Forasmuch as certain of the metropolitans, as we have heard, neglect the flocks committed to them, and delay the ordinations of bishops the holy Synod has decided that the ordinations of bishops shall take place within three months, unless an inevitable necessity should some time require the term of delay to be prolonged. And if he shall not do this, he shall be liable to ecclesiastical penalties, and the income of the widowed church shall be kept safe by the steward of the same Church.
Ancient Epitome of Canon XXV.
Let the ordination of bishops be within three months: necessity however may make the time longer. But if anyone shall ordain counter to this decree, he shall be liable to punishment. The revenue shall remain with the œconomus.
The “Steward of the Church” was to “take care of the revenues of the church widowed” by the death of its bishop, who was regarded as representing Him to whom the whole Church was espoused (see Eph. v. 23 ff.). So in the “order of the holy and great church” of St. Sophia, the “Great Steward” is described as “taking the oversight of the widowed church” (Goar, Eucholog., p. 269); so Hincmar says: “Si fuerit defunctus episcopus, ego…visitatorem ipsi viduatæ designabo ecclesiæ; “and the phrase, “viduata per mortem N. nuper episcopi” became common in the West (F. G. Lee, Validity of English Orders, p. 373). The episcopal ring was a symbol of the same idea. So at St. Chrysostoms restoration Eudoxia claimed to have “given back the bridegroom” (Serm. post redit., iv.). So Bishop Wilson told Queen Caroline that he “would not leave his wife in his old age because she was poor” (Kebles Life of Wilson, ii., 767); and Peter Mongus, having invaded the Alexandrian see while its legitimate occupant, Timothy Salophaciolus, was alive, was expelled as an “adulterer” (Liberatus, Breviar., xviij.).
This canon is found in the Corpus Juris Canonici, Gratians Decretum, Pars I., Dist. LXXV., C. ij. 293
I think this is the first time I have ever noticed Van Espen to have omitted giving the reference.