Episcopal Visits to the Imperial Court

Hamilton Hess

in The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

Published in print October 2002 | ISBN: 9780198269755
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601163 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

 Episcopal Visits to the Imperial Court

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In response to a general problem in the fourth‐century Church arising from ambitious or unworthy petitions submitted to the imperial court by individual bishops, seven of the Serdican canons are devoted to specifying appropriate causes for petition and for regulating the ways in which they should be presented. Canons 8 (Greek VII) and 10b draw a distinction between self‐seeking petitions, which are condemned, and petitions concerning widows, orphans, those who suffer injustice, and exiles, and stipulates that no bishop shall go to the court unless he is summoned or invited by the emperor. Canon 9a (Greek VIII) directs that the petitions should be delivered to the court by the petitioning bishop's deacon, and canon 9b (Greek IXa) adds that the petitions should first be approved by the metropolitan bishop of the province. Canon 10a (Greek IXb) makes a provision for bishops who have petitions and who are going to Rome that the Roman bishop may examine and send approved petitions to the court. This chapter also considers the development of the office of the metropolitan bishop in the East in the light of the evidence provided by Canon 9b (Greek IXa).

Keywords: bishops; deacon; emperor; imperial court; metropolitan bishop; orphans; petitions; Roman bishop; widows

Chapter.  3975 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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