Sources and translations

This blog provides our draft translation of Carolingian texts, mostly linked to Hincmar of Rheims or the divorce of Lothar II and Theutberga.

The texts translated are as follows:

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.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

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.

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