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59151Re: [Authentic_SCA] 1530 Italian clergy and weddings

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  • Sharon L. Krossa
    Sep 21, 2012
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      On Sep 21, 2012, at 12:36 PM, Chris Laning wrote:

      > George wrote:
      > >*IF* the regs were the same in the 16th as in the 20th c.--which is a
      > >moderately big IF; persona-wise, you and I are both pre-Council of
      > >Trent, the very last big one before Vatican II--then, absent very
      > >special circumstances, you were *required* to have a "nuptial" Mass for
      > >your marriage.
      > Um, no, though that may depend on where you are.
      > Until -- if I recall correctly -- well after our period, a nuptial mass was NOT required in all countries (certainly not England). All that was necessary is that the two to be married say to each other, in the present tense (i.e. not as a future promise) "I take you for my husband/wife." While a priest's blessing was desireable (and in practice, often sought) and while witnesses were a prudent precaution in case the marriage was ever questioned, neither was required for a marriage to be legally and religiously valid. The courts of the time are full of lawsuits trying to establish exactly what words had been said between a couple to determine if they were really married or not.
      > This is not to say that there were not formal church weddings; of course there were. But even so, the vows were often said in the church porch, before the couple entered the church for a formal blessing or Mass.

      Christian does recall correctly, although it is (naturally) slightly more complicated in that in the late Middle Ages, but before the Council of Trent, the (Catholic) church did insist (require) that you have a priest for the wedding. However, the consequences of not having a priest was only that the church was mad at you and would want you to do it again with a priest, but not that the priest-less marriage wasn't valid.

      According to canon law (stemming from the idealism of the church theologians and hierarchy), the fundamental and only requirement for a legal, binding, recognized-by-the-church-as-a-valid-marriage marriage was an exchange of present tense consents between the couple themselves. Nothing else. No witnesses, no priest, no ceremony, no contracts, no parental consent, not even consummation.

      That said, at the same time, the church did have various rules about what was preferred (priest, witnesses, ceremony, etc.) and if you didn't do those things you had broken the rules. You were still irrevocably married, as well as in disobedience to the church. Marriages done properly —"in face of the church"— were "regular" marriages, while marriages not done properly (not "in face of the church") were "irregular" or "clandestine" marriages —but still valid, irrevocable, for life, marriages.

      Confused yet? ;-)

      Exactly where the wedding took place to be considered "in face of the church" did vary somewhat by culture, although it did always involve a priest. In England and Scotland the wedding took place, as Christian mentioned, on the porch of the church, before proceeding inside for the nuptial mass. If I recall correctly, I think Italy may have been one of the places where it wasn't usually done on the church porch, but I don't think it was done in the church itself. (I can't recall any cultures that did it inside the church, but admittedly my research, lo these many years ago, was not exhaustive of all Christendom :-)

      I discuss medieval marriage law in a bit more detail (specifically in the context of Scotland, though canon law was the same throughout Roman Catholic Christendom) in the first part of my article on Historical Handfasting at http://medievalscotland.org/history/handfasting.shtml

      > Depending on the time and place of your personas, your own personal choice, and what your officiant says, you may have to do a bit more looking to find just what the requirements and ceremonies were like. The book sounds like a good recommendation.
      > (Also, the Tridentine Mass as such is not present before the Council of Trent (1569): that's why it is called "Tridentine" = of Trent.)
      > That said: having a period wedding and Catholic Mass (period or not) in a private part of the campground, where no one is required to participate if they don't want to, is absolutely OK at an SCA event. The prohibition is on making religious ceremonies, or implying that you are making them, *part* of the SCA event, or on holding them in the middle of everything (for instance in Court) which would force everyone to witness whether they want to or not.
      > Depending on what part of the country you live in and who you know, you may or may not be able to find a Catholic priest who is amenable to doing this. I certainly have known some who would be glad to, even if you weren't a member of their parish. As George says, however, a more conservative priest would likely not agree.

      Leaving aside the SCA event issue, these days it is difficult to have a (real life) Catholic wedding in any venue other than a Catholic church. I believe dispensations are still technically possible, but they've really gotten insistent about having weddings in churches, not parks, beaches, banquet halls, back yards, etc. (A regular mass you can have just about anywhere, but not a wedding.)

      > Having a pseudo-Mass with an officiant who isn't actually a priest is something that is technically possible -- since as long as modern legal forms are followed and the officiant is authorized to perform marriages, it doesn't matter to the Government what religious service goes along with it. However as George says it would likely make some people uncomfortable even if they didn't actually witness it themselves. Modern Catholics vary greatly in how they feel about non-Catholics making use of Catholic ceremonies. Some are okay with it as long as it's a sincere attempt to worship that just happens to use Catholic forms. Others are made very uncomfortable by the idea if the priest isn't a real priest. You will have to make your own decision based on what you know about SCA folks in your area.

      But along with these warnings about the possibility some people might decide to take offense at your wedding ceremony, I (myself a faithful, practicing Catholic) will point out that anyone, Catholic or not, wedding guest or otherwise, who chooses to be offended by anyone else's choice of wedding ceremony needs gain some perspective. Consider, it is no coincidence that a (modern) Lutheran church service is very similar to a (modern) Roman Catholic one, but such services usually don't cause offense to Roman Catholics even though the celebrant isn't a real Roman Catholic priest and the service isn't a valid Roman Catholic mass. Freedom of religion and tolerance means everybody gets to make their own choices without seeking (never mind getting) approval from followers of other religions.

      Medieval Catholic mass ceremonies aren't even valid as modern Catholic masses, so even if we accepted the impractical notion that religious adherents should be given some sort of trademark- or copyright-like protection of their religious ceremonies, the medieval mass belonged to medieval Catholics, not modern ones, and all their descendants, regardless of current religion (or lack thereof), are among their inheritors.

      (Can you tell this is something of a hobby horse issue of mine? ;-)

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