Dr. Edward Peters 

To work for the proper implementation of canon law is to play an extraordinarily

constructive role in continuing the redemptive mission of Christ. Pope John Paul II







1983 Code



1917 Code


 Liber Extra



 Eastern Code


1152 x 864


23 nov 2013

How to Use Pio-Benedictine Footnotes and Gasparri's Fontes Codicis Iuris Canonici



It is unquestioned that the footnotes to the canons of The Code of Canon Law are of inestimable benefit in the interpretation of law. E. Roelker, The Jurist 7 (1947) at 355.

Yes, the footnotes to the 1917 Code are intimidating, but now, there's hope!

Ed Peters, and the spirit of Ed Wood, are proudish to present . . .


Dr. Ed's solaranite-powered guide

to the footnotes of the 1917 Code



Greetings, my friends.


We are all interested in the past, for that is where you and I have spent all of our lives. You are interested in the unknown. The mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why you are here. And now, for the first time, we are bringing to you the full story of the "Footnotes to the 1917 Code". We are bringing you all the evidence, based only on the secret testimony, of the miserable souls, who survived the terrifying ordeal of figuring out how to use Pio-Benedictine footnotes on their own. My friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer. Let us punish the guilty. Let us reward the innocent. My friends, can your hearts stand the shocking facts about the . . .


Codicis Iuris

Canonici Fontes?

The Amazing Criswell predicts



that you will soon be using

the footnotes to the 1917 Code!

Not all provisions in the 1917 Code have footnotes. If you need to know which ones don't have footnotes, see Fontes IX: 2-11.


In canons with numbered subdivisions, a footnote for a subdivision applies only to that subdivision. Canons can, and many

do, have more than one footnote.


In the 1917 Code, footnote numbering starts over with each page. Because different editions arranged pages differently, footnote numbers often changed from edition to edition.


When multiple citations are made to the same authority (such as, here,

Benedict XIV or the Holy Office), that authority is not re-identified each time. You just have to supply it.



1. Getting acquainted


Wow. Large blocks of finely printed, densely packed, alpha-numeric Latin abbreviations. What could be less inviting? (okay, besides going to the Albuquerque ball with Co-Pilot Danny at 4 a.m.)? Put-off by the seeming impenetrability of Pio-Benedictine footnotes, many researchers give up consulting them without even trying. And that's a pity. The provisions of the Pio-Benedictine Code reflect nearly two millennia of accumulated pastoral and legal wisdom, and their footnotes identify more effectively than can be imagined the almost-countless occasions for refining that wisdom. Let's see how.


The first canon of Book II of the 1917 Code of Canon Law reads as follows:


Can. 87. By baptism a human is constituted a person in the Church of Christ with all of the rights and duties of Christians unless, in what applies to rights, some bar obstructs, impeding the bond of ecclesiastical communion, or there is a censure laid down by the Church.


There is a footnote to this canon, as it happens, one that contains a sample of almost everything one might find in a Pio-Benedictine footnote. We will use this footnote as a model below, but for now let's just see what it looks like:


C. 31, C. XXIV, q. 1; c. 51, D. I, de poenit.; c. 2, 15, de haereticis, V, 2, in VI°; Conc. Trident., sess. VII, de baptismo, can. 7, 8, 13, 14; sess. XIV, de poenitentia, c. 2; Eugenius IV (in Conc. Florentin.), const. "Exsultate Deo", 22 nov. 1439, § 10; Benedictus XIV, const. "Etsi pastoralis", 26 maii 1742, § VII, n. XI; ep. encycl. "Inter omnigenas", 2 febr. 1744, § 16; ep. "Postremo mense", 28 febr. 1747, n. 52; ep. "Singulari", 9 feb. 1749, § 2, 12-16; Pius IX, litt. ap. "Multiplices inter", 10 iun. 1851; Syllabus errorum, prop. 54; Leo XIII, litt. encycl. "Sapientiae", 10 ian. 1890; S. C. S. Off., instr. (ad Archiep. Quebecen.), 16 sept. 1824, ad 2; 19 apr. 1837; instr. 22 iun. 1859; 7 apr. 1875; (Bucarest), 8 maii 1889; instr. (ad Vic. Ap. Nankin.), 26 aug. 1891; S. C. de Prop. Fide (C. G. - Albaniae), 18 apr. 1757, ad 5; (C. G.), 19 aug. 1776; instr. (ad Praef. Ap. Mission. Epiri), 25 febr. 1837; litt. encycl. (ad Ep. Indiar.), 25 apr. 1902.


Don't be concerned if almost nothing in this footnote makes sense yet. Almost nothing in Plan Nine from Outer Space makes sense, but that doesn't detract from its greatness. So, after you've let your how-am-I-ever-going-to-do-my-JCL-thesis-if-I-can't-even-read-the-footnotes-to-the-1917-Code anxiety recede, take a deep breath, and look more carefully at each line in the note.


Surely you recognized the names of some popes (e.g., Benedict XIV or Pius IX). That tells you something, namely, that papal writings contributed to the formation of Pio-Benedictine law. You probably also recognized several dates (e.g., November 22, 1439, and April 25, 1902). From that you see first that Cdl. Gasparri used the European dating convention (day-month-year) in his citations but, more importantly, you see that documents from many centuries were culled during the drafting of this canon. The 1917 Code was not thrown together by folks with no sense of canonical history. Finally, you might have recognized the names of some locations such as Quebec, Bucharest, or Nanking. Even that is useful: it underscores that the 1917 Code, a law intended to be applied throughout the Catholic world, drew on experiences garnered from around the world. Or at least in this canon it did.


Not a bad set of observations for someone who thinks he can't figure out what's contained in the footnotes to the 1917 Code. Now, on to bigger things.


2. Really getting started













Sometimes genius

took a short cut.




Some provisions in

 the 1917 Code have footnotes that refer to

the footnotes of other

 provisions. This was doubtless a time-saving device. It is clear, though, that Gasparri considered "vide etiam"

footnotes as

footnotes for both

the original and the referred provisions.




Patrolman Jamie was right: It's tough to find something when you don't know what you're looking for. So, what are you looking for here?


There are basically only four kinds of canonical resources listed in the footnotes of the 1917 Code. Not every Pio-Benedictine footnote presents citations to all four types of sources, but if you know in advance what you might find, it will make it much easier to determine whether you've found it. The four types of sources that might be listed in a given footnote are: Corpus Iuris Canonici, Council of Trent, Papal Writings, and Roman Curia.



If we color-code those four categories thus:


Corpus Iuris Canonici Council of Trent Papal Writings Roman Curia


and highlight them in our Canon 87 footnote, we can see:


C. 31, C. XXIV, q. 1; c. 51, D. I, de poenit.; c. 2, 15, de haereticis, V, 2, in VI°; Conc. Trident., sess. VII, de baptismo, can. 7, 8, 13, 14; sess. XIV, de poenitentia, c. 2; Eugenius IV (in Conc. Florentin.), const. "Exsultate Deo", 22 nov. 1439, § 10; Benedictus XIV, const. "Etsi pastoralis", 26 maii 1742, § VII, n. XI; ep. encycl. "Inter omnigenas", 2 febr. 1744, § 16; ep. "Postremo mense", 28 febr. 1747, n. 52; ep. "Singulari", 9 feb. 1749, § 2, 12-16; Pius IX, litt. ap. "Multiplices inter", 10 iun. 1851; Syllabus errorum, prop. 54; Leo XIII, litt. encycl. "Sapientiae", 10 ian. 1890; S. C. S. Off., instr. (ad Archiep. Quebecen.), 16 sept. 1824, ad 2; 19 apr. 1837; instr. 22 iun. 1859; 7 apr. 1875; (Bucarest), 8 maii 1889; instr. (ad Vic. Ap. Nankin.), 26 aug. 1891; S. C. de Prop. Fide (C. G. - Albaniae), 18 apr. 1757, ad 5; (C. G.), 19 aug. 1776; instr. (ad Praef. Ap. Mission. Epiri), 25 febr. 1837; litt. encycl. (ad Ep. Indiar.), 25 apr. 1902.


See? That's not so bad. Again, don't worry if you can't decipher the citations within each grouping. For now, we only want to establish that virtually all Pio-Benedictine footnotes are limited to these four fundamental categories. Moreover, citations to these sources will always be presented in the above order. Thus, with only a little practice, one will be able to tell instantly whether, say, any Corpus Iuris Canonici references are found in a given footnote. Likewise, if one is looking only for, say, Tridentine contributions to legal formulations, there is no need to hunt through an entire, sometimes quite lengthy, footnote to find out whether there are any Tridentine citations. You now know exactly where in the footnote to look for such cites.


Folks who know how

to use the footnotes

to the 1917 Code

aren't ashamed to

show their faces.


It's not getting ahead of ourselves to observe that, within each of these four categories of sources, further subdivisions will become apparent, all of which are easy to understand once they are pointed out. You might have already noticed, e.g., that Tridentine citations refer to conciliar sessions in their chronological order, as do citations to papal writings. There are logical subdivisions within Corpus Iuris Canonici and Roman Curia citations, but those are more complicated and will be discussed below. In all cases, though, a semi-colon (;) separates specific entries.


Note, finally, that the "category-comes-first and sequence-comes-second rule" is followed even if an entry in one category predates an entry in an earlier category (as above, one of the papal citations pre-dates the Council of Trent). Makes no difference, all citations in an earlier category are listed before any citations in a subsequent category are given.






These four categories of sources can be traced back to the consultors' first directions for the codification project, when they specified examination of "the Corpus ... the Tridentine Council, the acts of the Roman Pontiffs, and ... decrees of the Sacred Roman Congregations or Ecclesiastical Tribunals..." See Gasparri, Preface, in Peters trans., 17.


Speaking of practice, now might be a good time to get some. Examine the footnotes to the following canons, and verify whether you can identify the categories and number of references in those categories that are found in each.


Footnote to Categories
1917 CIC 91 Papal writings (2); Roman Curia (2)
1917 CIC 94 Roman Curia (1)
1917 CIC 95 No sources cited.
1917 CIC 104 Corpus Iuris Canonici (1); Roman Curia (1); Vide etiam (2)
1917 CIC 107 Council of Trent (1); Papal writings (1)
1917 CIC 118 Corpus Iuris Canonici (10); Council of Trent (4); Papal writings (7); Roman Curia (4)
1917 CIC 137 Corpus Iuris Canonici (1)
1917 CIC 151 Corpus Iuris Canonici (2); Papal writings (1); Roman Curia (1)


3. Using the four fundamental categories of citations


I'm now going to explain in some detail how to use all four categories of Pio-Benedictine footnotes, but the first category, the Corpus Iuris Canonici, is frankly the most difficult. Feel free to skip to Council of Trent (very easy), Papal Writings (easy), or Roman Curia (pretty easy once someone shows you), and save the Corpus citations till your confidence is built up on the other three categories. Or, just dive in. Your call.
















Friedberg uses column numbers, not page numbers.


If a title heading is given in a Corpus footnote, it may be disregarded, as the title number is sufficient to identify the source. It's rather like today, if someone cites to "Book III: Teaching Office," one does not need to know that Book III is called "Teaching Office" in order to find it in the Code.


Gratian's first 20 Distinctions (Fontes IX: 14), along with what is called their Ordinary Gloss, are available in English. See: Thompson & Gordley, trans., Gratian: The Treatise on Laws (CUA, 1993). It's a terrific work, laid out exactly as students would have studied it for hundreds of years.


Click here for a list

of citations to

translations of

small parts of

Gratian's Decretum.













The Quinque Libri

Decretalium Gregoriani IX

are available on-line:


I • II • III • IV • V



To find out quickly which chapters of Gregory's Decretals were impacted by later legislation contained in the Corpus, irrespective of Gasparri's use of such materials, click on my Ius Decretalium page.


The famous Regulae Iuris

are found in two places within the Corpus: a short list is found at the end in Gregory's Decretals and is cited as part of Book V, title 41; the more important list is found in the Liber Sextus. It has a special citation system:

"Reg. 1, R.J., in VI°" means "Rule 1 of the

Regulae Iuris in the Liber Sextus."


Documents named in

the Fontes tables of contents are necessarily arranged by date, so one could look for dates in them as well.







Category 1. Corpus Iuris Canonici. This monumental work was compiled between 1140 and 1500 and actually consists of six smaller works. The six constituent parts of the Corpus Iuris Canonici are:


• Concordantia discordantium canonum

• Quinque Libri Decretalium Gregoriani IX

• Liber Sextus

• Clementinae

• Extravagantes Joannis XXII, and

• Extravagantes communes.


The Corpus Iuris Canonici is usually laid out in this manner, and Gasparri always cited its parts in this order. Given the relative ease with which the Corpus could, and still can, be accessed by researchers, Gasparri did not republish it in his Fontes. The most accessible version of the Corpus Iuris Canonici is A. Friedberg, Corpus Iuris Canonici editio Lipsiensis secunda post Aemili Ludouici Richter, in 2 vols., Bernhardi Tauchnitz, 1881. Later printings exist (e.g. Law Book Exchange, 2000). Let's look at these six parts sequentially.


Luther burned the Corpus Iuris Canonici.

He should have burned something dangerous,

like flying saucers over Wittenberg.


• Concordantia discordantium canonum (c. 1140)


Gratian's masterpiece is known by various titles: Concordantia discordantium canonum, Decretum Gratiani, Gratian's Decree, all refer to the same work. Cited hundreds of times in Pio-Benedictine footnotes (See Fontes IX: 14-55), Gratian's Decretum is divided into three parts.




When attempting to acquire a new skill,

whether its making scary claw-hands or

deciphering citations to Gratian's Decree,

try to find someone with experience

who can show you how to develop

your skill more quickly and accurately.

Part One groups its materials into 101 "Distinctions", most of which are subdivided into "canons". This information is traditionally provided, however, in reverse order, so that "c. 7, D. I" means "canon 7 of Distinction I of Part One of Gratian's Decree".


Part Two is organized under 36 "Cases", most of which are divided into "questions", most of which in turn contain one or more "canons". This information is also provided counter-intuitively, so that "c. 1, C. I, q. 1" means "canon 1 of question 1 in Causa 1 of Part Two of Gratian's Decree".


Part Three is arranged into 5 "Distinctions", all of which contain at least some "canons". Potential confusion owing to the fact that abbreviation letter "D" was used above for "Distinction" is eliminated by the addition of "de cons" (or a closely related version thereof), short for "de consecratione", the general title of the third part, to all citations.


Predictably then, "c. 1, D. I, de cons." means "canon 1 of Distinction 1 of Part Three (called de consecratione) of Gratian's Decree."


There are only two (well, maybe three) things that can confuse folks in Gratian citations. First, question 3 of Cause 33 is divided into "Distinctions", which are in turn divided into "canons". It is also not called "Question 3 of Cause 33" but rather, "de poenit." short for "de poenitentia". Thus, "c. 6, D. I., de poenit." means "canon 6 of Distinction I of Question 3 of Cause 33 of Part Two of Gratian's Decree." Second, the Roman numeral letter "X" for number 10, can be confused with a very common abbreviation for the second part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici, the Liber Extra, to which we'll turn immediately below. Third, one might be confused by the fact the letter "c." stands for "canon" in Gratian, but, as we shall see, for "chapter" in the rest of Corpus.


• Quinque Libri Decretalium Gregoriani IX (1234)


The single work, Five Books of the Decretal (Letters) of Pope Gregory IX, was known commonly as the Liber Extra, or the book of things "outside" of Gratian's Decree. It is always identified by the single letter "X" and is cited hundreds of times in the 1917 Code. See Fontes IX: 55-102. The Liber Extra is divided into five "books", all of which are in turn divided into "titles", all of which contain "chapters" (not canons). The illogic of the common citation system is distressing, but here goes: "c. 7, X, I, 2" means "chapter 7 of title 2 in book I of the Liber Extra." Everyone admits the citation system makes little sense. Too bad, really. The vitally important Decretals of Gregory were actually quite well laid out by St. Raymond Peñafort.



There are no minor characters

in Ed Wood movies, and

there are no minor parts in

the Corpus Iuris Canonici!

The remaining four parts of the Corpus Iuris Canonici, when compared with the first two parts discussed above, seem to be of minor significance; nevertheless, there are hundred of citations to them in Pio-Benedictine footnotes, the great majority of those being to the Liber Sextus. See Fontes IX: 102-118.


• Liber Sextus (1298)


The "Sixth Book" consists of materials not found in Pope Gregory's Five Books, specifically the decretal letters of Pope Boniface VIII. Abbreviated in Pio-Benedictine footnotes as "in VI°" (in Sexto [Libro]), it is patterned on Gregory's much larger collection, being divided into the same five books and subdivided into titles and then chapters. There is not a strict correlation between Gregory and Boniface in regard to titles and chapters because Boniface did not legislate in all the areas that Gregory had dealt with. Thus, "c. 1, de constitutionibus, I, 2, in VI°" means "chapter 1, of title 2 (called de constitutionibus) of Book 1 of the Liber Sextus".


• Clementinae (1317)


The Clementinae are the constitutions of Pope Clement V, though their final form was given by Pope John XXII when he promulgated them in a revised state. Abbreviated in Pio-Benedictine footnotes as "in Clem." they, like the Liber Sextus, basically followed the organization of Gregory's Decretals. Thus "c. 2, de electione et electi potestate, I, 3, in Clem." means "chapter 1 of title 3 (called de electione et electi potestate) of Book I of the Clementinae."


• Extravagantes Joannis XXII (1322)


The Extravagantes Joannis XXII arranges decretal letters of John XXII into titles and, under them, chapters (but not books). Thus "c. 2, de electione et electi potestate, tit. I, in Extravag. Ioan. XXII" means "chapter 2 of title 1 (called de electione et electi potestate) of the Extravagantes Joannis XXII.


• Extravagantes communes (1499-1502)


The last part of the Corpus Iuris Canonici gathers other materials deemed useful by Chappuis and de Thebes, and organizes them once again under the book-title-chapter format. Thus "c. un., de consuetudine, I, 1, in Extravag. com." means "chapter one [by the way, the only chapter in that group] of title 1 (called de consuetudine) of Book I of the Extravagantes communes.


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how to trace Pio-Benedictine citations to the Corpus Iuris Canonici. Hmmm, maybe that wasn't so tough after all. Seriously, compared to the Corpus citations above, the other three categories below really are much easier.


There are nine plans

from outer space for the take-over of the world.


 There are nine volumes

in Gasparri's Fontes.




Category 2. Council of Trent. The Nineteenth Ecumenical Council met in 25 sessions from 1545 to 1563. There were some lengthy adjournments during that time, and only half of the sessions produced anything canonically significant, but it is one of the outstanding legislative councils of the Church. Over 250 Tridentine provisions were cited in hundreds of Pio-Benedictine norms. See Fontes IX: 119-135. Reliable editions of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent were so widely available that Gasparri did not reprint them in his Fontes. Today, moreover, modern language translations of Trent are plentiful. In brief, Pio-Benedictine citations to the Council of Trent are good news for researchers: the council was of great importance in itself, and its provisions are easy to find in both Latin and the vernacular. But note: Trent is not the only ecumenical council cited in the footnotes of the 1917 Code.


First, provisions from councils that pre-dated the completion of the Corpus Iuris Canonici are contained in that work. There is no way to know, however, whether a council reference was given indirectly in a 1917 Code footnote until one actually looks up the specific Corpus citation.


Second, there are a very few direct citations to ecumenical councils other than Trent in Pio-Benedictine footnotes. See Fontes IX: 119, 135. All of these documents are published in Fontes I: 1-15, and most are available in English in, e.g., H. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Translations, and Commentary, (Herder, 1937).



Professionals check and recheck

their materials for maximum acuracy.

Third, some of the writings that Gasparri listed as papal occurred during or in connection with an Ecumenical Council. See, e.g., the citation to Pope Eugenius IV in our sample footnote above. While Gasparri noted the conciliar context for such writings, he treated them as papal for category assignment purposes.

There, I told you category two citations were easy. Now, on to category three.


Plan 9 from

Outer Space

premiered in 1959.


John XXIII announced

the revision of the

Pio-Benedictine Code.

in 1959.




Category 3. Papal writings. Beginning with St. Clement I and ending with Benedict XV, many popes provided resource materials for hundreds of Pio-Benedictine canons. See Fontes IX: 135-170. Of course, certain popes stand out for the number and quality of their contributions, for example, Benedict XIV (not surprisingly) and most of the popes after Vatican I. In any case, the papal writings category is very simple to master, so let's explain it now.


Gasparri published, in chronological order, all papal writings that served as sources for Pio-Benedictine law in the first three volumes of his Fontes. There are various ways to find the papal writings cited in 1917 Code footnotes, but I'll tell you the best.


Remember that Pio-Benedictine footnotes citing papal writings give the name of the pope, the document title, the date of issue, and often some internal reference numbers. The crucial datum for you, though, is date of issue.


Make your best guess as to when the pope appeared in Church history (early, middle, late), open up Fontes volume 1, 2, or 3, and page through it till you see a bold print document header (it doesn't matter which one it is). The header will always contain a reference number, a papal name, document type and title, and the date of issue. For example, in Fontes II, p. 434, one finds: 430. Benedictus XIV, const. Pastoralis, 15 jul. 1754.



Laugh if you want, but did

Alfred Hitchcock ever get

his entire cast baptized?

Disregard the Document Number (I'll explain those later) and concentrate on the document's date of issue. From that, you'll immediately know whether to look forward or backward to find your papal writing. This method sounds dumb, but then, so does getting your movie cast baptized to placate the Baptist ministers financing your film. Regardless, just as any baptism conferred in accord with matter and form suffices for validity, so the just-open-a-book-and-see-where-you-are approach also suffices for research. In fact, with practice, one will get pretty good at guessing where a given pope's writings are likely to appear in the Fontes I-III. In the meantime, it might help to know that papal writings are distributed as follows:


Fontes I

St. Clement I through Benedict XIV (to 1745)


Fontes II

Benedict XIV (from 1746) though Pius IX ( to1865).


Fontes III

Pius IX (from 1867) through Benedict XV.


Remember: many papal writings have been translated into the vernacular. For example, all papal encyclicals from Benedict XIV though the first part of John Paul II's reign appear in English in Claudia Carlen, ed., The Papal Encyclicals (1740-1981), in 5 vols., Pierian Press, 1990.


Finally, when a reference within a papal writing footnote (e.g., a "§", or "n.", etc.) is given, one may skip directly to that part of the document in the Fontes. Else, one needs to look at the entire document to determine its relevance for your research. Click here for the standard Papal-Writing/Roman Curia Warning.


You've only got one category left, and even that is not hard once you've seen how it's put together. Really.



Category 4. Roman Curia. Sure, category four citations look scary, almost as scary as Inspector Clay after Eros has risen him. But once your electrode gun is working (try dropping it on the floor if it jams), category four citations are easy.


Materials from the Roman Curia take up five of the nine volumes of Gasparri's Fontes. In Pio-Benedictine footnotes, Roman Curia citations always appear in a set order (presumably, that of the precedence attributed to various dicasteries) and then, subject to that order, chronologically by document date of issue. In the Fontes volumes themselves, Gasparri grouped the documents first by dicastery and then in chronological order.



Most of these materials are in Latin, but one also finds some Italian. Dicastery name abbreviations can be frustrating, so let's start with them. In the order they appear in both the footnotes and the Fontes, they are: 


Fontes IV

S. C. S. Off. Sacra Congregatio Sancti Officii
S. C. Ep. et. Reg. Sacra Congregatio Episcoporum et Regularium


Fontes V

S. C. Consist. Sacra Congregatio Consistorialis
S. C. de Sacramentis Sacra Congregatio de Sacramentis
S. C. C. Sacra Congregatio Concilii (to 1760)


Fontes VI

S. C. C.

Sacra Congregatio Concilii (from 1761)

S. C. super Statu Regularium

Sacra Congregatio super Statu Regularium

S. C. de Religiosis

Sacra Congregatio de Religiosis


Fontes VII

S. C. Prop. Fide

Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide

S. C. Indulg.

Sacra Congregatio Indulgentiis Sacrisque Reliquiis Praeposita

S. C. Indic.

Sacra Congregatio Indicis

S. R. C.

Sacra Rituum Congregatio (to 1790)


Fontes VIII

S. R. C.

Sacra Rituum Congregatio (from 1804)

S. C. Caeremonial.

Sacra Congregatio Caeremonialis

S. C. pro Neg. Eccles. Extraordin.

Sacra Congregatio pro Negotiis Ecclesiasticis Extraordinariis

S. Studiorum C.

Sacra Studiorum Congregatio

S. C. de Seminariis

Sacra Congregatio de Seminariis et de Studiorum Universitatibus

S. Poenit.

Sacra Poenitentiaria Apostolica

Secret. Status

Secretaria Status Suae Sanctitatis

Secret. Brevium

Secretaria Brevium Apostolicorum


Variae regulae in Curia Romana servandae

Vicariatus Urbis

Vicariatus Urbis


Having selected the volume in which the dicastery you need is reported, the "guess-and-hunt method" outlined above for finding papal writings is the most efficient way to track down specific Roman Curia citations, too. As before, when a reference within a Roman Curia footnote (e.g., a "§", or "n.", etc.) is given, one might want to skip directly to that part of the document in the Fontes. In some cases, you'll need to look at the whole thing. And don't forget the standard Papal-Writing/Roman Curia Warning.


The latest, pre-1917 Code versions of liturgical books I found are:


Missale Romanum

1912, 1914


Pontificale Romanum

1888, 1891


Caeremoniale Episcoporum

1853, 1860


Rituale Romanum

1891, 1913



Note on Liturgical Sources: The 1917 Code drew on four liturgical books for a number of provisions: the Missale Romanum (divided into titles, chapters, and numbers), Pontificale Romanum (organized by titles), Caeremoniale Episcoporum (set out in books, chapters, and numbers) and the Rituale Romanum (in titles, chapters and numbers). See Fontes IX: 313-328. In Pio-Benedictine footnotes, they are always listed after Roman Curia sources. Consultation with these sources presents no significant difficulties, except for finding them, that is, the actual books themselves. Remember that editions of liturgical sources must pre-date the 1917 Code's date of promulgation (27 May 1917). Later versions must be shown to be consistent with earlier liturgical law.

While some scholars consider funerals to

be quasi-liturgies, most experts classify

Plan 9 from Outer Space as a quasi-movie.


That's it. That's all four major categories of citations in the footnotes to the 1917 Code. Let's pull it all together, now, and see whether you can find the fontes to our sample footnote above. Find these sources on your own, and then check with the list below to make sure you are right.


  Footnote Citation Can be found in



C. 31, C. XXIV, q. 1


Friedberg I: 977



c. 51, D. I, de poenit.


Friedberg I: 1170-1171



c. 2, 15, de haereticis, V, 2, in VI°


Friedberg II: 1069,




Conc. Trident, sess. VII, de baptismo,

can. 7, 8, 13, 14


Schroeder, 331-332

Schroeder, 53-54


[Conc. Trident,] sess. XIV, de poenitentia, c. 2


Schroeder, 337

Schroeder, 102


Eugenius IV (in Conc. Florentin.), const.

"Exsultate Deo", 22 nov. 1439, § 10


Fontes I: 71-77, at 73-74



Benedictus XIV, const. "Etsi pastoralis",

26 maii 1742, § VII, n. XI


Fontes I: 734-755, at 746



[Benedictus XIV], ep. encycl. "Inter omnigenas",

2 febr. 1744, § 16


Fontes I: 803-810, at 807



[Benedictus XIV], ep. "Postremo mense",

28 febr. 1747, n. 52


Fontes II: 62-91, at 85



[Benedictus XIV], ep. "Singulari",

9 feb. 1749, § 2, 12-16


Fontes II: 193-199,

at 193-194 & 197



Pius IX, litt. ap. "Multiplices inter", 10 iun. 1851


Fontes II: 855-857



[Pius IX], Syllabus errorum, prop. 54


Fontes II: 1000-1009,

at 1006



Leo XIII, litt. encycl. "Sapientiae", 10 ian. 1890


Fontes III: 325-340



S. C. S. Off., instr. (ad Archiep. Quebecen.),

16 sept. 1824, ad 2


Fontes IV: 146-152,

at 148-149

 Q: So, Dr. Ed, got any more

weirdie web pages in mind?


A: Yes! Picture this:

a canonical commentary

on the law of marriage,

based on Ed Wood's . . .



Bride of the Monster!



[S. C. S. Off.], 19 apr. 1837


Fontes IV: 160


[S. C. S. Off.], instr. 22 iun. 1859


Fontes IV: 225-226


[S. C. S. Off.], 7 apr. 1875


Fontes IV: 357


[S. C. S. Off.], (Bucarest), 8 maii 1889


Fontes IV: 446-447


[S. C. S. Off.], instr. (ad Vic. Ap. Nankin.),

26 aug. 1891


Fontes IV: 469


S. C. de Prop. Fide (C. G. - Albaniae),

18 apr. 1757, ad 5


Fontes VII: 60-61, at 61


[S. C. de Prop. Fide], (C. G.), 19 aug. 1776


Fontes VII: 104


[S. C. de Prop. Fide], instr. (ad Praef. Ap.

Mission. Epiri), 25 febr. 1837


Fontes VII: 288


[S. C. de Prop. Fide], litt. encycl.

(ad Ep. Indiar.), 25 apr. 1902


Fontes VII: 544


Believe it or not, you are now through all four categories (plus a couple of minor categories) of Pio-Benedictine footnotes and fontes. You can go to work right now if you want. What follows are only a few picky points for perfectionists.



4. Small points for specialists


Document Numbers


Gasparri published 6,464 documents in his Fontes, some of them only a few lines long, others running dozens of pages. He (and Seredi, of course) numbered each of them in the Fontes. For most canonical researchers, however, these document numbers are practically irrelevant. They are never used in the the Code's footnotes, and one need not know them in order to find the fontes to a given canon. Document numbers really have only one interesting use: If one's research point of departure is the document itself (instead of, as is typical, a provision of the 1917 Code) one can take the document number to various tables in Fontes IX and identify what other canons, if any, the document contributed to.


Suppose for example, that you were interested in how an instruction from the Holy Office dated 6 August 1897 (Fontes IV: 495-496) had been used in the 1917 Code. (Maybe you were led to that document by a reference in one canon, and you were now wondering what other canons, if any, might have drawn on that document.) Noting the document number, 1190, you would turn to Tabella B in Fontes IX and, at col. 183, learn that document no. 1190 had been referenced in the footnotes to: 1917 CIC 904; 1139 § 1; 1940; 1941 § 1, 2; 1942 § 1, 2; and 1944 § 1, 2. Pretty handy, if you ever need to know it. Not very handy if you don't.


Standard Papal-Writing/Roman Curia Warning


At nearly the end of his Preface to the Pio-Benedictine Code, Gasparri writes that "Notes have been added to the canons at the bottom of each page that indicate the various sources from which they were taken..." So far so good; we all knew that. But then Gasparri says " is scarcely necessary to add that the canons are not always consistent with all their sources in the parts used..." There's more here than meets the eye.


First, obviously, not all the sources of a given canon agree among themselves; that was one of the main reasons for a codification in the first place: to reconcile different approaches to legal issues and, when necessary, to make a definitive choice among them. In such cases, the value of the fontes lies in demonstrating what approaches were tried in the past but ultimately rejected in favor of those that seemed better. But something else should be noted.


I've seen this happen a hundred times: Open up the 1917 Code,

and suddenly everybody wants to sit at your table.


Many times one will consult a source document for a given canon and at the end of the process frankly wonder what the relevance of that document was to the canon. Sometimes the connection between a document and the norm it allegedly influenced is simply invisible to modern eyes. Whether this is because we contemporaries have lost contact with the environment in which the law grew up and so do not recognize connections that our predecessors would have taken for granted, or whether the disconnect arises from a decision by Gasparri to err on the side of over-inclusion in his footnotes and fontes, even if that meant including some basically irrelevant materials in some places, I cannot tell. But the problem is there. If you find yourself facing it one day, at least know that you are not alone.



Cdl. Seredi carried on Gasparri's work after

his death.




5. Resources needed to make use of Pio-Benedictine footnotes


1. A footnoted edition of the Pio-Benedictine Code: Codex Iuris Canonici, Pii X Pontificis Maximi, iussu digestus, Benedicti Papae XV, auctoritate promulgatus, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 9/2 (1917) 11-521, though oddly, the Acta version of the Code does not have the footnotes. Footnoted copies of the 1917 Code were printed as monographs by various publishers (Herder, Kenedy, Westminister, and so on). You might also find useful E. Peters, curator, The 1917 or Pio-Benedictine Code of Canon Law in English Translation with Extensive Scholarly Apparatus, 777 pages. Foreword by Bp. John J. Myers. (Ignatius Press: San Francisco CA, 2001). ISBN: 0-89870-831-1. My translation does not have Gasparri's footnotes, but it does have citations to relevant dissertation length studies, appearance of the provisions in Canon Law Digest, and so on.


 2. The Fontes of Gasparri: P. Gasparri (later volumes by J. Serédi), Codicis Iuris Canonici Fontes, in 9 vols., (Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1923-1949). Note that Volume IX uses column numbers, not page numbers.


Gasparri's Fontes Codicis Iuris Canonici


3. The Corpus Iuris Canonici, the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent, the major liturgical books, each as above, and a dictorobitory machine.



Note: In lieu of a dictorobitory machine,

you might try using a Latin dictionary.


A final thought...



 We once laughed at the horseless-carriage, the airplane, the telephone, the electric light, vitamins, radio, and even television, and even now,

some of us laugh at the

footnotes to the 1917 Code.

[ cue theme music ]


God help us, in the future.



 Was Hollywood really first?


















Or was Germany?



Leo X , f.r.


Caelum Romae

Hodie Nubilum








Monachus Augustinianus Corpus Iuris in Flammas Iecit! Quare? Quis est?

Papa Populo Romae:

 "Non est exitus mundi!"