Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 99
Canon 5 of the First Council of Toledo (Iberian Peninsula, AD 400) orders the deposition of clerics who neglect to attend everyday mass.
Canon 5
Ut si cuiuslibet ordinis clericus tardius ad ecclesiam venerit, deponatur
Presbyter vel diaconus vel subdiaconus vel quilibet ecclesiae deputatus clericus, si intra civitatem fuerit vel in loco in quo est ecclesia aut castelli aut vicus aut villae, ad ecclesiam ad sacrificium cotidianum non venerit, clericus non habeatur, si castigatus per satisfactionem veniam ab episcopo noluerit promereri.
(ed. Vives 1963: 21)
Canon 5
That if a cleric came late to the church, he shall be deposed
If a presbyter, or a deacon, or a subdeacon, or any cleric of the church was in the city, or in a place with a church, or in a castle, village, or villa, and did not go to the church for the daily sacrifice (sacrificium quotidianum), he should not be a cleric  unless he is punished, makes satisfaction and obtains pardon from his bishop.
(trans. M. Szada)


Canon 5 is an important piece of evidence about the frequency of Eucharistic celebration in the early Church. It's interpretation, however, depends on the understanding of the phrase "sacrificium quotidianum". It can be translated "daily sacrifice" and in such case the canon implies that masses were celebrated daily in every church and all the clergy were supposed to attend. It is worth noting, however, that the presbyters are not obligated here to the daily celebration of the Eucharist.  On the other hand it is not uncommon for "quotidianus" to mean "regular, usual, frequent". Daniel Callam supports this view and interprets the canon as a piece of legislation against the private gatherings of Priscillianists - in other words, the canon would deal with the problem where the clergy should attend the liturgical celebrations, and not how often (Callam 1984: 637).

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.
D. Callam, "The frequency of mass in the Latin Church ca. 400,” Theological Studies 45 (1984), 613-650.
A. Weckwerth, Das erste Konzil von Toledo: philologischer und kirchenhistorischer Kommentar zur Constitutio concilii, Münster, Westfalen 2004.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Described by a title - Clericus
      Ritual activity - Eucharist
        Public law - Ecclesiastical
          Administration of justice - Administration of justice
            Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
              Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: M. Szada, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER99,