Quinisext Council, Canon 15.previous | next
Let no one be ordained a Subdeacon if he is less than twenty years old. If anyone should be ordained in any sacerdocy whatever without having reached the years decreed, let him be deposed from office.
As for a subdeacon (says the present Canon), let no one be ordained such when he is less than twenty years of age. If anyone has been ordained in any of the four classes in question, outside the age specified, let him be deposed from office.
According to c. XIX of Carthage a young man could be ordained an Anagnost (or Reader) when he reached the age of adolescence, or, more explicitly, the fourteenth year of his life. But according to Novel 123 of Justinian (recorded in Book III of the Basilica, Title I, ch. 28) he had to be eighteen. (For the Novel purporting to ordain him when eight years of age was omitted when the laws were purged, and was not entered in the Basilica; and consequently it fell into desuetude). As for how old one must be in order to be ordained a bishop, see the Interpretation of Ap. c. I. Inasmuch as the civil law bids like to be judged by like, of course both an Anagnost and a Bishop when ordained before the fixed time, are to be deposed from office like the others, in accordance with the present Canon of the Sixth.
 Note that Zonaras says in his interpretation of c. XXXIII of Carthage that the subdeacon does not come into contact with the holy things, adducing in support of his statement the Council held in Laodicea, which forbids a servant to do so; and from such testimony it would appear that he considers a subdeacon and a servant to be on the same footing. Yet they do not appear to be one and the same on many accounts. First, because the subdeacon does touch the sacred Mysteries, according to the said c. XXXIII of Carthage and c. XIII of this 6th; and the liturgical vessels, according to Inj. XXI of the eighth book of the Apostolic Injunctions, whereas a servant cannot touch sacred utensils, nor has he any place in the diaconicon, according to c. XXI of Laodicea. Secondly, because a servant must not neglect to watch the doors of the church, according to c. XXII of Laodicea, when he is the doorkeeper; but the subdeacon is not the same person as the doorkeeper, being distinct from the latter, according to c. IV of the 6th, which mentions them as distinct, and according to Justinian Novel 3 (contained in Book III of the Basilica, Title II, ch. 1; in Photius, Title I, ch. 30), which appoints others to be subdeacons, and others to be doorkeepers (of whom there were a hundred), in the great Church. So that it appears hence that blessed Eustratius Argentes, on page 273 of his disquisition concerning the Mysteries, made a mistake where he says that ch. 57 of the second book of the Injunctions says for subdeacons to stand at the doors of the women. For by careful observation of the location we have ascertained that the deacons stood at the doors of the women, just as is also appropriate, and not the subdeacons. Chapter II of the eighth book of the Injunctions, mentioned by him, contains no reference to such a thing at all. And thirdly, because some insist that the ministers of the divine service mentioned by St. Chrysostom in his commentary on the parable of the prodigal son were the deacons and the subdeacons (because the subdeacons also, according to Zonaras, in his interpretation of c. XXII of Laodicea, were wont to call out “Approach, ye catechumens,” just as the saint mentions there, that is to say, connection with these ministers), and that the thin cloth which they had on their left shoulder was that which is now called the orarion, which orarion a servant is forbidden to wear by c. XXII of Laodicea (though as regards the orarion it is not true). For only deacons could wear it, on the ground that it was of use to them (see also the Footnote to c. XXII of Laodicea, and that to c. XXIII of the 6th), and not the subdeacons, on the ground that it was of no use to them. So from these various activities it appears that servants were different from subdeacons, and that it was only by a general name, and not by any law, that subdeacons, anagnosts, psalts, exorcists, doorkeepers, ostiaries, and all clergymen in general that were outside of the Bema, were often called servants, in accordance with cc. XII and LXXXIX of Basil, and c. XXIV of Laodicea, but especially c. XX of the same Council, as we said also in the Interpretation of Ap. c. XVII, and more particularly in accordance with c. XIV of Sardica. Nevertheless, others thereafter allot these services to the subdeacons, as, for instance, Gabriel of Philadelphia (on the mystery of holy orders) says that they were given the work of getting ready and furbishing the holy vessels, and the sacred vestments, and safeguarding them. This same fact is also stated by Symeon of Thessalonica, who adds (ch. 164) that they were wont to guard the sacred doors to keep anyone from entering the Bema and to put out the catechumens when the deacon called out “Approach, ye catechumens.” It is on this account too that even today the sub-deacons are wont to say “All ye faithful,” and at the great entrance they take the surplus holy vessels, and give them to the servants to guard; in the litanies they march in the van holding the cross; they also furbish the lights attached to the Bema, the chandelier, and the tricerion; and before the doors of the Bema they receive communion from the prelate or priest after the deacons. See also c. LXIX of Basil, where the servant is evidently a different person from the subdeacon.
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