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Sicardus of Cremona and the 'Summa Decretorum'

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Sicardus of Cremona

Sicardus wrote his Summa Decretorum between 1179 and 1181 AD. He also composed a liturgical work known as Mitrale.

Translation from the latin by John Wijngaards

Women may not accuse a priest in court

“Those who may not be priests, cannot accuse a priest or give witness against him”

Causa 15, quaestio 3

Women must wear a veil

“A woman must cover her head for two reasons: because of original sin and out of respect for the bishop. She is not allowed to speak in the presence of a bishop. Also she is not allowed to teach.”

Causa 33, quaestio5, chapters17,19

Women are not allowed to touch any of the sacred vessels used in the liturgy

“Reverence with regard to sacred utensils is shown both in what one does and in what one does not do. With regard to not doing, utensils may only be touched by men and not even be touched by religious sisters”.

On Distinctio 1 de cons.

Man is the origin of woman, which is the reason why he has total control over her.

“There exists in marriage a trace of the Blessed Trinity. Because the husband is the origin, from which woman comes forth; and both are the origin from which children come forth”.

Mitrale V, fol. 60v.

The birth of a girl carries a double curse

“There were two commandments in the (Old) Law, one pertaining to the mother giving birth, the other to the delivery itself. With regard to the mother giving birth, when she had given birth to a male child, she was to refrain from entering the Temple for forty days as an unclean person: because the foetus, conceived in uncleanliness, is said to remain formless for forty days. But if she gave birth to a female child, the space of time was doubled, for the menstrual blood, which accompanies birth, is considered to such an extent unclean that, as Solinus states, fruits dry up and grass withers at its touch. But why was the time for a female child doubled? Solution: because a double curse lies on the feminine growth. For she carries the curse of Adam and also the (punishment) ‘you will give birth in pain’. Or, perhaps, because, as the knowledge of physicians reveals, female children remain at conception twice as long unformed as male children.”

Mitrale V, chapter 11

Ordaining a woman is automatically invalid

“What would happen if a Jew or a pagan were to receive holy orders and ordination to dignity. Some say that such a person would be a (genuine) bishop. What, however, if a woman were to be ordained? But then, how will she be ordained? If a slave has passed a judgement, is it not automatically undone?”

Mitrale V, fol. 12r

Source: Ida Raming, The Exclusion of Women from the Priesthood, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen 1976, pp. 58-60.

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