, but are a human figment; let him be anathema.


The same sacred and holy Synod of Trent, prosecuting the matter of reformation, resolves and decrees that the things following be at present ordained.

The negligence of Pastors of Churches in residing is variously punished: provision is made for the cure of souls.

Whereas it is by divine precept enjoined on all, to whom the cure of souls is committed, to know their own sheep; to offer sacrifice for them; and, by the preaching of the divine word, by the administration of the sacraments, and by the example of all good works, to feed them; to have a fatherly care of the poor and of other distressed persons, and to apply themselves to all other pastoral duties; all which (offices) cannot be rendered and fulfilled by those who neither watch over nor are with their own flock, but abandon it after the manner of hirelings; the sacred and holy Synod admonishes and exhorts such, that mindful of the divine precepts, and made a pattern of the flock, they feed and rule in judgment and in truth. And for fear lest those things which have been already elsewhere holily and usefully ordained, concerning residence, under Paul III., of happy memory, may be wrested to a meaning alien from the mind of the sacred and holy Synod, as if by virtue of that decree it were lawful to be absent during five continuous months; the sacred and holy Synod, adhering to those decrees, declares, that all persons who are--under whatsoever name and title, even though they be cardinals of the holy Roman Church--set over any patriarchal, primatial, metropolitan, and cathe-[Page 176]dral churches whatsoever, are obliged to personal residence in their own church, or diocese, where they shall be bound to discharge the office enjoined them; and may not be absent thence, save for the causes and in the manner subjoined. For whereas Christian charity, urgent necessity, due obedience, and the evident utility of the Church, or of the commonwealth, require and demand that some at times be absent, this same sacred and holy Synod ordains, that these causes of lawful absence are to be approved of in writing by the most blessed Roman Pontiff, or by the metropolitan, or, in his absence, by the oldest resident suffragan bishop, whose duty it shall also be to approve of the absence of the metropolitan; except when such absence happens in consequence of some employment and office in the state attached to the bishoprics; the causes of which absence being notorious, and at times sudden, it will not be necessary even to notify them to the metropolitan; to whom it shall however belong, conjointly with the provincial Council, to judge of the permissions granted by himself, or by his suffragan, and to see that no one abuse that right, and that transgressors are punished with the penalties adjudged by the canons. Meanwhile let those about to depart remember to provide in such sort for their sheep, as that, as far as possible, they may not suffer any injury through their absence. But, forasmuch as those who are only absent for a short period, are, in the sense of the ancient canons, not supposed to be absent, for that they are about to return immediately; the sacred and holy Synod wills, that that term of absence, whether continuous or interrupted, ought not by any means to exceed two, or at most three, months; except for the causes above named; and that regard be had that it be done from a just cause, and without any detriment to the flock: which, whether it be the case, the Synod leaves to the conscience of those who withdraw themselves which It hopes will be religious and timorous; seeing that their hearts are open before God, whose work they are bound, at their periol, not to do deceitfully. In the meantime It [Page 177] admonishes and exhorts them in the Lord, that unless their episcopal duties call them to some other part of their own diocese, they on no account be absent from their own cathedral church during the period of the Advent of the Lord, and of Lent, on the days of the Nativity, of the Lord's Resurrection, of Pentecost, and of Corpus Christi, on which days especially the sheep ought to be refreshed, and to rejoice in the Lord at the presence of the Shepherd.

But if any one, which it is hoped will never happen, shall be absent, contrary to the regulation of this decree, the sacred and holy Synod ordains, that, in addition to the other penalties imposed upon and renewed against non-residents, under Paul III., and the guilt of mortal sin which such an one incurs, he acquires no property in any fruits, in proportion to the time of his absence, and that he cannot, even though no other declaration but this follow, retain them as his with a safe conscience; but is bound, or, in his default, his ecclesiastical superior for him, to apply them to the fabric of the churches, or to the poor of the place; every kind of agreement, or composition as it is called, in regard of ill-gotten fruits, being prohibited, whereby the aforesaid fruits even might be wholly, or in part, restored to him; any privileges whatsoever, granted to any college or fabric, to the contrary notwithstanding.

The same also, both as regards the guilt, the loss of fruits, and the penalties, does the sacred and holy Synod wholly declare and decree, in regard of inferior pastors, and all others whomsoever who hold any ecclesiastical benefice having cure of souls; in such wise, however, as that, whensoever it shall happen that they are absent, for a cause that has been first made known to, and been approved of by, the bishop, they shall leave, with a due allowance of stipend, a suitable vicar, to be approved of by the Ordinary. And they shall not obtain permission to be absent,--which is to be granted in writing and gratuitously,--for a larger period than two months, except for some weighty cause; and if, after having been cited, even though not per-[Page 178]sonally, by an edict, they shall be contumacious, the Synod wills, that it be in the power of the Ordinaries to constrain them by ecclesiastical censures, and by the sequestration and substraction of fruits, and by other legal remedies, even as far as deprivation; and that the execution hereof shall not be able to be suspended by any manner of privilege soever, license, claim as a domestic, exemption,--though even upon the ground of any manner of benefice,--by any compact, or statute,--even though confirmed by oath or by what authority soever,--by any custom, even though immemorial, which herein is to be looked upon rather as a corruption, or by any appeal, or inhibition, even in the Roman Court, or by virtue of the constitution of Eugenius. Finally, the holy Synod commands, that both the decree under Paul III., and this present, shall be published in the provincial and episcopal councils; for It desires that things so nearly concerning the office of pastors, and the salvation of souls, be frequently impressed on the minds and ears of all men, that so, with God's help, they may never hereafter be abolished through the injury of time, the forgetfulness of men, or by desuetude.

Those set over Churches shall receive the rite of consecration within three months; where the consecration is to take place.

Those who,--under whatsoever name or title, even though they be cardinals of the holy Roman Church,--have been set over cathedral, or superior, churches, if they shall not, within three months, have received the rite of consecration, shall be bound to restore the fruits which they have received; if they shall have neglected to do this within three other months afterwards, they shall be ipso jure deprived of their churches. And their consecration, if performed out of the Court of Rome, shall be celebrated in the church to which they have been promoted, or in the province, if it can be conveniently done.

[Page 179]

Bishops, except in case of illness, shall confer Order in person.

Bishops shall themselves confer orders; but, should they be prevented by illness, they shall not send their subjects to another bishop for ordination, unless they have been already approved of and examined.

Who are to be initiated by the first tonsure.

None shall be initiated by the first tonsure, who have not received the sacrament of Confirmation; and who have not been taught the rudiments of the faith; and who do not know how to read and write; and in whose regard there is not a probable conjecture, that they have chosen this manner of life, that they may render unto God a faithful service, and not that they may fraudulently withdraw themselves from Secular jurisdiction.

Wherewith those who are to be ordained are to be furnished.

Those who are to be promoted to minor orders shall have a good testimonial from their parish priest; and from the master of the school in which they are educated. As to those who are to be raised to any one of the greater orders, they shall, a month before ordination, repair to the bishop, who shall commission the parish priest, or such other person as may be deemed more expedient, to state publicly in the church the names and the desire of those who wish to be promoted; and to diligently inform himself, from persons worthy of credit, of the birth, age, morals, and life [Page 180] of those who are to be ordained, and shall transmit to the bishop himself, as soon as possible, letters testimonial containing the actual inquiry that has been made.

The age of fourteen years is required for an ecclesiastical benfice; who is to enjoy the privilege of the (ecclesiastical) court.

No one, after being initiated by the first tonsure, or even after being constituted in minor orders, shall be able to hold a benefice before his fourteenth year. Further, he shall not enjoy the privilege of the (ecclesiastical) court, unless he have an ecclesiastical benefice; or, wearing the ecclesiastical dress and tonsure, he serves in some church by the bishop's order, or lives with the bishop's permission in an ecclesiastical seminary, or in some school, or university, on the way as it were to receive the greater orders. As regards married clerks, the constitution of Boniface VIII., which begins, clerici qui cum unicis, shall be observed; provided the said clerks, being deputed by the bishop to the service or ministry of some church, serve and minister therein, and wear the clerical dress and tonsure: no privilege, or custom, even immemorial, availing any one herein.

Those to be ordained are to be examined by persons versed in divine and human laws.

The holy Synod, adhering to the traces of the ancient canons, ordains, that when a bishop has arranged to hold an ordination, all who may wish to be received into the sacred ministry shall be summoned to the city, for the Thursday before the said ordination, or for such other day as the bishop shall think fit. [Page 181] And the bishop, calling to his assistance priests and other prudent persons, well skilled in the divine law, and of experience in the constitutions of the church, shall diligently investigate and examine the parentage, person, age, education, morals, learning, and faith of those who are to be ordained.

How, and by whom, each ought to be ordained.

Ordinations of sacred orders shall be celebrated publicly, at the time appointed by law, and in the cathedral churches, in the presence of the canons of that church, who are to be invited for that purpose; but, if they are celebrated in some other place of the diocese, in the presence of the clergy of the place; the principal church being always, as far as possible, made use of. But each one shall be ordained by his own bishop. And if any one ask to be promoted by another bishop, this shall by no means be allowed him, even under the pretext of any general or special rescript or privilege whatsoever, even at the appointed times; unless his probity and morals be recommended by the testimony of his own Ordinary; otherwise, he who ordains him shall be suspended from conferring orders during a year, and he who has been ordained shall be suspended from exercising the orders which he has received, for as long a period as shall seem expedient to his own Ordinary.

A bishop ordaining one of his own household, shall at once and really confer upon him a benefice.

A bishop may not ordain one of his household, who is not his subject, unless he has lived with him for the space of [Page 182] three years; and he shall really, and without fraud of any kind, at once confer on him a benefice; any custom, even though immemorial, to the contrary notwithstanding.

Prelates inferior to bishops shall not give the tonsure, or minor orders, save to Regulars their own subjects; neither shall they, nor any Chapters whatsoever, grant dimissory letters; a more grievous penalty is enacted against those who offend against this decree.

It shall not henceforth be lawful for abbots, or for any other persons whatsoever, howsoever exempted, being within the limits of any diocese, even though they be said to be of no diocese, or to be exempted, to confer the tonsure, or minor orders on any one who is not a Regular subject to them; nor shall the said abbots, and other exempted persons, or any colleges, or Chapters whatsoever, even those of cathedral churches, grant letters dimissory to any Secular clerics to be ordained by others. But the ordination of all these persons shall appertain to the bishops within the limits of whose diocese they are, all things considered in the decrees of this holy Synod being observed; any privilege, prescriptions, or customs, even though immemorial, notwithstanding. And the Synod ordains, that the penalty imposed on those, who, contrary to the decree of this holy Synod under Paul III., obtain, during the vacancy of the episcopal See, letters dimissory from the Chapter, be also extended to those who shall obtain the said letters, not from the Chapter, but from any other persons whatsoever, who, during the vacancy of the See, succeed to the jurisdiction of the bishop, in lieu of the Chapter. And they who give dimissory letters, contrary to the form of this decree, shall be ipso jure suspended during a year from their office and benefice.

[Page 183]

The interstices, and certain other regulations, to be observed in receiving minor orders.

The minor orders shall not be given but to such as understand the Latin language at least, observing the appointed interstices of time, unless the bishop shall think it more expedient to act otherwise; that so they may be the more accurately taught how great is the obligation of this their state of life; and may exercise themselves in each office, agreeably to the appointment of the bishop; and this in the church to which they shall be assigned, unless they happen to be absent on account of their studies; and may thus ascend step by step: that so with their increasing age they may grow in worthiness of life and in learning; of which they will give proof especially by the example of their good conduct, by their assiduous service in the church, their greater reverence towards priests and the superior orders, and by a more frequent communion than heretofore of the Body of Christ. And whereas from these orders is the entrance unto higher orders and to the most sacred mysteries, no one shall be admitted thereunto, whom the promise of knowledge does not point out as worthy of the greater orders. And such shall not be promoted to sacred orders till a year after the reception of the last degree of minor orders; unless necessity, or the utility of the church, in the bishop's judgment, shall require otherwise.

Age required for the major orders; the deserving only to be admitted.

No one shall for the future be promoted to the order of subdeaconship before the twenty-second year of age; to that [Page 184] of deaconship before his twenty-third year; to that of priesthood before his twenty-fifth year. Nevertheless, bishops are to know, that not all who have attained to that age must needs be admitted to the aforesaid orders, but those only who are worthy, and whose commendable life is an old age. Regulars likewise shall not be ordained under the above age, nor without a diligent examination by the bishop; all privileges whatsoever in this regard being completely set aside.

On the conditions required in the Ordination of a Subdeacon and Deacon: on no one shall two sacred Orders be conferred on the same day.

Such as have a good testimonial, and have been already tried in minor orders, and are instructed in letters, and in those things which belong to the exercise of their orders, shall be ordained subdeacons and deacons. They shall have a hope, with God's help, to be able to live continently; they shall serve in the churches to which they may be assigned; and are to know that it is very highly becoming that, after ministering at the altar, they should receive the sacred communion, at least on the Lord's days and solemnities. Those who have been promoted to the sacred order of the subdeaconship shall not, until they have remained therein during at least a year, be permitted to ascend to a higher degree, unless the bishop shall judge otherwise. Two sacred orders shall not be conferred on the same day, even upon Regulars; any privileges and indults whatsoever, to whomsoever granted, to the contrary notwithstanding.

Who are to be raised to the Priesthood: their office.

Those who have conducted themselves piously and faithfully in their precedent functions, and are promoted to the order of [Page 185] priesthood, shall have a good testimonial, and be persons who not only have served in their office of deacon during at least an entire year,--unless for the utility and the necessity of the Church, the bishop should judge otherwise,--but who have also been approved to be, by a careful previous examination, capable of teaching the people those things which it is necessary for all to know unto salvation, as also fit to administer the sacraments; and so conspicuous for piety and chasteness of morals, as that a shining example of good works and a lesson how to live may be expected from them. The bishop shall take care that they celebrate mass at least on the Lord's Days, and on solemn festivals; but, if they have the cure of souls, so often as to satisfy their obligation. The bishop may, for a lawful cause, grant a dispensation to those who have been promoted per saltum, provided they have not exercised the ministry (of that order).

No one shall hear confessions, unless he be approved of by the Ordinary.

Although priests receive in their ordination the power of absolving from sins; nevertheless, the holy Synod ordains, that no one, even though he be a Regular, is able to hear the confessions of Seculars, not even of priests, and that he is not to be reputed fit thereunto, unless he either holds a parochial benefice, or is, by the bishops, after an examination if they shall think it necessary, or in some other manner, judged capable; and has obtained their approval, which shall be granted gratuitously; any privileges, and custom whatsoever, though immemorial, to the contrary notwithstanding.

[Page 186]

Those who are ordained shall be assigned to a particular church.

Whereas no one ought to be ordained, who, in the judgment of his own bishop, is not useful or necessary for his churches, the holy Synod, adhering to the traces of the sixth canon of the council of Chalcedon, ordains, that no one shall for the future be ordained without being attached to that church, or pious place, for the need, or utility of which he is promoted; there to discharge his duties, and not wander about without any certain abode. And if he shall quit that place without consulting the bishop, he shall be interdicted from the exercise of his sacred (orders). Furthermore, no cleric, who is a stranger, shall, without letters commendatory from his own Ordinary, be admitted by any bishop to celebrate the divine mysteries, and to administer the sacraments.

In what manner the exercise of the minor orders is to be restored.

That the functions of holy orders, from the deacon to the janitor,-which functions have been laudably received in the Church from the times of the apostles, and which have been for some time interrupted in very many places,-may be again brought into use in accordance with the sacred canons; and that they may not be traduced by heretics as useless; the holy Synod, burning with the desire of restoring the pristine usage, ordains that, for the future, such functions shall not be exercised but by those who are actually in the said orders; and It exhorts in the Lord all and each of the prelates of the churches, and commands them, that it be their care to restore the said [Page 187] functions, as far as it can be conveniently done, in the cathedral, collegiate, and parochial churches of their dioceses, where the number of the people and the revenues of the church can support it; and, to those who exercise those functions, they shall assign salaries out of some part of the revenues of any simple benefices, or those of the fabric of the church,-if the funds allow of it,-or out of the revenues of both together, of which stipends they may, if negligent, be mulcted in a part, or be wholly deprived thereof, according to the judgment of the Ordinary. And if there should not be unmarried clerics at hand to exercise the functions of the four minor orders, their place may be supplied by married clerics of approved life; provided they have not been twice married, be competent to discharge the said duties, and wear the tonsure and the clerical dress in church.

Method of establishing Seminaries for Clerics, and of educating the same therein.

Wereas the age of youth, unless it be rightly trained, is prone to follow after the pleasures of the world; and unless it be formed, from its tender years, unto piety and religion, before habits of vice have taken possession of the whole man, it never will perfectly, and without the greatest, and well-nigh special, help of Almighty God, persevere in ecclesiastical discipline; the holy Synod ordains, that all cathedral, metropolitan, and other churches greater than these, shall be bound, each according to its means and the extent of the diocese, to maintain, to educate religiously, and to train in ecclesiastical discipline, a certain number of youths of their city and diocese, or, if that number cannot be met with there, of that province, in a college to be chosen by the bishop for this purpose near the said churches, or in some other suitable place. Into this college shall be received such as are at least twelve years old, born in [Page 188] lawful wedlock, and who know how to read and write competently, and whose character and inclination afford a hope that they will always serve in the ecclesiastical ministry. And It wishes that the children of the poor be principally selected; though It does not however exclude those of the more wealthy, provided they be maintained at their own expense, and manifest a desire of serving God and the Church. The bishop, having divided these youths into as many classes as he shall think fit, according to their number, age, and progress in ecclesiastical discipline, shall, when it seems to him expedient, assign some of them to the ministry of the churches, the others he shall keep in the college to be instructed; and shall supply the place of those who have been withdrawn, by others; that so this college may be a perpetual seminary of ministers of God. And that the youths may be the more advantageously trained in the aforesaid ecclesiastical discipline, they shall always at once wear the tonsure and the clerical dress; they shall learn grammar, singing, ecclesiastical computation, and the other liberal arts; they shall be instructed in sacred Scripture; ecclesiastical works; the homilies of the saints; the manner of administering the sacraments, especially those things which shall seem adapted to enable them to hear confessions; and the forms of the rites and ceremonies. The bishop shall take care that they be present every day at the sacrifice of the mass, and that they confess their sins at least once a month; and receive the body of our Lord Jesus Christ as the judgment of their confessor shall direct; and on festivals serve in the cathedral and other churches of the place.

All which, and other things advantageous and needful for this object, all bishops shall ordain-with the advice of two of the senior and most experienced canons chosen by himself-as the Holy Spirit shall suggest; and shall make it their care, by frequent visitations, that the same be always observed. The froward, and incorrigible, and the disseminators of evil morals, they shall punish sharply, even by expulsion if necessary; and, removing all hindrances, they shall carefully foster whatsoever appears to tend to preserve and advance so pious and holy an institution. And forasmuch as some certain revenues will be [Page 189] necessary, for raising the building of the college, for paying their salaries to the teachers and servants, for the maintenance of the youths, and for other expenses; besides those funds which are, in some churches and places, set apart for training or maintaining youths, and which are to be hereby looked upon as applied to this seminary under the said charge of the bishop; the bishops as aforesaid, with the advice of two of the Chapter,--of whom one shall be chosen by the bishop, and the other by the Chapter itself, and also of two of the clergy of the city, the election of one of whom shall in like manner be with the bishop, and of the other with the clergy,--shall take a certain part or portion, out of the entire fruits of the episcopal revenue, and of the chapter, and of all dignities whatsoever, personates, offices, prebends, portions, abbies, and priories, of whatsoever order, even though Regular, or of whatsoever quality, or condition they may be, and of hospitals which are conferred under title or administration, pursuant to the constitution of the Council of Vienne, which begins Quia contingit; and of all benefices whatsoever, even those belonging to Regulars, even those which are under any right of patronage, even those that are exempted, that are of no diocese, or are annexed to other churches, monasteries, hospitals, or to any other pious places, even such as are exempted; as also of the revenues devoted to the fabrics of churches, and of other places, and likewise of all other ecclesiastical revenues and proceeds whatsoever, even those of other colleges;-in which, however, there are not actually seminaries of scholars, or of teachers, for promoting the common good of the Church; for the Synod wills that those places be exempted, except in regard of such revenues as may remain over and above the suitable support of the said seminaries;--or of bodies, or confraternities, which in some places are called schools, likewise of all monasteries, with the exception of the Mendicants; also of the tithes in any way belonging to laymen, out of which ecclesiastical subsidies are wont to be paid; and those belonging to the soldiers of any [Page 190] military body, or order, the brethren of Saint John of Jerusalem alone excepted; and they shall apply to, and incorporate with, the said college this portion so deducted, as also a certain number of simple benefices, of whatsoever quality and dignity they may be, or even prestimonies, or prestimonial portions as they are called, even before they fall vacant, without prejudice however to the divine service, or to those who hold them. And this shall have effect, even though the benefices be reserved or appropriated to other uses; nor shall this union and application of the said benefices be suspended, or in any way hindered, by any resignation thereof, but shall still in any case have effect, notwithstanding any way whatever in which they may be vacated, even be it in the Roman court, and notwithstanding any constitution whatsoever to the contrary.

The bishop of the place shall, by ecclesiastical censures, and other legal means, even by calling in for this purpose, if he think fit, the help of the Secular arm, compel the possessors of benefices, dignities, personates, and of all and singular the above-named (revenues), to pay this portion not merely on their own account, but also on account of whatsoever pensions they may happen to have to pay to others, out of the said revenues,-keeping back however a sum equivalent to that which they have to pay on account of those pensions: notwithstanding as regards all and singular the above-mentioned premises, any privileges, exemptions-even such as might require a special derogation-any custom, even immemorial, or any appeal, and allegation, which might hinder the execution hereof. But in case it should happen that, by means of the said unions being carried into effect, or from some other cause, the said seminary should be found to be wholly or in part endowed, then shall the portion, deducted as above from all benefices and incorporated by the bishop, be remitted, either wholly or in part, as the actual circumstances shall require. But if the prelates of cathedrals, and of the other greater churches, should be negligent in erecting the said seminary, and in preserving the same, and refuse to pay their share; it will be the duty of the archbishop sharply to reprove the bishop, and to compel him to comply with all the matters aforesaid, and of the provincial Synod to reprove and [Page 191] to compel in like manner the archbishop, and sedulously to provide that this holy and pious work be as soon as possible proceeded with, wherever it is possible. The bishop shall annually receive the accounts of the revenues of the said seminary, in the presence of two deputies from the Chapter, and of the same number deputed from the clergy of the city.

Furthermore, in order that the teaching in schools of this nature may be provided for at less expense, the holy Synod ordains, that bishops, archbishops, primates, and other Ordinaries of places, shall constrain and compel, even by the substraction of their fruits, those who possess any dignities as professors of theology, and all others to whom is attached the office of lecturing, or of teaching, to teach those who are to be educated in the said schools, personally, if they be competent, otherwise by competent substitutes to be chosen by themselves, and to be approved of by the Ordinary. And if, in the judgment of the bishop, those chosen are not fit, they shall noniminate another who is fit, without any appeal being allowed; but should they neglect to do this, the bishop himself shall depute one. And the aforesaid masters shall teach those things which the bishop shall judge expedient. And, henceforth, those offices, or dignities, which are called professorships of theology, shall not be conferred on any but doctors, or masters, or licentiates in divinity, or canon law, or on other competent persons, and such as can personally discharge that office; and any provision made otherwise shall be null and void: all privileges and customs whatsoever, even though immemorial, notwithstanding.

But if the churches in any province labour under so great poverty, as that a college cannot be established in certain (churches) thereof; the provincial Synod, or the metropolitan, aided by the two oldest suffragans, shall take care to establish one or more colleges, as shall be judged expedient, in the metro-[Page 192]politan, or in some other more convenient church of the province, out of the revenues of two or more churches, in which singly a college cannot conveniently be established, and there shall the youths of those churches be educated.

But in churches which have extensive dioceses, the bishop may have one or more seminaries in the diocese, as to him shall seem expedient; which seminaries shall however be entirely dependent in all things on the one erected and established in the (episcopal) city.

Finally, if, either upon occasion of the said unions, or the taxation, or assignment, and incorporation of the above-named portions, or from some other cause, there should happen to arise any difficulty, by reason of which the institution, or maintenance of the said seminary may be hindered or disturbed, the bishop with the deputies as above, or the provincial Synod according to the custom of the country, shall have power, regard being had to the character of the churches and benefices, to regulate and order all and singular the matters which shall seem necessary and expedient for the happy advancement of the said seminary, even so as to modify or enlarge, if need be, the contents hereof.


Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod of Trent indicts the next ensuing Session for the sixteenth day of the month of September; in which it will treat of the sacrament of Matrimony, and of such other matters, if there be any, relative to the doctrine of faith as can be expedited, as also on provisions for bishoprics, dignities, and other ecclesiastical benefices, and divers articles of Reformation.

The Session was prorogued to the eleventh day of November, MDLXIII.

The Council of Trent
Hanover Historical Texts Project
Hanover College Department of History