Riba in the eyes of Christian Saints

Note: This is new english version – To Read original Old English Version Click Here

‘Whatever exceeds the amount owed is usury.’ – St. Ambrose of Milan

‘Was it a sacrilege, a robbery or theft? From whom? And was it openly or in secret? Was it usury? In what way? “To take any return over and above the principal is called usury.”‘ St. Anthony of Padua

‘If you have lent your money on usury to man, that is, if you have given the loan of your money to one, from whom you do expect to receive something more than you have given, not in money only, but anything, whether it be wheat, or wine, or oil, or whatever else you please, if you expect to receive more than you have given, you are an usurer, and in this particular are not deserving of praise, but of censure.’ – St. Augustine
‘I ask thee before all else, do you believe in the law of God? Yes. Next I say to thee, that if you do depart from this faith you are a heretic. God has commanded that you shall not practice usury.’ – St. Bernardine of Siena

‘Lend not money at interest. You accuse Scripture which says, He that have not given his money upon usury. I wrote not this: it went not forth first from my mouth: hear God.’ – St. Augustine

‘Lending at usury, what think you that this is? It is theft, and worse besides.’ – St. Bernardine of Siena

‘If anyone should call the malign contrivances of interest taking theft or homicide, that person will not be in error, for what does it matter whether one possesses things snatched through a breached wall or things illicit by compelling payment of interest?’ – St. Gregory of Nyssa

‘One have chosen for himself a life of business, another a country life, another a life of usury, another a military life; one this, another that. Diverse are the lives, but better is Your life than our lives. Better is that which You give to men amended, than that which perverse men choose.’ – St. Augustine

‘The money of the usurer cannot stay still very long in one place, being accustomed to pass through many. It cannot be kept in one bag, it seeks to be turned and counted. It requires use, that it may acquire usury. It is a kind of wave of the sea, not a fruit. Money is never quiet; it moves on as though dashed upon a rock; thus it strikes the breast of the debtor and straightway slips back thence whence it came. It comes with a murmur, with a moan it recedes. Yet often the sea rests quiet by favor of the winds; always the wave of interest is in motion. It overwhelms the shipwrecked, casts out the naked, despoils the clothed, abandons the unburied. For you seek money and you incur shipwreck.’ – St. Ambrose of Milan

‘What could be more intolerable than to bestow a benefit on a poor man in such a way that he becomes poorer, or to bring him help only to increase his misery? If you are a Christian, what reward can you expect from God if you do not seek to help men but to harm them?’ – St. Hilary of Poitiers


‘”The sea” [Psalm 103:25-26] is this world, full of bitterness, great with riches, wide with delights. Wide is the path that leads to death, but to whom? Not to the poor of Christ who “enter through the narrow gate”. Rather to grasping usurers, who have already taken the whole world into their hands.- St. Anthony of Padua

‘And who is he who is not a usurer, or who does not favour usury? I know of no such man as this.’ – St. Bernardine of Siena
‘What can be more unreasonable than to sow without land, without rain, without plows? All those who give themselves up to this damnable culture shall reap only tares. Let us cut off these monstrous births of gold and silver; let us stop this execrable fecundity.’ – St. John Chrysostom

‘The usurer is worse than Judas. The traitor, having sold the Blood of his Divine Master, brought back to the priests and princes the thirty pieces he had received, but the usurer guards and keeps his unjust gains.’ – St. Anthony of Padua

‘Each one was desirous of increasing his estate; and forgetful of what believers had either done before in the times of the apostles, or always ought to do, they, with the insatiable ardour of covetousness, devoted themselves to the increase of their property. Among the priests there was no devotedness of religion; among the ministers there was no sound faith: in their works there was no mercy; in their manners there was no discipline. In men, their beards were defaced; in women, their complexion was dyed: the eyes were falsified from what God’s hand had made them; their hair was stained with a falsehood. Crafty frauds were used to deceive the hearts of the simple, subtle meanings for circumventing the brethren.

They united in the bond of marriage with unbelievers; they prostituted the members of Christ to the Gentiles. They would swear not only rashly, but even more, would swear falsely; would despise those set over them with haughty swelling, would speak evil of one another with envenomed tongue, would quarrel with one another with obstinate hatred. Not a few bishops who ought to furnish both exhortation and example to others, despising their divine charge, became agents in secular business, forsook their throne, deserted their people, wandered about over foreign provinces, hunted the markets for gainful merchandise, while brethren were starving in the Church.

They sought to possess money in hoards, they seized estates by crafty deceits, they increased their gains by multiplying usuries. What do not such as we deserve to suffer for sins of this kind, when even already the divine rebuke has forewarned us, and said, “If they shall forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they shall profane my statutes, and shall not observe my precepts, I will visit their offences with a rod, and their sins with scourges”? [Psalm 88:32]   These things were before declared to us, and predicted.’ – St. Cyprian of Carthage

‘Ezekiel, in the eighteenth chapter, classes usury, or receiving more than the principal, with the greatest crimes; and the law expressly forbids it, Lend not at usury to your brother or neighbour: Deut. xxiii. 19. It being the highest degree of inhumanity to charge the man who applies for a loan, in order to support wretched existence, any more than the principal, or to calculate on riches from pinching poverty.’ – St. Basil the Great

‘And I lifted up my eyes, and saw: and, behold, four horns.
And I said to the angel that spoke to me: What are these? And he said to me:
These are the horns that have scattered Juda and Israel and Jerusalem. [Zech 1.18-19]
These four horns represent vices, namely pride or lust in the eyes, prurient hearing in the ears, detraction or flattery in the tongue, and robbery or usury in the hands. These are what have tossed to the winds, to every wind of worldly vanity, Juda (the laity) and Israel (the clergy) and Jerusalem (religious). With these horns the bodily senses sing a sad song, the joy of the world at the death of our soul.
So Job says: They take the timbrel and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.
They spend their days in wealth. And in a moment they go down to hell.’ [Job 21.12-13]  – St. Anthony of Padua

‘After he has got his money, at first a man is bright and joyous; he shines with another’s splendour, and is conspicuous by his altered mode of life. His table is lavish; his dress is most expensive. His servants appear in finer liveries; he has flatterers and boon companions; his rooms are full of drones innumerable. But the money slips away. Time as it runs on adds the interest to its tale. Now night brings him no rest; no day is joyous; no sun is bright; he is weary of his life; he hates the days that are hurrying on to the appointed period; he is afraid of the months, for they are parents of interest. Even if he sleeps, he sees the lender in his slumbers — a bad dream — standing by his pillow. If he wakes up, there is the anxiety and dread of the interest.’ – St. Basil the Great

‘Owe no man anything, but that you love one another: for he that loved his neighbor has fulfilled the law.’  Romans 13:8
‘Usury is and always has been, without any doubt a mortal sin, according to the natural law as well as the written law.’ – St. Albert the Great

‘The first of the month arrives, the capital brings forth its hundredth; each month comes, interest is born, evil offspring of evil parents. This is the generation of vipers.

The hundredth has developed; it is demanded, it is not paid; it is applied to the principal. . . And therefore it begins to be no longer interest, but principal that is to say, not a hundredth of interest, but interest on a hundredth.’ – St. Ambrose of Milan

‘Even as a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough, even so usury, when it comes into any man’s house, draws all his substance, and changes it into debt.’ – St. John Chrysostom

‘See the hands that purport to bestow alms, but are stained with the blood of the poor! No wonder the Psalmist speaks of creeping things without number in the world! [Ps 103:25-26] We may observe three kinds of usurer: those who lend money privately, who may be described as creeping things without number; those who do so openly, but only in a small way, so as to seem merciful — these are the small beasts; and the faithless, hopeless and open usurers who, as openly as in a market place, take interest from all and sundry. These are the great beasts, crueller than all the rest.
They will be pursued by the demon huntsmen and slain with an eternal death, unless they restore their ill-gotten gains and do penance.
To give them the opportunity to do so, there go the ships among them, the preachers of the Church who pass among them and sow the seed of God’s word. Yet, though our sins need it, the thorns of riches and the wild beasts of usury choke the word sown so devotedly, so that it does not produce the fruit of penance.’ – St. Anthony of Padua

‘Lending money at interest is a mortal sin. And it is not a sin because it is prohibited, but rather prohibited because it is as such a sin.’ – St. Thomas Aquinas

‘This sin is denounced in many places in Scripture. Ezekiel accounts the taking of interest and receiving back more than one gave as being among the greatest evils, and the Law specifically forbids this practice: “You shall not charge interest to your relative or your neighbor.” And again the Scripture says, “Guile upon guile, and interest upon interest.” A certain Psalm says, regarding a city that prospers amidst a multitude of evils, “Interest-taking and guile are never absent from its squares.” And now the prophet identifies this very thing as the characteristic of human perfection, saying, “They do not lend money at interest.’ – St. Basil the Great

‘Usury is a sin of avarice; it is against charity because the usurer without labor, suffering or fear gathers riches from the labor, suffering and vicissitudes of his neighbor.’ – St. Albert the Great

‘Usury is the root of all evil.’ – St. Edward the Confessor, King of England

‘Some think there is no usury but in money. This the holy scriptures foresaw, and therefore takes away the increase or gains in any manner of thing, and requires that you receive no more than you gave.’  – St. Jerome

‘My dear brethren, if I wanted to go into the conduct of all those who are present, I might perhaps find that I had only thieves. Does that amaze you?’ – St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

‘His money he will not give on usury, and will not take interest. . . This is a righteous man. He shall surely live, says the Lord. These words contain a description of the conduct of Christians, a notable exhortation to the blessed life, which is the reward of a life of goodness – everlasting life.’ – St. Clement of Alexandria

‘I do not wish to speak to you, my dear brethren, about those who lend at seven, eight, nine, and ten percent. Let us leave such people to one side. To make them feel the enormity and the heinousness of their injustice and their cruelty, it would be necessary that one of those early usurers, who has been burning in Hell for the past three or four thousand years, should come back and give them a description of all the torments he is enduring and of the many injustices he committed which are the cause of what he suffers. No, these people are not part of my plan of instruction for you. They know very well that they are doing evil and that God will never pardon them unless they make restitution to those whom they have wronged. All that I could say to them would only serve to make them more guilty.  So we will go carefully into something which involves an even greater number of people. I tell you that wealth unjustly acquired will never enrich him who possesses it. On the contrary, it will become a source of trouble and evil for all his family. Oh, dear God, how blind man is!’ – St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

‘I would not have you become usurers, because it is repugnant to the law of God.’ – St. Augustine

‘Arise, O Lord, against the lustful who are in the way of the devil, and who, because they themselves sleep in sin, believe that you sleep also! Arise against false religious, who are like stony ground devoid of the moisture of grace! Arise against the usurers, who are like piercing thorns! Help us and free us from their hands! In these three, O Lord, the seed of your word can bear no fruit. Only when it falls on good ground does it become fruitful.’ – St. Anthony of Padua

‘Teeth are what we chew our food with. The front teeth are called incisors, the next canines, and then molars. And note that avaricious greed is of three kinds. Some bite in such a way as to take just a part, not the whole. Others are like the canine teeth: lawyers and legal experts who for a fee will bark like dogs in any cause. Others are like molars, the powerful and the usurers who grind the poor. But:  The Lord will break the teeth of sinners and the grinders of the lions. [cf. Ps 57:7]’ – St. Anthony of Padua

‘Such are that benefits that you rich men bestow; you give out little, and require much again. Such is your kindness, that you undo them whom ye help.’ – St. Ambrose of Milan

‘He that owes the money is made poorer, and he that lends it by this kind of enriching himself increases the number of his sins.’ – St. John Chrysostom

‘This point, too, we have thought must not be passed over, that certain possessed with the love of base gain lay out their money at interest, and wish to enrich themselves as usurers. For we are grieved that this is practiced not only by those who belong to the clergy, but also by laymen who desire to be called Christians. We decree that those who have been found guilty of receiving this filthy gain be punished severely, that all occasion of sinning be removed.’ Pope St. Leo the Great

‘And hence, whatever result follow, the money-lender’s trade is always evil, for it is sin either to lessen or increase the sum, in that if he lose what he lent he is wretched, and if he takes more than he lent he is more wretched still.

The iniquity of money-lending must absolutely be abjured, and the gain which lacks all humanity must be shunned. A man’s possessions are indeed multiplied by these unrighteous and sorry means, but the mind’s wealth decays because usury of money is the death of the soul. For what God thinks of such men the most holy Prophet David makes clear, for when he asks, “Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle, or who shall rest upon your holy hill?” he receives the Divine utterance in reply, from which he learns that that man attains to eternal rest who among other rules of holy living “has not given his money upon usury:” and thus he who gets deceitful gain from lending his money on usury is shown to be both an alien from God’s tabernacle and an exile from His holy hill, and in seeking to enrich himself by other’s losses, he deserves to be punished with eternal neediness.’ – Pope St. Leo the Great

‘Usurers even dare to say: I have no other means of livelihood.
This a robber might also say, when caught in a hollow way; this a housebreaker might say, caught about another man’s wall; this a pander might tell me, in the act of buying girls for prostitution; this an enchanter uttering curses, and selling his iniquity, might say: whatsoever of this sort we should endeavour to prohibit, all might answer that they had no other means of life, and that they lived on this resource; as if this very thing were not a chief cause for punishment in them, that they chose a wicked trade to support their life by, and that they choose to feed themselves by means offensive to Him by Whom all are fed.’ –
St. Augustine

‘Listen, you rich men, to the kind of advice I am giving to the poor because of your inhumanity. Far better endure under their dire straits than undergo the troubles that are bred of usury! But if you were obedient to the Lord, what need of these words? What is the advice of the Master? Lend to those from whom ye do not hope to receive. And what kind of loan is this, it is asked, from all which all idea of the expectation of repayment is withdrawn? Consider the force of the expression, and you will be amazed at the loving kindness of the legislator.
When you mean to supply the need of a poor man for the Lord’s sake, the transaction is at once a gift and a loan. Because there is no expectation of reimbursement, it is a gift. Yet because of the munificence of the Master, Who repays on the recipient’s behalf, it is a loan. “He that have pity on the poor lend unto the Lord.” Do you not wish the Master of the universe to be responsible for your repayment?’  – St. Basil the Great

‘When in the sacred tribunal of penance you have heard all that your penitents have prepared themselves to confess of their sins, do not at once think that all is done, and that you have no further duty to discharge. You must go on further to inquire, and by means of questions to rake out the faults which ought to be known and to be remedied, but which escape the penitents themselves on account of their ignorance. Ask them what profits they make, how, and whence? what is the system that they follow in barter, in loans, and in the whole matter of security for contracts?
You will generally find that everything is defiled with usurious contracts, and that those very persons have got together the greater part of their money by sheer rapine, who nevertheless asserted themselves so confidently to be pure from all contagion of unjust gain; having as they said, the true testimony of a conscience that reprehends them in nothing. Indeed, some persons consciences have become so hardened that they have either no sense at all, or very little sense, of the presence of even vast heaps of robberies which they have gathered into their bosom.’ – St. Francis Xavier

‘Let us now come to the words, Your wife: it is said unto Christ. His wife, therefore, is the Church: His Church, His wife, we ourselves are. As a, fruitful vineyard. But in whom is the vineyard fruitful? For we see many barren ones entering those walls; we see that many intemperate, usurious persons, slave dealers, enter these walls, and such as resort to fortune-tellers, go to enchanters and enchantresses when they have a headache. Is this the fruitfulness of the vine? Is this the fecundity of the wife? It is not. These are thorns, but the vineyard is not every where thorny. – St. Augustine

‘The lender cannot enter an agreement for compensation through the fact that he makes no profit out of his money: because he must not sell that which he has not yet and which he may be prevented in many ways from having.’ – St. Thomas Aquinas

‘Is it, my children, that if others are damning themselves, then you must needs damn yourselves also? They are going to Hell — must you then go along with them? You would prefer to have a few extra pennies and go to Hell for all eternity? Very well.’ – St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney

‘Why, are there not many honest trades? In the fields, the flocks, the herds, the breeding of cattle, in handicrafts, in care of property? Why rave and be frantic, cultivating thorns for no good?’ – St. John Chrysostom

‘One should never receive more than the amount loaned.’ – St. Jerome

‘If anyone takes usury, he commits robbery and no longer has life.’  St. Ambrose of Milan

Note: This is new english version – To Read original Old English Version Click Here