Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 156
Canon 9 of the Council of Gerona (Iberian Peninsula, AD 517) allows the ordination of those who received viaticum while sick and did not make a public penance after recovery.
Canon 9
De his qui publice paenitentiam non accipiunt sed tantum uiaticum, ut in clero promoueantur
Is uero qui aegritudinis languore depressus paenitentiae benedictionem, quod uiaticum deputamus, per communionem acceperit, et postmodum reualescens caput paenitentiae in ecclesia publice non subdiderit, si prohibitis uitiis non detinetur obnoxius, admittatur ad clerum.
(eds. Martínez Díez, Rodríguez 1984: 288)
Canon 9
On those who received only viaticum, but did not do public penance, that they can be promoted to the clergy
One who being oppressed by the languor of sickness received a penitential blessing by a reception of communion, which we call viaticum, and after a recovery did not bow his head in public penitence in the church, shall be accepted to the clergy unless he is forbidden as being guilty of other prohibited faults.
(trans. by M. Szada)


According to the research of É. Rebillard (1991: 99-108) the earliest evidence of viaticum can be found only at the end of 4th c. It becomes more common during the 5th c. together with the rising awareness that every dying Christian should have a chance to be reconciled. However, in the earliest usage of the word viaticum there is a tendency to distinguish the penitential reconciliation from the communion received by the dying person (e.g. Ep. 1.5 of Pope Siricius to Himerius, bishop of Tarragona, where munus viaticum is considered a consolation and an act of grace for the dying person in the state of sin). In the present canon of the Council of Gerona those reservations are not present and the viaticum is considered equal to the deathbed penance and reconciliation (Paxton 1996: 52-53).
Canon 9 should be also read in the context of the discussion as to whether it is possible to have a clerical career after the penance. The fathers of the Council of Gerona decided that the performance of penance itself (in this case the deathbed penance) is not an impediment to ordination in contrast to the public confession of mortal sin (Hillner 2015: 301, n. 83). See also Canon 9b of the Council of Gerona [175].

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Gerona

About the source:

Title: Council of Gerona, Concilium Gerundense
Origin: Gerona (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Council of Gerona was a meeting of the provincial Church in June 517 presided over by John, archbishop of Tarragona. It followed the Council of Tarragona in 516. It was an attempt to establish regular provincial councils (Freedman 2013). Both councils are dated by the regnal years of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, who acted as a guardian of Amalaric, king of the Visigoths, half-brother of the expelled King Gesalic (Collins 2004: 41).
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.
R. Collins, Visigothic Spain, 409-711, Oxford, OX, UK; Malden, MA, USA 2004.
P. Freedman, ''Gerona, Council of,'' [in:] Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia, ed. E.M. Gerli, Hoboken 2013, 360.
J. Hillner, Prison, punishment and penance in late antiquity, Cambridge 2015.
F.S. Paxton, Christianizing death: the creation of a ritual process in early medieval Europe, Ithaca; London 1996, 52-53.
É. Rebillard, ''La naissance du viatique : se préparer à mourir en Italie et en Gaule au Ve siècle,'' Médiévales (1991), 99-108.


Impediments or requisits for the office - Improper/Immoral behaviour
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER156,