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E02057: Canon 5 of the Third Council of Braga (north-west Spain), issued in Latin in 675, forbids bishops, on the festivals of martyrs, from being carried in procession by deacons with the relics around their necks.

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posted on 29.11.2016, 00:00 by CSLA Admin
Third Council of Braga (AD 675)

Canon 5

De damnata praesumtione quorundam episcoporum qui in festivitatibus martyrum ad ecclesiam procedentes appensis collo reliquiis ab albatis diaconibus in sellulis vehuntur.

Bona siquidem res est divina sacerdotibus contractare mysteria, sed cavendum valde est ne hoc quisque ad usum pravitatis suae intorquerat, unde soli Deo de bono conscientiae placere debuerat; scribtum est enim: Vae his qui faciunt opus Domini fraudulenter et desidiose. Ut enim quorundam episcoporum detestanda praesumptio nostro se coetui intulit dirimenda agnovimus quosdam episcopos quod in sollemnitatibus martyrum ad ecclesiam progressuri reliquias collo suo inponant, et ut maioris fastus apud homines gloria intumescant, quasi ipsi sint reliquiarum arca levitae albis induti sellulis eos deportant. Quae detestanda praesumtio abrogari per omnia debet ne sub sanctitatis specie simulata vanitas sola praevaleat, si modum suum uniuscuiusque ordinis reverentia non agnoscant. Et ideo antiqua in hac parte et sollemnis consuetudo servetur, ut festis quibusque diebus arcam Domini cum reliquiis non episcopi sed levitae in humeris gestent, quibus et in vetere lege onus id et inpositum novimus et praeceptum. Quod si etiam episcopus reliquias per se deportare elegerit, non ipse a diaconibus in sellula vectabitur, sed potius pedisequa eo una cum populis progressione procedente ad conventicula sanctarum ecclesiarum sanctae Dei reliquiae per eundem episcopum portabuntur. Iam vero qui haec instituta sciendo adinplere distulerint, quamdiu in hoc vitio fuerit a sacrificando cessabit.

Canon 5

'On the damned presumption of some bishops who on the festivals of martyrs, when processing to the church, are carried on seats by deacons in albs, with relics appended to their [the bishops'] necks

Although it is a good thing that priests celebrate the divine mysteries, we must seriously beware lest someone twists into a practice of his depravity something by which he should rather please only God out of good conscience. For it is written: "Cursed be he that does the work of the Lord fraudulently and deceitfully." (Jeremiah 48:10) The detestable presumption of some bishops presented itself to our gathering as needing to be eliminated. We have learnt that some bishops when they are about to go in procession to the church on the solemnities of martyrs put the relics appended to their necks, and, that they might swell amongst men with the glory of greater haughtiness because they swell with pride among men, they are carried in their seats by Levites (deacons) clad in albs, as if they themselves [the bishops] were reliquaries [quasi ipsi reliquiarum arca]. This detestable presumption must be completely rooted out, lest vanity alone prevail under the aspect of simulated sanctity, if they do not acknowledge with reverence the measure of each order when the reverence of every order does not acknowledge its own measure. And therefore a solemn custom, ancient in this region, shall be observed, that on the festival days the ark of the Lord with relics is carried not by the bishop but by the Levites on their arms, to whom, as we know, this burden was imposed and prescribed by the Old Law. But if a bishop chooses to carry the relics himself, he shall not be carried by deacons in his seat, but rather the holy relics shall be carried to the assembly of the holy churches by the bishop following on foot with the people. Now truly, those who knowing this decree fail to fulfil it, shall cease to offer sacrifice for as long a time as they indulge in their vice.'

Text: Vives 1963, 375-376. Translation: M. Szada.


Evidence ID




Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Braga Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Procession

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Condemnation/rejection of a specific cultic activity

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic Reliquary – institutionally owned Public display of relics


The provincial council of Galicia in 675 was convoked by King Wamba (reigned 672-680) and presided over by Bishop Leudigisius of Braga. It was attended by seven other bishops.


Edition: Vives, J., Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos (Barcelona: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1963).

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