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under restraint does not incur the excommunication nor any other penalty, unless he has advised the abductor that he would aid him in his abduction by his presence and ministry. The agents and the like, in an abduction of a woman validly and freely betrothed, but unwilling to be carried off, do not incur excommunication and other Tridentine punishments (S. C. Prop. Fid., 17 April, 1784). The vindictive punishments are incurred, at least in the ecclesiastical court, by a declaratory sentence. The abducted woman, not the abductor, has the right to challenge the validity of her marriage celebrated while under control of the abductor. No particular time is prescribed by law, but she should, however, unless prevented by reasonable cause, present her plea as soon as possible after her entire separation from the control of the abductor.

Dispensation.—The Church as a rule does not dispense with this impediment. It even refuses to grant other dispensations, v.g. affinity, if the woman was abducted; indeed any dispensation granted, in which mention of the abduction has been omitted, is held as invalid. There are some cases in which the Church has dispensed when it is abundantly evident that the consent of the woman was really free, although circumstances prevented her entire separation from the control of the abductor. The late Instruction of the Congregation of the Inquisition (15 February, 1901, in the "Analecta Ecclesiastica," Rome, 1901, 98) to the bishops of Albania (where abduction is of very frequent occurrence) refused a general repeal of the law for their country, adding that the frequency mentioned, far from being a reason for relaxing, was rather a reason for insisting on the Tridentine law; yet, where it was abundantly evident that the consent of the woman under restraint was truly a free consent, and that there were reasons sufficient for the dispensation, recourse should be had to Rome in each single case. Further, in the extraordinary faculties given to bishops (20 February, 1888) for dispensing in public impediments persons in danger of death, the impediment of raptus is not excluded. The civil codes of today, as a rule, do not recognize abduction as an impediment diriment to civil marriage, but consider it as a species of vis et metus. The codes of Austria and Spain, however, still hold it as an impediment, and among the jurists of Austria there is an earnest endeavour to make it an impediment absolute and perpetual, so that the abducted woman, if still under control of her abductor, may not marry even a third party.

Riganti, Comment. in Reg., in Reg. xlix, nn. 46 sq.; Schmalzgrüber, V, xvii, De Rapt. Pers., nn. 1–54; Gonsalez Tellez, Comment. Perpet., V, xvii; Berardi, Comment. in Jus. Eccles., II, 81 sqq.; Wernz, IV, Jus Matrim, 408 sqq.; Rosset, De Sac. Matrim., II, 1344 sqq.; Vecchiotti, Instit. Can., III, 234 sqq.; Santi-Leitner, IV, 58–65; Feije, De Imped. et Dispens.; Kutschker, Das Eherecht (1856), III, 456 sqq.; Analecta Ecclesiastica (Rome, April, 1903); Howard, Hist. of Matrimonial Inst., I, 156 sq., s.v. Wife-Captor; Acta Sanctæ Sedis, I, 15–24; 54 sq.; Gaspari, De Matrim., I, 364 sqq.

Abecedaria, complete or partial lists of letters of the alphabet, chiefly Greek and Latin, inscribed on ancient monuments, Pagan and Christian. At, or near, the beginning of the Christian era, the Latin alphabet had already undergone its principal changes, and had become a fixed and definite system. The Greek alphabet, moreover, with certain slight modifications, was becoming closely assimilated to the Latin. Towards the eighth century of Rome, the letters assumed their artistic forms and lost their older, narrower ones. Nor have the three letters added by the Emperor Claudius ever been found in use in Christian inscriptions. The letters themselves, it may be said, fell into disuse at the death of the Emperor in question. The alphabet, however, employed for monumental inscriptions differed so completely from the cursive as to make it wholly impossible to mistake the one for the other. The uncial, occurring very rarely on sculptured monuments, and reserved for writing, did not make its appearance before the fourth century. The number of Christian objects bearing the Abecedaria, with the exception of two vases found at Carthage, is extremely limited. On the other hand, those of heathen origin are more plentiful, and include certain tablets used by stone-cutters apprentices while learning their trade. Stones have also been found in the catacombs, bearing the symbols A, B, C, etc. These are arranged, sometimes, in combinations which have puzzled the sagacity of scholars. One such, found in the cemetery of St. Alexander, in the Via Nomentana, is inscribed as follows:


This represents, in all probability, a schoolboy's task, which may be compared with a denarius of L. Cassius Caecinianus, whereon the inscription runs thus:


It is to St. Jerome that we owe an explanation of this curious trifle. He tells us that, in order to train the memory of young children, they were made to learn the alphabet in a double form, joining A to X, and so on with the other letters. A stone found at Rome in 1877, and dating from the sixth or seventh century, seems to have been used in a school, as a model for learning the alphabet, and, points, incidentally, to the long continuance of old methods of teaching. (See Christian Use of the Alphabet.)

Abecedarians, a sect of Anabaptists who affected an absolute disdain for all human knowledge, contending that God would enlighten His elect interiorly and give them knowledge of necessary truths by visions and ecstasies. They rejected every other means of instruction, and pretended that to be saved one must even be ignorant of the first letters of the alphabet; whence their name, A-B-C-darians. They also considered the study of theology as a species of idolatry, and regarded learned men who did any preaching as falsifiers of God's word.

At Wittenberg, in 1522, Nicholas Storch (Pelargus) and the Illumimati of Zwickau began to preach this doctrine, mixing it up with other errors. Carlstadt allowed himself to be drawn away by these singular views, and to put them thoroughly into practice he abandoned his title of Doctor and became a street porter. He preached the new doctrine for some time to the people and to the students of Wittenberg. (See Anabaptists.)

Leclercq, in Dict. de théol. cath., I, 28.

Abel (Heb., הבל, Vanity, "probably so called from the shortness of his life"—Gesenius; Gr., Ἄβελ, whence Eng. form) was the second son of Adam. Vigouroux and Hummelauer contend that the Assyr. aplu or ablu, const. Abal, i.e. "son," is the same word, not a case of orthographic coincidence, especially as Hebrew and Assyrian are closely related tongues. Some, with Josephus (Ant., I, ii), think it means "Sorrow", as if written אבל i.e. "Lamentation'. Cheyne holds that "a right view of the story favours the meaning shepherd, or more generally herdsman"; Assyr. ibilu (Ency. Bib., s. v.) "ram, camel, ass, or wild sheep."

Cain, the first-born, was a fanner. Abel owned