Emperors Decree Former Senators Who Join Christian Clergy can Retain Patrimony

Emperors Decree Former Senators Who Join Christian Clergy can Retain Patrimony

Emperor Valentinian II
Source: portableantiquities

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Emperors Valentinian II, Theodosius I, and Arcadius decree that former senators who joined the Christian clergy will be allowed to retain their patrimony, but only if they did so before the year 388; if they became priests after that, they have to surrender their patrimony.

This new Roman law says:

"If anyone from the order of decurions achieved the exalted rank of priest or performed the service of deacon or has undertaken the duty of exorcist before the second consulship of My Clemency, his patrimony will be exempt and free from the bonds of decurions.

However, if they gave themselves over to any sort of religious duties of divine worship after the prescribed time, his patrimony must be surrendered." [CTh 12.1.121]

This distinction provides extra benefits for those who became priests early on as compared to those who joined the priesthood much later. Those who became priests earlier probably did so out of sincere belief and devotion; those who became priests later may have done so out of a desire to personally benefit from the various privileges which Christian clergy enjoy.

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Emperors of Rome: Valentinian II

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