The Council of Trent  


Celebrated on the third day of the month of March, MDXLVII.


For the completion of the salutary doctrine on Justification, which was promulgated with the unanimous consent of the Fathers in the last preceding Session, it hath seemed suitable to treat of the most holy Sacraments of the Church, through which all true justice either begins, or being begun is increased, or being lost is repaired. With this view, in order to destroy the errors and to extirpate the heresies, which have appeared in these our days on the subject of the said most holy sacraments,-as well those which have been revived from the heresies condemned of old by our Fathers, as also those newly invented, and which are exceedingly prejudicial to the purity of the Catholic Church, and to the salvation of souls,-the sacred and holy, oecumenical and general Synod of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein, adhering to the doctrine of the holy Scriptures, to the apostolic traditions, and to the consent of other councils and of the Fathers, has thought fit that these present canons be established and decreed; intending, the divine Spirit aiding, to publish later the remaining canons which are wanting for the completion of the work which It has begun.


CANON I.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law were not all instituted by Jesus Christ, our Lord; or, that they are more, or less, than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and Matrimony; or even that any one of these seven is not truly and properly a sacrament; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that these said sacraments of the New Law do not differ from the sacramnets of the Old Law, save that the ceremonies are different, and different the outward rites; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that these seven sacraments are in such wise equal to each other, as that one is not in any way more worthy than another; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not indeed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that these sacraments were instituted for the sake of nourishing faith alone; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law do not contain the grace which they signify; or, that they do not confer that grace on those who do not place an obstacle thereunto; as though they were merely outward signs of grace or justice received through faith, and certain marks of the Christian profession, whereby believers are distinguished amongst men from unbelievers; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that grace, as far as God's part is concerned, is not given through the said sacraments, always, and to all men, even though they receive them rightly, but (only) sometimes, and to some persons; let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that by the said sacraments of the New Law grace is not conferred through the act performed, but that faith alone in the divine promise suffices for the obtaining of grace; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that, in the three sacrments, Baptism, to wit, Confirmation, and Order, there is not imprinted in the soul a character, that is, a certain spiritual and indelible Sign, on account of which they cannot be repeated; let him be anathema.

CANON X.-If any one saith, that all Christians have power to administer the word, and all the sacraments; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that, in ministers, when they effect, and confer the sacraments, there is not required the intention at least of doing what the Church does; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that a minister, being in mortal sin,-if so be that he observe all the essentials which belong to the effecting, or conferring of, the sacrament,-neither effects, nor confers the sacrament; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that the received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, wont to be used in the solemn administration of the sacraments, may be contemned, or without sin be omitted at pleasure by the ministers, or be changed, by every pastor of the churches, into other new ones; let him be anathema.


CANON I.-If any one saith, that the baptism of John had the same force as the baptism of Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that true and natural water is not of necessity for baptism, and, on that account, wrests, to some sort of metaphor, those words of our Lord Jesus Christ; Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that in the Roman church, which is the mother and mistress of all churches, there is not the true doctrine concerning the sacrament of baptism; let him be anathema.

CANON IV.-If any one saith, that the baptism which is even given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church doth, is not true baptism; let him be anathema.

CANON V.-If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema.

CANON VI.-If any one saith, that one who has been baptized cannot, even if he would, lose grace, let him sin ever so much, unless he will not believe; let him be anathema.

CANON VII.-If any one saith, that the baptized are, by baptism itself, made debtors but to faith alone, and not to the observance of the whole law of Christ; let him be anathema.

CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that the baptized are freed from all the precepts, whether written or transmitted, of holy Church, in such wise that they are not bound to observe them, unless they have chosen of their own accord to submit themselves thereunto; let him be anathema.

CANON IX.-If any one saith, that the resemblance of the baptism which they have received is so to be recalled unto men, as that they are to understand, that all vows made after baptism are void, in virtue of the promise already made in that baptism; as if, by those vows, they both derogated from that faith which they have professed, and from that baptism itself; let him be anathema.

CANON X.-If any one saith, that by the sole remembrance and the faith of the baptism which has been received, all sins committed after baptism are either remitted, or made venial; let him be anathema.

CANON XI.-If any one saith, that baptism, which was true and rightly conferred, is to be repeated, for him who has denied the faith of Christ amongst Infidels, when he is converted unto penitence; let him be anathema.

CANON XII.-If any one saith, that no one is to be baptized save at that age at which Christ was baptized, or in the very article of death; let him be anathema.

CANON XIII.-If any one saith, that little children, for that they have not actual faith, are not, after having received baptism, to be reckoned amongst the faithful; and that, for this cause, they are to be rebaptized when they have attained to years of discretion; or, that it is better that the baptism of such be omitted, than that, while not believing by their own act, they should be bapized in the faith alone of the Church; let him be anathema.

CANON XIV.-If any one saith, that those who have been thus baptized when children, are, when they have grown up, to be asked whether they will ratify what their sponsors promised in their names when they were baptized; and that, in case they answer that they will not, they are to be left to their own will; and are not to be compelled meanwhile to a Christian life by any other penalty, save that they be excluded from the participation of the Eucharist, and of the other sacraments, until they repent; let him be anathema.


CANON I.-If any one saith, that the confirmation of those who have been baptized is an idle ceremony, and not rather a true and proper sacrament; or that of old it was nothing more than a kind of catechism, whereby they who were near adolescence gave an account of their faith in the face of the Church; let him be anathema.

CANON II.-If any one saith, that they who ascribe any virtue to the sacred chrism of confirmation, offer an outrage to the Holy Ghost; let him be anathema.

CANON III.-If any one saith, that the ordinary minister of holy confirmation is not the bishop alone, but any simple priest soever; let him be anathema.



The same sacred and holy Synod, the same legates also presiding, purposing to prosecute, unto the praise of God, and the increase of the Christian religion, the work which It hath begun touching residence and reformation, has thought good to ordain as follows,-saving always, in all things, the authority of the Apostolic See.


Who is capable of governing Cathedral churches.

No one shall be assumed unto the government of Cathedral churches, but one that is born of lawful wedlock, is of mature age, and endowed with gravity of manners, and skill in letters, agreeably to the constitution of Alexander III., which begins, Cum in cunctis, promulgated in the Council of Lateran.


The holders of several Cathedral churches are commanded to resign all but one, in a given manner and time.

No one, by whatsoever dignity, grade, or pre-eminence distinguished, shall presume, in contravention of the institutes of the sacred canons, to accept and to hold at the same time several Metropolitan, or Cathedral, churches, whether by title, or in commendam, or under any other name whatsoever; seeing that he is to be accounted exceedingly fortunate whose lot it is to rule one church well and fruitfully, and unto the salvation of the souls committed to him. But as to those who now hold several churches contrary to the tenor of the present decree, they shall be bound, retaining the one which they may prefer, to resign the rest, within six months if they are at the free disposal of the Apostolic See, in other cases within the year; otherwise those churches, the one last obtained only excepted, shall be from that moment deemed vacant.


Benefices shall be conferred solely on capable individuals.

Inferior Ecclesiastical Benefices, especially such as have the cure of souls, shall be conferred on persons worthy and capable, and who can reside on the spot and exercise personally the said cure; in accordance with the Constitution of Alexander IIl., in the Council of Lateran, which begins, Quia nonnulli; and that other of Gregory X., published in the General Council of Lyons, which begins, Licet Canon. A collation, or provision, made otherwise, shall be wholly annulled: and let the ordinary collator know, that he will himself incur the penalties set down in the Constitution of the General Council (of Lateran), which begins, Grave nimis.


The retainer of several Benefices contrary to the Canons, shall be deprived thereof.

Whosoever shall for the future presume to accept, or to retain at the same time several cures, or otherwise incompatible Ecclesiastical Benefices, whether by way of union for life, or in perpetual commendam, or under any other name or title whatsoever, in contravention of the appointment of the sacred Canons, and especially of the Constitution of Innocent III., beginning, De multa, shall be ipso jure deprived of the said benefices, according to the disposition of the said constitution, and also by virtue of the present Canon.


The holders of several Benefices with cure of souls shall exhibit their dispensations to the Ordinary, who shall provide the churches with a Vicar, assigning a suitable portion of the fruits.

The Ordinaries of the places shall strictly compel all those who hold several cures, or otherwise incompatible, Ecclesiastical Benefices to exhibit their dispensations; and they shall otherwise proceed according to the Constitution of Gregory X., published in the General Council of Lyons, beginning Ordinarii, which (Constitution) this holy Synod thinks ought to be renewed, and doth renew; adding further, that the said Ordinaries are by all means to provide, even by deputing fit vicars and by assigning a suitable portion of the fruits, that the cure of souls be not in any way neglected, and that the said benfices be nowise defrauded of the services due to them: no appeals, privileges, or exemptions whatsoever, even with a commission of special judges, and inhibitions from the same, being of avail to any one in the matters aforenamed.


What unions of Benefices shall be accounted valid.

Unions in perpetuity, made within forty years, may be examined into by the Ordinaries, as delegated by the Apostolic See, and such as shall have been obtained by surreption or obreption shall be declared null. Now those are to be presumed to have been surreptitiously obtained, which having been granted within the aforenamed period, have not as yet been carried into effect wholly, or in part, as also those which shall henceforth be made at the instance of any person soever, unless it shall be certain that they have been made for lawful, or otherwise reasonable causes, which are to be verified before the Ordinary of the place, those persons being summoned whose interests are concerned: and therefore (such unions) shall be altogether of no force, unless the Apostolic See shall have declared otherwise.


United Ecclesiastical Benefices shall be visited: the cure thereof shall be exercised even by perpetual vicars; who shall be deputed thereunto with a portion, to be assigned even upon a specific property.

Ecclesiastical Benefices with cures, which are found to have been always united and annexed to Cathedral, Collegiate, or other churches, or to monasteries, benefices, colleges, or other pious places of what sort soever, shall be visited every year by the Ordinaries of those places; who shall apply themselves sedulously to provide that the cure of souls be laudably exercised by competent vicars, and those even perpetual, unless the said Ordinaries shall deem it expedient for the good of the churches that it be otherwise,-which (vicars) shall be deputed thereunto by those Ordinaries, with a provision consisting of a third part of the fruits, or of a greater or less proportion, at the discretion of the said Ordinaries, which (portion) is to be assigned even upon a specific property; no appeals, privileges, exemptions, even with a commission of judges, and inhibitions from the same, being of any avail in the matters abovenamed.


Churches shall be repaired: the cure of souls sedulously discharged.

The Ordinaries of the places shall be bound to visit every year, with apostolic authority, all churches whatsoever, in whatsoever manner exempted; and to provide by suitable legal remedies that whatever needs repairs, be repaired; and that those churches be not in any way defrauded of the Cure of souls, if such be annexed thereunto, or of other services due to them;-all appeals, privileges, customs, even those that have a prescription from time immemorial, commission of judges, and inhibitions from the same, being utterly set aside.


The duty of consecration not to be delayed.

Those who have been promoted to the greater churches shall receive the rite of consecration within the time prescribed by law, and any delays granted, extending beyond the period of six months, shall be of no avail to any one.


When a See is vacant, Chapters shall not grant 'reverends' to any unless straitened because of a Benefice obtained, or about to be obtained: various penalties on contraveners.

It shall not be lawful for Chapters of churches, when a see is vacant, to grant,-whether by ordinance of common law, or by virtue of any privilege or custom whatsoever,-a license for ordination, or letters dimissory, or "reverend," as some call them, within a year from the day of that vacancy, to any one who is not straitened (for time), by occasion of some ecclesistical benefice received, or about to be received. Otherwise, the contravening Chapter shall be subjected to an ecclesiastical interdict; and the persons so ordained, if they have been constituted in minor orders, shall not enjoy any clerical privilege, especially in criminal causes; whilst those constituted in the greater orders shall be, ipso jure, suspended from the exercise thereof, during the pleasure of the next appointed prelate.


Faculties for promotion shall not avail any one without a just cause.

Faculties, for being promoted (to orders) by any prelate whatsoever, shall be of no avail but to those who have a lawful cause-which is to be expressed in their letters-why they cannot be ordained by their own bishops; and even then they shall not be ordained but by a bishop who is resident in his own diocese, or by him who exercises the pontifical functions for him, and after having undergone a previous careful examination.


Faculties for not being promoted shall not exceed a year.

Faculties granted for not being promoted (to orders) shall avail for a year only, except in the cases by law provided.


Individuals by whomsoever presented shall not be instituted without being previously examined and approved of by the Ordinary; with certain exceptions.

Persons presented, or elected, or nominated by any ecclesiastics soever, even by Nuncios of the Apostolic See, shall not be instituted, or confirmed in, or admitted to any ecclesiastical benefices whatsoever, even under the plea of any privilege soever, or custom, which may even have a prescription from time immemorial, unless they shall have been first examined, and found fit, by the Ordinaries of the places. And no one shall be able to screen himself, by means of an appeal, from being bound to undergo that examination. Those, however, are to be excepted, who are presented, elected, or nominated by universities, or by colleges for general studies.


The civil causes of exempted persons which may be taken cognizance of by bishops.

In the causes of exempted persons, the Constitution of Innocent IV., beginning Volentes, set forth in the general Council of Lyons, shall be observed,-which Constitution this sacred and holy Synod hath thought ought to be renewed, and doth hereby renew it; adding further, that, in civil causes relative to wages, and to persons in distress, clerics, whether Seculars, or Regulars who live out of their monasteries,-howsoever exempted, and even though they may have upon the spot a special judge deputed by the Apostolic See; and in other causes, if they have no such judge,-may be brought before the Ordinaries of the places, and be constrained and compelled by course of law to pay what they owe; no privileges, exemptions, commissions of conservators, and inhibitions therefrom, being of any force whatever in opposition to the (regulations) aforesaid.


Ordinaries shall take care that all manner of hospitals, even those exempted, be faithfully governed by their adminstrators.

The Ordinaries shall take care that all hospitals whatsoever be faithfully and diligently governed by their own administrators, by what names soever called, and in what way soever exempted: observing herein the form of the Constitution of the Council of Vienne, which begins, Quia contingit, which this holy Synod hath thought fit to renew, and doth hereby renew, together with the derogations therein contained.


This sacred and holy Synod hath also resolved and decreed that the next ensuing Session be held and celebrated on Thursday, the fifth day after the coming Sunday in Albis (Low Sunday), which will be the twenty-first of the month of April of the present year, MDXLVII.


Paul, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to our venerable brother Giammaria, bishop of Palaestrina, and to our beloved sons, Marcellus of the title of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, priest, and Reginald of Saint Mary in Cosmedin, deacon, cardinals, our Legates, a latere, and those of the Apostolic See, health and apostolical benediction.

We, by the providence of God, presiding over the government of the universal Church, though with merits unequal thereunto, account it a part of our office that, if anything of more than common moment have to be settled touching the Christian commonweal, it be done not only at a suitable season, but also in a convenient and fit place. Wherefore, whereas We lately, with the advice and consent of our venerable brethren the cardinals of the holy Roman Church,-upon hearing that peace had been made between our most dear sons in Christ, Charles the Emperor of the Romans, ever august, and Francis the most Christian King of the French,-took off and removed the suspension of the celebration of the sacred oecumenical and universal Council, which we had on another occasion, for reasons then stated, indicted with the advice and consent aforesaid, for the city of Trent, and which was, for certain other reasons at that time also named, suspended, upon the like advice and consent, unto another more opportune and suitable time to be declared by us: being ourselves unable, from being at that time lawfully hindered, to repair to the above-named city in person, and to be present at that Council, We, by the same advice, appointed and deputed you as Legates a latere on our behalf and that of the Apostolic See, in that Council; and we sent you unto that same city as angels of peace, as in divers our letters thereupon is more fully set forth: wishing to provide seasonably that so holy a work as the celebration of such a Council may not be hindered through the incommodiousness of the place, or otherwise in any other manner, We, of our proper motion, and certain knowledge, and the plenitude of apostolic authority, and with the advice and consent aforesaid, by the tenor of these presents do, with apostolic authority, concede to you all together, or to two of you, upon the other being detained by a lawful impediment, or maybe absent therefrom, full and unrestrained power and faculty, to transfer and change, when soever you shall see cause, the aforesaid Council from the city of Trent to any other more Convenient, suitable, or safe City, as to you shall seem fit, and to suppress and dissolve that which is held in the said city of Trent; as also to prohibit, even under ecclesiastical pains and censures, the prelates and other members of the said Council, from proceeding to any further measures therein in the said sity of Trent; and also to continue, hold, and celebrate the same Council in the other city as aforesaid unto which it shall have been transferred and changed, and to summon thereunto the prelates and other members of the said Council of Trent, even under the pain of perjury and of the other penalties named in the letters of Indiction of that Council; to preside and proceed, in the Council thus translated and changed, in the name and by the authority aforesaid, and to perform, regulate, ordain, and execute the other things mentioned above, and the things thereunto necessary and suitable in accordance with the contents and tenor of the previous letters which have been on other occasion addressed unto you: declaring that We will hold as ratified and pleasing whatsoever by you shall have been done, regulated, ordained, in the matters aforesaid, and will, with God's help, cause it to be inviolably observed; any apostolical Constitutions and ordinances, and other things whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding. Wherefore, let no one soever infringe this letter of our grant, or with rash daring go contrary thereto. But if any one shall presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God, and of the blessed Peter and Paul, His apostles.

Given at Rome, at St. Peter's, in the year of the Lord's Incarnation MDXLVII, on the eighth of the calends of March, in the eleventh year of our Pontificate.


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