Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

Generally speaking, the governing council of an order. Bergier describes them as those chosen to represent the order in general or provincial chapters, but this is not altogether correct, for the usage varies in different orders. With the Dominicans all who are sent to represent the provinces in a general chapter are definitors; amongst the Cluniac monks there existed a similar regulation (though normally in the Benedictine Order definitors have no place). On the other hand, in the Franciscan Order, definitors are elected by the general and provincial chapters to assist the general or provincial superiors in the government of the order and a similar rule exists amongst the Carmelites and the Hermits of St. Augustine. But in this case it would seem that the definitors form a sort of executive committee of the chapter, since they are subject to the legislative enactments of the chapter. Definitors, strictly so called, have a decisive vote in congregation equally with the general or provincial superior; in this they differ from mere consultors such as exist in some orders and in the Society of Jesus . Nor may the general or provincial superior act in matters of greater moment without taking the vote of the definitors. A definitor, however, has the right to vote only when present in congregation. When called to give his opinion in congregation he is bound in conscience to speak candidly according to his own judgment, even if he knows his opinion to be contrary to that of the other definitors, and if he fails to do so in matters of gravity, he is held to sin gravely. Yet when the vote is taken, he is bound to sign the declaration of the minority report. In some orders, e.g. the Capuchin, the junior definitor gives his opinion first, that the may not be influenced by the seniors; but in other orders the senior speaks first. Again, in some orders the local superiors are appointed by the definitors; in others they are elected by the local community. Thus, amongst the Franciscans, the provincial superior is selected by the provincial chapter, subject to confirmation by the minister general and his definitors, whereas the superiors of houses are appointed directly by the provincial definitors: whilst amongst the Dominicans all local superiors are elected by the local community.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2014 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. Chrysanthus was an ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter