The Canons of the Holy and Ecumenical Seventh Council, Nicaea II, 787 AD.
Translation from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Series II, Vol. XIV. For a complete electronic copy, visit the Christian Classics Ethereal Library, the New Advent Library. Italics in the text by John Wijngaards.
- That the sacred Canons are in all things to be observed.
- That no one without ordination ought to read in the ambo during the synaxis.
- That women ought not to live in bishops’ houses, nor in monasteries of men.
That the sacred Canons are in all things to be observed.
Canon I. “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 thy testimonies as in all manner of riches.” “Thou hast commanded righteousness as thy testimonies for ever.” “Grant me understanding and I shall live.” 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. Therefore Moses, the prophet of God, speaketh 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 ye have received, let him be anathema.” Seeing these things are so, being thus well-testified unto us, we rejoice over them as he that hath 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. For all these, being illumined by the same Spirit, defined such things as were expedient. 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. And now “let your conversation be without covetousness,” crieth out Paul the divine Apostle, who was caught up into the third heaven and heard unspeakable words.”
Ancient summary of Canon I. ‘We gladly embrace the Divine Canons, viz.: those of the Holy Apostles, of the Six Ecumenical Synods, as also of the local synods and of our Holy Fathers, as inspired by one and the same Holy Spirit. Whom they anathematize we also anathematize; whom they depose, we depose; whom they cut off, we cut off ; and whom they subject to penalties, we also so subject.’
Note. From the wording of this canon it is clearly seen that by the Fathers of this Council the canons commonly called “Apostolical” are attributed to the Apostles themselves as to their true authors, conformably to the Trullan Synod and to the opinion then prevalent among the Greeks.
That no one without ordination ought to read in the ambo during the synaxis.
Canon XIV. “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. 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. 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.
That women ought not to live in bishops’ houses, nor in monasteries of men.
Canon XVIII. “BE ye without offence to those who are without,” says the divine Apostle. Now for women to live in Bishops’ houses or in monasteries is ground for grave offence. 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. If it happens that women are on the suburban estates, and the bishop or hegumenos desires to go thither, 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 [or hegumenos ] has departed, so that there be no occasion of complaint.