< Previous
Next >

9. Of Officers of the church, who did not belong to the Priesthood

Antiquities of the Christian Church
CHAPTER IV. Inferior officers of the church

9. Of Officers of the church, who did not belong to the Priesthood

Persons of this description are to be distinguished by their rank and influence respectively, as well as by the time and circumstances of their appointment. They were chosen at one time from the clergy, at another from the laity. In the service of the church they often sustained much the same relations as did the archbishops, and other dignitaries, when acting as ministers of state. Their influence was chiefly felt in Rome and Constantinople, rather than in the provincial dioceses. The influence of some of these officers was often greater even than that of a prime minister, archbishop, or patriarch, just as the most important concerns of church and state are often controlled by a secretary or counsellor. . Officers of this class however had little or no concern with the appropriate duties of the ministry. And we will treat of them very briefly in the order of their importance proceeding from the lowest to the highest.

  1. The Mansionarii, stewards, to whom was instrusted the care of the church-glebes, styled also *
  2. *, persons appointed by the bishop and archdeacon to assist in managing the possessions of the church. This became in the middle ages, an office of great influence, and was in a good degree independent of the bishop. They were totally distinct fronn the stewards of cloisters, and other similar establishments.
  3. Cimeliarchs*, Thesaurii, Sacellii, Sacristae, different from the sacristans, or sextons before mentioned, treasurers. * chancellor of the exchequer; * treasurer of the cloisters, prefect of monasteries, etc.
  4. Notarii. The Greek *, was of late origin. Previous to this, the corresponding terms were *, etc. neither of which exactly expresses the meaning of the term notarius. This denotes a scribe, and always implies that he acts in some official capacity, as the scribe or secretary of a deliberative assembly, or the clerk of a court. The Notarii were frequently employed by private persons, but retained even then their official character. The * and *, were copyists and translators of homilies, records, etc. It w-as particularly their duty to write memoirs of such as suffered martyrdom, and to record the protocols of synods, and doings of councils. They also acted the part of a modern secretary of legation, and were again the agents of bishops and patriarchs in exercising a supervision over remote districts of their diocese. In this capacity, they frequently attained to great influence and honor. 

    The various services of a secretary or scribe in preparing writings, whether of a judicial, or extra-judicial character, were chiefly performed by men of the clerical order, because they were the best qualified for these duties.

  5. Apocrisiarii, or Responsales. They were often legates or ambassadors from one court to another, like the cancellarii, consiliarii, secretarii, referendarii, etc. The title of apocrisiary, was appropriated particularly to the pope's deputy or agent, who resided at the court of Constantinople to receive the Popov's orders and the emperor's answers. The existence of such an agent at that court, has been called in question without good reason. Both Leo and Gregory the Great once resided there in that capacity, and there are other unequivocal notices of the office. 
  6. Ambassadors. After the reestablishment of the Western empire, an accredited agent of the pope, of the like character, was accustomed to reside at the French court; he was sometimes called capellanus, palatii cusios, corresponding to a modern charge d'affaires.

    The most celebrated cloisters and abbeys, as well as the archbishops had also their agents at Rome. Since the ninth century they have had the name of ambassadors.

  7. Syncelli*. The chief syncellus at Constantinople was an officer of high rank, and the syncelli were generally chosen from the bishops and metropolitans to this office. The prelates of Rome had also their syncelli; but the office in time degenerated into an empty name. Their business is said to have been originally to attend upon the patriarchs and prelates as their spiritual advisers, and as witnesses of their deportment, and the purity of their manners.
  8. The Syndici*, defensores. Their business was to redress the wrongs of the poor and the injured, to defend the rights of the church, to exercise a supervision over the property of the church, to settle disputes, manage law-suits, etc. They were known in the church as early as the fourth or fifth century.
  9. There was still another class of officers who may perhaps be styled patrons or protectors. By whatever name they are called, they were divided into three subdivisions.
    1. Learned men, knights, and counts, who were patrons and guardians of different religious bodies.
    2. The agents of the church, patrons, who, especially in the absence of the bishop, acted in his place in the administration of affairs both of church and state. Under this head may be classed those who, Under the name of landlords, exercised a territorial jurisdiction in matters relating to the church.
    3. Kings and emperors, who claimed to be patrons of the churchy and defenders of the faith. The Roman Catholic princes of Germany, and the kings of France, have been peculiarly emulous of this honor.

Euseb. h. e. lib. vi. c. 26: Socrat. h,e. lib. vi. c. 5–7.c. 2: Sozomen h. e. lib. vii. c. 41–48. c. 27.

Tertiilliun ad. Scapul. c. 4: Cyprian ep. 12.

Euseb. h. e. lib. vii. c. 29: Socrat. b. e. lib. ii. c. 30: Concil. Eph, Act. 1. Concil. Clialced. Act 1.

Leon. M. ep. 10, 15, 23: Gregor. M. ep. lib. i. ep. 10, 34.

Goar. ad Codin. p. 5, 12.

Hineman Rhemensis, ad proceres regni c. 12. Du Cange Glossar, A. E; Klaiising de Symellis. 1. Justin Nov. 6. c. 1. 79. c. 1: Leon. M. ep. 37, .58, 78: Procop. de bello. vand. lib. i. c. 5. Syncelli.

S. Cedreni hist. p. 530, 193. 602, 624: Goari Praefat. ad Georg, Symellum Edit. Niebuhr, vol. ii. p. 558–57.

Capitul. Caroli M. lib. v. c. 174: Concil. Paris, A. D. 829. c. 20, 21: Concil. London, A. D. 1102. c. 1.

(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)


search 🔍



privacy policy