Medieval Handbooks of Penance: A Translation of the Principal Libri Poenitentiales and Selections from Related Documents

By John T. McNeill; Helena M. Gamer | Go to book overview

APPENDIX III
Irish Canons from a Worcester Collection (ca. 1000)

[THE FOLLOWING three canons (in Latin) are printed in an article by Mary Bateson on the codex in which they appear, the Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Manuscript 265. The manuscript is thought to have been written by Oswald, a nephew of the bishop of Worcester of that name, about the year 1000.1 Miss Bateson entitles the section: "Three Unknown Irish Canons."]

1. If anyone in any way breaks into the place of keeping of the chrismal of any saint, or a place of keeping for staves or cymbals, or takes away anything by robbery, or in any way injures a man, he shall make sevenfold restitution and remain through five years in hard penance on pilgrimage abroad. And if his penance is commendable, let him afterwards come to his own2 country; but if not, let him remain in perpetual exile.
2. If anyone breaks into the place of keeping of a Gospel book or removes anything by robbery, he small make sevenfold restitution, on account of the sevenfold grace of Christ and on account of the seven ecclesiastical ranks;3 but he shall also remain through seven years in hard penance on pilgrimage. But if he does not do penance he is to be excommunicated from the whole Catholic Church and from the communion of all Christians, and burial in holy ground is not to be accorded to him.
3. If any tyrant4 binds anyone attached to a bishop, he shall release him safe and sound and make restitution, and he shall render to the bishop three other men of equal worth with all their substance, and he himself shall remain in the penance of a hard pilgrimage alone for a period of ten years; and if he touches him so as to wound him, he shall render to the bishop seven men with all their substance, and he himself shall remain alone on pilgrimage for the space of twenty years. But if he kills him, he shall render to God all his inheritance and all his substance with the inheritances and substance of his associates, and he himself
____________________
1
"A Worcester Cathedral Book of Ecclesiastical Collections, made c. 1000 A.D.," English Historical Review, X ( 1895), 712-31.
2
Emending "solam" to "suam."
3
Cf. p. 127, n. 77, 141, n. 13, above.
4
"tirranus," glossed "rex" (king).

-425-

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