Fifteenth Session of the Council of Trent

Author: Trent


Session XV - The fifth under the Supreme Pontiff, Julius III, celebrated on the twenty-fifth day of January, 1552

Decree For Proroguing The Session

Since this holy and general council has during these days, in accordance with the decrees enacted in the last sessions, most accurately and diligently considered the things that relate to the most holy sacrifice of the mass and to the sacrament of order, in order that in the present session it might publish, as the Holy Ghost would have prompted, decrees on these matters and on the four articles concerning the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist, which had been finally deferred to this session; and since it was thought that those who call themselves Protestants, for whose sake it had deferred the publication of those articles, and to whom it had given the public faith or a safe-conduct that they might come here freely and without any delay,[1] would in the meantime have presented themselves at this holy council; seeing, however, that they have not yet come, and the holy council having been petitioned in their name that the publication which was to have been made on this day be deferred to the following session, an assured hope being expressed that they will doubtlessly be present long before that session upon receipt in the meantime of a safe-conduct in a more amplified form, the same holy council, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legate and nuncios presiding, desiring nothing more than to remove from among the illustrious German nation all dissensions and schisms regarding religion, and to provide for its tranquillity, peace and concord; being prepared, should they come, to receive them kindly and to listen to them favorably, and trusting that they will come not with the intention of obstinately assailing the Catholic faith but of learning the truth, and that they will at last, as becomes those zealous for evangelical truth, acquiesce in the decrees and discipline of holy mother Church, has deferred the next session for the publication and promulgation of the aforesaid matters to the feast of St. Joseph, which will be the nineteenth day of the month of March, in order that they may have sufficient time and leisure not only to come but also to propose before that day arrives whatever they may wish. And that all cause for further delay on their part may be removed, it freely gives and grants them the public faith or a safe-conduct, the contents and tenor of which is given below. But it ordains and decrees that in the meantime the sacrament of matrimony is to be considered, and it will give in the same session its decisions thereon, in addition to the publication of the above-mentioned decrees, also continuing the matter of reform.

Safe-Conduct Given To The Protestants

The holy, ecumenical and general Council of Trent, lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same legate and nuncios of the Apostolic See presiding, adhering to the safe-conduct given in the session before the last and amplifying it in the manner following, certifies to all men that by the tenor of these presents, it grants and fully concedes the public faith and the fullest and truest security, which they call a safe-conduct, to each and all priests, electors, princes, dukes, marquises, counts, barons, soldiers, the common people, and to all other persons of whatever state, condition or character they may be, of the German province and nation, to the cities and other places thereof, and to all other ecclesiastical and secular persons, especially those of the Confession of Augsburg, who shall come or be sent with them to this general Council of Trent, and to those who are going to come or have already come, by whatever name they are or may be designated, to come freely to this city of Trent, to remain, abide and sojourn here and to propose, speak and consider, examine and discuss any matters whatever with the council, and to present freely whatever they may think suitable, to set forth any articles whatever either in writing or orally, and to explain, establish and prove them by the Sacred Scriptures and by the words, decisions and arguments of the blessed Fathers, and also to reply, if need be, to the objections of the general council, and to dispute and confer charitably and respectfully and without hindrance with those who have been selected by the council, reproachful, vexatious and offensive language being absolutely put aside; and particularly, that the controverted matters shall be treated in this Council of Trent in accordance with Sacred Scripture and the traditions of the Apostles, the approved councils, the consensus of the Catholic Church and the authority of the holy Fathers; with this further addition, that they shall under no condition be punished by reason of religion or of offenses committed or that may be committed in regard thereto; and also that the divine offices shall not by reason of their presence, either upon the road or in any place of their journey, their stay or their return, or in the city of Trent itself, be in any way interrupted; and that on the conclusion of these matters or before their conclusion, whensoever it shall please them, if they should wish by the command and permission of their superiors to return to their homes, or if any one of them should so wish, they may at their pleasure return freely and securely, without restraint, formality or delay, without injury to their property and to the honor and persons of their attendants and vice versa; making known, however, their intention of withdrawing to those to be deputed by the council, so that at a convenient time, without deceit or fraud, provision may be made for their security. The holy council wishes also that all clauses whatsoever, which may be necessary and suitable for a complete, effective and sufficient security for coming; sojourning and returning, be included and contained, and to be considered as included, in this public faith and safe-conduct. For their greater security and for the sake of peace and reconciliation, it declares also that if, which God forbid, any one or several of them should, either on the way to Trent or while sojourning there or returning therefrom, perpetrate or commit an atrocious act, by which the benefit of this public faith and assurance granted to them might be annulled and cassated, it wishes and concedes that those discovered in such crime shall be forthwith punished by their own countrymen and not by others, with a condign chastisement and proper reparation, which the council on its part may justly approve and commend, the form, conditions and terms of the safe-conduct remaining entirely intact thereby. In like manner it wishes also that if, which God forbid, any one or several of this council should, either on the road or while sojourning or returning, perpetrate or commit an atrocious act by which the benefit of this public faith or assurance may be violated or in any manner annulled, those discovered in any such crime shall be forthwith punished by the council itself and not by others, with a condign chastisement and proper reparation, which the Germans of the Augsburg Confession here present may on their part approve and commend, the present form, conditions and terms of the safe-conduct remaining entirely intact thereby. The council wishes furthermore, that each and all of their ambassadors shall be allowed to go out of the city of Trent to take the fresh air as often as it shall be convenient or necessary and to return here; also freely to send or dispatch their messenger or messengers to any place whatsoever to attend to their necessary affairs and to receive those sent or dispatched or the one sent or dispatched as often as they may deem fit; so however that several or one of those appointed by the council may accompany them or him in order to provide for their safety. This safe-conduct and security shall be good and extend from and during the time that they shall have been taken under the protection of this council and its agents to their arrival at Trent, and during the entire time of their sojourn here; and further, after a sufficient hearing has been had, a period of twenty days having expired, when they themselves should desire, or the council on the conclusion of such hearing should give them notice to return, it will, all deceit and fraud being wholly excluded, reconduct them with the help of God from Trent to that place of safety which each may choose for himself. All of which it promises and pledges in good faith to be inviolately observed toward each and all of the faithful of Christ, toward all ecclesiastical and secular princes and all ecclesiastical and secular persons, of whatsoever state and condition they may be or by whatsoever name they may be known. Moreover, it promises in sincere and good faith, to the exclusion of fraud and deceit, that the council will neither openly nor secretly seek any occasion, nor make use of, nor permit anyone else to make use of, any authority, power, right or statute, privilege of laws or canons, or of any councils in whatever form of words expressed, especially those of Constance and Siena, in any way prejudicial to this public faith and the fullest security, and of the public and free hearing granted by this council to the above-named; these it abrogates in this respect and for this occasion. And if the holy council or any member thereof, or any of its adherents, of whatever condition, state or pre-eminence, shall violate, which may the Almighty prevent, in any point or clause whatever, the form and terms of the security and safe-conduct as set forth above, and a satisfactory reparation that in their judgment may be justly approved and commended shall not have forthwith followed, they may consider the council to have incurred all those penalties which by human and divine law or by custom the violators of such safe-conducts can incur, without any excuse or contrary allegation in this respect.


1 Supra, Sess. XIII at the end.

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