EPAO, SYNOD OF: A synod held in Sept., 517, at Epao or Epaone, a village to the south of Vienne, near the present Anneyron, at that time part of the kingdom of Burgundy, where a year earlier the Arian king Gundobad had been succeeded by his orthodox son Sigismund. It was attended by twenty-four bishops from all parts of the kingdom, on the invitation of Avitus of Vienne (q.v.). Laymen seem to have been present, after their participation had been declared lawful; canon xxiv. permitted them to bring charges against any clergy who were justly accused of immorality. The forty canons passed at this meeting should be considered in connection with those of the synods of Agde (506) and Orléans (511; qq.v.). They were intended to do for the Burgundian kingdom what these had done for the Visigothic or Frankish though the speedy dissolution of the former made their effect slight. Several of them, however, were included in a later (Spanish) collection of the canons of Agde (though with some modifications in the direction of less severity), and thus continued to have an influence on subsequent practise. The spirit of Avitus breathes through them all. An important section deals with the inalienability of ecclesiastical property; a more vigorous repression of Arianism is demanded, though the return of individuals to the Church is made easy. It appears that priests and deacons were married, and that the episcopal oversight embraced the monasteries. The enforcement of the rights of bishops corresponds to the treatment of the metropolitan power. The number of forbidden degrees for marriage is increased, in harmony with older legislation, apparently with an eye to the case of a royal official who had married his deceased wife's sister; this led to an attempt on the king's part to discipline the bishops, and to a firm pronouncement on their part at the first Synod of Lyons (before 523), at which eleven of the members of the Synod of Epao were present.
Bibliography: The Acta, ed. R. Peiper, are in MGH, Auct. ant., vi. 2 (1883). 165-175, cf. (ed. Maassen) MGH, Concil., i (1893), 15 sqq.; Harduin, Concilia ii. 1045 sqq.; Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, ii. 680 sqq., Eng. transl., iv. 107 sqq.; Neander, Christian Church, ii. 191, iii. 5, 100.