Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 95
Canon 1 of the First Council of Toledo (Iberian Peninsula) in AD 400 allows the promotion to higher grades only of those deacons and presbyters who lived in chastity after ordination even before the formal interdict.
Canon 1
De presbyteris et diaconibus si post ordinationem filios genuerint
Placuit, ut diacones vel integri vel casti sint et continentes vitae, etiam si uxores habeant, in ministerio constituantur, ita tamen ut si qui etiam ante interdictum, quod per Lusitanos episcopos constitutum est, incontinenter cum uxoribus suis vixerint, presbyter[i] honore non comulentur. Si quis vero ex presbyteris ante interdictum filios susciperit, de presbyterio ad episcopatum non admittatur.
(ed. Vives 1963: 20)
Canon 1
On the presbyters and deacons if they begot children after ordination
We command deacons to be either virginal or chaste. Those who practice continence even if they have wives, should be established in the ministry. Those, however, who lived with their wives incontinently before the interdict issued by the Lusitanian bishops, should not be promoted to the honour of presbyter. And if one of the presbyters begot sons before the interdict, he should not be admitted to the episcopate.
(trans. M. Szada)


The alternative vel integri vel casti is here disjunctive. It means that married men were also eligible for the diaconate if they renounced the conjugal relations.
The interdict of the Lusitatnian bishops mentioned in the canon probably refers to some provincial council in Lusitania. Its date is difficult to establish. S. Heid thought that it probably adopted the requirement of clerical celibacy from the so-called Directa decretal issued by Pope Siricius in 385 (in form of the letter to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona, [1466]). Therefore it would have taken place between 385 and 400 (Heid 2000: 224). J. Suberbiola Martinez (1987: 87-104) proposed that the Lusitanian council took place in 396 and its canons were preserved in the collections of canons of the Council of Elvira (canon 23 to 36). The interdict issued by Lusitanian bishops would be then the same text we know today as canon 33 of the Council of Elvira [71]. For the criticism of this theory see Weckwerth 2004: 102-103, n. 12.

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.
S. Heid, Celibacy in the early church: the beginnings of a discipline of obligatory continence for clerics in East and West, San Francisco, CA 2000.
S. Heid, Celibacy in the early church: the beginnings of a discipline of obligatory continence for clerics in East and West, San Francisco, CA 2000.
J. Suberbiola Martínez, Nuevos concilios hispano-romanos de los siglos III y IV: la colección de Elvira, Malaga 1987.
A. Weckwerth, Das erste Konzil von Toledo: philologischer und kirchenhistorischer Kommentar zur Constitutio concilii, Münster, Westfalen 2004.


Family life - Marriage
    Family life - Offspring
      Sexual life - Sexual abstinence
        Sexual life - Virginity
          Former ecclesiastical career - Deacon
            Further ecclesiastical career - Bishop
              Impediments or requisits for the office - Marriage
                Public law - Ecclesiastical
                  Relation with - Wife
                    Sexual life - Marital
                      Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER95,