Wednesday, January 30, 2008


During the reign of King John the whole of England was placed under Interdict by Innocent III in 1204.

I had a priest visit me whose Bishop has a reputation in Rome for issuing Interdicts regularly. I am not going to identify where he is from but Interdict is a pretty harsh punishment. It means that only the first and last sacraments are celebrated, cemeteries are closed or the dead are buried without the Rites of the Church, Mass is not celebrated, nothing maybe blessed, marriages are not celebrated.
My visitor works in a pretty lawless part of the world. One reason for an Interdict being issued was that someone had been killed in a cemetery during a funeral, in this part of the world vendettas are pretty common, the good Bishop was making a stand and demanded repentance from those who perpetrated the crime. His intention was for the community to understand that the Church was totally opposed to such crimes.

On another occasion a foreign priest who had been working in his diocese refused to return to his home diocese and vacate the presbytery and church he been working in, the bishop suspended him from celebrating the sacraments publicly, the priest continued to do so, when the people had been notified of the Bishop's action most ignored him and continued to attend Mass celebrated by the priest so he placed the whole parish under Interdict until they accepted his replacement.


Dr. Peter H. Wright said...

Interdict !

Goodness, does such an ecclesiastical penalty still exist ?

I remember from my history studies in my younger days the papal interdict imposed on England in the reign of King John, but that was some time ago !

It struck me at the time as a bit harsh, like a teacher keeping an entire class, guilty and innocent together, in detention.

I thought excommunication, a sort of personal interdict, was the severest penalty.

Do they still declare the excommunicated "vitandus", I wonder, or don't they do that anymore.

I should recognise, but don't, the wall painting posted by Father of the pope.

He appears to be wearing the camelaucum and an early version of the pallium.

Therefore, a medieval pope ?

october671 said...

Makes Brighton seem quite tame!

Henry said...

Here Pope Innocent is wearing the same style of Pallium as Benedict has reintroduced.

Dr. Peter H. Wright said...


This comment was meant to end :

Therefore a medieval pope.
In fact, Innocent III himself, I think.

And a medieval mural.
But painted where ? By whom ?

ADV said...

The fresco is to be found in the Subiaco monastery of S. Benedetto, Sacro Speco. It is built over the 'speco', cave where St Benedict lived as a hermit for 3 years.

The fresco is useful for its contemporary depiction of papal regalia (tiara of c. 1219 and early version of fanon).

Innocent III is a fascinating person and so is this period, though he attracts so much controversy in academic circles!

ADV said...

p.s. To what I said above, there is also probably one of the oldest depictions of St. Francis there (Below if I remember correctly?, which is meant to have been painted c. 1218 by a Benedictine monk when St. Francis visited there. He is shown without the stigmata and halo, which is one of the arguments for it being a contemporary depiction, though it is probably not a portrait in the sense that we would understand it, i.e. a literal likeness.