Monday, November 26, 2007


On the occasion of the new Consistory celebrated a couple of days ago, with just a bit more solemnity than the previous ones, I thought some readers would find interesting to see how things used to be before the Pauline reforms altered the Roman ceremonial for the creation of new Princes of the Church.

We shall begin with the first step: the Secret Consistory for the appointment.

It is thus called because -apart from some very rare exceptions, such as when Emperors, Kings, Ereditary Princes, Electors of the Holy Roman Empire are present in Rome- only Cardinals are allowed to take part into it.

The Sovereign Pontiff, wearing the mozzetta, the falda, and the red papal stole, and escorted by his Noble Secret Antechamber, reaches the Consistory Hall, where the Sacred College is awaiting him.

(Picture below: the Noble Secret Antechamber in 1894)

As the first act, after the extra omnes and the roll call of the Cardinals (the so called adsumus), the Sovereign Pontiff gives an allocution -in Latin- to the Sacred College publishing the names of the new Cardinals.
During the Secret Consistory, the names of the newly appointed Bishops and Archbishops were also announced. This is the reason why, until 1967, the Roman Congregation now known as "Congregation for the Bishops" was called "Sacred Consistorial Congregation".

Immediately after, an emissary would carry to the newly-created cardinal -entourned by his closest relatives, prelates, and friends-the biglietto with his appointment. Many readers will probably recall this moment from the famous movie "The Cardinal" by Otto Preminger.

(Picture below: Joseph Card. Ritter receives the biglietto from the hands of Msgr. V.Valeri, privy chamberlain.)

From this very moment, the new Cardinal enjoyes all the privileges of a Prince of the Church.

(Picture below: His Holiness Pope Pius XII after the Secret Consistory for the election of new Cardinals)

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