|THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
Under Pope Pius IV, Bishop, servant of the servants of God, for a perpetual remembrance hereof
|Petition For The Confirmation Of The Council
|We, Alexander of Farnese, cardinal-deacon of St. Lawrence in Damasus, vice-chancellor
of the holy Roman Church, do certify and attest that on this day, Wednesday, the
twenty-sixth of January, 1564, in the fifth year of the pontificate of our most holy Lord
Pius IV, by the providence of God, Pope, my most reverend Lords, the Cardinals Morone and
Simoneta, lately returned from the holy Council of Trent, at which they had presided as
legates of the Apostolic See, did in a secret consistory held at St. Peter's petition our
most holy Lord as follows:
"Most blessed Father, in a decree regarding the close of the ecumenical Council of Trent, published on the fourth of December last, it was declared that through the legates and presidents of Your Holiness and of the holy Apostolic See, confirmation of each and all of the things which were therein established and defined under Paul III and Julius III, of happy memory, as well as under Your Holiness, should be requested in the name of the Council from Your Holiness. Wherefore, we, Cardinal John Morone and Cardinal Louis Simoneta, who were then legates and presidents, wishing to execute what is ordained in that decree, do humbly petition in the name of the said ecumenical Council of Trent that Your Holiness deign to confirm each and all of the things which have been decreed and defined therein under Paul III and Julius III, of happy memory, as well as under Your Holiness."
Upon hearing which His Holiness, after having seen and read the contents of the said decree, and after having obtained the advice of my most reverend Lords, the cardinals, replied in these words:
"We, yielding to the petition made to us by the aforesaid legates in the name of the ecumenical Council of Trent regarding the confirmation thereof, with Apostolic authority and with the advice and assent of our venerable brethren, the cardinals, having previously had mature deliberation with them, confirm each and all of the things which have been decreed and defined in said Council under our predecessors, Paul III and Julius III, of happy memory, as well as during the time of our pontificate, and we command that they be received and inviolately observed by all the faithful of Christ, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."
Thus it is.
A. Farnese, Cardinal, Vice-Chancellor.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort," who, having deigned to look upon His holy Church, agitated and tossed by so many storms and tempests and day by day more sorely distressed, has at length come to her aid with a suitable and longed-for remedy.
To extirpate so many and most destructive heresies, to reform morals and restore ecclesiastical discipline, to bring about peace and harmony among the Christian people, an ecumenical and general council had already a long time ago been summoned by our predecessor, Paul III, of happy memory, to meet in the city of Trent and had been begun by holding several sessions. Recalled by his successor Julius to the same city, it was, after the celebration of several sessions, by reason of various hindrances and difficulties that prevented its continuance, for a long time interrupted, not without the greatest grief on the part of all pious persons, since the Church day by day increased her prayers for the success of that remedy.
But after having assumed the government of the Apostolic See, we, trusting in the divine mercy, undertook to accomplish, as our pastoral solicitude directed us, so necessary and salutary a work, and supported by the pious zeal of our most beloved son in Christ, Ferdinand, Emperor-elect of the Romans, and of other Christian kings, states and princes, we at length attained that for which we did not cease to labor in watchfulness day and night and for which we have assiduously besought the Father of lights. For since a very large assembly of bishops and other distinguished prelates, one worthy of an ecumenical council, had, by our letters of convocation and impelled also by their piety, gathered from all Christian nations in that city, together with very many other pious persons pre-eminent for their knowledge of sacred letters and divine and human law, under the presidency in that council of the legates of the Apostolic See, and since we so favored the freedom of the council that we by letters to our legates voluntarily left the council free to deal with matters properly reserved to the Apostolic See, those things which remained to be considered, defined and decreed regarding the sacraments and other matters which seemed necessary for the refutation of heresies, removal of abuses, and reform of morals, were dealt with and accurately and very deliberately defined, explained and decreed by the holy council with the fullest freedom and thoroughness.
On the completion of these matters the council was brought to a close with so great unanimity on the part of all who participated therein, that it was manifest that such agreement was the Lord's doing, and it was very wonderful in our eyes and in those of all. For this so singular favor of God we at once ordered public prayers in this fair city in which the clergy and people participated with great devotion, and we made it our care that praises and thanksgivings so justly due be paid to the divine majesty, since the close of the council has brought with it a great and well-nigh assured hope that greater fruits will day by day accrue to the Church from its decrees and constitutions.
But since the holy council itself, in its reverence toward the Apostolic See and following in this also the footsteps of the ancient councils, has, in a decree made in public session, petitioned us for the confirmation of all its decrees made in our time and in that of our predecessors, we, having been made acquainted with the request of the council, first by the letters of our legates, then, on their return, by what they diligently reported in the name of the council, after mature deliberation thereon with our venerable brethren, the cardinals of the holy Roman Church, and, above all, having invoked the aid of the Holy Ghost, after we had ascertained that all those decrees were Catholic, useful and salutary to the Christian people, to the praise of Almighty God, with the advice and assent of our brethren aforesaid, have this day in our secret consistory confirmed by Apostolic authority each and all, and have decreed that they be received and observed by all the faithful of Christ, as we also, for the clearer knowledge of all men, do by the contents of this letter confirm them and decree that they be received and observed by all.
Moreover, in virtue of holy obedience and under the penalties prescribed by the holy canons, and others more severe, even of deprivation, to be imposed at our discretion, we command each and all of our venerable brethren, patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, and all other prelates of churches, whatever may be their state, rank, order and dignity, even though distinguished with the honor of the cardinalate, to observe diligently the said decrees and ordinances in their churches, cities and dioceses both in and out of the court of justice, and to cause them to be observed inviolately, each by his own subjects whom it may in any way concern; restraining all opponents and obstinate persons by means of judicial sentences, censures and ecclesiastical penalties contained in those decrees, every appeal being set aside, calling in also, if need be, the aid of the secular arm. We admonish and by the bowels of the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ conjure our most beloved son the Emperor elect and the other Christian kings, states and princes, that they, with the same piety and zeal which they manifested through their ambassadors at the council, for the honor of God and the salvation of their people, in reverence also toward the Apostolic See and the holy council, support, if need be, with their aid and encouragement, the prelates in enforcing and observing the decrees of the council, and not to permit opinions contrary to the sound and salutary doctrine of the council to be received by the people under their jurisdiction, but to forbid them absolutely.
Furthermore, to avoid the perversion and confusion which might arise if everyone were allowed to publish, as he saw fit, his commentaries on and interpretations of the decrees of the council, we by Apostolic authority forbid all persons, ecclesiastics, of whatever order, condition or rank they may be, as well as laics, with whatever honor and power invested, prelates, indeed, under penalty of being prohibited entrance into the church, and others, whoever they may be, under penalty of excommunication <latae sententiae>, to presume without our authority to publish in any form any commentaries, glosses, annotations, scholia on, or any kind of interpretation whatsoever of the decrees of this council, or to decide something under whatever name, even under pretext of greater corroboration or better execution of the decrees, or under any other color or pretext. But if anything therein should appear to anyone to have been expressed and defined in an obscure manner and for that reason stands in need of some interpretation or decision, let him go up to the place which the Lord has chosen, namely, to the Apostolic See, the mistress of all the faithful, whose authority the holy council also has so reverently acknowledged. For if difficulties and controversies relative to those decrees shall arise, their explanation and decision we reserve to ourselves, as the holy council itself has also decreed; being prepared, as that council has justly confided to us, to provide for the necessities of all the provinces as it shall appear to us most suitable; at the same time we declare null and void whatever should be attempted to the contrary in these matters, whether knowingly or unknowingly, by any authority whatsoever.
But that these things may come to the knowledge of all and that no one may plead ignorance as an excuse, we wish and command that this letter be read publicly and in a loud voice by some officials of our court in the Vatican Basilica of the Prince of the Apostles and in the Lateran Church at a time when the people are accustomed to assemble there for the celebration of the masses; and after having been read, let it be affixed to the doors of those churches and also to those of the Apostolic Chancery and at the usual place in the Campo di Fiore, and let it be left there for some time that it may be read and come to the knowledge of all; but when removed thence, copies being according to custom left there, let it be committed to the press in the fair city that it may be more conveniently made known throughout the provinces and kingdoms of Christendom.
We command and decree also that an unwavering faith be given to the transcripts thereof, written or subscribed by the hand of a notary public and authenticated by the seal and signature of some person constituted in ecclesiastical dignity. Let no one, therefore, infringe this our letter of confirmation, admonition, inhibition, will, commands and decrees, or with foolhardy boldness oppose it. But if anyone shall presume to attempt this, let him know that he will incur the indignation of Almighty God and of His blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.
Given at Rome at Saint Peter's in the year 1564 of the Lord's incarnation on the twenty-sixth of January, in the fifth year of our pontificate.
I, Pius, Bishop of the Catholic Church.
I, F. Card. Pisanus, Bishop of Ostia, Dean.
I, Fed. Card. Caesius, Bishop of Porto.
I, Jo. Card. Moronus, Bishop of Tusculum.
I, A. Card. Farnesius, Vice-Chancellor, Bishop of Sabina.
I, R. Card. S. Angeli, Major Penitentiary.
I, Jo. Card. S. Vitalis.
I, Jo. Michael Card. Sarasenus.
I, Jo. B. Cicada, Card. S. Clementis.
I, Scipio Card. Pisarum.
I, Jo. Card. Romanus.
I, F. M. G. Card. Alexandrinus.
I, F. Clemens Card. Arae Coeli.
I, Jo. Card. Sabellus.
I, B. Card. Salviatus.
I, Philip. Card. Aburd.
I, Lud. Card. Simoneta.
I, F. Card. Pacieccus y de Toll
I, M. A. Card. Amulius.
I, Jo. Franc. Card. de Gambara.
I, Carolus Card. Borromaeus.
I, M. S. Card. Constant.
I, Alph. Card. Gesualdus.
I, Hipp. Card. Ferrar.
I, Franciscus Card. Gonzaga.
I, Gui. Asc. Diac. Card. Cam.
I, Vitellotius Card. Vitellius.
Ant. Florebellus Lavellinus.
1 Cf. II Cor. 1:3.
2 Ps. 117:23.
3 Deut. 17:8.
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