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Document Details :
Title: The Validity of Marriage in Cases of Captivity
Subtitle: The Letter of Innocent I to Probus
Author(s): DUNN, Geoffrey D.
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 83 Issue: 1 Date: 2007
This paper explores Epistula 36 of Innocent I, bishop of Rome in the first quarter of the fifth century, one of the earliest known ecclesial decisions on the validity of a marriage, which was upheld in this instance. By asking questions about the relationship of the recipient of the letter to the parties involved, why Innocent intervened, and the civil implications of a spousal abduction by a foreign enemy we gain insight into a crucial stage of the Christianisation of marriage. It is argued that Innocent wrote to Probus probably because he was personally connected with the couple, that Innocent rejected the Roman law on the dissolution of marriage due to abduction and enslavement, and that his decision, which had only ecclesial and not civil effect, marks an important moment in church-state relations. The reference to divorce should be taken as a simple statement that this Roman practice was not relevant here as it was not a case of the Matthean exception.