Sunday, 10 July 2011

Another matrimonial case from 1868

Another case report to go with my last post.  This case too was decided by the Sacred Congregation of the Council.

"Summary of the facts.  Livius was a young man and a Greek schismatic.  He was the son of Horatius, a member of the same religious sect.  He was travelling in a Catholic country and encountered Caia, a young Catholic girl, one of his family's tenants who lived on a farm.  It is said that her physical beauty made up for the poverty of her family, and he fell in love with her.  His father Horatius, who was a very wealthy man, brought the young girl to his house to work as a domestic servant.  This provided an opportunity for Livius' love to grow stronger.  When Livius told her of his love, however, Caia did not fully reciprocate it, on account of the difference in social status and religion - and, indeed, the opposition of Horatius.

Nevertheless, as a result of living alongside each other in the household (in which arrangement Horatius himself seems to have been heavily complicit), it happened that Livius repeatedly promised Caia that he would marry her and the woman agreed to fornicate with him.

Horatius, however, had great plans for his son, and, fearing that he would join himself in marriage to an unworthy girl, he threatened to send him off to Egypt and to evict Caia and her family from their farm.  However, Livius rejected these threats of his father, who is said to have been a strong-willed man.  He adopted the following plan at the suggestion of his associates, and made it known to Caia: the scheme was that Caia should become engaged to N., a servant, and should marry him with the appropriate external ceremonies, but that the marriage should not be consummated by the parties and that Caia should stay with Livius.

It is said that Caia consented to this proposal, albeit unwillingly.  And so, after the plan had been discussed with the servant N. (who received payment), a marriage was celebrated in the Church between Caia and the servant N. in 1851.

While the wedding was being conducted in the church, a carriage was standing ready outside the church door.  Caia and her entourage, without the servant N., got into it and travelled to a certain villa.  The servant, however, travelled to Rome.  He then travelled through some distant cities in order to conduct business on behalf of Horatius' family, before finally returning to Caia's country, from which he had set out, in 1860....

And so Caia remained with Livius and, as a result of their cohabitation, she gave birth to three children in the years 1856, 1858 and 1861.  They were recorded in the parish records as the children of Caia and the servant N.  However, as these children were recorded in the parish records as the children of the servant N., who was far away, it happened that another employee of Horatius' family took up the infants from the sacred font in the name of the servant N. as if he were only temporarily absent.

These children of Caia, however, were treated by everyone not as the children of the servant N. but as the children of Livius....

This shared common life continued for many years and was conducted openly as if it were legitimate.  Indeed, every day the bond between the partners became tighter.  The was especially the case in a certain village where they eventually set up home.  This carried on until, in order to dull the pangs of conscience and to safeguard the status of the children, Livius, by his own confession, nurtured a desire to obtain a declaration of nullity in respect of the marriage between Caia and the servant N...."

The annulment was granted.