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E02087: Canon 68 of the Latin collection of canons of eastern councils, compiled and translated in ca. 572 by Martin, bishop of Braga (north-west Spain), orders that mass should only be celebrated in a church or 'in a basilica where relics of martyrs are deposited', and not outside, directly over graves.

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posted on 2016-12-08, 00:00 authored by CSLA Admin
Martin of Braga, Collection of the Canons of the Eastern Councils

Canon 68

De eo quod non liceat super monumenta mortuorum missas tenere.
Non oportet clericos ignaros et praesumptores super monumenta in campo ministeria portare aut distribuere sacramenta, sed aut in ecclesia aut in basilica ubi martyrum reliquiae sunt depositae ibi pro defunctis oblationem offerri.
Canon 68

'That it is not allowed to celebrate mass on the tombs of the dead.
It is not right that ignorant and presumptuous clerics should hold services over tombs outdoors (in campo), or distribute the sacraments there, but offerings for the dead shall be made either in a church, or in a basilica where relics of martyrs are deposited.'
Text: Barlow 1950, 140. Translation: M. Szada.


Evidence ID



  • Latin

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Iberian Peninsula Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Braga Laodicea ad Lycum

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Braga Osset Osset Osen (castrum) Osser castrum Laodicea ad Lycum Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Martin of Braga

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Eucharist associated with cult

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics – unspecified

Cult Activities - Relics

Unspecified relic


In the manuscript tradition of the canons of the Second Council of Braga (of 572), these are followed by canons of the eastern church collected and translated into Latin by Martin, bishop of Braga (after 561-580). He was using a Greek collection, impossible to identify with any of the collections known today, which gathered together the canons of several eastern councils. Martin dedicated his work to Bishop Nitigisius of Lugo. The two bishops both subscribed to the Second Council of Braga, and possibly this collection was composed for this occasion (Barlow 1950, 84-87).


The exact origin of this canon is uncertain, as there is no obvious analogy among the canons of the councils usually excerpted by Martin of Braga. Its aim was to regulate commemoration of the Christian dead. The phrasing of the canon suggests an awareness of two types of churches: an ecclesia (probably an intramural congregational church) and a basilica with relics of martyrs (presumably an extramural martyr-shrine).


Edition: Barlow, C., Martini episcopi Bracarensis opera omnia (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950).

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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