FILOZOFICKÁ FAKULTA UNIVERZITY KONŠTANTÍNA FILOZOFA, NITRA
FACULTY OF ARTS, CONSTANTINE THE PHILOSOPHER UNIVERSITY, NITRA
CONFESSION AND ECCLESIASTICAL LAW. AN OVERVIEW OF PENITENTIAL CANONS IN THE CZECH
LANDS IN THE HIGH AND LATE MIDDLE AGES
Abstract: In the study, the author focuses on penitential canons in the Czech lands in the High and
Late Middle Ages. Significant collections of ecclesiastical law and the provisions of conciliar decrees
and papal codes ascribed a legal dimension to confession and made it a legal institute. Older
provisions on confession and penance were summarised by the monk Gratian in his Decretum,
and the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215 provided the impetus for regular annual confession.
Regulations on confession are incorporated into provincial and diocesan statutes, in that the texts of
these statutes were to be procured by each parish priest in order for him to learn what obligations
had been put in place in connection with confession. In practice, parish priests could use various
manuals to help them in confession or in the administration of pastoral care of the inhabitants
of their parish. Almost sixty confessional manuals are preserved in Czech libraries. An important
role was played by Summa de casibus poenitentiae by Raymond of Peñafort and Summa Pisana
by Bartholomaeus de Sancto Concordia. Domestic authors of penitential and pastoral manuals
included Robert, Bishop of Olomouc, Hermann of Prague, Štěpán of Roudnice, Sander Rambow,
Mattheus of Cracow, Štěpán of Kolín, and Václav of Dráchov.
Keywords: confession; penitential law; canon law; High and Late Middle Ages; Bohemia and Moravia
THEOLOGICAL REVIEW, Vol. 93, 2022, No. 1, Number of Article 4, p. 45 – 64.