Volume 51, Issue 1, June 2011
Angelo Di Berardino
Christian Liturgical Time and Torture (Cod. Theod. 9,35,4 and 5)
On the 3rd of March 380, Theodosius, moved by the qualitas (pro reverentia religionis) of the pre-paschal period, a special time of preparation for Easter,
mandates the suspension during Christian Lent of all penal trials which normally resulted in torture (Cod. Theod. 9,35,4 = Cod. Iust. 3,12,5). Lent is a specifically Christian time which developed to a large degree in the course of the fourth century, but which varied in duration and organization in the various churches. The law adapts the judicial calendar for the administration of justice to the rhythms of Christian liturgy. Theodosius in 389 (Cod. Theod. 9,35,5; 9,35,7) decrees that during Lent supplicia corporis could not take place, due to the sacredness of those days intended as a salutary penance which culminates in Easter reconciliation. Since the duration of Lent varied within the various churches, civil authorities of the provinces were to be informed by local Christians of the beginning and end of Lent.