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A collegiate (including canons , Säkularkanonikerstift , secular canons ) is a community of Säkularkanonikern ( diocesan priests , secular or unregulated canons ). Secular canons do not belong to any religious community and are clearly different from regular canons , who mostly follow the rule of St. Augustine of Hippo live and have taken religious vows or demarcate monks .

The canons , also called canons or canons, live at a specific church, the monastery , for whose services they are responsible. In addition to the daily celebration of a holy mass , the chapter office, this also includes the prayer of the hours ("choir prayer") in community.

Community and spiritual life

The community life of the canons consists primarily of common prayer. As often as possible, they take part in the choir prayer and the chapter office in the collegiate church. Sometimes the canons provide pastoral services, for example pastors in neighboring parishes. Others are entrusted with special tasks, for example as theology professors, church musicians or pastors for certain groups of people.

Since the members of the monastery do not belong to any order, they also have no habit . For church services, they wear a purple mozzetta with their choir robe , and above it the pen badge on a chain or ribbon.


The life of the canons is regulated by common statutes. They meet regularly for chapter meetings. The pen is legally represented by a provost or dean (dean). Smaller pen chapters are often only presided over by a pen dean. Other offices are the Scholaster and the Thesaurar , the Diakonus maior or the Diakonus minor .

The collegiate chapter , i.e. the assembly of canons, administers the assets of the collegiate church. In contrast to religious priests, the individual canons retain their private assets and can leave the monastery at any time.

The number of canons in a pen chapter is often written down. The aim, derived from the number of apostles , was mostly the number twelve, or its doubling of 24. But there are also larger and smaller pen chapters.

With the secularization , most of the collegiate chapters were dissolved, so that today there are only very few collegiate chapters apart from the cathedral chapters. B. the collegiate monastery for St. Rupertus in Altötting with the special privilege of an infected provost , St. Remigius (Borken) , Stt. Martin and Kastulus (Landshut) , St. Peter and Paul in Prague-Vyšehrad , in Regensburg at the Old Chapel and St. Johann . The monastery at the Theatinerkirche (Munich) also existed for a long time (handed over to the Dominicans in 1954). The chapters at St. Peter's Basilica and at Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome are also formally collegiate chapters, since the Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral in Rome .

Entry and exit

The formal admission of a candidate took place with the "possession", for this the tonsure and mostly the minor orders were a prerequisite. After completing a degree outside of the respective church province, the final admission as a full member took place after a few years, the " emancipation ". For this, they demanded that usually Subdiakonatsweihe . The canon then had a seat in the choir, a vote in the chapter and the disposal of his income. Membership usually ended through death or resignation . In church history, the latter often happened in favor of a relative. Occasionally the "permutation", i. H. Watching a job swap with a priest at another church. Exclusions were rather rare. In such cases the resignation was suggested to the person.

In the past, ordination to the priesthood was generally not a requirement for the canons of the collegiate chapter , but today it is essential. Often there were fixed positions (canons) for the bearers of higher ordinations in the collegiate churches.

Pens outside the catholic church

Outside the Catholic Church, there is the Lutheran college of Wurzen in Saxony. Originally founded by the Bishop of Meissen , it was preserved after the Reformation . Its members are lay Lutheran and clergy. That at the Ev. Stiftskirche in St. Goar survived the introduction of the Reformation in Hesse, because the dissolution of the monasteries required at the Homberg Synod was not applicable to spiritual monasteries. The secularization of ecclesiastical property in the areas on the left bank of the Rhine occupied by France in 1794 was not applied to Protestant church property, so that the assets of the monastery still exist today in a considerably reduced form and are administered by a monastery council, which is appointed as a committee of the St. Goar presbytery .

Also the Reformation lasted the collegiate of St. Thomas Church ( Saint Thomas ) in Strasbourg . Also Westminster Abbey is a collegiate (The Collegiate Church of St Peter, Westminster) , as well as St George's Chapel (Windsor Castle) and the St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church of the Church of Ireland in Galway .

Women pens

The collegiate foundations, which are basically made up of male clergy, are opposed to similarly organized ( Catholic and Protestant ) women's communities, whose members, however (in the Catholic area) never perform sacramental church tasks because they are not consecrated . (→ Frauenstift ).

See also


  • Guy P. Marchal (Red.): The secular collegiate colleges of German- and French-speaking Switzerland (= Helvetia Sacra . Department 2, Part 2). Francke, Bern 1977.
  • Peter Moraw : About typology, chronology and geography of the collegiate church in the German Middle Ages. In: Studies on monastery and monastery (= publications of the Max Planck Institute for History. Vol. 68 = Studies on Germania Sacra. Vol. 14). Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1980, ISBN 3-525-35381-2 , pp. 9-37.
  • Manfred Heim : Art. Canons (Canon). In: Monasticism - Order - Monasteries from the beginning to the present: A lexicon. Edited by Georg Schwaiger , Beck, Munich 1993, pp. 131-146, ISBN 3-406-37314-3 .
  • Alfred Wendehorst , Stefan Benz: Directory of the secular canon pens of the Reichskirche (= publications of the Central Institute for Franconian Regional Studies and General Regional Research at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Vol. 35). Degener, Neustadt an der Aisch 1997, ISBN 3-7686-9146-2 .
  • Guy P. Marchal : What was the Canon Institute in the Middle Ages? Cathedral and Collegiate Pencils: An Introduction and a New Perspective. In: Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique . Vol. 94, 1999, pp. 761-807, 95, 2000, pp. 7-53.
  • Sönke Lorenz , Oliver Auge (Ed.): The collegiate church in southwest Germany. Tasks and perspectives of research (= writings on south-west German regional studies. Vol. 35). DRW-Verlag, Leinfelden-Echterdingen 2003, ISBN 3-87181-435-0 .
  • Sönke Lorenz, Thomas Zotz (Ed.): Early forms of collegiate churches in Europe. Function and change of religious communities from the 6th to the end of the 11th century. Ceremony for Dieter Mertens on his 65th birthday (= writings on Southwest German regional studies. Vol. 54). DRW-Verlag, Leinfelden-Echterdingen 2005, ISBN 3-87181-754-6 .
  • Hannes Obermair , Klaus Brandstätter , Emanuele Curzel (eds.): Cathedral and collegiate pens in the Tyrol - South Tyrol - Trentino region in the Middle Ages and modern times = Collegialità ecclesiastica nella regione trentino-tirolese dal medioevo all'età moderna (= Schlern writings. 329). Wagner, Innsbruck 2006, ISBN 3-7030-0403-7 .
  • Alexander Ritter: Confession and politics on the Hessian Middle Rhine (1527–1685). Hessian Historical Commission, Darmstadt and Marburg 2007.
  • Wolfgang F. Rothe : Collegiate chapter in the German-speaking area. A canonical inventory. In: Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History . Vol. 124 = Journal of the Savigny Foundation for Legal History. Canonical department. Vol. 93, 2007, pp. 246-278.
  • Sönke Lorenz, Andreas Meyer (Ed.): Pen and economy. The financing of spiritual life in the Middle Ages (= writings on Southwest German regional studies. Vol. 58). Thorbecke, Ostfildern 2007, ISBN 978-3-7995-5258-5 .

Web links


  1. The word is a combination of the noun pen and the adjective kollegiat ( lat. Ecclesia collegiata ) derived from Kollegium . Kollegiatstift and Kollegiatkirche are therefore written without fugues .
  2. ^ Ritter, Alexander: Confession and politics on the Hessian Middle Rhine (1527–1685) . Darmstadt and Marburg 2007, ISBN 978-3-88443-307-2 , pp. 597-600 .