Canon

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CANON, eccl. law. This word is taken from the Greek, and signifies a rule or law. In ecclesiastical law, it is also used to designate an order of religious persons. Francis Duaren says, the reason why the ecclesiastics called the rules they established canons or rules, (canones id est regulas) and not laws, was modesty. They did not dare to call them (leges) laws, lest they should seem to arrogate to themselves the authority of princes and magistrates. De Sacris Ecclesiae Ministeriis, p. 2, in pref. See Law, Canon.

LAW, CANON. The canon law is a body of Roman ecclesiastical law, relative to such matters as that church either has or pretends to have the proper jurisdiction over:
     2. This is compiled from the opinions of the ancient Latin fathers, the decrees of general councils, and the decretal epistles and bulls of the holy see. All which lay in the same confusion and disorder as the Roman civil law, till about the year 1151, when one Gratian, an Italian monk, animated by the discovery of Justinian's Pandects, reduced the ecclesiastical constitutions also into some method, in three books, which he entitled Concordia discordantium canonum, but which are generally known by the name of Decretum Gratiani. These reached as low as the time of Pope Alexander III. The subsequent papal decrees to the pontificate of Gregory IX., were published in much the same method, under the auspices of that pope, about the year 1230, in five books, entitled Decretalia Gregorii noni. A sixth book was added by Boniface VIII., about the year 1298, which is called Sextus decretalium. The Clementine constitution or decrees of Clement V., were in like manner authenticated in 1317, by his successor, John XXII., who also published twenty constitutions of his own, called the Extravagantes Joannis, all of which in some manner answer to the novels of the civil law. To these have since been added some decrees of the later popes, in five books called Extravagantes communes. And all these together, Gratian's Decrees, Gregory's Decretals, the Sixth Decretals, the Clementine Constitutions, and the Extravagants of John and his successors, form the Corpus juris canonici, or body of the Roman canon law. 1 Bl. Com. 82; Encyclopedie, Droit Canonique, Droit Public Ecclesiastique; Dict. de Jurispr. Droit Canonique; Ersk. Pr. L. Scotl. B. 1, t. 1, s. 10. See, in general, Ayl. Par. Jur. Can. Ang.; Shelf. on M. & D. 19; Preface to Burn's Eccl. Law, by Thyrwhitt, 22; Hale's Hist. C. L. 26-29; Bell's Case of a Putative Marriage, 203; Dict. du Droit Canonique; Stair's Inst. b. 1, t. 1, 7.

References in classic literature ?
When the canon heard both the prisoner and the man who was at liberty talk in such a strain he was ready to cross himself in his astonishment, and could not make out what had befallen him; and all his attendants were in the same state of amazement.
The barber did not care to answer Sancho lest by his plain speaking he should disclose what the curate and he himself were trying so hard to conceal; and under the same apprehension the curate had asked the canon to ride on a little in advance, so that he might tell him the mystery of this man in the cage, and other things that would amuse him.
But to the perfect redwoods belonged the small but deep canon that threaded its way among the knolls.
Here, poised above a big forested canon, and looking out upon Sonoma Valley, was a small farm-house.
The wall of the canon was several hundred feet from top to bottom, and magnificent were the untouched trees that the place was plunged in perpetual shade.
Nothing is prettier, thought the good Minor Canon frequently, when taking his seat at table opposite his long-widowed mother.
They were a good pair to sit breakfasting together in Minor Canon Corner, Cloisterham.
nephew," exclaimed the canon, "if your wife were here, you would behave more rationally."
I sprang up at the words with a dread in my mind, my fears written so plainly in my face, that the old canon came out after me into the garden.
After an hour's rest they advanced again along the canon, until they presently came to a little valley, from which several rocky gorges diverged.
At the same instant the terrified horse made a last frantic effort to escape--the tether parted, and he went careening down the canon toward the desert.
He rendered clear and familiar to himself that vast and tumultuous period of civil law and canon law in conflict and at strife with each other, in the chaos of the Middle Ages,--a period which Bishop Theodore opens in 618, and which Pope Gregory closes in 1227.