Council of Orange (441)

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The First Council of Orange (or First Synod of Orange) was held at Orange, then part of the Western Roman Empire, in 441.

The first council of Orange took place on 8 November 441 under the presidency of Bishop Hilary of Arles, with Bishop Eucherius of Lyons among those present. Seventeen bishops attended the meeting. Thirty canons (or judgements) were passed, dealing with unction, the Permission of penance, the right of asylum; recommending caution to bishops in the ordination of foreign clergy, the consecration of churches outside of their own jurisdictions, and other matters; imposing limitations on the administration of ecclesiastical rites to those who were in any way defective, either in body or mind; and emphasizing the duty of celibacy for those belonging to the clerical state, especially deacons and widows, with express reference to canon viii. of the Synod of Turin (AD 401). The exact interpretation of some of them (ii., iii., xvii.) is doubtful. Canon iv. is alleged to be in conflict with a decretal of Pope Siricius; and ii. and xviii. betray an inclination to resist the introduction of Roman customs. These canons were confirmed at the Synods of Arles about 443.

The canons of the first council are often cited in the contemporary debates over the ordination of women to the ministry.


  • Hefele, Consiliengeschichte, ii. 291-295, 724 sqq., Eng. transl., iii. 159-184, iv. 152 sqq.
  • J. Sirmond, Concilia antiqua Gallia, i. 70 sqq., 215 sqq., Paris, 1829.