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Bible Encyclopedias

The Catholic Encyclopedia

Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum

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A miscellaneous collection of ecclesiastical formularies used in the papal chancery until the eleventh century. It contains models of the important official documents usually prepared by the chancery; particularly of letters and official documents in connexion with the death, the election, and the consecration of the pope; the installation of newly elected bishops, especially of the suburbicarian bishops; also models for the profession of faith, the conferring of the pallium on archbishops, for the granting of privileges and dispensations, the founding of monasteries, the confirmation of acts by which the Church acquired property, the establishment of private chapels, and in general for all the many decrees called for by the extensive papal administration. The collection opens with the superscriptions and closing formulæ used in writing to the emperor and empress at Constantinople, the Patricius, the Exarch and the Bishop of Ravenna, a king, a consul; to patriarchs, metropolitans, priests, and other clerics. The collection is important both for the history of law and for church history, particularly for the history of the Roman Church. The formularies and models set down are taken from earlier papal documents, especially those of Gelasius I (492-6) and Gregory I (590-604).

This collection was certainly compiled in the chancery of the Roman Church, but probably a comparatively small number of the formularies contained in the extant manuscripts were included at first, the remainder being added from time to time. There is no systematic arrangement of the formularies in the manuscripts. In its final form, as seen in the two existing manuscripts (one codex in the Vatican Archives, and another, originally from Bobbio, in the Ambrosian Library at Milan), the Liber Diurnus dates back to the eighth century. Concerning the more exact determination of the date of its compilation, there is even a still great diversity of opinion. Garnier gives in his edition the year 715. Zaccaria, in his "Dissertationes" (P.L., CV, 119 sqq.), attributes the compilation to the ninth century; Rozière, to whom we owe the first good edition (see below), decides for the period 685 to 751 — the former date, because Emperor Constantine Pogonatus (died 685) is mentioned as dead, and the latter, because in 751 Northern Italy was conquered by the Lombards and the Byzantine administration at Ravenna came to an end (see Introduction, pp. 25 sqq.). Sickel, however in his "Prolegomena" and in his researches on the Liber Diurnus (see below), has shown that the work possesses by no means a uniform character. He recognizes in it three divisions, the first of which he ascribes to the time of Honorius I (625-38), the second to the end of the seventh century, and the third to the time of Hadrian I (772-95). Duchesne (Bibliothèque de l'Ecole des Chartes, LII, 1891, pp. 7 sqq.) differs from Sickel, and maintains that the original version of most of the formularies, and among them the most important, must be referred to the years after 682, and that only the last formularies (nn. lxxxvi-xcix) were added in the time of Hadrian I, though some few of these may have existed at an earlier date. Hartmann defends the views of Sickel (Mitteilungen des Instituts für österreich. Gesch., XIII, 1892, pp. 239 sqq.). Friederich (Sitzungsberichte der bayer. Akademie der Wiss. zu München, Phil.-hist. Kl., I, 1890, pp. 58 sqq.) investigated more closely the case of some of the formularies attributed by Sickel to one of the aforesaid periods, and attempted to indicate more nearly the occasions and pontificates to which they belonged. These investigations have established beyond doubt that the collection had already attained its present form towards the end of the eighth century, though no insignificant portion had been compiled during the seventh century. The Liber Diurnus was used officially in the papal chancery until the eleventh century, after which time, as it no longer corresponded to the needs of papal administration, it gave way to other collections. Twelfth century canonists, like Ivo of Chartres and Gratian, continued to use the Liber Diurnus, but subsequently it ceased to be consulted, and was finally completely forgotten.

Lucas Holstenius was the first who undertook to edit the Liber Diurnus. He had found one manuscript of it in the monastery of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme at Rome, and obtained another from the Jesuit Collège de Clermont at Paris; but as Holstenius died in the meantime and his notes could not be found, this edition printed at Rome in 1650 was withheld from publication, by advice of the ecclesiastical censors, and the copies put away in a room at the Vatican. The reason for so doing was apparently formula lxxxiv, which contained the profession of faith of the newly elected pope, in which the latter recognized the Sixth General Council and its anathemas against Pope Honorius for his (alleged) Monothelism. The edition of Holstenius was reprinted at Rome in 1658; but was again withdrawn in 1662 by papal authority, though in 1725 Benedict XIII permitted the issue of some copies. From the Clermont manuscript, which has since disappeared, Garnier prepared a new edition of the Liber Diurnus (Paris, 1680), but it is very inaccurate, and contains arbitrary alterations of the text. In his "Museum Italicum" (I, II, 32 sqq.) Mabillon issued a supplement to this edition of Garnier. From these materials, the Liber Diurnus was reprinted at Basle (1741), at Vienna (1762), and by Migne (P.L., CV, Paris, 1851). The first good edition, as stated above, we owe to Eug. de Rozière (Liber Diurnus ou Recueil des formules usitées par la Chancellerie pontificale du Ve au XIe siècle, Paris, 1869). In the interest of this edition Daremberg and Renan compared Garnier's text with the Vatican manuscript, then regarded as the only authentic one. From this manuscript Th. von Sickel prepared a critical edition of the text: "Liber Diurnus Rom. Pont. ex unico codice Vaticano denuo ed." (Vienna, 1889). Just after the appearance of this work, however, Ceriani announced the discovery of a new manuscript, originally from Bobbio, in the Ambrosian Library at Milan; towards the end this was more complete than the Vatican manuscript. This text was published by Achille Ratti (Milan, 1891).


POTTHAST. Bibl. hist. medii ævi, I, 734-5; ROZIÈRE, Recherches sur le Liber Diurnus des Pontifes romains (Paris, 1868); SICKEL, Prolegomena zum Liber Diurnus, I and II, in Sitzungsberichte der k. k. Akad. der Wiss. in Wien, Phil.-hist. Kl., CXVII (1888-9), nn. 7, 13, also edited separately; IDEM, Die Vita Hadriani Nonantulana und die Diurnushandschriften in Neues Archiv, XVIII (1893), 107 sqq.; cf. ibid., XV (1890), 22 sq.; IDEM, Nouveauz éclaircissements sur la première édition du Diurnus in Mélanges Julien Havet (Paris, 1895), 14-38; GIORGI, Storia esterna del codice Vaticano del Liber Diurnus Rom. Pont. in Archivio della Società Romana di storia patria, XI (1889), 641 sqq.; CERIANI, Notizia di un antico manuscritto Ambrosiano del Liber Diurnus in Rendiconti del Istituto Lombardo di scienze, 2nd series, XXVI, 376 sqq.; DUCHESNE, Le Liber Diurnus et les élections pontificales au VIIe siècle in Bibl. de l'Ecole des Chartes, LII (1891), 5-30; HARTMANN, Die Entstehungszeit des Liber Diurnus in Mitteilungen des Instituts für österr. Gesch., XIII (1892), 239-64; FRIEDRICH, Zur Entstehung des Liber Diurnus in Sitzungsber. der k. bayer. Akademie der Wiss., Phil.-hist. Kl., I (1890), 58-141.

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Bibliography Information
Obstat, Nihil. Lafort, Remy, Censor. Entry for 'Liber Diurnus Romanorum Pontificum'. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company. New York. 1914.

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