By Pope Boniface VIII
Promulgated 26 August 1300
GOD ALMIGHTY, in His infinite wisdom and mercy towards his creatures, has laid down divine commandments for men to live by. For “the just shall live by faith” but “the wages of sin is death.” That none may die through ignorance but only through fault, He has at diverse times and places, proclaimed these sacred laws in ever greater detail first to Adam, then to Noah, then Abraham, then Moses the Lawgiver and the prophets who succeeded him. Finally our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came, “not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it” in His Own sacred Person.
For “all have sinned and fallen beneath the glory of God,” as the Apostle says, “through the Law I knew sin.” And “I was conceived in sin and in sin did my mother bear me.” So it is just as by the first Adam, all have inherited the taint and weakness of sin and merit death, so too by the second Adam, Christ, came redemption from the just relaxation of the Father of all men to their deserved perdition “where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Christ, the Good Shepherd, knows the Will of his Father that all should be saved; He has wisely appointed pastors to come after and keep the ravening wolves of the enemy of truth at bay. Therefore He said unto Peter, “Feed my lambs,” and “Feed my sheep” thus placing under the rule of the Apostle not only the immature members of the flock but all of whatever condition, state, or rank. And He commanded him, “Follow me.”
For this obedience, Our Gracious Lord gave this prophecy to the Prince of the Apostles, “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” And more, for unto Peter He promised, “I will give the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, so that what you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven; and whatever you shall loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven.” Thus Peter was given the power not only to proclaim the Law of New Covenant, but the ability and wisdom to make certain changes in it as needed due the weakness and poverty of the flock that Heaven itself will ratify.
Before He departed this world, Christ said, “Teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” To the apostles and all the ministers to come, Jesus gave this power and commandment to baptize and to follow his lead.
But baptism is not to be the only cleansing that may be required. For what is clean may easily be soiled again, and the first stained on the body are often the feet, which are thus a figure of the vulnerability of the soul. Therefore, after washing the disciple’s feet, Christ said, “For I have given you an example, that as I have done for you, so you do also.”
Further He said, “He that is washed need not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.” Thus by so washing Peter and all the Apostles, Our Lord recommended the use of lesser ablutions and cleansing unto all the faithful to keep them in His Grace and remove the taint of lesser sin.
Through Peter’s supreme governance on Christ’s authority channeled all the power of the Grace of God unto His people in all its forms. By that same peculiar emanation, after giving glory to Him by his own death as Our Lord prophesied, Peter was succeeded by Linus, and him by Clement, and so on in due course until the burden of this office rested squarely upon Us, Boniface, being the eighth of that name. To Us, a sinner Ourselves, has come that supreme responsibility, but also the means to achieve it.
So unto the whole of the universal Church, We make this solemn proclamation on this Our great Year of Jubilee: That under the care and rule of the Chair of Peter come all means of dispensing divine Grace by their very nature.
As We would mirror His divine mercy, We therefore approve, ratify, laud and bless with all customary indulgences, the traditional uses by the faithful of all rosaries, sacred statues, devotional objects, candles, incense, blessed dishes and furniture, holy seasons including the Jubilee, all places of pilgrimage, all sacred relics of the first, second, and third classes and other holy items. Let all the faithful have full and ready recourse to them without hindrance and without limit, and we order their pastors to increase and encourage their devotion thereby.
However, We further decree that it is necessary for salvation that the highest class of relics, the intimate and most sacred Implements of Our Lord’s Passion known as the Arma Christi, to be subject to Our direct rule and possession. All those items of equal or similar class related to the events of Holy Week, the Passion, Burial and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, be they veils, nails, shrouds, dishes, basins, or anything else, known now or to be discovered, must be surrendered to the Holy See, under pain of Excommunication. The Holy Office is hereby empowered to see to it.
A commission of Cardinals to be assigned after Our pleasure and the advice of the Consistory, will adjudge the worthiness and veracity of all. The approved relics will then be returned to the custodianship their caretakers to be kept forever under the jurisdiction of the Holy See for the good of all the faithful everywhere.
Given Our Hand and Seal this Monday, xxvi August, the Feast-day of Saints Prunella and Murexius, in Our Jubilee Year of MCCC, at the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran.