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NPNF2-14. The Seven Ecumenical Councils
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III.

The Canonical Epistle of St. Gregory, Archbishop of Neocæsarea, who is called Thaumaturgus, concerning Them that, During the Incursion of the Barbarians, Ate of Things Offered to Idols and Committed Certain Other Sins.589589    Johnson says this was about the year of grace 240, after the Goths had ravaged Asia, during the reign of Galienus.  The letter, he thinks, was an Encyclical sent to every bishop of his province, by Euphrosynus, who was one of these bishops and whom he calls his “old friend.”  In the beginning of the letter he addresses each one of the bishops as “most holy pope.”

Canon I.

That they who have been taken captives by the barbarians, and have eaten with them, be not treated as persons that have eaten things offered to idols; especially because it is universally reported, that they do not sacrifice to idols; nor shall those women who have been ravished by them, be treated as guilty of fornication, unless they were before of lewd lives.

Canon II.

That those Christians who plundered their brethren during the invasion, be excommunicated, lest wrath come on the people, and especially on the presidents,590590    I.e., the bishops, cf. St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, etc. who enquire not into these matters.

Canons III., IV., V.

The pretence of having found those goods, or that they themselves lost things of equal value, shall stand them in no stead, but that they be excluded from prayer.591591    Literally “abdicate from Prayers.”  Johnson explains this to mean that they became Prostrators.

Canon VI.

Against those who detain them prisoners who had escaped from the barbarians, the holy man592592    I.e., St. Gregory. expects that such should be thunder-struck, and therefore desires that some enquiry be made upon the spot by persons sent for this purpose.

Canon VII.

That they who joined the barbarians in their murder and ravages, or were guides or informers to them, be not permitted to be hearers, till holy men assembled together do agree in common upon what shall seem good, first to the Holy Ghost, then to themselves.

Canon VIII.

But if they discover themselves, and make restitution, they shall be admitted to be Prostrators.

Canon IX.

They that are convicted to have found (though in their own houses) anything [of their neighbours’] left by the barbarians shall also be Prostrators; but if they shall confess themselves they shall communicate in prayer.

Canon X.

This last privilege is restrained to such as demand nothing as a reward for their discovery, and salvage, or under any pretence whatsoever.

Canon XI.

The station of Mourners is without the gate of the oratory; the station of the Hearers is within the oratory, in the porch with the catechumens; the station of Prostrators is within the door of the temple; the station of Co-standers is among the communicants; the last is the participation of Holy Mysteries.593593    Johnson has a note that this canon is not “St. Gregory’s but an addition by some other hand.”


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