Catholic Dictionary




The practice in the early Middle Ages of an emperor or other lay prince to invest an abbot or bishop-elect with the ring and staff and to receive homage before consecration. Condemned by Pope Nicholas II in 1059 and in 1075 all lay investiture was forbidden by Pope Gregory VII (1021-85) and by subsequent popes. The Second Lateran Council (1139) reaffirmed the prohibition but allowed the civil ruler to bestow the temporalities. Variant forms of lay investiture remain to the present day, notably in secular states where the Church's rights are severely restricted, as in countries under Communism.