TEN RULES CONCERNING PROHIBITED BOOKS DRAWN UP BY THE FATHERS CHOSEN BY THE COUNCIL OF
TRENT AND APPROVED BY POPE PIUS 
All books which have been condemned either by the supreme pontiffs or by ecumenical
councils before the year 1515 and are not contained in this list, shall be considered
condemned in the same manner as they were formerly condemned.
The books of those heresiarchs, who after the aforesaid year originated or revived
heresies, as well as of those who are or have been the heads or leaders of heretics, as
Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, Balthasar Friedberg, Schwenkfeld, and others like these, whatever
may be their name, title or nature of their heresy, are absolutely forbidden. The books of
other heretics, however, which deal professedly with religion are absolutely condemned.
Those on the other hand, which do not deal with religion and have by order of the bishops
and inquisitors been examined by Catholic theologians and approved by them, are permitted.
Likewise, Catholic books written by those who afterward fell into heresy, as well as by
those who after their fall returned to the bosom of the Church, may be permitted if they
have been approved by the theological faculty of a Catholic university or by the general
The translations of writers, also ecclesiastical, which have till now been edited by
condemned authors, are permitted provided they contain nothing contrary to sound doctrine.
Translations of the books of the Old Testament may in the judgment of the bishop be
permitted to learned and pious men only, provided such translations are used only as
elucidations of the Vulgate Edition for the understanding of the Holy Scriptures and not
as the sound text. Translations of the New Testament made by authors of the first class of
this list shall be permitted to no one, since great danger and little usefulness usually
results to readers from their perusal. But if with such translations as are permitted or
with the Vulgate Edition some annotations are circulated, these may also, after the
suspected passages have been expunged by the theological faculty of some Catholic
university or by the general inquisition, be permitted to those to whom the translations
are permitted. Under these circumstances the entire volume of the Sacred Books, which is
commonly called the <biblia Vatabli,> or parts of it, may be permitted to pious and
learned men. From the Bibles of Isidore Clarius of Brescia, however, the preface and
introduction are to be removed, and no one shall regard its text as the text of the
Since it is clear from experience that if the Sacred Books are permitted everywhere and
without discrimination in the vernacular, there will by reason of the boldness of men
arise therefrom more harm than good, the matter is in this respect left to the judgment of
the bishop or inquisitor, who may with the advice of the pastor or confessor permit the
reading of the Sacred Books translated into the vernacular by Catholic authors to those
who they know will derive from such reading no harm but rather an increase of faith and
piety, which permission they must have in writing. Those, however, who presume to read or
possess them without such permission may not receive absolution from their sins till they
have handed them over to the ordinary. Bookdealers who sell or in any other way supply
Bibles written in the vernacular to anyone who has not this permission, shall lose the
price of the books, which is to be applied by the bishop to pious purposes, and in keeping
with the nature of the crime they shall be subject to other penalties which are left to
the judgment of the same bishop. Regulars who have not the permission of their superiors
may not read or purchase them.
Those books which sometimes produce the works of heretical authors, in which these add
little or nothing of their own but rather collect therein the sayings of others, as
lexicons, concordances, apothegms, parables, tables of contents and such like, are
permitted if whatever needs to be eliminated in the additions is removed and corrected in
accordance with the suggestions of the bishop, the inquisitor and Catholic theologians.
Books which deal in the vernacular with the controversies between Catholics and
heretics of our time may not be permitted indiscriminately, but the same is to be observed
with regard to them what has been decreed concerning Bibles written in the vernacular.
There is no reason, however, why those should be prohibited which have been written in the
vernacular for the purpose of pointing out the right way to live, to contemplate, to
confess, and similar purposes, if they contain sound doctrine, just as popular sermons in
the vernacular are not prohibited. But if hitherto in some kingdom or province certain
books have been prohibited because they contained matter the reading of which would be of
no benefit to all indiscriminately, these may, if their authors are Catholic, be permitted
by the bishop and inquisitor after they have been corrected.
Books which professedly deal with, narrate or teach things lascivious or obscene are
absolutely prohibited, since not only the matter of faith but also that of morals, which
are usually easily corrupted through the reading of such books, must be taken into
consideration, and those who possess them are to be severely punished by the bishops.
Ancient books written by heathens may by reason of their elegance and quality of style be
permitted, but may by no means be read to children.
Books whose chief contents are good but in which some things have incidentally been
inserted which have reference to heresy, ungodliness, divination or superstition, may be
permitted if by the authority of the general inquisition they have been purged by Catholic
theologians. The same decision holds good with regard to prefaces, summaries or
annotations which are added by condemned authors to books not condemned. Hereafter,
however, these shall not be printed till they have been corrected.
All books and writings dealing with geomancy, hydromancy, aeromancy, pyromancy,
oneiromancy, chiromancy, necromancy, or with sortilege, mixing of poisons, augury,
auspices, sorcery, magic arts, are absolutely repudiated. The bishops shall diligently see
to it that books, treatises, catalogues determining destiny by astrology, which in the
matter of future events, consequences, or fortuitous occurrences, or of actions that
depend on the human will, attempt to affirm something as certain to take place, are not
read or possessed. Permitted, on the other hand, are the opinions and natural
observations which have been written in the interest of navigation, agriculture or the
In the printing of books or other writings is to be observed what was decreed in the
tenth session of the Lateran Council under Leo X. Wherefore, if in the fair city of
Rome any book is to be printed, it shall first be examined by the vicar of the supreme
pontiff and by the Master of the Sacred Palace or by the persons appointed by our most
holy Lord. In other localities this approbation and examination shall pertain to the
bishop or to one having a knowledge of the book or writing to be printed appointed by the
bishop and to the inquisitor of the city or diocese in which the printing is done, and it
shall be approved by the signature of their own hand, free of charge and without delay
under the penalties and censures contained in the same decree, with the observance of this
rule and condition that an authentic copy of the book to be printed, undersigned by the
author's hand, remain with the examiner. Those who circulate books in manuscript form
before they have been examined and approved, shall in the judgment of the Fathers
delegated by the council be subject to the same penalties as the printers, and those who
possess and read them shall, unless they make known the authors, be themselves regarded as
the authors. The approbation of such books shall be given in writing and must appear
authentically in the front of the written or printed book and the examination, approbation
and other things must be done free of charge. Moreover, in all cities and dioceses the
houses or places where the art of printing is carried on and the libraries offering books
for sale, shall be visited often by persons appointed for this purpose by the bishop or
his vicar and also by the inquisitor, so that nothing that is prohibited be printed, sold
or possessed. All book-dealers and venders of books shall have in their libraries a list
of the books which they have for sale subscribed by the said persons, and without the
permission of the same appointed persons they may not under penalties of confiscation of
the books and other penalties to be imposed in the judgment of the bishops and
inquisitors, possess or sell or in any other manner whatsoever supply other books.
Venders, readers and printers shall be punished according to the judgment of the same. If
anyone brings into any city any books whatsoever he shall be bound to give notice thereof
to the same delegated persons, or in case a public place is provided for wares of that
kind, then the public officials of that place shall notify the aforesaid persons that
books have been brought in. But let no one dare give to anyone a book to read which he
himself or another has brought into the city or in any way dispose of or loan it, unless
he has first exhibited the book and obtained the permission of the persons appointed, or
unless it is well known that the reading of the book is permitted to all. The same shall
be observed by heirs and executors of last wills, so, namely, that they exhibit the books
left by those deceased, or a list of them, to the persons delegated and obtain from them
permission before they use them or in any way transfer them to other persons. In each and
all of such cases let a penalty be prescribed, covering either the confiscation of books
or in the judgment of the bishops or inquisitors another that is in keeping with the
degree of the contumacy or the character of the offense.
With reference to those books which the delegated Fathers have examined and expurgated
or have caused to be expurgated, or under certain conditions have permitted to be printed
again, the book-dealers as well as others shall observe whatever is known to have been
prescribed by them. The bishops and general inquisitors, however, in view of the authority
which they have, are free to prohibit even those books which appear to be permitted by
these rules, if they should deem this advisable in their kingdoms, provinces or dioceses.
Moreover, the secretary of those delegated has by order of our most holy Lord [the pope]
to hand over in writing to the notary of the holy universal Roman inquisition the names of
the books which have been expurgated by the delegated Fathers as well as the names of
those to whom they committed this task.
Finally, all the faithful are commanded not to presume to read or possess any books
contrary to the prescriptions of these rules or the prohibition of this list. And if
anyone should read or possess books by heretics or writings by any author condemned and
prohibited by reason of heresy or suspicion of false teaching, he incurs immediately the
sentence of excommunication. He, on the other hand, who reads or possesses books
prohibited under another name shall, besides incurring the guilt of mortal sin, be
severely punished according to the judgment of the bishops.
1 Cf. Sess. XXV, decree concerning the index of books.
2 For the mode of procedure suggested to the bishops and local inquisitors, cf. the
bull <Coeli et terrae>, of Sixtus V, 5 Jan., 1586.
3 Fifth Lateran, Hardouin, IX, pp. 1775-77; Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the
General Councils, pp. 504, 644 f.