In coena domini

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In coena Domini ( Latin : 'at the Lord's meal') was a papal bull that appeared several times between 1363 and 1770 . The oldest known text is said to be from the time around 1229 by Pope Gregory IX. come. The bull is a collection of papal excommunication and threats of punishment and is therefore also known as the bull of excommunication . In it, the Church expressly condemned heresies, schisms, sacrilege, violations of papal and ecclesiastical privileges, attacks on the physical integrity and property of clergy, piracy, counterfeiting and other crimes or misdemeanors. The bull was always added; Around 1627 it was issued in its final form by Pope Urban VIII and abrogated by Pope Clement XIV in 1770 .

Reading and content

The Bull of Gregory IX, which was repeatedly supplemented and revised by the Popes. was read annually on Maundy Thursday or Easter Monday . On Maundy Thursday evening, Mass of the Last Supper is celebrated in all Roman Catholic churches and the institution of the Eucharist , the commandment to love one's neighbor and the consecrated priesthood are remembered. For this reason, the nickname "Communion Bull" or "Night Supper Bull" came up for this bull.

The main offenses for which excommunication was threatened in In coena Domini are:

  • Apostasy , heresy and schism
  • Complaints about the Pope before a general council
  • Piracy in papal waters as well as the looting of wrecked ships there and the application of flotsam and cargo thrown overboard
  • Introducing new duties and taxes or increasing existing ones, if this was not previously permitted by the Holy See
  • Forgery or falsification of apostolic letters and papal bulls
  • Deliveries of weapons, ammunition or materials essential to the war effort to Saracens , Turks or other enemies of Christianity
  • Obstructing the export of food and other goods to and from the Roman Curia
  • acts of violence perpetrated on travelers en route to the Curia, cardinals , papal legates , nuncios, etc., as well as acts of violence perpetrated against those concerned with the affairs of the Curia
  • Reference spiritual disputes of ecclesiastical courts to secular courts, the subjection of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the dishes which made laymen exist, as well as the harassment of church judges


Since numerous heads of state in Europe perceived this bull as an interference in their government affairs and jurisdiction, it soon became angry. Some bishops had little success with their protests, but the European royal houses began to express their displeasure, first in Venice , then in France . In the 18th century the Bourbon courts rose up and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria no longer allowed the reading of the bull in her states. Pope Clement XIV tried to achieve reconciliation with the Bourbon courts and repealed In coena Domini in 1770. Emperor Joseph II took this as an opportunity to have the text of the bull torn from all ritual books.

In 1521 Martin Luther was named as a heretic in In coena Domini . Luther translated the bull for the first time, added a preface to it and provided it with several glosses and sent it to Pope Leo X as a “New Year's present”. The script he made was entitled: The Bulla of the Evening Meal of the Most Holy Lord, the Pope, the Holy of all Roman See for the New Year. His mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and avarice; beneath his tongue is labor and work.

Individual notes

  1. Julius Köstlin : Luther, his life and his writings. Fourth book: The year on the Wartburg 1521, Chapter 2: Writing on the Wartburg [1]