Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 63
The Council of Carthage (North Africa, AD 345/348) threatens with demotion clerics who venerate false martyrs.
Canon 2
[...]Martyrum dignitatem nemo profanus infamet, neque passiua corpora quae sepulturae tantum propter misericordiam ecclesiasticam commendari mandatum est redigant, ut aut insania praecipitatos aut alia ratione peccati discretos, non ratione uel tempore competenti, quo martyria celebrantur, martyrum nomen appellent, aut si quis in iniuriam martyrum claritati eorum adiungat insanos; placeat eos, si laici sunt, ad paenitentiam redigi, si autem sunt clerici, post commonitionem et post cognitionem honore priuari.
(ed. Munier 1974: 4)
Canon 2
[...] Let no ignorant person bring into disrepute the digntity of martyrs and let nobody collect ordinary bodies that have only been given sepulchre because of ecclesiastical mercy.
And let nobody give the name of martyrs in the place where martyrdom is celebrated, to those who either pushed by frenzy or motivated by another kind of sin, died not for the right reasons and not at the proper time.
And let nobody diminish the glory of the martyrs by joining them with the insane.
If they are lay, they should be brought to penitence, and if they are clerics, after being warned and after due inquiry they should be deprived of their dignity.
(trans. S. Adamiak)


The canon is a bit obscure in its exact wording, but it certainly targets the veneration of "false martyrs". This may mean the Donatists, including suicides (it is hinted by mentioning death by precipitation, the favourite way of comitting suicide by the Donatists, according to their Catholic opponents). The canon shows that the divisions between two denominations were not exactly clear and that in the middle of the 4th century some of the Catholic clergy were tempted to accept their opponents' claims as to their sanctity.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Carthage

About the source:

Title: Council of Carthage 345/348, Concilium Carthaginense sub Grato a. 345/348, Concilium Carthaginis Africae primum
Origin: Carthage (Latin North Africa)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The synod of Catholic bishops gathered between 345 and 348, mainly in order to resist the Donatists. This exact canon can indicate the date of the council as 348, after the Macarian persecution of the Donatists.
Ch. Munier ed., Concilia Africae a. 345-a. 525, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 149, Turnhoult 1974.


Described by a title - Clericus
    Administration of justice - Demotion
      Devotion - Veneration of saints and relics
        Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER63,