Decree of Gratian


A collection of canonical decrees and excerpts from the Fathers and from Roman Law, published on his private authority by John Gratian, a monk and professor at the University of Bologna, c.1150. Before his time there were many decrees of particular councils in the East, in Africa, Spain, and Gaul. Gratian sought to bring order into these various collections, adding brief comments and intending it as a text for the great law school of Bologna. It is divided into three parts. The first consists of 101 “Distinctions,” subdivided into chapters; the second part contains 36 “Causes”; the third section is composed of 5 “Distinctions.” The first part deals with the written sources of canon law and of ecclesiastical persons; the second treats of ecclesiastical administration, marriage, and penance; the third comments upon Sacraments and Sacramentals. The references to the Decree are technical, e.g., C. 24 DL meatis chapter 24 of the fiftieth Distinction; C. 4 C. III q. 2 means chapter four in the second question of the third cause. The Leipzig edition of the Decree is critically edited by Friedberg.

MLA Citation

  • “Decree of Gratian”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 June 2010. Web. 29 November 2021. <>