Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/228

This page needs to be proofread.


MENSA


194


MENSA


on the language, all still in manuscript. His prespnt successor at the mission. Father Blase Krake of the same order, is also a master of the language, of which he has written a manuscript grannnar ami dictionary. A vocabulary of some thirty pages accompanies Hoffman's monograpli.

Hoffman in Fourth Report of the Bureau of Ethnology. I (Waahinpton, 1896); CoM^^ssIoNER of Ini>. Affairs, Annual Repts. (Washington); Jenks, Wild Rice Gatherers, ibid., II (Washington, 1900): Jesuit Relations, ed. Thwajtes (Cleve- land), especially vols. XVIII, XLIV. LIV, LV, LVIII, LIX, LX, LXII; Pilling, Bibliography of Algonquian Languages in Bureauof Amer. Ethnology (Washington, 1891); Shea, CaMoiic Ind. Missions (New York, 1854); Wisconsin Hist. Soc. Colls., XIV (Madison, 1S9S); Anon., Rise and Progress of the Province of St. Joseph oftheCapuchin Order in the U. S. (New York, 1907).

James Mooney.

Mensa, Mensal Revenue (Lat. Mensa, table). — The Latin wonl mensa has for its primitive significa- tion "a table for meals"; it designates by e.xtension the expenses, or better, the necessary resources of sus- tenance, and generally, all the resources for personal support. He who lives at the expense of another, and at his table, is his "commensal". In ecclesiastical language, the mensa is that portion of the property of a church which is appropriated to defraying the ex- penses either of the prelate or of the community which serves the church, and is administered at the will of the one or the other. Thus, in a cathedral, to which both the bishop and the chapter belong, the bishop's mensa is distinct from that of the chapter, the former consisting of property the revenues of which are en- joyed by the prelate, the latter by the chapter. The capitular mensa consists chiefly of individual prop- ertj', for the primitive mensa of the chapter has al- most everj-where been divided among the canons, each of whom has his personal share under the designation of a "prebend". Similarly, in the case of abbeys given in commendam (cf. c. Edoceri, 21, De rescriptis), the abbatial mensa, which the abbot enjoys, is distinct from the conventual mensa, which is applied to the maintenance of the religious community. The curial mensa, which is of later origin, is of the same nature: the property reser\-ed for the personal maintenance of the parish priest, as distinct from that applied to the expenses of worship or to the support of other clergy, has been regarded as curial mensa. To constitute a mensa in the canonical sense, therefore, it is not enough that a certain portion of church property be appropriated to the maintenance of the clergy (for in that case every benefice would be a mensa, which is untrue); it is necessary that there be a partition made in the property of one particular church so as to appropriate certain property to the maintenance of the prelate or rector, or of the clergy subject to him; it follows, therefore, that the administration of this property belongs to those who enjoy it.

Thus the bishop, the secular abbot, the chapter, the religious community, administer, each within appro- priate limits, the property of their respective mensa;, without being liable to any accounting for the employ- ment of its revenues; this is true of the parish priest who has a curial mensa. The other resources of the cathedral or parish church, or monastery, destined for religious worship, pious works, the maintenance of buildings, etc., are subject lo the general or special rules for the administration of church property, whether this be done by church committees, trustees, or other administrative organ, or by the rector of the church as sole administrator; in all cases an accounting ia due to the bishop and, in general, to the ecclesiasti- cal authorities, for the administration of such property and for the uses to which all the revenues and re- sources accruing may have been put, whereas no one is accountable for the use of his mensal property. There are, however, some exceptions to this prmciple. Since mensEe, particularly episcopal mens®, are legal enti- ties, property and foundations have in the course of centuries often been annexed to them for purposes


other than the maintenance of prelates; these proper- ties or foundations may be real " opera pia " or pious works in the canonical sense. In this way some epis- copal mensse control property and houses for the bene- fit of aged or infirm priests, also for educational and other establishments; to some curial mensa; schools or hospitals are attached, and for these various good works administrative rules may be provided at the time of their foundation. But such cases it is easily seen are later extensions, foreign to the primary and chief aim of the mensa;. Even in respect to these properties the old rule applies, in the sense that they are not common ecclesiastical possessions and are not administered as such, but after the manner of mensal property.

Although appropriated to the maintenance of cer- tain definite persons, mensal property is nevertheless church property, and its administrator is bound to ob- serve the canonical rules concerning it. As to the ad- ministration strictly speaking, he must keep the prop- erty in good condition and e.xecute all works expedient to that end; in short, he must act like a good head of a household. But he cannot do anything that would infringe upon proprietary rights, for he is not the pro- prietor: any alienation, or any contract which the law regards as similar to alienation, is forbidden him, ex- cepting under prescribed juridical formalities, under pain of excommunication (E.xtrav. Ambitiosse, "De reb. eccl. non alienandis"; see also Benefite; Prop- erty, Alienation op Church). The chief of these prescribed formalities is the Apostolic authorization, given either directly or by Indult, and that only when the alienation or similar contract is to the advantage of the Church. For the alienation of mensal property, or for making any similar contract, the bishop is, in particular, bound to safeguard himself with the con- sent of the chapter (S. C. Concilii, 25 July, 1891).

History. — Like all ecclesiastical institutions, the mensa has reached its present juridical status as the result of various modifications. In the first ages, all the church property of a diocese formed but one mass connected, like everytliing else, with the principal, or cathedral church. The administration of it belonged to the bishop alone, who administered it himself or through his oeamomus or his deacons. The clergy received a portion of the revenues of this property, sometimes fixed (one-fourth in Italy, one-third in Spain; see the collected texts, c. 23-.30, C, XII, q. ii; c. 1-3, C, X, q. iii), sometimes left to the equitable de- cision of the bishop. Soon the churches outside of the episcopal city had distinct administrations of their own, and the wealth appropriated to religious worship or to the support of the clergy was regarded as their property. After the fifth century we find bishops granting to certain clerics church property, by way of "precarium", i. e. property revocable at will, which such clerics used for their own support. So long as the bishop, the abbot, or the rector of the church remained faithfully in residence and discharged his ecclesiasti- cal functions, there was no reason for surrendering to the inferior clergy, or the monks, a part of the ecclesi- astical wealth that they might thence draw their sup- port. But when the early Carlovingians, especially Charles Martel, habitually gave abbeys and churches to their companions in arms, and when bishops nomi- nated by royal favour ceased to reside habitually at their sees, there arose a kind of division and opposition between the prelate, abbot, or bishop and the com- munity of monks or clerics, who were on more than one occasion left in want by greedy or negligent supe- riors. The remedy for this was the institution of mensae.

To secure what was necessary to the community, I the beneficiary was compelled to reserve for its use a i sufficient portion of the property of the church or mon- astery. "Thus the superior's administration was made lighter for him, while he could enjoy in peace and quiet .


\i