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James of Edessa

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James of Edessa

Died 710 AD

Resolutiones Canonicae, § 24. “The deaconess has absolutely no authority regarding the altar. That is because she is ordained for [service to] the church [community], not for [service to] the altar.
However this is the authority she has: she can sweep the sanctuary and light the sanctuary lamp, and this even when the priest or deacon is not there.
Also, if she lives in a in a community of nuns, when there is no priest or deacon, she can take the holy sacrament from the tabernacle and distribute this to the women who are her companions, or to children who happen to be there.
But she is not allowed to consume the blessed sacrament on the table of the altar itself, or to put the blessed sacrament on the altar, or to touch the altar in any way.”

Note 1. The prohibition, that she may not touch the altar is directly related to the prejudice regarding a woman's monthly periods which were supposed to make her unclean.

Note 2. The same text is found in the Jacobite Pontifical and in the Nomocanon of Bar-Hebraeus. See A.Lamy, De Syrorum Fide et Disciplina, Louvain 1859, p. 127; Joseph Assemani, Bibliotheca Orientalis, vol.II, ‘De Monophysitis’ § 10.

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