Priests in the Middle Ages


The priests in the Middle Ages were exempted from paying taxes because their work was considered noble.




Is that everywhere through the Catholic world?

Interesting if so; it’s certainly not something I’ve heard of before.


Never heard this before. You learn something new everyday.


Thank you for your interest. :tiphat::tiphat::tiphat:


Shame this can’t be brought back, it might encourage vocations. :wink:


The priests were in charge of overseeing the manor and passing on messages to the community, from the Pope or bishops.


One of the most important roles played by a priest was establishing and running a local school.
This was particularly vital when the kings realized the importance of education in the development of a country and in winning battles.


That’s actually a very poor and corrupt reason for seeking ordination. I would not want priests who are motivated by such greed. Such would likely not even have a true vocation.

Fwiw: if priests were paid as poorly as me would not have to pay taxes in Canada (though, they would still be better off since their housing is paid for).


As I understand, Priests in Australia earn about $1000 every month. This puts them within the Government’s “tax free threshold,” for people earning under $18K annually.

I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but people working these sorts of positions may fall within the tax-free income range.

I doubt its an incentive to work, however. The money they get is probably enough to support them in simple daily lives, and not lives of luxury - at least I hope.


Unless they have had a private income, I have yet to ever meet a ‘rich’ priest anywhere in the world. And of the very few who are men of means regardless of their calling and occupation, I have not had the impression they are luxurious. While the Church is fantastically asset-rich, it, the most dioceses and many parishes are comparatively cash-poor, and its priests and bishops, given the amount of training they have never mind the hours they work, are fantastically underpaid.

Although priests, like nurses and teachers, really should be paid an awful lot more than they are, for the amount of work they do, were there any justice in the world, I think in common with those other professions, it would be unwise to raise salaries too much (however mean it sounds of me!). The priesthood, much like teaching or nursing, is not something one ought to be doing just because it pays well. Raising salaries is not in any event going to shore up the decline in numbers of men seeking to take Holy Orders, sadly.

CyrilSebastian - I’m enjoying these little snippets by the way! Where are you finding them? Can you post links? :thumbsup:


There are many reasons priests should not be paid more than they need to survive.

Pope John XXIII, cited his predecessor, wrote in his encyclical “SACERDOTII NOSTRI PRIMORDIA”: “Daily experience shows” – wrote Pius XI, with Saint John Mary Vianney specifically in mind – “that priests who live modestly and follow the teaching of the Gospel by paying little attention to their own interests, always confer wonderful benefits on the Christian people.”


The priests only taught selected students how to read and write in Latin.
They also taught religious studies, philosophy, and rhetoric.


Being unable to marry, does that mean any property or valuables they acquired would pass on to the Church at the time of their deaths?

Did this actually factor into the Church’s decision to not allow priests to marry?


It really depends on the time and place you’re referring to. The Middle Ages is afterall a period of a thousand years across many lands. I believe many rural / village priests were actually quite poorly educated themselves and struggled with reading / writing, knowing just enough Latin to get through the prayers of the mass. Prior to Trent, not every diocese had a proper seminary.


In a neighbouring diocese here in BC, Canada I know secular priests are paid about $2500/month. Of course on top of that their housing is provided. This provides a comfortable living I would think. Many people don’t have $2500 available after paying rent/mortgage. It’s a just wage- I don’t think priests are horribly underpaid in all places as often made out.


That was true in many areas during the Middle Ages. Those in say a city like Paris,Rome London or Munich might be better educated. You also have to consider the people they came from. A priest or monk who came from say the gentry or nobility would probably be better educated .In Germany and elsewhere you might have a Prince who was also a Bishop as well. Most royalty had scholars both lay and clerical to teach them as children latin,greek, philosphy etc.


Almost every village had its own church and priests had considerable influence over the people.
The priests could punish people in the church court if they refused to attend church.



Priestly celibacy is rooted in a) Jesus, the High Priest, was celibate, b) Priests are married to the Church and are spiritual fathers.

Secular priests are free to leave what they have to whoever they wish. The only exception is unfulfilled Mass intention stipends which have to go to their superior to see to it that the Mass intentions are fulfilled. Our priest will only take intentions up to 3 months in advance in case something happens to him, and any unfulfilled stipends are not kept in the bank to avoid the hassle of his superior gaining legal permission to withdraw the money from the bank.


Priests would be appointed as clerks to handle local government transactions.
Noblemen would hire priests as their personal secretaries.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit