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CHAPTER II.

Lateran Council of 1059.—Order of Cardinals.—Meaning of the Term.— First Traces of a Collegiate Body of Cardinals.—Number of the

Cardinals.—Variations in this respect under different Popes

"Titles" of the Cardinals.—Three Orders of Cardinals.—Numbers of Cardinals created by different Popes.—Motives for keeping up the Number in the Sacred College.—Cardinals in petto.—Anecdote of Alexander VIII.

The first step towards arriving at a fixed oligarchical method of election had, however, been taken somewhat before that election of the great Hildebrand as Gregory VII. in 1073. In the year 1059 Pope Nicholas II. had been raised to the throne in fact by the influence of Hildebrand, whose commanding figure stands forth during all this period as the real and effective ruler of the Church. This Nicholas had in the previous year held a council at the Lateran, by a decree of which he expressly deprived the general body of the clergy and the Eoman people of any share in the pontifical elections for the future.* "The right of electing the Pontiff," so runs the decree, "shall belong in the first place to the cardinal bishops, then to the cardinal priests and deacons. Thereupon the clergy and the people shall give their consent; in such sort that the cardinals shall be the promoters, and the clergy and the people the followers." In the same decree Pope Nicholas orders,

* Labbe, Concil., torn. ix. col. 1013.

that the future Pontiffs shall be chosen "from the bosom of the Eoman Church" (which means, say the ecclesiastical writers, "from among the cardinals"), if a fitting person shall be found among them; and if not, from the clergy of any other church. He further orders that, "if it should happen that the election cannot by reason of some impediment be made in Eome, it may be performed elsewhere by the cardinals, even though there should be but few of them."

Here we arrive at some degree of fixity in the attribution to the cardinals of the exclusive right to elect the Pope. We do not quite yet emerge from the fluid state of the hierarchical institution; for further decrees were necessary and further vicissitudes had to be undergone before the solid condition of the institution is reached. But all the further changes and the decrees of subsequent Popes regard only the manner in which the cardinals are to carry out the task entrusted to them. It may be proper, then, here to explain as briefly as may be the origin and meaning, so far as it had any meaning, of the order of cardinals.

The dire necessity which constrains every wonderfully learned Dryasdust to find some different solution for his erudite problems from that suggested by his predecessor Dryasdust, has caused various more or less fanciful explanations of the origin of the term cardinal, as the title of an ecclesiastical prince, to be put forward. There seems, however, to be little room for doubt that the simplest of these is the true one. Cardo is the Latin for a hinge. The cardinal virtues are those upon which the character of a man mainly hinges, and are, therefore, the principal virtues. "Cardinals" are then principal priests. At all events Pope Eugenius IV., writing in 1431, supposed this to be the origin and meaning of the word. He calls the cardinals those on whom all the government of the Church hinges. "Sicut per cardinem volvitur ostium domus, ita super hoc sedes Apostolicse totius Ecclesi® ostium quiescit et sustentatur." Some antiquaries have endeavoured to show that the term is used as early as the second century. This seems doubtful.* But it is certain that the word was in common use in the fifth century. Various principal and leading priests were then called "cardinals." But the name had not yet come to have the signification

* Bingham, -when pointing out that archipreabyteri were by no means the same thing as presbyteri cardinales (book ii. chap. 19, Bee. 18), says that the use of the term cardinal cannot be found in any genuine writer before the time of Gregory the Great, i.e. the close of the sixth century. "For," says he, "the Eoman Council, on which alone Bellarmine relies to prove the word to have had a great antiquity, is a mere figment."

I retranslate from the Latin translation of Bingham, not having a copy of the original English to refer to. Nevertheless, whether Bellarmine cites them or not, there are a few other authorities for the earlier use of the term. See Moroni, voc. Cardinal.

In alluding {loc. cit.) to the origin of the term, Bingham notices the opinion of Bellarmine, that the word was first applied to certain principal churches, and remarks, that others have supposed that those among the priests in populous cities, who were chosen from among the rest to be a council for the bishop, were first called cardinals. And he cites Stillingfleet, who writes, in his "Irenicon" (part ii. chap. 6): "When afterwards these titles were much increased, those presbyters that were placed in the ancient titles, which were the chief among them, were called cardinales presbyteri, which were looked on as chief of the clergy, and therefore were the chief members of the council of presbyters to the bishop." The title, however, seems to have been applied to the entire body of the canons in certain churohes, as a privileged use allowed to those special sees. As to the above-mentioned council said to have been held at Borne by Sylvester I. in 324, it is regarded as authentio by Baronius as well as Bellarmine, and is judged to bo apocryphal by Van Espen.

it subsequently acquired. The canons of various cathedral chapters, notably those of Milan, Eavenna, Fermo, Cologne, Salerno, Naples, Compostella, &c, were gratified with the appellation of cardinals. There are passages of ancient writers from which it appears clear that at one period all the clergy of the Eoman churches were called "cardinals." In France those priests empowered to hear confessions and give absolution seem to have been called "cardinals."*

In fact the use of the word, and the practice in assuming and conceding the title, seems to have been, like so much else in those ages, exceedingly vague. Nor for a long time was the restriction of the title to the class which now alone uses it decisive and fixed. It appears gradually to have been understood to appertain only to those whom the Pope specially created cardinals. At last, in 1567, Pope Pius V. definitively f decreed that none should assume the name or title of cardinal save those created such by the Eoman Pontiff; and from that time to the present day the name has been exclusively applied to the body of men who are now so called.

Thus much for the name. That the dignity existed in such sort, that the cardinals of the Poman Church, or rather of the Church at Eome, were deemed of far

* Cave, writing of Anastasius the Eoman librarian (vol. ii. p. 5C. col. 2.), says that he was ordained by Leo IV. about the year 848 presbyter of the titular church of St. Marcellus, and quotes the words of Pope Leo: "Presbyter cardinis nostri quem nos in titulo, B. MarcelliMartyris atquo Pontificis ordinaTimus." That is to say, continues Cave, that that church was specially intrusted to him, that he might continually be busied in the care of it, "Tanquam janua in cardine suo," and so commonly called a cardinal.

t Moroni, Dizionario, torn. ix. p. 247.

superior rank and dignity to those of any other church, who more or less abusively called themselves by that name, at least several centuries earlier, has been sufficiently seen. But it does not appear that the idea of the Sacro Collegio—of a collegiate body composed of the cardinals, and of them alone—arose till long after the earliest mention of cardinals. It is said that traces of such a conception may be found in the life of Leo III., created in 795, which is extant by Anastasius. Moroni cites a variety of writers and documents of the centuries between that date and the end of the eleventh century, for the purpose of showing that at all events by the end of that time the body of cardinals was recognised as a collegiate corporation. And he then proceeds, "Having fixed the epoch at which the cardinals were known even by name as the Sacred College," &c But in fact his citations show nothing of the sort, and appear to me to indicate rather the reverse. At all events he fails to adduce any instance in which the phrase in question is used.* Nor have I been able to discover when the body of cardinals was first so called. The institution, indeed, seems to have continued in a very fluid state till a much later date. And it is not till Sixtus V., by the Bull Postquam, dated the 3rd of December, 1585, finally

* "The institution of cardinals properly so called," says Cave, "is referred to the middle of this century—the eleventh. There were indeed cardinals in the Soman Church before this, that is to say, clerks fixed in and taking titles from the more celebrated churches of the city. Nor were cardinals wanting in others of the most important churches. But about this time they were enrolled—cuciti sunt—in an Apostolic College, as counsellors of the Popo, assistant judges—wnjudices—senators of the city and the world, true hinges of the world—veri mundi cardines."Cave, Scrip. Ec. Hist. Lit., torn. ii. p. 124, col. 2.

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