10 million Ukrainians without power because of Russia. Help us purchase electrical generators for churches.
Consider helping today!

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


Additional Links

(interdictum, sc. celebrationis divini officzi, a prohibition of religious offices) is an ecclesiastical censure or penalty in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in the withdrawal of the administration of certain sacraments, of the celebration of public worship, and of the solemn burial service. There are three kinds of interdicts: local, which affect a particular place, and thus comprehend all, without distinction, who reside therein; personal, which only affect a person or persons, and which reach this person or persons, and these alone, no matter where found; and mixed, which affect both a place and its inhabitants, so that' the latter would be bound by the interdict even outside of its purely local limits. But, as the interdict is oftentimes inflicted on the clergy alone, it is always strictly interpreted, so that one imposed on a parish, etc., does not take effect also on the clergy, and vice versa (compare Ferraris, art. 2, 5). The interdict, like the ban (q.v.), may be inflicted by legal order (interdictumr a jure), or procured by ecclesiastical judges (ab homine). The reasons for inflicting this ecclesiastical penalty are various; most generally they are the abolition of Church immunities, disrespect towards ecclesiastical authority or commands, and the effects are generally the prohibition of administering the sacraments, of holding public worship, and the denial of Christian burial; yet various modifications: have been frequent. Thus Alexander III permitted in 1173 the administration of the sacrament of baptism to children, and that of penitence to the dying (c. 11, X. De sponsalibus, 4, 1; comp. c. 11, X. Depcenit. et remiss. 5, 38; c. 24, De sententia excomm. 6; 5, 11). Innocent III allowed' confirmation and preaching (c. 43, X. De sent. excomm. 5, 39, a. 1208), as also penitence, with some restrictions (c. 11, X. Deponit. 5, 38, a. 1214; comp. c.24, De sent. excomm. in 6), the silent burial of the clergy (c. 11, X. cit. 5, 38), and to convents the observance of the canonical hours, without singing, and the reading of a low mass, which was in the following year extended also to the bishops (c. 25, X. De privilegiis, 5, 33, a. 1215). But to this was appended the condition that the parties under excommunication or interdict should not be present, that the doors of the churches should remain locked, and no bells be allowed to ring. Boniface VIII went further, and allowed the celebration of public worship with open doors, ringing of bells, and in the presence of the excommunicated parties on the occasions of the Nativity, Easter, Pentecost, and the Ascension of the Virgin. Yet such of the interdicted and excommunicated as did not come to the altar were to be excluded (c. 24, De sent. excomm. in 6 [5, 11]). Martin V and Eugene IV extended this to the whole octave of the Corpus Christi (Const. Ineffabile, an. 1429, and Const. Excellentissimum, an. 1433, in Bullar. Magnum, 1, 308, 323); and Leo X to the octave of the festival of the Holy Conception. There were, moreover, other special regulations made for the benefit of the Franciscans and other orders of monks (Ferraris, art. 6, no. 15). In the 25th Session of the Council of Trent (cap. 12, De regularibus) it was decided that the regulars generally were to observe the interdict, as had already been commanded by Clement V (c. 1, Clem. De sent. excomm. 5, 10, Concil.Vienn. 1311).

The right of pronouncing the interdict is vested in the pope, the provincial synod, the bishop, with the assent of the chapter, and even without it (c. 2, X. De his que fiunt a majori parte capituli, 3, 11, Celestin III, an. 1190; Clem. 1, De sent. exc. cit. Cone. Trid. cit. See Gonzalez Tellez, c. 5, X. De consuet. no. 4). The interdict can be withdrawn by any confessor when it is particular and personal, not reserved, but applying to minor points (c. 29, X. De sent. exc. 5, 39, Innocent III, anno 1199); other interdicts are to be withdrawn by those who pronounced them, their successors, delegates, or superiors (see Ferraris, article 8). The fundamental principles of the interdictare yet in vigor in the Roman Church (see Benedict XIV, De synod. diac. lib. 10:cap. 1, § 3 sq.), but it has not been exercised to its full extent since the 17th century. As late as 1606 Paul V pronounced it against the Republic of Venice (see Riegger, Diss. de panitentiis et penis eccl. Vienn. 1772, § 76; and Schmidt, Thesaurus juris eccl. 7, 172), and particular interdicts are still in frequent use, as, for instance, the interdictio ingressus in ecclesiam, the defense for laymen to enter the Church (c. 48, X. De sent. excomm. 5, 39, Innocent III, an. 1215; c. 20, eod. in 6; 5, 11, Boniface VIII, etc.). The Council of Trent (Sess. 6:cap. 1, in fin. de ref.) pronounced this punishment against the bishops and archbishops who neglected the command to reside in their diocese. To it belongs also the cessatio a divinis, touching the use of the bells and organ (c. 55, X. De appellat. 2, 28, Innocent III, an. 1213; c. 13, § 1, X. De officio judicis ord. 1, 31, Innocent III, an. 1215; c. 2, eod. in 6:and 1, 16, Gregor. X, an. 1274; c. 8, eod. Bonifac. VIII), as a public mourning of the Church (c. 18, De sent. excomm. in 6:1, ib. Bonifac.VIII).

History. The time when the interdict was first introduced into the Church is not generally known; but it is usually traced to the early discipline of public penance, "by which penitents were for a time debarred from the privilege of presence at the celebration of the Eucharist." Instances of it are met with in very early times (see c. 8, Song of Solomon 5, qu. 6 [Conc. Agath. anno 506] and 10, 11, Can 17, qu. 4 [Paenit. Rom.], etc. Comp. also Gonzales Tellez, cap. 5, X. De consuet. 1, 4, no. 19). But it was not until the Middle Ages, the days of superstition, when the mind was in a condition difficult for us of modern ideas fully to realize or to understand, that this ecclesiastical punishment came into general use as a weapon of the Church against all ecclesiastical and civil inroads. In 1125 Ivo of Chartre calls it yet (Epist. 94) "remedium insolitum, ob suam nimirum novitatem;" and at the Synod of Limoges in 1301, the following resolution was passed at the second session: "Nisi de pace acquieverint, ligate omnem terram Lemovicensem publica excommunicatione: eo videlicet modo, ut nemo, nisi clericus, aut pauper mendicans, aut peregrinus adveniens, aut infans a bimatu et infra in toto Lemovicino sepeliatur, nec in alium episcopatum ad sepeliendum portetur. Divinum officum per omnes ecclesias omnibus, et omnes proni in faciem preces pro tribulatione et pace fundant. Paenitentia et viaticum in exitu mortis tribuarur. Altaria per omnes ecclesias, sicut in Parasceve, nudentur; et cruces et ornamenta abscondantur, quia signum luctus et tristitiae omnibus est. Ad missas tantum, quas unusquisque sacerdotum januis ecclesiarum obseratis fecerit, altaria induantur, et iterum post missas nudentur. Nemo in ipsa excommunicatione uxorem ducat. Nemo alteri osculum det, nemo clericorum aut laicorum, vel habitantium vel transeuntium, in toto Lemovicino carnem comedat, neque alios cibos, quam illos, quibus in Quadragesima vesci licitum est. Nemo clericorum aut laicorum tondeatur, neque radatur, quousque districti principes, capita populorum, per omnia sancto obdeiant concilio" (Mansi, Coll. Conciliorum, 19, 541; Du Fresne, s.v. Interdictum).

The most remarkable of the interdicts since the 11th century were those laid upon Scotland in 1180 by Alexander III; on Poland by Gregory VII, on occasion of the murder of Stanislaus at the altar in 1073; by Innocent III on France, under Philippe Augustus, in 1200; and on England under John in 1209. See Neander, Ch. Hist. 3, 454; Milman, Latin Christianity (see Index); Riddle, History of the Papacy 2, 83 sq., et al.; Junus, Pope and Council, p. 289; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 6, 705 sq.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Interdict'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Search for…
Enter query in the box below:
Choose a letter to browse:
Prev Entry
Intercisi Dies
Next Entry