Sources and translations

The texts translated on this website are taken from the following sources:

  • De divortio Lotharii regis et Theutberga reginae (ed. Letha Bohringer, MGH Concilia 4, Supplementum 1)
  • Letter on Count Stephen, Hincmar Epistola 136 (MGH Epistolae 8, pp 88-107)

Page references are given in square brackets in the translation. All these translations are works in progress and have not been checked for errors or readability. Readers are strongly advised to check the Latin text themselves, as found at the MGH website.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Letter on Stephen 9: final suggestions and comments

[p 106] For also St Syricus took care to place something about the blessing of betrothed women in his decretals. About whom, the holy canons decree what is noted, and we thence have said some things, and we should now say other things more, if we had heard that a priestly blessing in the ecclesiastical way had been given to this wedding, about which we speak, But the priestly blessing did not have a place in that in which owed faith was absent, especially since scripture says: "In whatever home you should enter, first say: Peace on this house. And if they should be a son of peace in it, your peace will rest upon it, if not, your peace will return to you." [Luke 10: 5-6] And Peter said about the Lord from the faithful: "Faith purifying their hearts". [Acts 15: 9] And again it is written: "All their works in faith" and again: "For what is not from faith is sin". [Romans 14: 23] And where sin remains before suitable satisfaction blessing has no place. For prayer benefits nothing, as blessed Gregory says, where there is iniquitous action.

[p 106] After all these things, if Raymond should not want to receive his daughter, or she should decide to remain in her liberty, it is to be indicated to them that if she herself should commit whatever debauchery [stuprum], whatever should be wrongly done, will pertain to him or her, but not to Stephen.

[p 106] But you ought, holy bishops, to suggest, make known and order both Raymond, Stephen and their relatives and friends from divine mandate that they have peace among themselves, which the Lord orders, and without which they will not be able to see God, except for judgement. And the prince of the land with the primores ought to be busy to do this, lest for the sake of this case scandals and plots may happen in the church and kingdom. Those who should scorn to obey should be made, according to the gospel precept, like a heathen and publican, and according to the Apostle, let it be noted who does not obey the word, so that no one may be associated with him; and he who should not receive this doctrine of peace, let no one greet him, so that he may not communicate his sin and just as the canons decree neither let his offering be received in the shrine. And he who should not want to return to peace, let him remain excommunicated as long as he should despise returning to peace, and let him hasten to return as quickly as possible to charity, which covers a multitude of sins. And again it is written in the canons that from the council two or three judges should be chosen and sent to determine (?) all the things which ought to be examined and determined by clerical judgement, and that will be able to be determined more reasonably and conveniently elsewhere than in the same council. And whoever should be proved from contumacy not to want to obey the judges, when this should be proved by the bishop of the first see, let him send a letter, so that no one may communicate with him, until he should obey. About which matter the holy synod have taken care to choose you who are of the first sees of the Aquitaine kingdom for determining this case with your fellow bishops and the prince and primores of this land. Without this determination whoever should delay to obey you will not be able to avoid his peril and the invective of excommunication.

[p 107] I have taken care to collect these things from gospel truth and apostolic and canonical authority or doctrine and tradition of the Catholic fathers, just as the holy synod ordered, for the sake of the mediocrity of my little capacity. No one ought to be angry at me about this, just as I have heard, that certain ones are. Since I have not composed my words with my senses nor have I presumed to claim for myself what is not mine, nor have I taken care to write something that is not mine in this case by stating or demanding, prejudging the rational statement of no one, nor dishonouring authority or wanting to force necessity of obeying on any one. But I remind your very loved and revered fraternity, as blessed Leo writes to Rusticus Bishop of Narbonne: that, just as there are certain things which can be overthrown by no reason, thus there are many things it may be proper to be moderate about, either for the sake of the consideration of the age or for necessity of events, as long as that condition is always preserved, that in things which should either be obscure or doubtful, we should recognise that to be followed, which is found neither contrary to gospel precepts nor against the decrees of the saints.

Letter on Stephen 8: impotence and Stephen's penance

[p 105] We have also reckoned a necessary addition, so that by the statements of the saints we may recognise that a marriage can be dissolved, in which lying together does not follow for certain reasons. And because of incontinence they are able to run together to other women. But subtle investigation and a reasonable discretion is first to be used in these things, whether there may be impossibility of intercourse in men, as if naturally - since also there are some eunuchs, as is written, who are born thus from the mother's womb - or whether this impediment happens to them by the operation of the devil, as is accustomed to happen. If this happens through sorceresses or female magicians, but never or nowhere unjustly, with God's judgment allowing and the devil working, those to whom those things happen are to be exhorted, that with contrite heart and humbled spirit they may make pure confession to God and the priest about all their sins and with profuse tears and more generous alms and prayers and fasts satisfy the Lord. By whose judgment for his merit, against their will, they should have merited to be deprived from that blessing, which the Lord gave the first parents before sin in paradise, and also did not want the human race deprived of in total even after sin. And through exorcisms and the other gifts of ecclesiastical medicine let the ministers of the Church attend to healing such, as much as the Lord should assent to, who healed Abimalech and his house by the prayers of Abraham. Who perhaps if they will not be able to be healed, will be able to be separated. But after, if they should seek another marriage, with those alive to whom they were joined, there will be unable to be reconciled to the first one, whom they left, even if the possibility of lying together should be returned to them. But just as we have said, and say again, an incestuous marriage ought not to remain, because of the incestuous crime, which cannot have a sacrament of Christ and the Church, but let us acknowledge that the crime ought to be healed by separation and penitence.

[p 105] Indeed we judge that Stephen's marriage, the case here, ought to be dissolved in all ways, lest he may be admitted as incestuous. And we hold that marriage, which has the natural mystery, cannot be dissolved by any other means whatever, except only in the case of fornication, as the authority of truth teaches. Since even if by common consent, the spouses should vow continence, the more resolutely, the more spiritually they will remain joined in the Lord. No simulation will be able to intervene in his eyes in this joining and indivisible separation, since he is discerned to be the scrutiniser of the heart and loins.

[p 105] Therefore let Stephen, for the fornication, about which he would have been able to do penitence by secret confession, had it not been that forced by necessity he published it, and since he has added the fault of simulation to the sacred mystery of marriage, although compelled by necessity, just like the one who did not fear to sow tares over the wheat, and since after such a marriage, before it should legally be dissolved, which seemed started as if legally, he is said to have used a concubine, destroying others by evil example, according to the form of the fault with moderation of piety, since he showed reverence to God, lest he should add incest to fornication, receive regular penitence from his own bishop according to his judgement, since the canons thus decree, and let him accomplish with the worthy fruits of penance. So that he who, by his neglect has presumed to scandalise the Church and many sons of the Church, may make satisfaction to the Church and its rectors and sons and after satisfaction, if he will not be able to be continent, according to the statement of Pope Leo the Great to Bishop Rusticus of Narbonne and according to the decree of the holy council of Toledo, let him seek marriage with a legitimate wife, lest again he may incur the crime of fornication. In which yet, speaking with the same very holy father, we do not constitute a rule, but estimate what may be more tolerable. For according to true judgement, nothing better befits him, who will have done penance, then chastity persevering in both body and mind. To whom lest we initiate the snare, we extend the hand of remedy, not the command of action.

Letter on Stephen 7: the status of the betrothed

[p 102] These things blessed Augustine has discussed very sufficiently in the book about the good of marriage and about marriage and concupiscence and in other of his books. But also in the same place among other things he says: What therefore the apostles teach to the married, that is of marriage; namely that a husband renders the debt to the wife and the wife to the husband 'and procreate sons, and to be the mothers of families' [1 Timothy 5: 14]. But marriage does not force, but offers, what they concede venially, or what hinders praying. And just as good works do not benefit to eternal salvation without the sacrament of baptism, and it is not true baptism, since it is not one according to Scripture, that is unique in the unity of the Catholic faith, if it should not be celebrated catholically. Thus also a marriage cannot be a legitimate and true one in which it is shown there is not the nuptial mystery or in which marital coupling is not shown. Whence the Lord, who came not to dissolve the law, but to fulfil it, drew back by calling John, who was wanting to marry, from the marriage, as the histories relate, not after the celebrated marriage but from the marriage and before the joining of the flesh. It is not read about his future wife, namely John's, whether or not, if the Lord had not called him not only before the union of the flesh, but also before the practising very thoroughly (?) of the marriage, just like about the wife of the blessed Peter who persisted very continently, she remained in continence or according to the old law, so that the seed might be left in Israel, perhaps chose to wed another. It would not have remained in her free will, if after legal marriage they had been joined maritally, nor would it have been allowed to John, according to the example of the gospel, if he had taken a wife, betrothed, endowed and honoured with public marriage, also to leave her before the union of the flesh if he had not decided from consent to remain in continence, but to take another wife. For just so it would not be licit for Stephen to leave that one, whom he had betrothed, endowed and honoured with public marriage, although he had not had intercourse with her, and take another with penitence or without penitence, unless in sleeping with that one the incestuous evil had been able to intervene. But either from consent Stephen would have remained with her in continence, or, if he could not have kept himself continent, he would have remained with her joined maritally. But if without incest, they had been united with this due order they could not have been separated, except from mutual consent for the sake of continence or, separated because of fornication, they should either have remained unmarried or have been reconciled to each other. And if they should have been joined with incest, it ought to have been healed with their separation and the penance of adulterers according to canonical authority.

[p 103] And thus holy authority demonstrates these things to harmonize with themselves, saying about Mary and Joseph: 'Before they should come together' [Matthew 1: 18], that is before they should have celebrated with the solemn rite of marriage. For by the word of coming together it insinuates not the lying together, itself but the marriage, which is accustomed to precede the time of lying together, when the one who had first been betrothed, begins to be a wife. And a little after: 'He wanted to send her away secretly'. Joseph seeing his betrothed had conceived, whom he knew well have been touched by no man/husband, since he was just and wanted to do all things justly, took the best thing, so that neither this might benefit others, nor he himself might receive her as wife. But with a secretly proposed change of marriage, he allowed her to remain in the condition of betrothed, just as she was. But if he were to send her away secretly, nor accept her as wife and she were to bring forth while betrothed, without doubt there would be very few, who would affirm she was a virgin, and not rather a whore, and she would be stoned by the Jews as if an adulteress.

[p 103] Whence also the sacred canons in the chapter, in which they say about relatives who break the faith of the betrothal, discerning very prudently they took care to add: if yet, the betrothed man or woman should have been caught in a grave crime, the relatives were excused. Since the judgement that the relatives ought to have sustained as punishment of broken faith will pertain to those now who had merited it. And so that we might return to the order of the example above, therefore the counsel of Joseph was quickly changed to better counsel, so that, namely he himself for the preserving of Mary’s reputation received her as wife with celebration of marriage, but chaste, kept her chaste in perpetuity, just as follows: "But with him considering these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him saying: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to receive Mary as your wife."

[p 103] About which form of marriage, Syricius wrote to Hymerius, bishop of Tarragona saying: You asked about the violation of marriage, if one may be able to take the betrothed girl of another in marriage. Let this not happen, we prohibit this in all ways, since that blessing, which a priest imposes on the girl about to be married before the faithful, is like some sacrilege, if she should be violated by any transgression. And in the Council of Ancyra: It pleases that betrothed girls, also after raptus by others, are to be plucked up and returned to those, to whom they had been betrothed before, even if force should have been inflicted on them by the raptors. Who, above the estimated order, not only made betrothed women, but indeed also as if made wives, are thus to be returned to their betrothed husbands, even violently corrupted, just as also disunited spouses, separated without the case of fornication, and without mutual consent are to be rejoined. But those separated in the case of fornication will either remain unmarried or from mutual consent be reconciled to one another. But about those marrying (?), but unmarried, that is about the celebration of marriage, in which by the earnest money of the betrothal, and the priestly blessing and the confirmation of the dowry, the mystery of both Christ and the church is directed to the perfection of completion, but it is not completed with the union of flesh, but, just as we said about Joseph, good counsel is changed by better counsel, so that it may remain in perpetual continence, there again it is written: "But Joseph rising from sleep did just as the Angel of the Lord had ordered him and he received his wife. And he did not know her." [Matthew 1: 24-25]. But he accepted into the name of spouse, for the sake of necessary causes, which then threatened, and he did not know her for the marital work, but both remained in continence.

[p 103] Which also Paul boldly demonstrated can happen in the first epistle to the Corinthians, and Augustine in the first book about marriage and concupiscence saying: To whom indeed it pleases from consent to remain permanently continent from the use of conjugal concupiscence, may it not happen that the conjugal bond between them is broken; nay rather, it will be firmer, by the fact that these pacts which they should have entered with themselves, which are to be preserved more dearly, and in more concord, are not by the voluntary binding together of bodies, but by the voluntary passions of minds. For nor was it falsely said by the Angel to Joseph: "Do not fear to take Mary as a wife", and the other things that further followed on in the same place.

[p 104] Taught about this matter by these testimonies of sacred authority, whoever should take wives betrothed, endowed and honoured with public marriage, free or made free for the sake of this, let them either remain in perpetual continence, or, unless this incestuous crime or something else whatever should prohibit, which does not receive the sacrament of Christ in or with itself, let them nuptially wed, if they will not be able to be continent from consent. And let them not be separated except in the case of fornication; in which separation let them either remain unmarried or if they cannot be continent, they will be reconciled to each other after penitence. But where, just as in Stephen's marriage, he may escape peril that should be avoided, with peril, let the lesser peril be chosen for avoiding the greater peril, just as St Gregory teaches in the book of Morals. But also the peril itself which is chosen, let it not be neglected, but let it be paid to be had (?) at all times before the clemency of Almighty God by the worthy fruits of penance, that is by pious works and profuse tears, so that peril may not remain eternally, but by saving remedy may be tempered, or inwardly avoided,

[p 104] But we have therefore reckoned to insert this necessary thing to these, since we have heard that certain ones, even those who used to call themselves teachers, apply with firm contention, as if from the words of blessed Ambrose and St Augustine, which they apply not very diligently, that a man not fornicating and separating from a fornicating woman can take another wife with her living and, she who in the case of fornication should have departed from a man cannot be reconciled; but, her who should have departed not in the case of fornication, but for whatever other reason ought either to be reconciled or ought to remain unmarried. Not heeding that thus the apostolic words were interpreted in a false sense, just as also those, against whom the blessed Augustine formerly had copied those books, and the African Synod, which we set beforehand, defined, when it also eviscerated the Caelestians and burned up the marrows themselves of the Pelagians. No wonder. For thus they have been infected with wicked dogma, just like all the modern Predestinarians, who labour to renew the heresy of the old Predestinarians, compiled as if from the words of St Augustine. Blessed Pope Celestine broke their heads and shook violently the top of the hair of those walking in their sins and ground them down in the letter of decretals to Venerius and the other Gallic bishops, and the same blessed Augustine in the book about corruption and grace and about the predestination of the saints and the good of perseverance. But also St Prosper from the delegation of the apostolic seat, absolving the objections of Gauls, Vincentians and Marseillians, in the books also about the calling of the nations, dissolved their arguments by Catholic sense and perfect and very clear reason and eloquent doctrine. But we would place here the words of the same authors, whence the inexperienced teachers capture such very absurd things, if we should not avoid putting together a difficulty for a solution.

Letter on Stephen 6: even more things on marriage

[p 100] If these other things which we have placed in no way suffice the studious or curious, we attend to adding also yet other things. For the blessed Augustine says in the book about marriage and concupiscence: A man will leave behind father and mother and he will adhere to his wife and they will be two in one flesh: which is a great sacrament, the Apostle says in Christ and in the Church. What therefore is great in Christ and the Church, is very little in individual husbands and wives, but yet the inseparable sacrament of marriage. Therefore joined legally and maritally they cannot be separated except in the case of fornication and, separated in the case of fornication, they ought either to remain unmarried or be mutually reconciled, just as gospel and apostolic authority teaches and the African synod defined: It has pleased that according to the gospel and apostolic discipline neither the one sent away by a wife nor by a husband may be married to another, but let them remain thus or be reconciled to one another. Which if they should despise, let them be called back to penance. And since from that gospel and apostolic doctrine, wife from husband, or husband from wife, is not able, nor ought to separate, except in the case of fornication, blessed Augustine in the first book about adulterous marriages to Pollentius says: Who is it who may say, if a woman should separate from a man not fornicating, let her remain unmarried, when it is by no means allowed her to separate except from a fornicating man? And again: The Lord as teacher excepted only this case of fornication, when he spoke about sending a wife away, and he gave to understand such an image also to be preserved by a husband, since not only "the woman does not have power of her body, but the man", but similarly also "the man does not have power of his body but the woman". And therefore except from common consent they are not able to be separated even for the sake of continence, so much that, if a man converted should be tonsured against the will of the woman, or the woman converted should be veiled without the will of the man, the man is ordered to be restored to the woman or the woman to the man, by St Gregory in the letter to Secundinus, Bishop of Taormina, and in the letter to Hadrian, notarius of Panorni. But if from common consent they should promise to change themselves and whichever of them should retract themselves from thence, they are ordered to follow the conversion of their peer. But in the case of fornication, man or woman separating from each other because of the sacrament of marital union either will remain unmarried until one of them should die, or take care to be reconciled to each other. But reconciliation ought to happen after the penitence and priestly reconciliation of the one who has sinned, so that first he may be restored to the sacrament of the Church and afterwards to the nuptial mystery.

[p 101] And hence St Augustine in the second book about adulterous marriages: And thus a spouse is lawfully to be sent away, in the case of fornication, yet the chain of modesty remains, because of which the crime of adultery happens to him who should take the woman dismissed in the case of fornication. But just as with the criminal excommunicated for any crime, the sacrament of regeneration remains in himself, and he does not lack that sacrament, even if he will never be reconciled to God, thus if a wife is sent away because of fornication, with the chain of the conjugal tie remaining in her, nor will she lack that tie, even if she is never reconciled to her husband. But she will lack it if her husband should die; but therefore the excommunicated criminal will never lack the sacrament of regeneration, even if not reconciled, since God never dies. Thus it remains that if we want to be wise according to the Apostle, we should not say a man is to be reckoned an adulterer before death and therefore allow his wife to marry another. For though the death of adulterers may not be of the body, but, what is worse, of the soul, yet the Apostle did not speak about that death when he said: "If her husband should die, let her marry whom she wants" [1 Corinthians 7: 39], but only about that death which is taken from the body. And again in the same: For this band, since indeed it is not dissolved, even if a husband may be separated from a chaste wife through repudiation; much less is it dissolved, if, not separated, she should commit adultery. And it is not dissolved, except by the death of a spouse, not running into adultery, but exiting from the body. Therefore if a woman should withdraw from an adulterous man and does not want to be reconciled to him, let her remain unwed. And if a man should send away an adulterous woman and does not want to receive her either after penitence, let him keep continence, even if not willingly choosing a preferable good, certainly from necessity avoiding a ruinous evil. And the most eloquent doctor disputes hence more widely in the aforesaid book, just as he who should read intelligently will be unable not to know. Also in the first book about marriage and concupiscence he says that all evils of regenerated men are wholly cleaned and healed by the bath of regeneration and word of sanctification, not only the sins which then are all remitted in baptism, but also those which are incurred afterwards by human ignorance or infirmity. Not so that baptism, however often one sins may be repeated that often, but since it happens by that, which was given once, that not only the previous pardon, but also afterwards of whatever sin you may like may be obtained by the faithful. For what benefits either penitence before baptism unless baptism should follow, or after, unless it should proceed? And in the epistle to Boniface he writes: Not that something remains in baptism of all past sins, that may not be dismissed - if yet the baptism itself should not be had in vain outside, but either should be taken inside, or if now taken outside, should not remain outside with him - and whatever is committed by human infirmity of whatever fault, by those who live thus after the accepted baptism is dismissed because of this bath.

[p 101] Hence it is clearly demonstrated, that just as the once accepted sacrament of baptism, by which each faithful person is incorporated into the unity of the Catholic church in Christ, is afterwards lost by no intervening cause, so also the marital bond legally and nuptially celebrated, remains tied, indissolubly, although it may seem to be separated in the case of fornication or in whatever case. But having been separated in the case of fornication, if it should be reunited after penitence, it will not therefore yet be reiterated that it remains one. But if the spouses are not able to remain in penitential continence, which befits penitents more, by indulgence they are reckoned to be healed by medicinal reconciliation and mutual consent after ecclesiastical reconciliation. Just as baptism is not repeated as often as there is sin, but by the medicine of penitence, through clerical reconciliation, is not repeated, nor returned, but repaired by divine grace. But 'repaired' is said about something not lost in this way, just as also the mind and the body are read to be repaired by the receiving of Eucharist and the spirit to be renewed by suitable satisfaction of our mind. And just as it is by the employment of baptism that sins before baptism or after baptism, by human ignorance or infirmity, may be remitted by the worthy fruits of penance, so thus, lest crimes occur, the good of marriage is maintained, which was conceded by the Apostle according to indulgence. Those things, namely, which with desire impelling, are conceded only to the married, merely that they may lie naturally with the legally married. But we say naturally, since also Onan is read to have died, struck by the Lord, not lying with his wife naturally.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Letter on Stephen 5: dowries and hypothetical objections

[p 98] And since Church rules offer also a statement of definition about these who infringe the faith of betrothal, it seems to us, not expressing according to authority but giving council, if perhaps thus it should seem to you, that since Stephen, if he had broken faith of the betrothal, according to civil law would be judged to pay much of the same betrothal gift, and the girl herself, after the betrothal gift, if they should have been joined carnally, would have to buy (?) the accepted dowry, which was from herself, so that not she, but Stephen, who committed the crime. ought not to have the same dowry, as it seems. So let her have in the place of much of the betrothal gift, the dowry given by Stephen to herself, and let her be restored to her father with the same dowry, and let her marry with counsel of parents who she wants, only in the Lord, and may there be peace between her relatives and Stephen.

[p 98] And lest someone craftily wanting to resist these things which we have proposed should say: If the dowry will remain and the betrothal gift and the celebrated marriage are not denied, in what way will it be able to happen that both Stephen does not remain husband and she wife? Or in what way would he be able to join with another woman and she with another man without adultery? Particularly since the same St Augustine in the aforesaid book about the good of marriage says: If there should take place an ordination of clergy in order to form a congregation of people, even if the congregation of people should not follow, yet there remains in those ordained the sacrament of ordination. And if for any fault anyone should be removed from his office, he will not be without the sacrament of the Lord once imposed, although remaining until judgement. Thus also in those remaining with betrothal, dowry and marriage the marital tie will remain and no one of them will be able to join themselves to another without adultery unless with the death of whichever one intervening. Let him hear, if anyone should dare to oppose this, that we have said about the girl having the dowry only for the sake of the pacification of her relatives and in the place of most of the broken betrothal gift of Stephen. If with the dowry paid, the relatives of the girl should prefer to demand most of the betrothal gift, they themselves should see to either grant or demand back, and by the civil laws thence it may suit their pacification. But we answer the one perhaps astutely questioning what pertains to us, that St Augustine posed this comparison about ordaining not about the imaginary union of a man and wife, but about incorporated union through sexual intercourse, just as he begins near to these preceding things: Therefore let these follow the Lamb, boys singing the new song, as it is written in the Apocalypse, "who have not defiled themselves with women" [Revelations 14: 4], for no other reason than that they have continued virgins. Nor let them on this account think themselves better than the first holy fathers, who used marriage, so to speak, after the fashion of marriage. Of course, the use of it is such that, if in it there has taken place through carnal intercourse that which exceeds necessity of begetting, although done venially, there is pollution. And after a little: Therefore the good of marriage throughout all peoples and all humans is for the sake of begetting, and in the faith of chastity. But it also pertains to the people of God, also in the sanctity of the sacrament, by reason of which it is sinful for one to marry another, so long as her husband lives, even if leaving by divorce, at any event, not for the sake of bearing children, although it may be the sole cause for which marriage happens, nor is the marriage bond loosed by any subsequent thing, except by the death of the spouse. And immediately he adds to the people about the ordination of the cleric, under which sense he says in the book about marriage and desires: Thus a certain marital matter also remains among those living, which neither separation or coupling with another could take away. But it remains for the harm of crime, not for the chain of bond; just like the soul of the apostate, which receding from the marriage of Christ with faith lost has also not lost a sacrament of faith, which it received from the bath of regeneration. For without doubt it would be returned to the returning, if leaving they had lost it. And in the preceding things of the same book he says about the sacrament of marriage: Therefore, a sacrament of marriage in our times is thus reduced to one man and one wife, so that the steward of the Church is not allowed to be ordained, unless he is the husband of one wife. Which they have understood more sharply, who reckoned neither he who as a catechumen or pagan should have another wife should be ordained. For it is a matter about sacrament, not about sin. For in baptism all sins are removed. But he who said: "If you take a wife you have not sinned", and "If a virgin should marry, she does not sin", and "Let her do what she wants, she does not sin if she should marry" [1 Corinthians 7: 28, 36], declared sufficiently that marriage is no sin. But because of the sanctity of the sacrament, just as a woman, even if she should have been violated as a catechumen, cannot be consecrated as a virgin in God after baptism, thus it did not seem absurd that he who had exceeded one wife, had not committed any sin, but had lost a certain sacred norm, not for the merit of good life but for the necessary seal of clerical ordination.

[p 99] And hence if anyone should be tempted to oppose what we said against what we said before, let him say, if Stephen should now be prevented by death, with her continuing as intact, just as she remains up to now, and she should not wish to marry, whether, since a violated catechumen could not be consecrated after baptism into a virgin of God, she will be able to be consecrated in holy virginity by the bishop, who ought not to consecrate someone, unless a virgin, into the profession of virginity or into the legitimate bond of marriage, just as neither should he become a bishop who has taken beyond one virgin wife. Also let him say, if after the death of Stephen, she, remaining virgin, should both not be able to be continent, and should choose to marry rather than be continent, whether she will be able to be joined to the brother of the same Stephen. When he is unable to contradict these things, let him either cease in his question or let our solution satisfy him. And let him recognise and know that consecration, if the girl should choose it, or marrying, if the girl should prefer, can happen within Stephen's lifetime, as reason and authority show. And let him know, just as we have taught by the tradition of the ancestors, that because of such betrothal, endowing and for the sake of such a marriage as that one was, is not a marriage, since in it sexual intercourse is missing and this sacrament of faith with the hope of offspring. Which sacrament just as it works very much in every saving action, then also in this matter, in which through the nuptial mystery man and wife are made one flesh, but also more actively in baptism, in which through the sacrament of faith, not only is the whole Church made the body of Christ, just as the Apostle says and his plenitude happens but individually, every individual fidelis of Christ is made an incorporated member of him. Whence the Holy Bede says in the homily on the gospel: For he who is baptised is seen to descend into the font, seen to be dipped in the water, seen to rise from the water; but only the piety of the faithful knows that a sinner descends into the font, but rises purified. It seems to the eye of the other foolish ones, that such came from the font as entered, and the whole thing that is done is a game. And in this betrothal, dowering, and in this marriage the whole thing was simulation, not truth. Therefore just as St Leo decides about those who have only received the form of baptism without the virtue of sanctification, that they may be confirmed by episcopal confirmation, thus this, which is the not the faith of marriage, but not the image of coupling, is dissolved by ecclesiastical sanction, and it may be healed in that one who needs clerical medicine.

Letter on Stephen 4: Stephen's marriage isn't a real marriage

[p 95] Now let us apply these things, which the holy doctors say about marriage, to the marriage of Stephen, not having the love of offspring, but the necessity of avoiding exile or death; not having faith of preserving marital chastity, but the fear, not to be underrated, of incurring death-bringing incest; not having the sacrament of the incorporation of the unity of Christ and the Church, but drawing the veil over shamefulness, and the whole, that was done in this, was a figment of simulating, not the truth. Which marriage, although it was celebrated between free and equals by paternal judgement, with betrothal and dowering preceding, even if sexual intercourse should have followed it, could not possess the legitimate joining of marriage, nor could it be able to establish a valid marriage, nay rather, all things would be made void. Since the inflicted wounds, which those lying together would receive, would not be able to be healed by the medicine of penitence in them without separation, because of the incestuous crime, which cannot have the sacrament of Christ and the Church, just as the following sentences of the orthodox teachers and the Church will demonstrate. Therefore such a marriage is not mystical nor legal in the eyes of God. Since it was not legally led before God by Stephen and the girl, but rather led away, one body is made from these two through coition of carnal intercourse, not according to marital good, but incestuous evil. Because of the incest of Stephen they made one body, just as is written: "He who joins a prostitute is made one body" [1 Corinthians 6: 16]. And thus the girl, healthy from incest, joined through coition to Stephen would be made incestuous flesh and Stephen joined to that one, just as formerly a fornicator, thus also after the joining of this one, would be incestuous, which he had not yet been, since he had lain with a relative of hers, And therefore by saner counsel he both provided for the health of the girl, who was not yet weakened, preserving her intact, and also, lest he should offend more gravely, kept himself cautiously before God, according to the matter that he lain together (?). Since, just as the sacred canons say, such a marriage or rather adultery, could not be healed without separation if they were joined carnally. Where it is written in that matter: About incestuous marriages we preserve truly nothing of the pardon, unless they should heal with the separation of the adulterers. Indeed the incestuous are to be reckoned by no name of marriage, whom it is also dismal to designate. And St Gregory in the letter to Bishop Felix of Sicily, who had heard it perversely interpreted, that blessed Gregory had given to bishop Augustine of the English council according to indulgence about pagans in the fourth degree and the rest, lest they should refuse faith, and whatever he had suggested to the same venerable Pope, he wrote back to the same Felix saying: We judge that each individual from these, who faithfully taught and now planted with firm root, stand unshakeable, observes his relatives as far the seventh generation, and as far as they recognise relatives by affinity, they do not enter upon society of this kind of joining. Nor is it allowed or will be allowed to any advanced one of the Christians to lead her in marriage whom someone has as a wife from his own blood or has stained with any illicit pollution, since such coupling is incestuous and abominable to God and all the faithful; we read that formerly it was constituted by the fathers that the incestuous are to be reckoned by no name of marriage. Nor also do we leave this in this kind of anxiety, that all incestuous are to be separated from the threshold of holy Church, until through the satisfaction of prayers of the priest they may be reconciled to the same holy Catholic Church. And in the canonical edict offered before the body of St Peter: If anyone takes a wife from his own cognatio or whom a relative has, let him be anathema. And all replied three times: let him be anathema. And it is not to be doubted that the marriage of Stephen ought to have been subject to this anathema, if he had slept with that one, whose relative he admitted he had slept with. And again in the canons it is written: About those who defile themselves with the pollution of incest, it has pleased that as long as they should persist in the detestable and illicit companionship of the flesh itself, they should only be admitted to the mass of the catechumens in the Church; with whom also neither does it befit any Christian, as the Apostle orders, to consume food.

[p 96] And hence we would had been able to compile more things from the canons, if because the incest that Stephen avoided had happened, it would have been necessary to separate him and his wife because of this. But now, lest incest should be added to married simulation, since it behoves them to be separated before both divine and human eyes legally and rationally, who seem to have been joined illegally in divine justice, let us give such evidence of the holy fathers, which may be very clearly pertinent to the doing of the matter. St Ambrose in the epistle to the Corinthians says: For brother or sister is not subjected in this kind of servitude, that is, reverence of marriage ought not to be owed to him, who has horrified the author of marriage. For the marriage is not valid, which is without devotion of God. And St Jerome in the third book of commentary of the letter of Paul to the Ephesians: And so in the way the Church is subject to Christ, thus let a wife be subject to her husband. For married men and wife are bound together by the same order of pre-eminence and subjection which Christ and the Church have. But it is to be seen to, that the bond is holy also in man and woman, in the way in which there is holy union both in Christ and in the Church. But just as not every congregation of heretics can be said to be the Church of Christ, nor is Christ its head, thus not every marriage, in which one is not joined to one’s husband according to the precepts of Christ can be rightly called marriage, but rather adultery. About which the holy canons thus define: Clearly to whom an illicit union is forbidden, they will have liberty of entering a better marriage. And in the Synod of Lestinnes, at which under prince Carloman, Bishop George and John the sacellarius and St Boniface, by the precept of the apostolic Zacharius presided, it is read, that if a man should not be able to render the conjugal debt according to the apostle to a woman betrothed, dowered and led in public marriage, and this should be clear either through confession of both or whatever certain proof, that they may be separated, and the woman, if she should not be able to be continent, may legally marry another man. Since according to the definition of Pope St Leo and the tradition of the doctors demonstrated above, it is not to be doubted that that woman does not belong to marriage, in which the sacrament of Christ and the Church is not shown by sexual intercourse, that is there was the nuptial mystery.

[p 97] But how much more, in a case of this kind, it will be allowed legally to approach another tie, having separated the marriage, since not impotence of the flesh, but reverence of the mind, contradicted lying together. But in a marital union, in which with betrothing, dowering and sacrament of marriage, the mystery of Christ and the Church, namely the uniting of bodies was shown to have existed, a dissolving of the marriage will not be able to happen, except with death of the body intervening, just as gospel and apostolic authority testify, and the chorus of all the Catholic doctors. Also St Augustine says in the book about adulterous marriages: Since even if for intolerable and long-lasting infirmity a man should not be able to exercise coition or a woman sustain it, nor also for sterility or continence of religion or for any other reason whatever except fornication will a man and woman legally joined also by carnal intercourse be able to be separated. Wherefore the disciples hearing this law from God said: "If such is the case when a wife is had, it is not expedient to marry." [Matthew 19: 10] Yet the Lord did not change his statement for this. Whence also Leo wrote to Bishop Niceta of Aquileia and teaches thoroughly: if certain marriages should have been separated through warlike destruction and very grave incursions of hostility, so that with men abducted into captivity their women should remain destitute, who should reckon their own husbands either killed or should believe there will never be liberated from enemy domination, and should go over into the embrace of other marriages, forced by solitude, if husbands or captured women should return, the legitimate covenant of marriages should be renewed, since it is written: "The woman is joined to the man by God" and "What God has joined let not man separate." Nor yet as if anyone is to be judged as an invader, who assumed the person of their husband or wife, who was now not valued. But what necessity caused is to be judged blameless, and what faith demanded is to be restored. But he decreed that women or men captured by the delight of the later husbands or wives and not wanting to return to the first conjugal love are to be deprived of communion.

Letter on Stephen 3: patristic quotes on marriage

[p 92] Both the old and new law teach how marriage ought to be entered, the Lord ordering through Moses, and the Gospel demonstrating: 'When Mary, the mother of Jesus was betrothed to Joseph, before they should come together' [Matthew 1: 18], that is before they came together in wedding celebration, just as the same shows in a celebrated wedding - which he deigned to sanctify with his presence and illuminate with a miracle accomplished just there. But also St Euaristus, fourth Bishop of the See of Rome after the blessed Peter wrote, and St Siriacus, and the blessed Leo and also all the other teachers show, all of which things we avoid placing here because of plurality and length. Yet we have reckoned to say the necessary thing, that legitimate marriages happen between the free-born and between equals, when a woman, asked from the relatives whom it concerns and legally betrothed, dowered and honoured with public marriage is joined in the bonds of marriage and from two one body and one flesh are made, just as is written: 'And there will be two in one flesh; and now not two but they are one flesh'; and 'What God has joined let man not separate' [Matthew 19: 5-6]. About which joining the great Pope Leo writes to Bishop Rusticius of Narbonne, saying: Not every woman joined to a man is the wife of the man, since nor is every son an heir of the father. But legitimate covenants of marriage are between free and between equals. And a little after: Whence since the association of marriage is thus constituted from the start, so that alongside the joining of the sexes it has in itself this sacrament of Christ and the Church, it is not to be doubted that that woman does not belong to marriage, in which it is shown there had not been the nuptial mystery. And we over against this can also show, that not every marriage makes a marital joining, which sexual intercourse does not follow, just as neither is every son of his an heir, whose heir he is known to be. Nor does marriage have the sacrament of Christ and the Church in itself, just as the blessed Augustine says, if they do not use each other maritally, that is if sexual intercourse does not follow close after. Nor will that woman be able to pertain to matrimony with whom it is shown there was no sexual intercourse, just as it is not to be doubted that that woman does not belong to marriage in whom it is shown there had not been the nuptial mystery. Which thus the aforesaid Leo shows to be, saying: Since the association of marriage is thus constituted from the start, so that alongside the joining of the sexes it has in itself this sacrament of Christ and the Church. And again the same: Therefore, he who should have given his daughter in marriage to a man having a concubine, it is thus not to be taken as if he had given her to a married man, unless perhaps that woman is seen made free and legitimately dowered and honoured with public marriage. By paternal authority the fault of joining is lacking to men if the women, who were had by the men, were not had in matrimony. By which sentence he clearly shows, that there is then true joining of legitimate marriage, when it happens between free and equals, and by paternal authority a free woman is joined to a man, legitimately dowered and honoured by a public marriage, with sexual intercourse. And then marriage has the sacrament of Christ and the Church in it and then that woman is known to belong to marriage, in whom both sexual intercourse and the nuptial mystery are known to have been.

[p 93] About which mystery, the apostle Paul says to the Ephesians: "He who loves his wife, loves himself. For no one ever has his own flesh in hatred, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the Church, since we are members of his body, from his flesh and bones. Because of this a man will leave his father and her mother and will adhere to his wife; and they will be two in one flesh. This is a great sacrament: but I say in Christ and in church." [Ephesians 5: 25] Hence St Ambrose signifies that the sacrament of the mystery is greatly in the unity of man and woman. Nor does only this appear, but it also demands another case, which is not in discord from the remembered mystery, which he knows to pertain to the human kind, that is of the church and Saviour, so that just as with parents left behind the man adheres to his wife, so also with all error left behind, the Church may adhere and be lain under its head, which is Christ. Since there is one nature in man and wife, therefore the man is reminded thus to love the woman as if himself. For by natural reason, the woman is a part of the body of the man, and through this the man loves himself in the woman; in which way, if he should fornicate, he sins in himself, since the two are in one flesh. The persons do not therefore divide the substance, so that through persons the number of nature may happen (?), but the natures are in unity. And St Augustine in the first book of marriage and concupiscence says: Clearly it is not only fecundity, whose fruit is in offspring, nor is it only modesty, whose chain is faith, but also a certain sacrament of marriage is commended to the faithful married, whence the apostle says: "Men, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church." The matter of this sacrament is without doubt that male and female, joined by marriage, as long as they should live, should persevere joined inseparably, nor is it allowed to separate man from wife except in the case of fornication. For this is kept in Christ and the Church, that the living with the living in eternity may be separated by no divorce in the City of God on his holy mountain, that is in the Catholic Church. And St Gregory in the letter to Patriarch Teoctista says: For the Truth says through himself: 'What God has joined, let not man separate.' Who also said: 'It is not allowed to send away a wife except in the case of fornication.' [Matthew 5: 32] For we know that it is written: 'They will be two in one flesh.' If therefore man and wife are one flesh and for the sake of religion a man sends away the wife or the wife the husband, remaining in this world or perhaps moving to illicit things, what is this conversion, in which one and the same flesh both partly moves to continence and partly remains in pollution? But if it should befit both to lead a continent life, let who may dare accuse this, when it is certain that omnipotent God who concedes lesser things, has not prohibited greater things? And somewhat after: But if the wife does not follow continence, which the man seeks, or what the wife seeks, the husband rejects, the marriage is not allowed to be separated. Since it is written: 'The woman does not have power over her body, but the man; similarly the man does not have power over his body, but the woman.' [1 Corinthians 7: 4] And in the letter to Adrian, notary of Panormi: For, except in the case of fornication, divine law concedes to the man to leave his wife for no reason, since after joining of marriage, one body is made of the man and a woman, it cannot be converted partly and partly remain in the world.

[p 94] And St Augustine in the book about the good of marriage: For this reason there is marriage, so that concupiscence itself reduced to a legal chain should not flow deformed and dissolute, having from itself uncheckable infirmity of the flesh, but from marriage the indissoluble society of faith, from itself immoderately increase of uniting, from marriage the means of chastely procreating. Therefore married persons owe one another not only the faith of their sexual intercourse itself, for the begetting of children, which is the first fellowship of the human kind in this mortal state; but also, in a way, a mutual service of sustaining one another's weakness, in order to shun unlawful intercourse: so that, although perpetual continence be pleasing to one of them, he may not, save with consent of the other. For thus far also, the wife hath not power of her own body, but the man: in like manner also the man hath not power of his own body, but the woman. So that also they deny not the one or the other that which either he seeks of marriage, or she of her husband, not for the begetting of children, but for weakness and incontinence. Lest by this they fall into damnable seductions, through temptation of Satan, by reason of incontinence either of both, or of whichever of them. Again in the same book: Therefore that marriage takes place for the sake of begetting children, as the Apostle is a witness: "I will," says he, "that the younger women be married." And, as though it were said to him, For what purpose? straightway he added, "to have children, to be mothers of families." [1 Timothy 5: 14] But unto the faith of chastity pertains that saying, "The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife." But unto the sanctity of the Sacrament that saying, "The wife not to depart from her husband, but, in case she shall have departed, to remain unmarried, or to be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." All these are goods, on account of which marriage is a good; offspring, faith, sacrament. And in the book about marriage and concupiscence: Yet in marriage let the marriage goods be loved: offspring, faith, sacrament. But offspring not only so that they may be born, but also so that they may be reborn. For they are born to punishment, unless they should be reborn to life. But faith, not such as the infidels have between themselves jealous of loving ardently the flesh. For what man however impious wants an adulterous wife? Or what woman however impious wants an adulterous husband? For this in marriage is indeed an natural good, yet carnal, but a member of a Christian spouse ought to fear to be joined to an adulterer, not for himself/herself, and to hope for whatever prize of faith from Christ of the marriage. But let married people keep harmonious and chastely the sacrament, which neither the separated nor adulterated lose. For that is the only thing which also a sterile marriage holds by the law of piety, with hope of fecundity now lost, because of which they had been joined. Let him praise these nuptial goods in marriage who wants to praise marriage. And in the literal Genesis: The good which marriage has and which are the marital goods can never be a sin. But this is threefold: faith, offspring, sacrament. It is attended to in faith lest besides the marital bond one sleeps with another male or female; in offspring so they may be received lovingly, nourished benignly, educated religiously; in sacrament, so that the marriage may not be separated and nor is the one sent away (male or female) joined to another for the sake of offspring. For this is as if the rule of marriage, by which either the fecundity of nature is adorned, or the wickedness of incontinence is ruled.