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Synod of Rome (850)


Synod of Rome


under Pope Leo IV (847 - 855)

Pope Leo IV, mainly known from his defence of Rome against the Saracens, was also a Benedictine monk and a Church disciplinarian. At a Synod in 850 AD he laid down many prescriptions for the clergy. Some were excellent. Others reflect the ethics of his time.

Priests should not drink alcohol or attend dog races, bird fights or enter pubs (canon 17). They must always wear clerical dress (37). They should not take part in wedding celebrations (42). They should know the prayers of Mass and the psalms by heart (47). He also displayed the usual distrust of women.

Pope Leo's instructions were widely distributed and imposed by many bishops on the clergy of their own dioceses.


Source: MIGNE, PL 115, cols. 675-684  

No women to live in a priest's home

Canon 1. "In primis admonemus ut vita et conversatio vestra irreprehensibilis sit, scilicet ut cella vestra sit iuxta ecclesiam et in domo vestra feminas non habeatis."
Canon 1. "We admonish you especially that your life and behaviour be irreprehensible, that is to say (!!): that your house adjoins the church building and that you have no women in your home."

No access of women to the altar

Canon 7. "Nulla femina ad altare accedat nec calicem Domini tangat."
Canon 7. "No woman is to approach the altar. Neither should she touch the chalice of theLord."
  No singing by women in church
Canon 39. "Cantus et choros mulierum in Ecclesia vel in atrio Ecclesiae omnino prohibete."
Canon 39. "Forbid altogether singing by women in church, or women's choirs, even in the church's front hall."


Wijngaards Institute for Catholic ResearchThis website is maintained by the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research.

The Institute is known for issuing academic reports and statements on relevant issues in the Church. These have included scholars' declarations on the need of collegiality in the exercise of church authority, on the ethics of using contraceptives in marriage and the urgency of re-instating the sacramental diaconate of women.

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