Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 70
Canon 32 of the Council of Elvira allows presbyters to give a communion to the excommunicated in case of necessity. Collection of canons associated with the Council of Elvira (Iberian Peninsula), ca AD 300/600.
Canon 32
De excomunicatis presbyteris, ut in necessitate communionem dent.
Apud presbyterem, si quis graui lapsu in ruinam mortis inciderit, placuit agere paenitentiam non debere, sed potius apud episcopum. Cogente tamen infirmitate necesse est presbyterem communionem praestare debere, et diaconum si ei iusserit sacerdos.
(eds. Martínez Díez, Rodríguez 1984: 252)
Canon 32
On the excommunicated presbyters that they shall give communion in case of necessity
If someone has fallen into a ruin of death because of serious sin, shall not do penance before a presbyter, but rather before a bishop. However, if it is necessary because of the illness, a presbyter shall give a communion or even a deacon, if he has been ordered to do so by a priest (sacerdos).
(trans. M. Szada)


The section of the canon referring to a deacon is not entirely clear, because of the ambiguous sense of the word sacerdos; it is probable that a deacon needed an episcopal ordinance to give communion to the penitent.

Place of event:

  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Elvira

About the source:

Title: Council of Elvira, Concilium Eliberritanum
Origin: Elvira (Iberian Peninsula)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
The exact date of the council and the nature of the Elvira canons continues to be debated. Vilella and Barred 2006, Villela 2014 argue that it is a late, heterogenous compilation created in many phases between the late 4th century and the second half of the 6th. The unitary view is defended by Sotomayor and Berdugo Villena, in Sotomayor, Fernandez Ubina eds. 2008: 89-114. The council is usually dated to the first quarter of the 4th century, see Sotomayor in Sotomayor, Fernandez Ubina eds. 2008: 137-168). For a more complete account of the recent research on the Council of Elvira see Sánchez 2008.
The title of the canon 32 does not correspond well with its content. It is probably a mistake made by a later redactor or a scribe (maybe by a simple change of the word order: instead of `De presbyteris ut excommunicatis` he wrote `De excommunicatis presbyteris`).
J. Vives, Concilios visigóticos e hispano-romanos. Barcelona, Madrid 1963.
G. Martínez Díez, F. Rodríguez, eds., La colección canónica Hispana, v. 4 Concilios Galos. Concilios Hispanos: primera parte, Madrid 1984.
M.J.L. Sánchez, "L’état actuel de la recherche sur le concile d’Elvire", Revue des sciences religieuses 82 (2008), 517-546.
M. Sotomayor and T. Berdugo Villena, "Valoración de las actas" in: M. Sotomayor, J. Fernández Ubiña, El Concilio de Elvira y su tiempo, Granada 2005, 89-114.
M. Sotomayor, "Sobre la fecha del concilio" in: M. Sotomayor, J. Fernández Ubiña, El Concilio de Elvira y su tiempo, Granada 2005, 137-168.
J. Vilella, P.-E. Barreda, Istituto Patristico Augustinianum, "¿Cánones del Concilio de Elvira o Cánones Pseudoiliberritanos?", Augustinianum 46 (2006), 285-373.
J. Vilella, "The Pseudo-Iliberritan Canon Texts", Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity 18 (2014), 210-259.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Sacerdos/ἱερεύς
      Usurping episcopal power
        Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
          Public law - Ecclesiastical
            Relation with - Deacon
              Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER70,