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Posted April 25, 2006

Book: Summa on Marriage
Author: Raymond of Penyafort and translated by Pierre Payer
Pontifical Institute on Medieval Studies, Toronto, Ontario, 2005, pp.98

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The birth and flowering of canonical jurisprudence in the twelfth century is one of the most striking and fruitful developments of the age, marking an important turn in the history of the Church and in framing the essential elements of the rule of law in political and social life.

Raymond of Penyafort was an important participant in these developments. Born near Barcelona in 1175, he became a teacher of canon law at Bologna, the greatest center of legal studies. He joined the newly formed Order of Preachers (Dominicans), and championed multilingual education of the friars for a more effective evangelization of Muslims and Jews. He became Master General of the Order in 1238, and died in 1275. He was canonized in 1601 and has been declared the patron saint of canon lawyers.

Pope Gregory IX appointed Raymond to produce a comprehensive compilation of papal legal decisions. The result, the Decretals of Gregory IX (1234), would remain normative in the Catholic Church until 1917. Raymond drew on it to compse his Summa on Marriage, a summary of learned reflection on the law of marriage, to aid his Dominican brothers in hearing confessions, where numerous problems touching on marriage would have been encountered. The definition of marriage and of its ends, stages and impediments, arrangements, and consequences are the subject of the work. This translation of it offers students and scholors alike a comprehensive presentation of the medieval teaching on marriage – learned in content, practical in orientation.

An Excerpt from the Book:

What is marriage; the etymology of the word; how it is contracted; when it was instituted and where and by what words; what the cause of the institution was; who are able to contract marriage; what the goods of marriage are and how they excuse from sin; what the impediments to it are.

1. Marriage is the union of a man and woman, maintaining an undivided manner of life. Marriage is “of a man and a woman”. It does not say “of men and a woman” or “of a man and women because one man cannot have many wives at once or one woman many husbands. “Union,” that is, of souls and matrimonial. “Maintaining an undivided manner of life,” that is, neither can profess continence nor give themselves over to prayer without the consent of the other. The marriage bond remains between them while they are living so that neither is permitted to join with another and each offers to the other what he is in himself.

It can also be defined in another way. Marriage is “the union of a man and a woman, a partnership for life, involving divine as well as human law.”

It is called “matrimonium” as though “matris munium” (a mother’s function), that is, a duty because it confers on women the role of motherhood. Or it receives its name more from the side of the mother than the father because her duty is more apparent in marriage than is the duty of the husband.

2. However, marriage is contracted by consent alone; if this alone is absent all the other celebrations are frustrated even if accompanied by intercourse itself. From the fact that a man consents through words in the present tense to a woman with marital affection, and the woman to the man, either with customary words when he says “I take you as mine” and she replies “ take you as mine” or thus “I wish to have you now on as my wife” and she says words or even signs, there is a marriage immediately. I say “signs” because the mute and the deaf can contract marriage. Yet if the contracting parties are able to speak, words expressing mutual consent are necessary as far as the Church is concerned.

Table of Contents:

1. Engagements
2. Marriage: when marriage was instituted, who can contract marriage, he who consents to one who is absent
3. Error about a person
4. The impediment of condition
5. The impediment of vow
6. Carnal relationship
7. Spiritual relationship
8. Legal relationship
9. The impediment of crime
10. Dissimilar religion
11. The impediment of violence or fear
12. The impediment of orders
13. The impediment of bond
14. The justice of the public good
15. Affinity
16. The impossibility of intercourse
17. The impediment of feast days
18. Marriage contracted against the prohibition of the Church
19. How and when a woman can bring suit against someone as being her husband, or seek the restoration of a husband if she was despoiled, or conversely
20. Divorce on account of consanguinity or another perpetual impediment
21. How an accusation is to be made against a marriage
22. Divorce on account of fornication
23. The number of witnesses both in matrimony as well as in other cases
24. Who are legitimate children and who are not
25. The dowry and gifts in view of marriage