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Irish Collection of Canon law

Collectio Hibernensis Canonum

The Collectio Hibernensis Canonum (Irish Collection of Canon law) is a systematic Latin collection of canon law, scriptural and patristic excerpts, and Irish synodal and penitential decrees. The Collectio Hibernensis Canonum is thought to have been compiled by two Irish scholars working in the 8th century, Cu Chuimne of Iona (died 747) and Ruben of Dairinis (died 725).


The Collectio Hibernensis Canonum was the first canon law collection in Europe which organized its material by subject. It was not until the 12th century that Gratian created another such collection. Of course, the Collectio Hibernensis Canonum is primarily dedicated to Canons important in Ireland and gives an important place to synods which took place in Ireland.

The Collectio Hibernensis Canonum includes not only Canon Law regarding the church, but there are also a number of provision about secular legal matters such as contracts, oaths, and sureties, as well as general information about the shape of the law.

The Collectio Hibernensis Canonum was not the only form of law available in medieval Ireland. A secular law, more commonly known as the Brehon Laws, existed and is often at variance with the Collectio Hibernensis Canonum, although perhaps more surprising is their tendency to overlap.


The Collectio Hibernensis Canonum was an attempt to make available diverse authorities for use by Canon Jurists. Among the sources included are:

* ecclesiastical histories
* a definition by Virgil Maro Grammaticus
* a compusticial tract by Pseudo-Theophilus
* spurious 'Acts' of the council of Caesarea
* several quotes from all but one of the works of Isidore of Seville
* so-called dicta of Saint Patrick.

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