Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 535
Canon 2 of the Seventh Council of Toledo (Iberian Peninsula, AD 646) orders what to do when a priest is taken ill during Mass.
Canon 2
De languoris euentu ministrantium clericorum.
Nihil contra ordinis statum temeritatis ausu praesumitur, neque illa quae summa ueneratione censentur, uel minimo praesumptionis tactu soluuntur, cum ad hoc tantum qua fieri iussa sunt, interrupta noscuntur, ne langoris prouentu robore salutis natura priuetur. [...] Censuimus igitur conuenire ut, cum a sacerdotibus missarum tempore sancta mysteria consecrantur, si aegritudinis accidat cuiuslibet euentus quo coeptum nequeat consecrationis expleri mysterium, sit liberum episcopo uel presbytero alteri consecrationem exsequi officii coepti. Non enim aliud ad supplementum sui initiatis mysteriis competit quam aut incipientis aut subsequentis completa benedictio sacerdotis, quia nec perfecta uideri possunt nisi perfectionis ordine compleantur. Cum enim simus omnes unum in Christo, nihil contrarium diuersitas format ubi efficaciam prosperitatis unitas fidei repraesentat. Quod etiam consultum cuncti ordinis clerici indultum esse sibi non ambigant, sed, ut praemissum est praecedentibus libenter alii pro complemento succedant. Ne tamen quod naturae languoris causa consulitur, in praesumptionis perniciem conuertatur, nullus post cibi potusue quamlibet minimum sumptum missas facere, nullus absque patenti prouentu molestiae minister uel sacerdos, cum coeperit, imperfecta officia praesumat omnino relinquere. Si quis haec temerare praesumpserit, excommunicationis sententiam sustinebit.
(eds. Martínez Díez, Rodríguez 1992: 347-349)
Canon 2
On the illness of ministering clerics
Nothing will be done with temerity against the established order considering these things that are held by us in utmost veneration. [Priests] should celebrate them without even the smallest act of presumption, and perform them without interruption except for the situation when the human nature is deprived of the strength of health because of the coming of illness. [...] We decide then that when during the time of mass the holy mysteries are consecrated by priests, and a priest is taken so ill that he cannot finish the initiated mystery of consecration, a bishop or another presbyter will be allowed to finish the consecration in the already initiated office. Nothing else can be done to complete the initiated mysteries, they can only be finished by the benediction of the priest who started them, or one who follows him, because they cannot be completed unless they are performed in order. Because we are one in Christ, the change of persons makes no error, since the unity of faith ensures the successful completion [of the mysteries]. Clerics of any of the ranks shall succeed another cleric to complete his office as it was permitted to those above mentioned, and they shall not hesitate as to whether this decree lets them do that. However, so that the case of illness does not turn into the danger of presumption, no one shall celebrate mass after having a meal and having drunk, even if it was only a little, and no minister or priest shall ever dare to leave incomplete the office which he started except for the case of evident illness. If someone has the temerity to do so, he shall be punished with a sentence of excommunication.
(trans. M. Szada)


The last section of the canon, concerning fasting, probably means that even a priest that continues service in case of emergency must be fasting. For the other regulations concerning fasting before mass see the canons of the Second Council of Braga in 572 [335], [334] and canon 28 of the Council of Hippo in 393 [220].

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Toledo

About the source:

Title: Seventh Council of Toledo, Concilium Toletanum septimum a. 646, Concilium VII Toletanum, Concilium Toletanum VII
Origin: Toledo (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The Seventh Council of Toledo assembled in October AD 646 during the reign of king Chindaswinth (642-653) and was attended by thirty bishops.
G. Martínez Díez, F. Rodríguez eds., La colección canónica Hispana, Monumenta Hispaniae sacra. Serie canónica 5, Madrid 1992.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
      Described by a title - Clericus
        Ritual activity - Eucharist
          Ritual activity - Temporal impediment to presbyterial activity
            Administration of justice - Ecclesiastical
              Administration of justice - Excommunication/Anathema
                Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
                  Devotion - Fasting
                    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER535,