SANCTUARY. A place of refuge. where the process of the law cannot be executed.
Sanctuary existed among the Greeks. The Romans are said to have recognized the pe culiar sacredness attached to particular places as well as to the altars of their tem ples and the statues of their emperors. It is probable that the church sanctuary came into existence from the time of Constantine, A. D. 303. The code of Theodosius, A. D. 392, enacted a law concerning the asylum and A later law, about 450, extended the limits to the precincts including the houses of the bishops and clergy, the cloisters, courts and cemeteries. About 680 the King of Wessex in his code of laws provided for sanctuary. Many subsequent acts were pass ed in England regulating the subject.
in the Dark Ages, the church succeeded in establishing the doctrine that the blood-feud should be suspended during certain seasons (see HOLIDAYS) and in certain places. If the
accused could reach a place sheltered by the protection of the church, he could evade the challenge to battle. The privilege was con fined to the locality and merely suspended the feud. The accused must remain in sanc tuary, and the avenger could only watch to prevent his escape. Before the close of the Middle Ages, the accused could "abjure the realm" in the presence of the coroner, become an outlaw, and receive a safe-conduct abroad. In 1530, sanctuaries were confined to parish, cathedral and collegiate churches, the great er crimes were excluded from the privilege and the fugitives in any one place were lim ited to twenty. In 1623 the privilege was abolished ; Jenks, Hist. E. L. 157. See Cox, Sanctuaries ; Besant's London.