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Ædituus

ÆDITUUS, î-dit´ū-us: A term applied to a person having the care of ecclesiastical property. Among the Romans it described one who, with the local priest, if there was one, had charge of a temple. The Roman customs in regard to this office had their influence on the development of similar functions in the Christian Church. They were at first discharged by the ostiarius, to whom the term ædituus was sometimes applied (cf. Paulinus of Nola, Epist., i.). By degrees, as the major and minor orders developed, and Church property became more valuable, permanent subordinate officials were required to look after it. The functions and designations of these officials varied, however, in different provinces. The name ædituus fell into disuse, probably from its original association with heathen worship. It was employed in the Vulgate version of Ezek. xliv. 11; Hos. x. 5; Zeph. i. 4; and Durand (Rationale, ii. 5) says of the ostiarii that their functions resemble those of the æditui. In the Middle Ages the execution of the less dignified functions, which were thought incompatible with the clerical office, was committed more and more to subordinates, and by the end of that period almost entirely to laymen. The name ædituus was still used for these officials, being thus equivalent to the later sacristan. But this was principally in central Europe, especially in Germany, where conciliar decrees show that their duty was to ring the bells, to open and close the church, etc. In the more western countries the æditui became rather identified with the procuratores or provisores who had charge of the ecclesiastical property, though this included in some degree the maintenance of the building and the provision of vestments, candles, incense, and the like. In America during the nineteenth century the name has been not infrequently employed in Roman Catholic ecclesiastical terminology for the trustees who administer the temporal concerns of a parish.

(Johannes Ficker.)

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