Pope Constantine I
The date and composition of this document has been investigated by Dr. Kösters in a very able chapter of his “Studien zu Mabillons röm Ord. (Münster, 1905)”. His conclusions are, that the substance of the Ordo was drawn up in the time of Pope Constantine I (708-15), and underwent some revision under Pope Stephen III (752-7). A point of great interest is the mention of diaconissœ and presbiterissœ.
|Source: MIGNE PL 88, 851ff.|
|Ordo, qualiter in Romana ecclesia sacri ordines fiunt.||The liturgical rite through which, in the Church of the city Rome, sacred ordinations take place|
|A. . . . Pontifex stat in sede sua, singillatim imponens manus capitibus eorum et benedicit eos. Accedens autem archidiaconus tollit orarios, de confessione, qui de hesterna die repositi sunt ibi; imponit super eos: et pontifex induit eos planetis, et stant induti. Diaconilia indumenta tollunt qui diacones esse debent de medio eorum, et complentur benedictiones eorum, qui presbyteri ordinantur;
et tunc descendunt in presbyterium et statim unus ex novitiis diaconibus legit evangelium et ad ipsam missam ministrant, unusquisque secundum officium suum.
Tollit vero pontifex oblatas integras et dat singulis novitiis presbyteris, et inde communicantur usque dies VIII.
| A. . . . The Pope stands at his throne, laying hands on the heads of each of them [the candidates for the diaconate] and blesses [= ordains] them. The archdeacon approaches bringing the diaconal stoles from the confessional where they had been put on the previous day. He puts these on them [the deacons] and the Pope vests them with the [diaconal] dalmatic so that they stand [fully] vested.
Those from their midst who are going to be [just] deacons take their diaconal vestments with them. Then the blessing [= ordination] of those who will be priests is completed.
Then they move down [from the papal throne] to the altar area and immediately one of the newly ordained deacons reads the Gospel, and they all serve at the Mass itself, each according to his office.
The Pope however takes the complete offerings [= both bread & wine?] and gives of it to each of the newly ordained priests, and so they receive communion until day 8.
|B. Expletis omnibus, missa rite completa, stant regiones paratae ad singulos titulos pertinentes cum candelabris et thuribulis, ut proprium suscipiant sacerdotem. Pontifex autem donat eis sacerdotalia indumenta, et ministeria missae, aurum vel argentum, vinum, frumentum
et oleum. Egredientes autem de basilica S. Petri praecedent unumquemque vel triginta candelabra cum thuribulis. Ipse sedet super equum album: praecedens et subsequens populus canit [D?]ei laudem.
| B. “At the end, when the Mass has been properly finished, the [faithful from] various regions belonging to the title churches stand ready with candles and thuribles to receive their own priest.
The Pope on his part gives them priestly vestments and equipment for Mass, gold or silver, wine, bread and oil.
When the priests leave the basilica of St. Peter’s, each is preceded by some 30 candles with thuribles. The priest himself however sits on a grey horse, while the people walking ahead or following on sings God’s glory.”
|C. Similiter etiam feminae diaconissae et presbyterissae, quae eodem
|C. “Similarly the[ir] women: deaconesses or presbyterae, who are blessed [= ordained] on the same day.”|
|D. Plateae autem civitatis, unde transituri sunt, coronantur lauro et palliis,
et cum tanta gloria ad statutos titulos deducunt proprios sacerdotes: et ipse facit eis illo die convivium.
| D. “The squares of the city through which they [= the priests] will be passing are decorated with laurel and banners.
And with such festivity [the people] lead their own priests to the appropriate title churches.
And he [= the priest] provides them on that day with a festive banquet.”
It is clear that as part of the blessing [= ordination] of deacons and/or priests, there was a parallel rite of blessing [= ordaining] their wives as deaconess and/or presbytera.
Though this did not give these women a sacramental ordination, it did establish them in a kind of ecclesiastical order – with attached duties and privileges.
The ordination rite for women deacons used in Rome at the time is known to us from the socalled Hadrianum Sacramentary of 786 AD.