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Traditio Apostolica

Traditio Apostolica

My translation here is mainly based on the work of Bernard Botte (La Tradition Apostolique. Sources 
Chretiennes, 11 bis. Paris, Editions du Cerf, 1984) and of Gregory Dix (The Treatise on the 
Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr
. London: Alban Press, 1992).

The Traditio Apostolica is an important historical document because it reflects the order of ministers in the ancient diocese of Rome at the end of the third century.


Ordination of a deacon

8 When one ordains a deacon, he is chosen according to what has been said above, with 
only the bishop laying on his hand in the same manner. In the ordination of a deacon, only the 
bishop lays on his hand, 2because the deacon is not ordained to the priesthood, but to the 
service of the bishop, to do that which he commands. 3For he is not part of the council of the 
clergy, but acts as a manager, and reports to the bishop what is necessary. 4He does not 
receive the spirit common to the elders, which the elders share, but that which is entrusted to 
him under the bishop's authority. 5This is why only the bishop makes a deacon. 6Upon the 
elders, the other elders place their hands because of a common spirit and similar duty. 7Indeed, 
the elder has only the authority to receive this, but he has no authority to give it. 8Therefore he 
does not ordain to the clergy. Upon the ordination of the elder he seals; the bishop ordains.
9The bishop says this over the deacon:
10O God, you who have created all
and put it in order by your Word,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
whom you sent to serve by your will,
and to manifest to us your desire,
11give the Holy Spirit of grace and earnestness and diligence to this your servant,
whom you have chosen to serve your church
and to offer up in holiness in your sanctuary
that which is offered from the inheritance of your high priests,
so that serving without reproach and in purity, he may obtain a higher degree,
and that he may praise you and glorify you,
12through your son Jesus Christ our Lord,
through whom to you be glory, and power, and praise,
with the Holy Spirit,
now and always, and throughout the ages of the ages.

Special status of a confessor

9 If a confessor has been in chains in the name of the Lord,
hands are not imposed on him for the diaconate or presbyterate,
for he has the honor of the presbyterate by the fact of his confession
But if he is to be ordained a bishop
, hands are to be imposed on him.

If, however, he is a confessor who was not summoned before the authorities
and was not punished in chains and was not imprisoned nor condemned to other punishment,
but was offered private and passing indignity for the name of the Lord,
even though he confessed, hands are to be imposed upon him
for every office of which he is worthy

The adaptation of traditional texts

Let the bishop give thanks in the manner described above.
It is not, however, necessary for him to use the form of words set out there
as though he had to make the effort to say them by heart in his thanksgiving to God.
Let each pray according to his abilities.
If a man can make a becoming and worthy prayer, it is well.

But if he prays in a different way, and yet with moderation, you must not prevent him,
provided that the prayer is correct and conforms to orthodoxy

Ministering widows

10 When a widow is appointed, she is not ordained, but is chosen by name. 2If her 
husband has been dead a long time, she is appointed. 3If it has not been a long time since 
her husband died, she may not be trusted. If, however, she is old, let her be tested for a 
time. For often the passions grow old with those who give them a place in themselves. 4The 
widow is appointed by word alone, and then may join the rest of the widows. Do not lay 
hands upon her, for she does not offer the oblation, nor does she have a liturgical duty. 
Ordination is for the clergy because of liturgical duty. The widow is appointed because 
of prayer, which is a duty for all.

Other minor ministers

11 The reader is appointed when the bishop gives the book to him. He does not have 
hands laid upon him.

12 Hands are not laid on a virgin, for a decision alone makes her a virgin.

13 Hands are not laid on the sub-deacon. He is chosen by name to assist the deacon.

14 If someone among the laity is seen to have received a gift of healing by revelation, 
hands are not laid upon such a one, for the matter is obvious.

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