Catholic Dictionary – abjuration of heresy


This is required in the canon law as a preliminary to baptism, or, when there is no question of that (as in the case of converts from the Eastern Church), before the convert makes his confession of faith. There are decrees of several councils to this effect: thus the Council of Laodicea (about 364) ordains that Novatian and Photiuian heretics, “whether they be baptised persons or catechumens, shall not be received before they have anathematised all heresies, especially that in which they were held.” A celebrated instance of abjuration is that of Clovis (496), to whom Saint Remy said before baptising him, “Meekly bow down thy head, Sicambrian; adore what thou hast burnt, and burn what thou hast adored.” An early German council requires the Saxon converts to renounce belief in “Thor and Woden and Saxon Odin” before being received into the Church.

Ferraris sums up the canonical requirements in the matter of abjuration as follows: that it should be done without delay; that it should be voluntary; that it should be done with whatever degree of publicity the bishop of the place might think necessary; and that the abjuring person should make condign satisfaction in the form of penance.

The modern discipline insists mainly on the positive part, the profession of the true faith. Thus in the Ritual of Strasburg (1742) the abjuration required is merely general: “Is it your firm purpose to renounce in heart and mind all the errors which it [the Catholic religion] condemns? “In England at the present time the abjurationis, so to speak, taken for granted in ordinary cases, since converts are not admitted into the Church except after suitable instruction, and the Creed of Pope Pius IV, which everyone desiring to become a Catholic must read and accept, expressly denounces most of those errors which infect the religious atmosphere of this country.

MLA Citation

  • “abjuration of heresy”. A Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 29 August 2018. Web. 19 February 2019. <>