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The Deaconess: New Sources in Medieval Pastoralia.

THE TWELFTH AND THIRTEENTH CENTURIES have become increasingly prominent in the ongoing ecclesial debate over deaconesses. The importance of this period is due in large part to the immense effort of medieval schoolmen to better understand the sacrament of holy orders. Questions about ordination were a frequent occurrence among the Scholastics, and numerous distinctions and clarifications were articulated. This Scholastic inquiry eventually led to a great precision in how people thought and spoke about ordination, and likewise to the conclusion that deaconesses were not recipients of the sacrament of holy orders. This precision has become part of the Church's heritage, and the theology of holy orders as concisely stated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law is largely an inheritance from this period. (1) The new sources from medieval pastoralia that will be presented here outline the increasing precision with which deaconesses and the sacrament of holy orders were understood.

The debate over deaconesses in the Latin Church has continuously stumbled over ambiguities of terminology, particularly over the words for deaconess (diaconissa) and ordination (ordo, ordinare, ordinatio, etc.). In the first millennium of the Christian era these words were used in various ways. Widows, baptismal assistants, wives of deacons, and abbesses were all, at various times, referred to as diaconissae. Additionally, the terms relating to ordination were not restricted to the sacrament of holy orders as now understood, and as will be explained more fully below. These ambiguities led to a situation where the two main works on the history of deaconesses, those of Martimort and Gryson, arrive at opposite conclusions regarding the possible ordination of deaconesses today, despite examining the same evidence. (2) It has become clear that the debate is not primarily over whether deaconesses as such existed in the past. The current ecclesial debate is over whether such women received the supernatural character bestowed by sacramental ordination, which the magisterium of the Church has since declared essential to the sacrament of holy orders. (3) This debate over supernatural realities cannot be resolved purely by historical research. As explained more fully by Gary Macy, a prior theological decision must be made regarding how the ordination spoken of in the first millennium corresponds to the investing of the sacrament of holy orders as now understood. (4) Nonetheless, what historical research into the twelfth and thirteenth centuries can do is demonstrate how people viewed deaconesses at the very moment when ordination and the diaconate were first understood in the precise way the 1983 Code of Canon Law speaks of them.

The task of clarifying the issues surrounding deaconesses and ordination was in large part accomplished by canonists during the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. It was later in the mid-thirteenth century that theologians began to address the question. (5) The greatest of the medieval theologians, Peter Lombard (d. 1160), never addressed the issue, although in commentaries on his Sentences one can usually find later theological reflections. When Aquinas and Bonaventure were later commenting on his Sentences, they were no longer discussing whether women could be ordained to the diaconate, but rather why such a thing was impossible. (6) It was the canonists who provided this starting point. The locus for earlier canonical discussions was in commentaries on select passages from Gratian's Decretum. The Decretum (c. 1150), also known as the Concordance of Discordant Canons, was a large collection of ancient Church canons that were organized and commented on by Gratian in order to bring harmony (concordia) to the existing body of Church regulations. It quickly became the standard textbook for the training of medieval canonists. In the Decretum and the numerous commentaries by medieval canonists one can track the progression of Scholastic inquiry into the issues surrounding deaconesses. (7)

It is in this context that I will now introduce several new medieval sources on deaconesses. These sources come from a genre of literature called pastoralia, which was heavily dependent on the writings of canonists. Medieval pastoralia was a didactic form of literature that emerged to assist pastors in the care of souls, particularly in their roles as preachers and confessors. (8) The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 promoted this literature by requiring that all priests be diligently instructed in how to celebrate the Divine Office and the sacraments. Additionally, the council required all Catholics to confess their sins annually. Every priest assigned to pastoral work was expected to have a basic knowledge of the care of souls. (9) The genre of pastoralia that emerged to assist priests in this endeavor was extremely varied, ranging from poems and short treatises to the lengthy summae of the schoolmen. The sources presented here come from manuals for confessors, which carried titles such as Summa de poenitentia or Summa confessorum. These manuals were frequently written in simple Latin and intended for priests who lacked access to a formal education in the medieval schools. Other manuals were written with great sophistication and garnered a large audience across Europe.

The first new source comes from a little-known pastoral manual, John of Kent's Summa de penitencia. (10) John of Kent was an English canonist who belonged to what is known as the Anglo-Norman school of canon law. (11) I am currently preparing a critical edition of his manual, which survives in five manuscripts. It was completed shortly after Lateran IV and is divided into three books. The first is focused on matters pertaining to the clergy, the second on lay matters, and the third is a fictional dialogue between priest and penitent. All three books were meant to assist pastors in the care of souls, and to give them a sufficient understanding of the sacraments and Church regulations. In the third chapter of the first book, entitled Concerning orders and those things which are necessary for the reception of orders, John of Kent states the following:
Of the substance of orders are sex, baptism, first tonsure, the power
of the one ordaining and his intention, and perhaps the intention of
the one being ordained, and the words. Sex is of the substance of
orders because women are blessed, they are not ordained. Neither is a
hermaphrodite even if the virile sex is more prevalent in that person.
Although it may be found elsewhere in the record that at some time
there were deaconesses, but they were called that in a different sense
than a deacon is. (12)

This is the single time John of Kent addresses the issue of deaconesses, and it is brought forth as part of a larger discussion on the substance of orders. Sex is the first of numerous substances listed as necessary for the reception of orders. As stated, since women do not have the proper sex, the reality must be that they are only blessed, not ordained. John of Kent is aware that a counterargument could be made since there existed women called deaconesses in the past. He responds by making a distinction, saying they were called deaconesses in a different sense than a deacon is. A further counterargument is addressed, the case of the hermaphrodite. The response is simple. Even if the virile sex is more prevalent in that person, that person is not ordained. John of Kent continues the chapter by discussing baptism and other substances necessary for ordination.

These views did not originate with John of Kent. A nearly identical passage is found in an earlier manual, the Liber poenitentialis of Robert of Flamborough, completed shortly before Lateran IV. This manual is better known, surviving in dozens of manuscripts across Europe. Flamborough served as a canon penitentiary at the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris. His text is divided into five books, and scattered throughout are fictional priest and penitent dialogues similar to the one in John of Kent's manual. (13) The relevant section is found in the third book, which deals with the sacrament of orders. The beginning of the second chapter, entitled "Those things which are necessary for orders and which things are of the substance of orders," reads as such:
Of the substance of orders are sex, baptism, first tonsure of the
other orders, the power of the one ordaining and his intention, and
perhaps the intention of the one being ordained, and the words. Sex is
of the substance of orders because women are blessed, they are not
ordained. Although it may be found that at some time there were
deaconesses. But they were called deaconesses in a different sense
than a deacon is called today. For a woman never possessed that office
which a deacon now possesses. Nor a hermaphrodite even if the virile
sex is more prevalent in that person. (14)

This is certainly John of Kent's direct source. In numerous places throughout his Summa, John of Kent reproduces passages from Flamborough's Liber poenitentialis. Since he never cites Flamborough by name, these sections can only be distinguished by close textual analysis. John of Kent often disagrees with Flamborough and makes changes to the adopted text, but there is no disagreement here. Flamborough includes an emphatic line stating that "a woman never possessed that office which a deacon now possesses," but otherwise the two passages are identical.

Flamborough was in turn drawing inspiration from another source, the Summa of Huguccio (c. 1190). Huguccio's Summa was not a pastoral manual, but rather a legal commentary on Gratian's Decretum. Huguccio's expertise on the matter came from a career of teaching canon law at Bologna. It was common for authors of pastoral manuals to use material from canonical writings. John of Kent was trained as a canonist and likewise drew directly from the masters of canon law. (15) Much of the content of pastoral manuals originated in the medieval schools, particularly from the canonists trained at Bologna, and from the theological circle of Peter the Chanter at Paris. By summarizing and expressing in simpler Latin the technical discussions happening in the schools, pastoral manuals mediated between the famed schoolmen of the Church and the simple pastors exercising the care of souls.

Huguccio finished his Summa late in the twelfth century (c. 1190). His influence on future pastoral manuals was immense and thus merits close attention here. The relevant passage on deaconesses comes from his commentary on a canon from the Council of Chalcedon (451). The canon, as included in Gratian's Decretum, stated, " We establish that a deaconess shall not be ordained before her fortieth year, and only after diligent examination." (16) Huguccio gave a lengthy and important reply in his Summa, which mostly remains only in manuscript form. Portions of the relevant section have been reproduced in the secondary literature, but the full reply will be reproduced here for the first time: (17)
But how does the Council of Chalcedon say that deaconesses ought to be
ordained when Ambrose, who preceded the council, says this is against
authority [when he comments] on that passage of the Apostle in the
first letter to Timothy: "Likewise it is fitting that women be chaste,
etc." For Ambrose says that the Catafrygians say on the occasion of
these words that deaconesses ought to be ordained, which is against
authority. But I say that a woman is not able to receive orders. What
impedes this? The constitution of the Church and sex. That is, the
constitution of the Church in fact on account of sex. If therefore a
female is ordained she does not receive orders from this fact. Hence
she is prohibited to exercise the duties of orders. See also D.23
c.25. What if someone is a hermaphrodite? There is a distinction
concerning the reception of orders just as concerning the testimony to
be carried in the record. See also C.4 q.2 & 3 c.3. If therefore
someone tends more towards the female than to the male, that person
does not receive orders. If the reverse, that person is able to
receive. But it is not fitting for such a person to be ordained on
account of deformity and monstrosity. This is argued in D. 36 c.1 and
D.49 c.1. What if someone tends equally to both? That person does not
receive orders. I say that a female has never been ordained and I do
not believe that any female ever held the order of the diaconate. But
deaconesses were ordained and chosen and were instituted with a
certain solemnity for a certain function which coincided with deacons.
Perhaps they sang and said the gospel at matins, and the prayer, and
such a function and such a preference was called the diaconate.
Abbesses now fulfill such an office in certain places. Such
deaconesses are no longer found among us unless someone says abbesses
are in their place, and it is concerning this kind of ordination that
the council of Chalcedon speaks of. Ambrose is speaking about
ordination to orders. Others say that formerly a woman was ordained
all the way up to the diaconate, and that this was later prohibited at
the time of Ambrose, and still later they were ordained at the time of
this council, and that now they are not ordained. But it is the first
explanation that prevails. (18)

The substance of Flamborough's text, and consequently John of Kent's, comes directly from this passage. The case of the hermaphrodite arose from a comparison to another section of the Decretum, which states that whether a hermaphrodite can testify in court depends on which sex is dominant. (19) This was seen as related to the issue of ordination since whether a person can be ordained also depends, in Huguccio's view, on whether the virile sex is dominant. Yet on this issue Flamborough and John of Kent disagree with Huguccio, and state that a hermaphrodite cannot be ordained even if the virile sex is more prevalent.

Although not found in John of Kent and Flamborough, Huguccio's reference to the conflict between Ambrose and the Catafrygians was often repeated in future manuals. The Catafrygians were a third-century Montanist sect who believed in the ordination of women, whether to the diaconate, priesthood, or episcopate. We now know the biblical commentary Huguccio refers to does not come from Ambrose himself, but rather the anonymous Ambrosiaster, who wrote in the fourth century against the Catafrygians. (20)

The main insight of Huguccio's reply is the distinction between being ordained and the reception of orders. Huguccio states that a female has never been ordained or held the order of the diaconate. Such a thing was impossible due to the constitution of the Church and their sex. However, a problem arose since the council of Chalcedon spoke of the ordination of deaconesses. The way to bring harmony to this conflict was to examine what it means to say that someone is ordained. According to Huguccio, one could say that deaconesses were indeed ordained for a certain function in the Church, which may have coincided with some of the functions of a deacon. However, deaconesses were never ordained in the sense that they received the ordo of the diaconate as later understood by the medieval schoolmen. The conflict between how Ambrose and the Council of Chalcedon spoke of ordination was thus resolved by concluding they were using the term equivocally. Flamborough and John of Kent agree with this, and summarize Huguccio's analysis by stating that deaconesses were never ordained, and were previously called deaconesses in a different sense than a deacon is.

In another pastoral manual, Thomas Chobham's Summa confessorum, the discussion about deaconesses proceeds differently. Chobham was sub-dean at Salisbury and studied at Paris in the 1180s, possibly under Peter the Chanter. His manual was finished shortly after Lateran IV and survives in more than a hundred manuscripts across Europe. (21) In a section entitled Concerning the particular duties pertaining to orders, Chobham added a questio called Concerning orders, where he says:
The office of the deacon is to read the gospel and to minister to the
priest at the altar. The deacon is also able to read the gospel in the
church, but the priest alone is able to explain the gospel to the
people, just as the canon says, that priests alone have the power of
preaching. Although now on account of a lack of learned priests the
church may tolerate that even learned clerics in minor orders may
preach. However, the order of deacons is of males only. Although it
may be found in the canons that certain women were deaconesses, that
was because they read the gospel in the convent of nuns. But it is
known that no woman possesses anything of the aforementioned orders.
But because it was not safe that deacons enter the choir of nuns and
read the gospel there, it was permitted by the church that a certain
woman of the nuns may read the gospel there without any orders. It is
also prohibited in the canons, because no woman, neither a nun nor any
other, may minister to the priest at the altar. Neither may she touch
the garments of the altar and the sacred vessels, on account of the
danger of the ministers and on account of the danger of the priests,
who might be moved at the sight of a woman. (22)

Chobham focuses on the liturgical and societal role of women to a greater degree than John of Kent or Flamborough. Only in a brief passage does he address the theological issue of whether women can receive orders, with the answer being the ordo is for men only. For the main part, Chobham is more interested in explaining why women have or do not have certain roles in the Church. Some of these reasons are not strictly consequent from the impediment of the female sex. They arise because it was better that priests and other ministers be kept separate from women. The distinctive marks of Huguccio's direct influence, such as the case of the hermaphrodite, are absent. Also absent are any explicit references to the substance of orders or the constitution of the Church as found in John of Kent, Flamborough, and Huguccio. Broomfield, who edited Chobham's text, suggests his direct source may have been the Summa of Rolandus, but it remains possible that Chobham knew of Huguccio's Summa directly. (23)

Among the immense literature of medieval pastoralia, many pastoral manuals include no mention of deaconesses. Notable manuals such as Alain de Lille's Liber poenitentialis and Peter of Poitiers' Summa de confessione never broach the issue. When deaconesses are addressed in the manuals it is typically within a wider discussion about the sacrament of orders. This was true in the three manuals examined thus far, and remained true throughout the medieval period. But whereas late twelfth and early thirteenth century manuals often drew inspiration directly from Huguccio, manuals in the mid- and late-thirteenth century adopted a new starting point, the Glossa ordinaria to the Decretum.

In the several decades after the composition of Gratian's textbook, the masters of canon law set to work adding glosses to the text of the Decretum. These glosses sometimes provided quick explanations or definitions of words. Others were lengthy commentaries on legal issues raised by the Decretum. Eventually these glosses took on a standard form known as the Glossa ordinaria, compiled by Johannes Teutonicus circa 1217. Subsequently, the Decretum was always studied alongside the Glossa ordinaria, which surrounded the text of the Decretum in medieval manuscripts. Gratian spoke of deaconesses numerous times in the Decretum, but it was the Chalcedonian canon earlier mentioned that the glossators were most interested in. (24) In a lengthy gloss to the word ordinari, the glossator stated his case:
This seems to contradict Ambrose, who preceded this council. For he
says, over that passage of the Apostle in the first letter to Timothy,
"Likewise it is fitting that women be chaste," that on the occasion of
these words the Catafrygians say that a deaconess ought to be
ordained, which is against authority. I respond that women do not
receive the mark on account of the impediment of sex and the
constitution of the Church. Hence they are not able to exercise the
office of orders. D.23 c.25. Here that person is not ordained, but
perhaps some blessing was poured over her from which some special duty
followed, perhaps of reading homilies or the gospel at matins, which
is not permitted to others. Others say that if a nun is ordained she
actually receives the mark, because she is in fact ordained and after
baptism anyone is able to be ordained. (25)

The enduring influence of Huguccio is clear. (26) Unlike Flamborough and John of Kent, who drew directly from Huguccio's Summa, future manualists accessed Huguccio's views indirectly through this gloss. The glossator adopted the view of Huguccio, and likewise listed the opposing view that was being rejected. The prevailing view of Huguccio and the glossator was additionally supported by Gratian himself, who explicitly stated that women could not be ordained to the diaconate. (27)

The language to be used in future discussions was now mostly established. Although Flamborough and John of Kent spoke about the substance of orders, of which the virile sex was a necessary part, this was not the terminology future manuals found most useful. As seen in Chobham's manual, there was a difficulty in describing the mysterious reality about orders that women could not receive. Huguccio resolved the issue by stating women do not receive orders (ordinem). Chobham offered a more ambiguous solution, stating that no woman ever received that certain thing (aliquem) of orders. The Glossa ordinaria resolved the issue by saying that women do not receive the mark (characterem). Later manualists adopted this word and combined it with the formulation of Huguccio, stating that women do not receive the mark of clerical orders (characterem ordinis clericalis). (28) The term character thereby began a long history, continuing through the medieval period and directly into the present day, with the 1983 Code of Canon Law likewise stating that the sacrament of orders impresses an indelible mark (charactere indelebili) on the man being ordained. (29)

In the period from Teutonicus's compilation of the Glossa ordinaria till the end of the thirteenth century, two pastoral manuals were written that achieved immense popularity, Raymond of Penyafort's Summa de casibus penitentiae and John of Freiburg's Summa confessorum. Unlike the manuals previously examined, these texts were not written directly for the uneducated pastor. Penyafort's manual was finished earlier, in the 1220s, and was studied in schools around Europe. Penyafort is better known as editor of the Liber extra, a collection of papal decretals that formed part of the Corpus iuris canonici, which governed the regulation of the Catholic Church until 1917. That an accomplished canonist would write a pastoral manual further illustrates the close relationship between canon law and pastoral practice. (30) As with the manuals already examined, Penyafort located his views on deaconesses within a general discussion about orders. In keeping with the comprehensive nature of his lengthy manual, he devotes an entire section to the "impediment of sex," the same phrase found in Huguccio and the Glossa ordinaria. (31) The previously examined passage in the Glossa ordinaria provided the substance of Penyafort's text. His views on deaconesses are more well known in the secondary literature than other pastoral manuals. (32) They were additionally reproduced in their entirety in a later medieval manual, the Summa confessorum of John of Freiburg.

Freiburg's Summa confessorum was completed in 1298 and provides a comprehensive summary of previous Scholastic inquiry into deaconesses. (33) It draws from Gratian, Huguccio, Hostiensis, Aquinas, Penyafort, and numerous other authorities, both theological and canonical. It survives in hundreds of manuscripts across Europe, and remained in high enough demand to be translated and printed numerous times in the early modern period. Although Freiburg's manual was more popular than Penyafort's, his views on deaconesses have not been examined in the secondary literature. (34) Similar to Penyafort's manual, Freiburg devotes an entire section to the impediment of sex, which is found within a larger section on orders. He frames the discussion in this way:
First question: And I ask here whether a female is able to receive the
mark of clerical orders, or the operation of any other clerical order.
The response to the error of both [is found] over that passage of the
apostle, namely Timothy 3: "Likewise women [ought] to be chaste." On
the occasion of those words the deceived Catafrygians say that a
deaconess ought to be ordained, which is contrary to the truth. For
women do not receive the character because of the impediment of sex
and the constitution of the Church. Hence they are not able to preach,
not even abbesses. Nor to bless, nor to excommunicate, nor to absolve,
nor to give penances, nor to judge, nor to exercise the office of any
orders, however holy or learned or religious they may be... . For
although the most blessed Virgin Mary was more worthy and more
excellent than all the apostles, the Lord did not commit the keys of
the kingdom of heaven to her, but to men. (35)

Apart from the initial question, the influence of the Glossa ordinaria is clear. Although Freiburg is quoting directly from Penyafort, that same passage in Penyafort comes directly from the Glossa ordinaria. Freiburg proceeds by departing from Penyafort's text, discussing at great length citations from Hostiensis, Innocent III, and numerous other authorities on the matter. He concludes the first questio with a direct reference to Huguccio and the Chalcedonian canon:

"Deaconesses however, concerning which C.27 q.1 c.23 speaks of, are not found, just as Huguccio noted. The ordination of them is called an institution to the aforesaid duties, not a reception of any mark or ecclesiastical orders. The theologians say likewise." (36)

The entirety of Penyafort's treatment of deaconesses is reproduced in Freiburg's manual, and lengthy passages from numerous authorities are added on. What is particularly new are references to theologians. In previous manuals, essentially all the contemporary authorities cited were canonists. As mentioned, it was not till the mid-thirteenth century that theologians started examining the question of women's ordination. By the time the theologians joined the discussion, the matter had been settled by the canonists and popularized by the manuals of medieval pastoralia. (37) What remained was to elaborate on the theological reasons why women could not be ordained. Freiburg was familiar with both canonical and theological traditions, and could thus show the harmony among the Scholastics over the issue of deaconesses. (38)

There was one final issue that Freiburg wished to address, an issue that Penyafort made no reference to. This was the case of the hermaphrodite raised by Huguccio. To address this Freiburg added a second questio to his section on the impediment of sex, where he asks: "But what of the hermaphrodite?" Huguccio's view is listed, but Freiburg's own conclusion is simple: "That person is never able to be ordained." (39) As shown earlier, there was a disagreement between the manualists and Huguccio on this matter. Flamborough and John of Kent stated the hermaphrodite does not receive orders. Huguccio said it depends on whether that person tends more to the virile sex. As time progressed, this was one issue for which Huguccio's view was often rejected. (40)

When surveying the general position taken by Freiburg and other manualists on the ordination of deaconesses, it is clear they agree essentially with the canonists. This is not surprising, as the manuals served to popularize the teachings of the schools. However, the manualists were not simply popularizers. They were themselves schoolmen who had their own opinions to make. At times, as with the case of the hermaphrodite, they disagreed with the cited authorities. Regarding the ordination of women to the diaconate, however, there was complete consensus.

What the pastoral manuals additionally show is that medieval discussions about deaconesses were not chiefly driven by a re-examination of the role of women in the Church, as often believed. (41) All the manuals examined here discuss deaconesses within a much broader examination of ordination, which was then being subjected to intense scrutiny by the Scholastics. In a well-known essay on the terminology of ordination used in the early Church, Yves Congar demonstrates how variably the words ordinare, ordinari, and ordinatio were used before the Scholastic period. (42) In the first millennium these terms were broadly used, and not always in a sacramental sense. They signified that someone had been designated or consecrated to take a certain function or ordo in the community. It could thus be said that not only deaconesses, but lectors, porters, kings, and queens were ordained. (43) This situation changed dramatically as the medieval Scholastics subjected the sacrament of ordination to nearly every conceivable question, and the terminology surrounding ordination took on increasingly precise meanings. Nonetheless, this linguistic shift occurred gradually and haphazardly. (44) During the reign of Innocent III (1198-1216), the pope could still name jurists as a privileged ordo within the Church. (45)

Amidst this Scholastic examination of orders, the numbering of the sacraments and the listing of the various grades of orders was a particular concern. This is evident in the manuals of Flamborough and John of Kent. (46) Their treatment of deaconesses is found directly after a discussion about the grades of orders. Although the two manualists had some disagreement on this issue, with Flamborough listing eight grades of orders and John of Kent nine, neither list included deaconesses. (47) For deaconesses and other offices not included in either grade of orders, what was formerly called their ordination was now called an institution, as noted by Freiburg.

Along with numbering the grades of orders, another development took place that affected the nature of the discussion henceforth. This was the understanding that ordination, at least to the major orders, was irreversible. Ordination left a mark (character) on the recipient which, as with baptism and confirmation, could never be undone or repeated. (48) Peter Lombard discussed this mark in the mid-twelfth century, but did not address whether women could receive the mark of ordination. (49) The canonists raised that issue, and determined they could not. The pastoral manuals bear witness to the increasing precision regarding the necessary conditions for reception of the mark.

There is one final detail in Freiburg's manual that deserves notice. Unlike Penyafort, Freiburg divides his treatment of deaconesses into questiones. The use of the questio was a common way to organize a text, and Chobham likewise divides his manual. However, the formulation of Freiburg's first questio poses an interesting problem. Freiburg wrote: "I ask here whether a female is able to receive the mark of clerical ordination." The issue here is that it would have been impossible to ask this question before the twelfth century. The terminology and precise theological concepts assumed by the question had not yet been articulated. Yet when Freiburg was writing at the close of the thirteenth century, he was no longer posing a question in search of an answer. He was rather providing the question to an already existing answer. Due to the Scholastic inquiry of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, this question could now be formulated with precision. For Freiburg to provide the answer was a simple task.

Freiburg's Summa confessorum can justifiably be seen as the summit of the medieval pastoralia tradition, and his treatment of deaconesses was often repeated. (50) His manual enjoyed an enormous popularity over the following centuries, and in effect made Penyafort's manual superfluous. (51) Many of the pastoral manuals of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were either inspired by, or a reordering of, Freiburg's Summa. Most notable is Angelo Carletti's Summa angelica (1486), which is essentially a rearranged version of Freiburg's manual, and which Martin Luther later deemed worthy to be burned alongside the books of canon law. (52) When Luther addressed the ordination of women, he affirmed their priestly character. (53) But the significance of his revolt was not that he disagreed with Freiburg's answer, but rather that he outright rejected Freiburg's question. Regardless, elsewhere in Europe the theology of ordination espoused in Freiburg's manual was soon placed among the dogmatic decrees of the Council of Trent, and again later among the canons of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.


(1.) 1983 Code of Canon Law, c. 1008: "By divine institution, the sacrament of orders establishes some among the Christian faithful as sacred ministers through an indelible character which marks them. They are consecrated and designated, each according to his grade, to nourish the people of God, fulfilling in the person of Christ the Head the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing." C. 1009: "[section]1. The orders are the episcopate, the presbyterate, and the diaconate. [section]2. They are conferred by the imposition of hands and the consecratory prayer which the liturgical books prescribe for the individual grades." C. 1024: "A baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly."

(2.) Aime Georges Martimort, Deaconesses: An Historical Study, trans. K. D. Whitehead (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986); Roger Gryson, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, trans. J. Laporte and M. L. Hall (Collegeville, MI: The Liturgical Press, 1980).

(3.) Council of Trent, Sess. VII, can. 9; Sess. XXIII, can. 4.

(4.) Gary Macy, "The Ordination of Women in the Early Middle Ages," in A History of Women and Ordination, vol. 1, ed. Bernard Cooke and Gary Macy (London: Scarecrow Press, 2002), 1-31.

(5.) Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women's Ordination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 109.

(6.) See also John Hilary Martin, "The Ordination of Women and the Theologians in the Middle Ages," in A History of Women and Ordination, 31-160.

(7.) See also Ida Raming, "The Priestly Office of Women: God's Gift to a Renewed Church," in A History of Women and Ordination, 1-198.

(8.) Joseph Goering, "Pastoralia: The Popular Literature of the Care of Souls," in Medieval Latin: An Introduction and Bibliographical Guide, ed. F. A. C. Mantello and A. G. Rigg (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1996), 670-76.

(9.) Council of Lateran IV, canons 21, 27.

(10.) See also Joseph Goering, "The Summa de penitentia of John of Kent," Bulletin of Medieval Canon Law 18 (1988): 13-31.

(11.) See also Stephan Kuttner and Eleanor Rathbone, "Anglo-Norman Canonists of the Twelfth Century: an Introductory Study," Traditio 7 (1949-1951): 279-358.

(12.) John of Kent, Summa de poenitentia, London, British Library, MS Royal 9.A.XIV, fol. 204rb: "De substancia ordinis sunt sexus, baptisma, prima tonsura, potestas ordinatis et eius intencio et forte intencio ordinati et uerba. De substancia est sexus quia mulieres benedicuntur non ordinantur nec hermofroditus etsi preualeat in eo sexus uirilis. Secus in testimonio licet inueniatur quod aliquando fuerint diaconisse set in alio sensu dicebantur quam modo diaconus."

(13.) Robert of Flamborough, Liber poenitentialis, ed. J. J. F. Firth (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1971).

(14.) Robert of Flamborough, Liber poenitentialis, 101: "De substantia ordinis sunt sexus, baptismus, prima tonsura ceterorum ordinum, potestas ordinantis et eius intentio et forte intentio ordinati et verba. Sexus est de substantia ordinis; quia mulieres benedicuntur, non ordinantur; licet inveniatur quod aliquando fuerunt diaconissae. Sed in alio sensu dicebantur diaconissae quam hodie diaconus; numquam enim habuit femina illud officium quod modo habet diaconus. Nec hermaphroditus, etiam si in eo praevaleat sexus virilis."

(15.) See also Joseph Goering, "The Summa de penitentia of John of Kent," 25-31.

(16.) C.27 q.1 c.23: "Diaconissam non debere ante annos quadraginta ordinari statuimus; et hoc cum diligenti probatione. SIVero ordinationem susceperit, et quantocumque tempore observaverit ministerium, et postea se nuptiis tradiderit, iniuriam faciens gratiae Dei; haec anathema sit cum eo qui in nuptiis illius conuenerit." For an explanation of the standard forms used in this paper to cite Gratian's Decretum, cf. James Brundage, Medieval Canon Law (London: Longman, 1995), 190-205.

(17.) Raming, The Priestly Office of Women, passim; Macy, The Hidden History of Women's Ordination, passim.

(18.) Huguccio, Summa decretorum, Lons-le-Saunier, Archives departementales du Jura, 16, f. 328v: Dyaconissam. verbum. ordinari: Sed quomodo dicit calcedonense consilium dyaconissas debere ordinari cum Ambrosius qui precessit dicat hoc esse contra auctoritatem, super illud locum Apostoli in prima epistola ad Thimotheum: 'mulieres similiter oportet esse pudicas et cetera.' Ait enim occasionem horum uerborum Cathafrigide dicunt dyaconissas debere ordinari quod est contra auctoritatem. Sed dico quod mulier ordinem accipere non potest. Quid impedit? Constitutio ecclesie et sexus. Id est constitutio ecclesie in facta propter sexum. Si ergo de facto ordinetur femina non acciperit ordinem. Unde prohibetur exercere officia ordinum. et di. xxiii. sacratas. Quid si est hermafroditus? Distinguitur circa ordinem recipiendum sicut circa testimonium ferendum in testimonio. ut uii q iii hermafroditus. Si ergo magis calet in feminam quam in uirum non recipit ordinem. Sed e contrario recipere potest. Sed non decet ordinari propter deformitatem et monstruositatem. Arguitur di. xxxvi. illiteratos et di. xlix c. ulterius. Quid si equaliter calet in utrumque? Non recipit ordinem. Dico ergo quod numquam fuit femina ordinata nec credo quod umquam aliqua habuit dyaconatus ordinem. Sed ordinabantur dyaconisse et eligebantur et quadam sollepnitate constituebantur ad aliquod officium quod competit dyaconis forte cantabant et dicebant euangelium in matutinis et orationem et tale officium et talis prelatio dicebatur dyaconatus. Tale officium nunc explent abbatisse in quibusdam locis. Nec modo tales dyaconisse apud nos inueniuntur nisi quis dicat abbatissas esse loco earum, et de tali ordinatione loquitur concilium calcedonense. Ambrosius loquitur de ordinatione ad ordines. Alii dicunt quod olim mulier ordinabatur usque ad dyaconatum. Postea fuit prohibitum tempore Ambrosii. Postea iterum ordinabantur tempore huius concilii nunc non ordinantur sed prima explanatio preualet.

(19.) Dicta post C.4 q.2 & 3 c. 3.

(20.) Ambrosiaster, Commentarius in epistulam ad Timotheum, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, ed. Vogels (Vienna: Hoelder-Pichler-Tempsky, 1969) , 81:3:268. While much of Huguccio's reflection on ordination was original, this potent reference to Ambrose and the Catafrygians came from Rufinus, another master of canon law at Bologna. Rufinus briefly discussed deaconesses in his legal commentary (c. 1164). See also Rufinus, Summa decretorum, ed. Heinrich Singer (Paderborn: Schoningh, 1902), 437.

(21.) Thomas Chobham, Summa confessorum, ed. F. Broomfield (Louvain: Nauwelaerts, 1968).

(22.) Thomas Chobham, Summa confessorum, 116: Officium diaconi est legere evangelium et ministrare sacerdoti in altari. Potest autem diaconus legere evangelium in ecclesia, sed solus sacerdos potest exponere evangelium ad populum, sicut dicit canon, quod soli sacerdotes habent potestatem predicandi, quamvis tamen modo propter defectum peritorum sacerdotum sustineat ecclesia quod etiam in minoribus ordinibus periti clerici predicent. Est autem ordo diaconorum tantum masculorum, quamvis in canonibus inveniatur quod quedam mulieres fuerunt diaconisse, eo quod in conventu monialium legerunt evangelium. Sed sciendum quod nulla mulier habet aliquem predictorum ordinum, sed quia non fuit tutum quod diaconi ingrederentur chorum monialium et ibi legerent evangelium, permissum fuit ab ecclesia quod aliqua monialium legeret ibi evangelium sine omni ordine. Prohibitum est etiam in canonibus quod nulla mulier, neque monialis neque alia, ministret sacerdoti in altari, neque contingat pallas altaris, neque sacra vasa, propter periculum ministrorum et propter periculum sacerdotum qui possent moverIVisa muliere.

(23.) Rolandus, Summa, ed. Freidrich Thaner (Innsbruck: Verlag der Wagner, 1874), 121.

(24.) D. 78 c.2; C.1 q.7 c.2; C.11 q.1 c.38; C.27 q.1 c.23; C.27 q.1 c.30.

(25.) Gl. Ord. ad C.27 q.1 c.23, v. Ordinari: Videtur obviare huic Ambrosius qui precessit hoc concilium. Ait enim super illum locum Apostoli in prima epistola ad Thimotheum 'Mulieres similiter oportet esse pudicas': occasione horum verborum Cathafrige dicunt diaconissas debere ordinari, quod est contra auctoritatem. Respondeo quod mulieres non recipiunt caracterem inpediente sexu et constitutione ecclesiae, enim unde nec officium ordinum exercere possunt 23. di. sacratas [D.23 c.25]. Nec ordinabatur hic, sed fundebatur super ea [sic] forte aliqua benedictio ex qua consequebatur aliquod officium speciale, forte legendi omelias vel euangelium ad matutinas quod non licebat aliis. Alii dicunt quod si monialis ordinetur, bene recipit caracterem quia ordinari facti est et post baptismum quilibet potest ordinari. extra de presbyteris. non baptiz. cap. ulterius [C.27 q.1 c.43]. Munich, Staatsbibliothek, MS 14005, f. 258r (c. 1275).

(26.) For an overview of Huguccio's influence on the Glossa ordinaria, see Rudolph Weigand, "The Development of the Glossa ordinaria to Gratian's Decretum," in The History of Medieval Canon Law in the Classical Period: 1140-1234, ed. W. Hartmann and K. Pennington (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 55-97.

(27.) Dicta ante C.15 q.3 c.1: "Mulieres autem non solum ad sacerdotium, sed nec etiam ad diaconatum prouehi possut."

(28.) The term character is also used by Peter Lombard in his discussion of orders. Peter Lombard, Sententiarum libri quatuor, (Paris: Migne, 1841) lib. IV, dist. 24, 25.

(29.) 1983 Code of Canon Law, c. 1008, 1024. The indelible nature of the mark was also articulated in the medieval period: see also Saint Antoninus of Florence (1389-1459), Summa theologiae moralis, vol. III, tit. 14, cap. XI: "Et quia talis character est indelebilis, propter hoc tria illa sacramenta, in quibus imprimitur, nullo modo iterantur, ne fiat injuria habentibus perpetuum effectum."

(30.) See also Joseph Goering, "The Internal Forum and the Literature of Penance and Confession," in The History of Medieval Canon Law, 380.

(31.) Raymond of Penyafort, Summa de casibus penitentiae (Rome, 1603), 316-17.

(32.) Raming, The Priestly Office of Women, passim; Macy, The Hidden History of Women's Ordination, passim.

(33.) Leonard Boyle, "The Summa Confessorum of John of Freiburg and the Popularization of the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas and of some of his Contemporaries," in St. Thomas and his Contemporaries, vol. 2, ed. Armand Maurer (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1974), 245-68.

(34.) Boyle, "The Summa confessorum of John of Freiburg," 268.

(35.) John of Freiburg, Summa confessorum (Paris: 1519), f. 118: Questio prima. Et quero hic an femina possit caracterem ordinis clericalis recipere vel actum alicuius ordinis clericalis. Respondeo errore amborum super illum locum apostoli, id est, Thimotheum. iii. 'Mulieres similiter pudicas esse.' Et occasione istorum verborum decepti Cathafrige dicunt dyaconissam ordinari debere, quod est contrarium veritati: quia mulieres caracterem non recipiunt impediente sexu et constitutione ecclesie. Unde nec possunt predicare etiam abbatisse: nec benedicere: nec excommunicare: nec absoluere: nec penitentias dare: nec iudicare: nec officium aliquorum ordinum exercere quantumcumque sint sancte vel docte vel religiose. (dist. xxiii. mulier. sacratas. xxxiii. q.v. mulierem. extra de sententia excomm. de monialibus.) licet enim beatissima viro Maria dignior et excellentior fuerit apostolis unicersis non tamen illi sed viris dominus claues regni celorum commisit.

(36.) John of Freiburg, Summa confessorum, f. 118: "Dyaconisse autem de quibus loquitur illud. c. dyaconissam non inueniuntur sicut ibi notauit Hugu. quarum ordinatio vocabatur institutio ad predicta officia non collatio alicuius caracteris aut ordinis ecclesiastici. idem theologi dicunt."

(37.) Macy, The Hidden History of Women's Ordination, 109.

(38.) Boyle, "The Summa confessorum of John of Freiburg," 252-55.

(39.) John of Freiburg, Summa confessorum, f. 118: Questio secunda. Sed quid de hermaphrodito? Nunquid ordinari potest. Respondeo secundum glossam hic super verbo mentiuntur. Dicendum quod si magis vergit in sexum virilem quam in femineum potest recipere caracterem. Si econverso non potest. iiii .q. iii. Item hermofroditus ordinari tamen non debet siue sic: siue sic habeat propter deformitatem et monstruositatem. Arguitur xxxvi. dist. illiteratos. xlix. dist. c. ulti. Si autem equaliter inualescat in eo sexus virilis et femineus caracterem recipere non potest. Quia non potest dici aliquis vel aliqua.

(40.) John of Freiburg's answer was not always the final word. In the fifteenth century Angelo Carletti agreed with the conclusion of Huguccio instead. Angelo Carletti, Summa angelica (Venice: Arrivabene, 1487) , v. hermofroditus.

(41.) See also Marie Anne Mayeski, "Excluded by the Logic of Control: Women in Medieval Society and Scholastic Theology," in Equal at the Creation: Sexism, Society, and Christian Thought, ed. Joseph Martos and Pierre Hegy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998), 70-95.

(42.) Yves Congar, "Note sur une valeur des termes 'ordinare, ordination,'" Revue des sciences religieuses 58 (1972): 7-14. See also the conclusions regarding these terms made in the 1917 Code of Canon Law, c. 950.

(43.) Macy, "The Ordination of Women in the Early Middle Ages," 3-6.

(44.) See also Gerard Fransen, "The Tradition in Medieval Canon Law," in The Sacrament of Holy Orders (London: Aquin Press, 1962), 202-219.

(45.) X 5.7.12: "Cum igitur Doctorum ordo sit quasi praecipuus in ecclesia, non debet sibi quisquam indifferenter praedicationis officium usurpare." See also Brundage, Medieval Canon Law, 68.

(46.) John of Kent, Summa de penitencia, fol. 204rb; Robert of Flamborough, Liber penitentialis, 100.

(47.) Flamborough considered the episcopate to be an extra dignity rather than its own ordo. John of Kent disagreed and listed nine grades, with the episcopacy having its own ordo. This later view of the episcopate was more typical of canonists, and with time was accepted by the magisterium. See also 1983 Code of Canon Law, c. 1009; Robert Stenger, "The Episcopacy as an Ordo according to the Medieval Canonists," Mediaeval Studies 29 (1967): 67-112.

(48.) Lombard, Sententiarum libri quatuor, lib. IV, dist. 7. See also the later dogmatic decrees of the Council of Trent: Sess. VII, can. 9; Sess. XXIII, can. 4.

(49.) Ibid., dist. 24.

(50.) See also Carletti, Summa angelica, v. abbatissa, ordo.

(51.) Boyle, "The Summa Confessorum of John of Freiburg," 268.

(52.) Martin Brecht, Martin Luther, trans. J. Schaaf (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1993), 424.

(53.) Martin Luther, The Catholic Epistles, in Luther's Works, vol. 30, ed. J. Pelikan and W. Hansen (Saint Louis: Concordia, 1967), 54-55.
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