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The Canons of St. Basil

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The Canons of St. Basil

Canonical Epistles of Our Holy Father Basil, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (329-379 AD) to Amphilochius, Bishop of Iconium.

Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library. Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.

  • At divorce for fornication, the man may re-marry, not the woman
  • A deaconess who marries may not receive communion
  • A deaconess who married a pagan shall do six years penance

At divorce for fornication, the man may re-marry, not the woman

Letter 1. Canon IX. Our Lord is equal to the man and woman forbidding divorce, save in case of fornication; but custom requires women to retain their husbands, though they be guilty of fornication. The man deserted by his wife may take another, and though he were deserted for adultery, yet St. Basil will be positive, that the other woman who afterward takes him is guilty of adultery; but the wife is not allowed this liberty. And the man who deserts an innocent wife is not allowed to marry.

A deaconess who marries may not receive communion

Letter 2, Canon XXIV. A widow put into the catalogue of widows, that is, a deaconess being sixty years old, and marrying, is not to be admitted to communion of the Good Thing, till she cease from her uncleanness; but to a widower that marries no penance is appointed, but that of digamy. If the widow be less than sixty, it is the bishop's fault who admitted her as deaconess, not the woman's.

A deaconess who married a pagan shall do six years penance

Letter 2, Canon XLIV. The deaconess that has committed lewdness with a pagan is not to be received to communion, but shall be admitted to the oblation, in the seventh year-that is, if she live in chastity. The pagan, who after [he has professed] the faith, betakes himself again to sacrilege, returns [like the dog] to his vomit: we therefore do not permit the sacred body of a deaconess to be carnally used.

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