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St. Basil of Caesarea (329-379)

by John Wijngaards

The exact meaning of the following canon is not clear. ‘Consecration’ could mean ‘made holy through ordination’ or ‘dedicated to continence’ which was a requirement for the women’s diaconate.[1]

Canon 44.  The woman deacon [‘η διακονος] who has committed fornication with a pagan [lit. ‘the Greek’] will be admitted to penance [= not receive communion], and she will not be admitted back to the offering [= the eucharist] until after seven years, and only provided that she has continued to live a chaste life during that time. The pagan [‘the Greek’] who after [accepting] faith, commits sacrilege [lit. ‘temple robbery’] a second time, returns [like a dog] to his vomit. But as to us, we no longer permit the body of a woman deacon [της διακονου], since it has been consecrated [καθιερωμενον=‘made holy’?], to remain in carnal usage. [2]

References

1. As referring to ordination: A.Kalsbach, Die altkirche Einrichtung der Diakonissen bis zu ihrem Erlöschen, Freiberg 1926, p.109, note I; as referring to consecration: Gryson, ministry, pp 51.2.
2. Letter to Amphilochius on the Canons, Lett. 199, can. 44; R.I. Deffarari (ed.), Saint Basil. The Letters, vol.3, London 1930, p.130.