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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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16.

 Every luxury and adornment of the body is alien to the sacerdotal order. Bishops or clergymen, therefore, who adorn themselves with splendid and conspicuous clothes need to be corrected; but if they insist upon it, they must be condemned to a penance. Likewise as regards those who anoint themselves with perfumes. But inasmuch as a root of bitterness growing up, the heresy of Christianocategori (i.e., accusers of Christians), has become a pestilence, and those who have joined it not only have deemed iconic representations in paintings to be an abomination, but have even rejected every form of reverence, being inclined to loathe those who live decently and piously, and that which has been written has been fulfilled in them, viz., Godliness is an abomination to a sinner (Sirach A.28) I’m not sure what the true citation for this verse is. If, therefore, persons are found laughing at those clothed in cheap and decent vestments, let them be corrected with a penance. For ever since the days of old every priestly man has contented himself with moderate and decent vestments. For everything that is worn not because of any real need or necessity, but for embellishment incurs the discredit of being frippery, as Basil the Great has said. But neither did they put on any garments made of silk fabrics and embroidered with various designs; nor did any of them add any differently colored appendages to the edges of their vestments. For they had been told by the Speaker of God’s language that those who wear soft raiment are in the houses of kings (Matt. 11:8).

(c. XXVII of the 6th; cc. XII, XXI of Gangra.)

 

Interpretation.

The present Canon decrees that bishops and clerics who wear splendid clothes, as well as those who anoint themselves with perfumes, ought to correct this impropriety, since every embellishment and adornment of the human body is foreign to those in holy orders. But if they insist on doing so and will not correct themselves, let them be canonized with a suitable penance. Moreover, the iconomachists, besides rejecting holy icons, rejected also everything making for decency in the matter of clothing, and were wont to laugh at those wearing cheap or paltry garments (that is why they were wont to call monksdarkies,” that is to say, wearers of dark-colored clothes, making fun of the decency of the monkish habit, according to Metaphrastes in his Life of Stephen the Younger); accordingly, I say, let these men be corrected with a penance, for ever since the beginning men in holy orders have been wearing humble clothes. Hence St. Basil the Great (see his Epitomized Def. 49) describes as frippery[278] every piece of clothing that is not designed to meet some need of the body, but only for embellishment or beautification; and they were not accustomed to wear garments embroidered with silk (for silkworms are called in Greek seres after the Seres, or Chinese, who used to cultivate these worms, and from there they were carried to other regions); nor did they attach to the edges of their garments pieces of a different color from that of their garments.[279] For they had heard from the utterance of the Lord that those wearing soft clothes are found in palaces, and not in bishoprics and churches. See also c. XXVII of the 6th.

 

 




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