Clovesho, or Clofeshoch, is notable as the place at which were held several councils of the Anglo-Saxon Church. The locality itself has never been successfully identified. It is supposed to have been in Mercia, and probably near London (Bede, ed. Plummer, II, 214). Lingard, in his appendix to the "Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church", takes it to be Abingdon, and Kemble (Saxons in England, II, 191) to be Tewkesbury, and others have thought it might be Cliff-at-Hoo, in Kent, but Haddan and Stubbs (Councils, III, 121, n.) consider all these conjectures to be based upon unreliable evidence. Whatever uncertainty exists in determining the place which was known as Clovesho, there is no doubt as to the fact of the councils or to the authenticity of their Acts. When Archbishop Theodore held the Council of Hertford in 673, in which he declared to the assembled bishops that he had been "appointed by the Apostolic See to be Bishop of the Church of Canterbury ", a canon was passed to the effect that in future yearly synods should be held every August "in the place which is called Clofeshoch". (Bede, H. E., IV, ch. v.) Notwithstanding this provision, ìt was not until seventy years later that the first Council of Clovesho of which we have an authentic record was assembled. It is true that in the Canterbury Cartulary there is a charter which says that the Privilege of King Wihtred to the churches was "confirmed and ratified in a synod held in the month of July in a place called Clovesho" in the year 716; but the authenticity of this document, though intrinsically probable, is held by Haddan and Stubbs to be dependent upon that of the Privilege of Wihtred. The councils of Clovesho of which we have authentic evidence are those of the years 742, 747, 794, 798, 803, 824, and 825.
The thirteenth and fifteenth canons are noteworthy as showing the close union of the Anglo-Saxon Church with the Holy See. The thirteenth canon is: "That all the most sacred Festivals of Our Lord made Man , in all things pertaining to the same, viz.: in the Office of Baptism, the celebration of Masses, in the method of chanting, shall be celebrated in one and the same way, namely, according to the sample which we have received in writing from the Roman Church . And also, throughout the course of the whole year, the festivals of the Saints are to be kept on one and the same day, with their proper psalmody and chant, according to the Martyrology of the same Roman Church." The fifteenth canon adds that in the seven hours of the daily and nightly Office the clergy "must not dare to sing or read anything not sanctioned by the general use, but only that which comes down by authority of Holy Scripture , and which the usage of the Roman Church allows". The sixteenth canon in like manner requires that the litanies and rogations are to be observed by the clergy and people with great reverence "according to the rite of the Roman Church ". The feasts of St. Gregory and of St. Augustine, "who was sent to the English people by our said Pope and father St. Gregory ", were to be solemnly celebrated. The clergy and monks were to live so as to be always prepared to receive worthily the most holy Body and Blood of the Lord, and the laity were to be exhorted to the practice of frequent Communion (Canons xxii, xxiii). Persons who did not know Latin were to join in the psalmody by intention, and were to be taught to say, in the Saxon tongue, prayers for the living or for the repose of the souls of the dead (Can. xxvii). Neither clergy nor monks were in future to be allowed to live in the houses of the people (Can. xxix), nor were they to adopt or imitate the dress which is worn by the laity (Can. xxviii).
It is evident from the records that the councils held at Clovesho and those generally of the Anglo-Saxon period were mixed assemblies at which not only the bishops and abbots, but the kings of Mercia and the chief men of the kingdom were present. They had thus the character not only of a church synod but of the Witenagemot or assembly fairly representative of the Church and realm. The affairs of the Church were decided by the bishops presided over by the archbishop, while the king, presiding over his chiefs, gave to their decisions the co-operation and acceptance of the State. Both parties signed the decrees, but there is no evidence of any ingerence of the lay power in the spiritual legislation or judgments of the Church. While it must be remembered that at this period the country was not yet united into one kingdom, the councils of Clovesho, as far as we may judge from their signatures, represented the primatial See of Canterbury and the whole English Church south of the Humber.
St. Luke the Apostle
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