Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 117
Canon 20 of the First Council of Toledo (Iberian Peninsula, AD 400) forbids clerics other than bishops to bless chrism.
Canon 20
Ut praeter episcopum nullus crisma conficiat
Quamvis pene ubique custodiatur ut absque episcopo chrisma nemo conficiat, tamen qui in aliquibus locis vel provinciis presbyteri dicuntur chrisma conficere, placuit ex hac die nullum alium nisi episcopum crisma conficere et per dioeceses destinare, ita ut de singulis ecclesiis ad episcopum ante diem Pascae diaconi destinentur aut subdiaconi, ut confectum chrisma ab episcopo destinatum ad diem Pascae possit occurrere. Episcopum sane certum est omni tempore licere crisma conficere, sine conscientia autem episcopi nicil penitus faciendum. Statutum vero est diaconem, non crismare, sed presbyterem absente episcopo, praesente vero si ab ipso fuerit praeceptum. Huiusmodi constitutionem meminerit semper archediaconus vel praesentibus vel absentibus episcopis suggerendam, ut eam aut episcopi custodiant aut presbyteri non relinquant.
(ed. Vives 1963: 24-25)
Canon 20
That none but a bishop consecrates chrism
Although the custom is almost everywhere preserved that only a bishop consecrates chrism, yet because in some places or provinces the presbyters are said to bless chrism, it was agreed that none but the bishop shall henceforth bless chrism: and he shall send it into his diocese in such fashion that deacons and subdeacons shall be sent from each church to the bishop before Easter, so that the chrism which the bishop has blessed shall arrive in time for Easter. While the bishops have the undoubted right to bless chrism at any time, presbyters may do nothing without the knowledge of the bishop: it is decreed that the deacon may not give chrism but the presbyter may do so in the absence of the bishop, or in his presence if he commands. The archdeacon should always remember to remind this constitution to the bishops whether they are present or not, so that bishops will guard it and presbyters will not neglect it.
(trans. Whitakker 2003: 155 in Johnson 2007: 181, slightly altered)

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Toledo

About the source:

Title: Council of Toledo I, Concilium Toletanum I, First Council of Toledo, Concilium I Toletanum
Origin: Toledo (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The first council of Toledo was convened to deal with divisions among the Spanish episcopate caused by the conviction and execution of Priscillian in 385. Many people in Spain, the bishops among them, considered the judgement unfair and venerated Priscillian as a martyr. The acts of the council consist of the twenty canons with the preface and the subscriptions of the bishops, the creed (regula fidei) with 18 anathemas against Priscillian, the professions of faith declared by the former adherents of Priscillian and the closing sententia definitiva. The last two are excerpts from the full version of the conciliar acts which has not survived and has been transmitted in the manuscript tradition separate from canonical collection of Hispana (Chadwick 1976: 179-181; Burrus 1995: 104-105).
The date of the council is given in the beginning of the preface - it is the time of Arcadius and Honorius (then between 395-408) and of the consulship of Stilicho (400 or 405). The date given in the Spanish era is unreliable, because a lot of different versions survived in manuscripts. G. Martínez Díez and F. Rodríguez (1984: 326) thought that it was a later addition. Moreover, Ambrosius of Milan and Siricius are both already dead (the title sanctae memoriae is added before their names), therefore the council must have been held after 399. Also Hydatius in Chronicle dates the council to 400, so this is the most probable solution (Weckwerth 2004: 89-90).
G. Martínez Díez, F. Rodríguez, eds., La colección canónica Hispana, v. 4 Concilios Galos. Concilios Hispanos: primera parte, Madrid 1984.
J. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos, Barcelona-Madrid 1963.
M.E. Johnson, The rites of Christian initiation: their evolution and interpretation, Collegeville, Minn 2007.
M.E. Johnson, The rites of Christian initiation: their evolution and interpretation, Collegeville, Minn 2007.
A. Weckwerth, Das erste Konzil von Toledo: philologischer und kirchenhistorischer Kommentar zur Constitutio concilii, Münster, Westfalen 2004.
E.C. Whitaker, M.E. Johnson, Documents of the baptismal liturgy, Collegeville, Minn 2003.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Usurping episcopal power
      Ritual activity - Anointment with chrism
        Ritual activity - Blessing of oil
          Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
            Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER117,