Canons of the Seventh Council at Nicea


CHAPTER 1
1 That the sacred Canons are in all things to be observed.
2 The pattern for those who have received the sacerdotal dignity is found in the testimonies and instructions laid down in the canonical constitutions, which we receiving with a glad mind, sing unto the Lord God in the words of the God-inspired David, saying: "I have had as great delight in the way of your testimonies as in all manner of riches." "You have commanded righteousness as your testimonies forever." "Grant me understanding and I shall live."
3 Now if the word of prophesy bids us keep the testimonies of God forever and to live by them, it is evident that they must abide unshaken and without change.
4 Therefore Moses, the prophet of God, speaks after this manner: "To them nothing is to be added, and from them nothing is to be taken away." And the divine Apostle glorying in them cries out, "which things the angels desire to look into," and, "if an angel preach to you anything besides that which you have received, let him be anathema."
5 Seeing these things are so, being thus well-testified unto us, we rejoice over them as he that has found great spoil, and press to our bosom with gladness the divine canons, holding fast all the precepts of the same, complete and without change, whether they have been set forth by the holy trumpets of the Spirit, the renowned Apostles, or by the Six Ecumenical Councils, or by Councils locally assembled for promulgating the decrees of the said Ecumenical Councils, or by our holy Fathers.
6 For all these, being illumined by the same Spirit, defined such things as were expedient.
7 Accordingly those whom they placed under anathema, we likewise anathematize; those whom they deposed, we also depose; those whom they excommunicated, we also excommunicate; and those whom they delivered over to punishment, we subject to the same penalty.
8 And now "let your conversation be without covetousness," cries out Paul the divine Apostle, who was caught up into the third heaven and heard unspeakable words.

CHAPTER 2
1 That he who is to be ordained a Bishop must be steadfastly resolved to observe the canons, otherwise he shall not be ordained.
2 When we recite the psalter, we promise God: "I will meditate upon your statutes, and will not forget your words." It is a salutary thing for all Christians to observe this, but it is especially incumbent upon those who have received the sacerdotal dignity.
3 Therefore we decree, that every one who is raised to the rank of the episcopate shall know the psalter by heart, so that from it he may admonish and instruct all the clergy who are subject to him.
4 And diligent examination shall be made by the metropolitan whether he be zealously inclined to read diligently, and not merely now and then, the sacred canons, the holy Gospel, and the book of the divine Apostle, and all other divine Scripture; and whether he lives according to God's commandments, and also teaches the same to his people.
5 For the special treasure of our high priesthood is the oracles which have been divinely delivered to us, that is the true science of the Divine Scriptures, as says Dionysius the Great. And if his mind be not set, and even glad, so to do and teach, let him not be ordained. For says God by the prophet, "You have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you shall be no priest to me."

CHAPTER 3
1 That it does not pertain to princes to choose a Bishop.
2 Let every election of a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, made by princes stand null, according to the canon which says: If any bishop making use of the secular powers shall by their means obtain jurisdiction over any church, he shall be deposed, and also excommunicated, together with all who remain in communion with him. For he who is raised to the episcopate must be chosen by bishops, as was decreed by the holy fathers of Nice in the canon which says: It is most fitting that a bishop be ordained by all the bishops in the province; but if this is difficult to arrange, either on account of urgent necessity, or because of the length of the journey, three bishops at least having met together and given their votes, those also who are absent having signified their assent by letters, the ordination shall take place. The confirmation of what is thus done, shall in each province be given by the metropolitan thereof.

CHAPTER 4
1 That Bishops are to abstain from all receiving of gifts.
2 The Church's herald, Paul the divine Apostle, laying down a rule not only for the presbyters of Ephesus but for the whole company of the priesthood, speaks thus explicitly, saying, "I have coveted no man's silver or gold, or apparel. I have showed you all things, how that so laboring you ought to support the weak;" for he accounted it more blessed to give.
3 Therefore we being taught by him do decree, that under no circumstances, shall a Bishop for the sake of filthy gain invent feigned excuses for sins, and exact gold or silver or other gifts from the bishops, clergy, or monks who are subject to him.
4 For says the Apostle, "The unrighteous shall not possess the kingdom of God," and, "The children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children." If then any is found, who for the sake of exacting gold or any other gift, or who from personal feeling, has suspended from the ministry, or even excommunicated, any of the clergy subject to his jurisdiction, or who has closed any of the venerable temples, so that the service of God may not be celebrated in it, pouring out his madness even upon things insensible, and thus showing himself to be without understanding, he shall be subjected to the same punishment he devised for others, and his trouble shall return on his own head, as a transgressor of God's commandment and of the apostolic precepts.
5 For Peter the supreme head of the Apostles commands, "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy gain but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over the clergy [A. V. God's heritage]; but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away."

CHAPTER 5
1 That they who cast contumely upon clerics because they have been ordained in the church without bringing a gift with them, are to be published with a fine.
2 It is a sin unto death when men incorrigibly continue in their sin, but they sin more deeply, who proudly lifting themselves up oppose piety and sincerity, accounting wealth of more worth than obedience to God, and caring nothing for his canonical precepts. The Lord God is not found among such, unless, perchance, having been humbled by their own fall, they return to a sober mind.
3 It behooves them the rather to turn to God with a contrite heart and to pray for forgiveness and pardon of so grave a sin, and no longer to boast in an unholy gift.
4 For the Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart.
5 With regard, therefore, to those who pride themselves that because of their benefactions of gold they were ordained in the Church, and resting confidently in this evil custom (so alien from God and inconsistent with the whole priesthood), with a proud look and open mouth vilify with abusive words those who on account of the strictness of their life were chosen by the Holy Spirit and have been ordained without any gift of money, we decree in the first place that they take the lowest place in their order; but if they do not amend let them be subjected to a fine.
6 But if it appear that any one has done this [i.e., given money], at any time as a price for ordination, let him be dealt with according to the Apostolic Canon which says: "If a bishop has obtained possession of his dignity by means of money (the same rule applies also to a presbyter or deacon) let him be deposed and also the one who ordained him, and let him also be altogether cut off from communion, even as Simon Magus was by me Peter."
7 To the same effect is the second canon of our holy fathers of Chalcedon, which says: If any bishop gives ordination in return for money, and puts up for sale that which cannot be sold, and ordains for money a bishop or Chorepiscopus, or presbyter, or deacon, or any other of those who are reckoned among the clergy; or who for money shall appoint anyone to the office of Oeconomus, advocate, or Paramonarius; or, in a word, who has done anything else contrary to the canon, for the sake of filthy gain-he who has undertaken to do anything of this sort, having been convicted, shall be in danger of losing his degree. And he who has been ordained shall derive no advantage from the ordination or promotion thus negotiated; but let him remain a stranger to the dignity and responsibility which he attained by means of money.
8 And if any one shall appear to have acted as a go-between in so shameful and godless a traffic, lie also, if he be a cleric, shall be removed from his degree; if he be a layman or a monk, let him be excommunicated.

CHAPTER 6
1 Concerning the homing of a local Synod at the time appointed.
2 Since there is a canon which says, twice a year in each province, the canonical inquiries shall be made in the gatherings of the bishops; but because of the inconveniences which those who thus came together had to undergo in travelling, the holy fathers of the Sixth Council decreed that once each year, without regard to place or excuse which might be urged, a council should be held and the things which are amiss corrected. This canon we now renew.
3 And if any prince be found hindering this being carried out, let him be excommunicated.
4 But if any of the metropolitans shall take no care that this be done, he being free from constraint or fear or other reasonable excuse, let him be subjected to the canonical penalties.
5 While the council is engaged in considering the canons or matters which have regard to the Gospel, it behoves the assembled Bishops, with all attention and grave thought to guard the divine and life-giving commandments of God, for in keeping of them there is great reward; because our lamp is the commandment, and our light is the law, and trial and discipline are the way of life, and the commandment of the Lord shining afar gives light to the eyes.
6 It is not permitted to a metropolitan to demand any of those things which the bishops bring with them, whether it be a horse or any other gift. If he be convicted of doing anything of this sort, he shall restore fourfold.

CHAPTER 7
1 That to churches consecrated without any deposit of the relics of the Saints, the defect should be made good.
2 Paul the divine Apostle says: "The sins of some are open beforehand, and some they follow after." These are their primary sins, and other sins follow these. Accordingly upon the heels of the heresy of the traducers of the Christians, there followed close other ungodliness.
3 For as they took out of the churches the presence of the venerable images, so likewise they cast aside other customs which we must now revive and maintain in accordance with the written and unwritten law.
4 We decree therefore that relics shall be placed with the accustomed service in as many of the sacred temples as have been consecrated without the relics of the Martyrs.
5 And if any bishop from this time forward is found consecrating a temple without holy relics, he shall be deposed, as a transgressor of the ecclesiastical traditions.

CHAPTER 8
1 That Hebrews ought not to be received unless they have been converted in sincerity of heart.
2 Since certain, erring in the superstitions of the Hebrews, have thought to mock at Christ our God, and feigning to be converted to the religion of Christ do deny him, and in private and secretly keep the Sabbath and observe other Jewish customs, we decree that such persons be not received to communion, nor to prayers, nor into the Church; but let them be openly Hebrews according to their religion, and let them not bring their children to baptism, nor purchase or possess a slave.
3 But if any of them, out of a sincere heart and in faith, is converted and makes profession with his whole heart, setting at naught their customs and observances, and so that others may be convinced and converted, such an one is to be received and baptized, and his children likewise; and let them be taught to take care to hold aloof from the ordinances of the Hebrews.
4 But if they will not do this, let them in no wise be received.

CHAPTER 9
1 That none of the books containing the heresy of the traducers of the Christians are to be hid.
2 All the childish devices and mad ravings which have been falsely written against the venerable images, must be delivered up to the Episcopium of Constantinople, that they may be locked away with other heretical books.
3 And if anyone is found hiding such books, if he be a bishop or presbyter or deacon, let him be deposed; but if he be a monk or layman, let him be anathema.

CHAPTER 10
1 That no cleric ought to leave his diocese and go into another without the knowledge of the Bishop.
2 Since certain of the clergy, misinterpreting the canonical constitutions, leave their own diocese and run into other dioceses, especially into this God-protected royal city, and take up their abode with princes, celebrating liturgies in their oratories, it is not permitted to receive such persons into any house or church without the license of their own Bishop and also that of the Bishop of Constantinople. And if any clerk shall do this without such license, and shall so continue, let him be deposed.
3 With regard to those who have done this with the knowledge of the aforesaid Bishops, it is not lawful for them to undertake mundane and secular responsibilities, since this is forbidden by the sacred canons.
4 And if anyone is discovered holding the office of those who are called Meizoteroi; let him either lay it down, or be deposed from the priesthood.
5 Let him rather be the instructor of the children and others of the household, reading to them the Divine Scriptures, for to this end he received the priesthood.

CHAPTER 11
1 That Oeconomi ought to be in the Episcopal palaces and in the Monasteries.
2 Since we are under obligation to guard all the divine canons, we ought by all means to maintain in its integrity that one which says oeconomi are to be in each church.
3 If the metropolitan appoints in his Church an oeconomus, he does well; but if he does not, it is permitted to the Bishop of Constantinople by his own authority to choose an oeconomus for the Church of the Metropolitan. A like authority belongs to the metropolitans, if the Bishops who are subject to them do not wish to appoint oeconomi in their churches. The same rule is also to be observed with respect to monasteries.

CHAPTER 12
1 That a Bishop or Hegumenos ought not to alienate any part of the suburban estate of the church.
2 If bishop or hegumenos is found alienating any part of the farm lands of the bishopric or monastery into the hands of secular princes, or surrendering them to any other person, such act is null according to the canon of the holy Apostles, which says: "Let the bishop take care of all the Church's goods, and let him administer the same according as in the sight of God." It is not lawful for him to appropriate any part himself, or to confer upon his relations the things which belong to God.
3 If they are poor let them be helped among the poor; but let them not be used as a pretext for smuggling away the Church's property.
4 And if it be urged that the land is only a loss and yields no profit, the place is not on that account to be given to the secular rulers, who are in the neighborhood; but let it be given to clergymen or husbandmen. And if they have resorted to dishonest craft, so that the ruler has bought the land from the farmer or cleric, such transaction shall likewise be null, and the land shall be restored to the bishopric or monastery.
5 And the bishop or hegumenos doing this shall be turned out, the bishop from his bishopric and the hegumenos from his monastery, as those who wasted what they did not gather.

CHAPTER 13
1 That they are worthy of special condemnation who turn the monasteries into public houses.
2 During the calamity which was brought to pass in the Churches, because of our sins, some of the sacred houses, for example, bishops' palaces and monasteries, were seized by certain men and became public inns. If those who now hold them choose to give them back, so that they may be restored to their original use, well and good; but if not, and these persons are on the sacerdotal list, we command that they be deposed; if they be monks or laymen, that they be excommunicated, as those who have been condemned from the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and assigned their place where the worm dies not and the fire is not quenched, because they set themselves against the voice of the Lord, which says:"Make not my Father's house an house of merchandise."

CHAPTER 14
1 That no one without ordination ought to read in the ambo during the synaxis.
2 That there is a certain order established in the priesthood is very evident to all, and to guard diligently the promotions of the priesthood is well pleasing to God.
3 Since therefore we see certain youths who have received the clerical tonsure, but who have not yet received ordination from the bishop, reading in the ambo during the Synaxis, and in doing this violating the canons, we forbid this to be done (from henceforth,) and let this prohibition be observed also amongst the monks.
4 It is permitted to each hegumenos in his own monastery to ordain a reader, if he himself had received the laying on of hands by a bishop to the dignity of hegumenos, and is known to be a presbyter. Chorepiscopi may likewise, according to ancient custom and with the bishop's authorization, appoint readers.

CHAPTER 15
1 That a clerk ought not to be set over two churches.
2 From henceforth no clergyman shall be appointed over two churches, for this savors of merchandise and filthy gain, and is altogether alien from ecclesiastical custom.
3 We have heard by the very voice of the Lord that, "No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other."
4 Each one, therefore, as says the Apostle, in the calling wherein he was called, in the same he ought to abide, and in one only church to give attendance.
5 For in the affairs of the Church, what is gained through filthy gain is altogether separate from God.
6 To meet the necessities of this life, there are various occupations, by means of which, if one so desire, let him procure the things needful for the body. For says the Apostle, "These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me."
7 Occupations of this sort may be obtained in the God-protected city. But in the country places outside, because of the small number of people, let a dispensation be granted.

CHAPTER 16
1 That it does not become one in holy orders to be clad in costly apparel.
2 All buffoonery and decking of the body ill becomes the priestly rank. Therefore those bishops and clerics who array themselves in fine and showy clothing ought to correct themselves, and if they do not amend they ought to be subjected to punishment.
3 So likewise they who anoint themselves with perfumes.
4 When the root of bitterness sprang up, there was poured into the Catholic Church the pollution of the heresy of the traducers of the Christians. And such as were defiled by it, not only detested the pictured images, but also set at naught all decorum, being exceedingly mad against those who lived gravely and religiously; so that in them was fulfilled that which is written, "The service of God is abominable to the sinner."
5 If therefore, any are found deriding those who are clad in poor and grave raiment, let them be corrected by punishment.
6 For from early times every man in holy orders wore modest and grave clothing; and truly whatever is worn, not so much because of necessity, as for the sake of outward show, savors of dandyism, as says Basil the Great. Nor did anyone array himself in raiment embroidered with silk, nor put many colored ornaments on the border of his garments; for they had heard from the lips of God that "They that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses."

CHAPTER 17
1 That he shall not be allowed to begin the building of an oratory, who has not the means wherewith to finish it.
2 Certain monks having left their monasteries because they desired to rule, and, unwilling to obey, are undertaking to build oratories, but have not the means to finish them.
3 Now whoever shall undertake to do anything of this sort, let him be forbidden by the bishop of the place. But if he have the means wherewith to finish, let what he has designed be carried on to completion.
4 The same rule is to be observed with regard to laymen and clerics.

CHAPTER 18
1 That women ought not to live in bishops' houses, nor in monasteries of men.
2 "Be you without offence to those who are without," says the divine Apostle.
3 Now for women to live in Bishops' houses or in monasteries is ground for grave offence.
4 Whoever therefore is known to have a female slave or freewoman in the episcopal palace or in a monastery for the discharge of some service, let him be rebuked. And if he still continue to retain her, let him be deposed.
5 If it happens that women are on the suburban estates, and the bishop or hegumenos desires to go there, so long as the bishop or hegumenos is present, let no woman at that time continue her work, but let her betake herself to some other place until the bishop lot hegumenos has departed, so that there be no occasion of complaint.

CHAPTER 19
1 That from henceforth, no double monastery shall be erected; and concerning the double monasteries already in existence.
2 We decree that from henceforth, no double monastery shall be erected; because this has become an offence and cause of complaint to many.
3 In the case of those persons who with the members of their family propose to leave the world and follow the monastic life, let the men go into a monastery for men, and the women into a monastery for women; for this is well-pleasing to God.
4 The double monasteries which are already in existence, shall observe the rule of our holy Father Basil, and shall be ordered by his precepts, monks and nuns shall not dwell together in the same monastery, for in thus living together adultery finds its occasion.
5 No monk shall have access to a nunnery; nor shall a nun be permitted to enter a monastery for the sake of conversing with anyone therein.
6 No monk shall sleep in a monastery for women, nor eat alone with a nun.
7 When food is brought by men to the canonesses, let the abbess accompanied by some one of the aged nuns, receive it outside the gates of the women's monastery.
8 When a monk desires to see one of his kinswomen, who may be in the nunnery, let him converse with her in the presence of the abbess, and that in a very few words, and then let him speedily take his departure.

CHAPTER 20
1 That monks are not to leave their monasteries and go into others.
2 A Monk or nun ought not to leave the monastery to which he or she is attached, and betake themselves to others. But if one do this, he ought to be received as a guest. It is not however proper that he be made a member of the monastery, without the consent of his hegumenos.

CHAPTER 21
1 That when it happens that monies have to eat with women they ought to observe giving of thanks, and abstemiousness, and discretion.
2 To surrender all things to God, and not to serve our own wills, is great gain. For says the divine Apostle, "whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God."
3 And Christ our God has bidden us in his Gospels, to cut off the beginning of sins; for not only is adultery rebuked by him, but even the movement of the mind towards the act of adultery when he says, "Whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery with her already in his heart."
4 We who have been thus taught ought therefore to purify our minds. Now although all things are lawful, all things are not expedient, as we have been taught by the mouth of the Apostle.
5 It is needful that all men should eat in order that they may live. And for those to whom life consists of marrying, and bringing forth children, and of the condition of the lay state, there is nothing unbecoming in men and women eating together, only let them give thanks to the Giver of the food; but if there be the entertainment of the theatre, that is, Satanic songs accompanied with the meretricious inflections of harps, there come upon them, through these things, the curse of the prophet, who thus speaks: "Woe to them who drink wine with harp and psaltery, but they regard not the works of the Lord, and consider not the works of his hands."
6 Whenever persons of this sort are found among Christians, let them amend their ways; but if they will not do so, let there overtake them the penalties which have been enacted in the canons by our predecessors.
7 With regard to those whose life is free from care and apart from men, that is, those who have resolved before the Lord God to carry the solitary yoke, they should sit down alone and in silence.
8 Moreover it is also altogether unlawful for those who have chosen the priestly life to eat in private with women, unless it be with God-fearing and discreet men and women, so that even their feast may be turned to spiritual edification. The same rule is to be observed with relatives.
9 Again, if it happen that a monk or priest while on a journey does not have with him what is absolutely necessary for him, and, because of his pressing needs, thinks well to turn aside into an inn or into someone's house, this he is permitted to do, seeing that need compels.