Cum nimis absurdum

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Cum nimis absurdum was a papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV dated 14 July 1555. It takes its name from its first words:[1] "Since it is absurd and utterly inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery..."

The bull revoked all the rights of the Jewish community and placed religious and economic restrictions on Jews in the Papal States, renewed anti-Jewish legislation and subjected Jews to various degradations and restrictions on their personal freedom.

The bull established the Roman Ghetto and required the Jews of Rome, which had existed as a community since before Christian times and numbered about 2,000 at the time, to live in it. The Ghetto was a walled quarter with three gates that were locked at night. Jews were also restricted to one synagogue per city. Under the bull, Jewish males were required to wear a pointed yellow hat, and Jewish females a yellow kerchief (see yellow badge). Jews were required to attend compulsory Catholic sermons on the Jewish shabbat.

The bull also subjected Jews to various other restrictions such as a prohibition on property ownership and practising medicine among Christians. Jews were allowed to practice only unskilled jobs, as rag men, secondhand dealers [2] or fish mongers. They could also be pawnbrokers.

Paul IV's successor, Pope Pius IV, enforced the creation of other ghettos in most Italian towns, and his successor, Pope Pius V, recommended them to other bordering states. The Papal States ceased to exist on 20 September 1870 when they were incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy, but the requirement that Jews live in the ghetto was only formally abolished by the Italian state in 1882. Though the Roman and other ghettos have now been abolished, the bull has never been revoked.



  1. ^ Migliau, Procaccia, Rebuzzi, and Vitale, p. 25.
  2. ^ De Rossi, 222.


  • Bice Migliau and Micaela Procaccia with Silvia Rebuzzi and Micaela Vitale, Lazio Jewish Itineraries: Places, History, and Art, trans. Gus Barker. Venice: Marsilio, 1997.
  • Berger, David (1979). "Cum Nimis Absurdum and the Conversion of the Jews". Jewish Quarterly Review. New Series 70 (1): 41–49. JSTOR 1454606. 
  • Stow, Kenneth R. (1977). Catholic Thought and Papal Jewry Policy 1555–1593. New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. ISBN 0873340019. 

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