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Lateran IV

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  • CANON 62
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Summary. Relics are not to be sold or put on exhibition, lest the people be deceived in regard to them. Seekers of alms are not to be admitted unless they can exhibit letters of the Apostolic See or of the bishops, and they may not preach anything not contained in the letters. On the occasion of the dedication of a-church, an indulgence of not more than one year may be granted; on the anniversary of the dedication-, it may not exceed forty days.

Text. From the fact that some expose for sale and exhibit promiscuously the relics of saints, great injury is sustained by the Christian religion. That this may not occur hereafter, we ordain in the present decree that in the future old relics may not be exhibited outside of a vessel or exposed for sale. And let no one presume to venerate publicly new ones unless they have been approved by the Roman pontiff. In the future prelates shall not permit those who come to their churches causa venerationis to be deceived by worthless fabrications or false documents as has been done in many places for the sake of gain. We forbid also that seekers (quaestores) of alms, some of whom, misrepresenting themselves, preach certain abuses, be admitted, unless they exhibit genuine letters either of the Apostolic See or of the diocesan bishop, in which case they may not preach anything to the people but what is contained in those letters. We give herewith a form which the Apostolic See commonly uses in granting such letters, that the diocesan bishops may model their own upon it. The following is the form:

Forma litterarum praedicatorum

Quoniam, ut ait Apostolus, omnes stabimus ante tribunal Christi, recepturi prout in corpore gessimus, sive bonum sive malum fuerit, oportet nos diem messionis extremae misericordiae operibus praevenire, ac aeternorum intuitu seminare in terris quod reddente Domino cum multiplicato fructu colligere debeamus in caelis; firmain spem, fiduciamque tenentes, quoniam "qui parce seminat, parce et metet, et qui seminat in benedictionibus, de benedictionibus et metet in vitam aeternam." Cum igitur ad sustentationem fratrum et egenorum ad tale confluentium hospitals propriae non suppetant facultates, universitatem vestram monemus et exhortamur in Domino atque in remissionem vobis in' jungimus peccatorum, quatenus de bonis a Deo vobis collatis pias eleemosynas et grata eis caritatis subsidia erogatis, ut per subventionem vestram ipsorum inopiae consulatur, et vos per haec et per alia bona, quae Domino inspirante feceritis, ad aeterna possitis gaudia pervenire.

Those who are assigned to collect alms must be upright and discreet, must not seek lodging for the night in taverns or in other unbecoming places, nor make useless and extravagant expenses, and must avoid absolutely the wearing of the habit of a false religious.

Since, through indiscreet and superfluous indulgences which some prelates of churches do not hesitate to grant, contempt is brought on the keys of the Church, and the penitential discipline is weakened, we decree that on the occasion of the dedication of a church an indulgence of not more than one year be granted, whether it be dedicated by one bishop only or by many, and on the anniversary of the dedication the remission granted for penances enjoined is not to exceed forty days. We command also that in each case this number of days be made the rule in issuing letters of indulgences which are granted from time to time, since the Roman pontiff who possesses the plenitude of power customarily observes this rule in such matters .

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