In the medieval Church, "provision" generally designated one of the extraordinary roads to benefices, particularly that of "papal provision," which began to develop in the century after the gregorian reform. Originally a benefice was a concession of land for or to a church, but by the time of Gregory VII there was emerging the concept that a benefice was actually distinct from the office (parish church, canonry, etc.) that it was designed to support. Ordinarily the collatio, or disposal, of these benefices rested with a bishop or other patron; but with the development of new forms of education in the wake of the Gregorian reform, some educated clerics found that their qualities were better appreciated at Rome than by local patrons of churches. The oldest form of papal provision, that of Pope Innocent II in 1137, was in fact nothing more than a simple request to a bishop to provide a certain cleric with a benefice. By the time of Pope Honorius IV (1154–59), however, the request was turning into a formal mandate de providendo, and from the time of Alexander III (1159–81) onward there was a movement toward a stabilized system of provisions. In fact the practice was so well established by 1240 that it was almost notorious. Some of the opposition directed against it was no doubt due to vested interest (see nepotism), but many bishops, sincere in their pastoral duties, viewed the system with misgivings, judging from the gravamina presented to the Council of lyons in 1245 by the English Church (see robert grosseteste). If, as was claimed, the practice provided a way of curbing abuses in ordinary collation, it also afforded the papacy an opportunity of consolidating its authority. Only in 1265, however, did the papacy formulate in theory what it had achieved in the course of the preceding century: in the decretal Licet ecclesiarum (Aug. 27, 1265; Corpus iuris canonici VIo 3.4.2), Pope Clement IV set out for the first time the papal right to dispose of all ecclesiastical benefices. After additional legislation by Boniface VIII, Clement V, and John XXII, the system had grown into an efficient if not profitable business by 1350, and it was to occasion stiff opposition in several countries, notably in England (Statutes of provisors of 1351, 1353, 1365,1385). However, since a papal provision granted a right only to be considered by the ordinary collator, a relatively small number of the these provisions had final efficacy, and normal rights of collation were rarely trampled upon.
Bibliography: e. von ottenthal, Regulae cancellariae apostolicae: Die päpstlichen Kanzleiregeln von Johannes XXII bis Nicolaus V. (Innsbruck 1888). k. lux, Constitutionum apostolicarum de generali beneficiorum reservatione … collectio et interpretatio (Breslau 1904). u. berliÈre, ed., Suppliques de ClémentVI. (1342–1352) (Analecta Vaticano-Belgica 1; Brussels 1906). g. mollat, La Collation des bénéfices ecclésiastiques sous les papes d'Avignon, 1305–1378 (Paris 1921); Dictionnaire de droit canonique, ed. r. naz, 7 v. (Paris 1935–65) 2:406–449. g. barraclough, Papal Provisions (Oxford 1935).
[l. e. boyle]
pro·vi·sion / prəˈvizhən/ • n. 1. the action of providing or supplying something for use: new contracts for the provision of services. ∎ (provision for/against) financial or other arrangements for future eventualities or requirements: farmers have been slow to make provision for their retirement. ∎ an amount set aside out of profits in the accounts of an organization for a known liability, esp. a bad debt or the diminution in value of an asset.2. an amount or thing supplied or provided: low levels of social provision. ∎ (provisions) supplies of food, drink, or equipment, esp. for a journey.3. a condition or requirement in a legal document: a key provision in civil rights law an appraisal under the provisions of the National Housing Act.4. hist. Christian Church an appointment to a benefice, esp. directly by the pope rather than by the patron, and originally before it became vacant.• v. 1. [tr.] supply with food, drink, or equipment, esp. for a journey: civilian contractors were responsible for provisioning these armies.2. [intr.] set aside an amount in an organization's accounts for a known liability: financial institutions have to provision against loan losses.DERIVATIVES: pro·vi·sion·er n.
So proviso XV. — L. prōvīsō, abl. sg. n. of pp. of prōvidēre, as used in medL. phr. prōvīsō quod (or ut) … it being provided that … provisor holder of a certain grant (now hist. in Statute of Provisors); (arch.) one who provides, or purveys XIV. — AN. provisour (F. proviseur) — L. prōvīsor: see -OR1. Hence provisional (-AL1) XVII.