Five stray canons of the Council of Hippo (393) – canons 4 and 5

Here are the other two canons of Hippo rediscovered around 50 years ago.  The first one, canon 4, gave me a lot of trouble.

4.  Aurelius episcopus dixit : Sicut frater et collega noster Saturninus salubri consideratione deprompsit, debent episco­pi, non postquam pranderint, sed ieiuni cum populis ieiunis, quacumque hora, divina celebrare mysteria. Si vero sumpse­rint cibos,** pm ** cuiuscumque laici sive episcopi conmen­dantes, oratione eum tantummodo prosequantur.

Bishop Aurelius said: As our brother and colleague Saturninus has proposed, from considerations of health bishops ought not to celebrate the mysteries after they have dined, but fast with the people who are fasting, whatever the hour.  But if they have taken food, after midday** no matter who of the laity or bishops they are commending [to God]**, let them accompany him [the deceased] in prayer only.

Munier was unsure what the abbreviation “pm” meant.  I have gone with “post meridiem”, following Eric Rebillard here.  The second ** must mean the funeral service.

Illud autem quoniam praesentibus corporibus nonnulli audeant sacrificia celebrare et partem Corporis sancti cum exanimi cadavere communicare arbitror prohibendum.  Superest ut, si placet, vestra sanctitas censeat.

But seeing that some are daring, to celebrate the sacrifice [of the Eucharist] in the presence of corpses, and to share a part of the Holy Body with a dead body, I think this must be prohibited. It remains that, if this is agreed, let your holiness decide.

I’m not sure who the singular bishop addressed at the end might be.  Possibly something has dropped out, and this is part of a response, by another bishop, addressing Aurelius, the primate of Africa?  Aurelius is addressed as “your holiness” in what follows.

Ab universis episcopis dictum est :  Sanctitatis vestrae prosecutio omnibus placet, quam nostro confirmamus con­sensu.

By all the bishops it was said: The proposal of your holiness is agreed to by all, which we confirm with our agreement.

Now canon 5.

  1. (…) Ab universis episcopis dictum est: Omnibus placet ut scripturae canonicae quae lectae sunt, sed et passiones mar­tyrum, sui cuiusque locis, in ecclesiis praedicentur.

(…) By all the bishops it was said: It is agreed by all that the canonical scriptures which have been read shall be expounded in the churches, but also the passions of the martyrs, each in his place.

Possibly each in his place means either his place in the church calendar, or at the geographical place to which he belonged.

The text is corrupt and difficult for me to understand.  Comments welcome.


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