Middle English symonie, from Anglo-French simonie, from Late Latin simonia, from Simon Magus, Samaritan sorcerer in Acts 8: 9–24
First Known Use: 13th century
Buying or selling of church offices or powers. The name is taken from Simon Magus (Acts 8:18), who tried to buy the power of conferring the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Simony was said to have become widespread in Europe in the 10th–11th century, as promotions to the priesthood or episcopate were bestowed by monarchs and nobles, often in exchange for oaths of loyalty. Changes in the understanding of the nature of simony and the relationship between lay and religious orders contributed to the perception of the growth of simony, even though corrupt practices did exist. Rigorously attacked by Pope Gregory VII and the reform movement associated with him, the practice recurred in the 15th century, but after the 16th century its more flagrant forms disappeared.