from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Camerlengo Kevin Farrell as Archbishop (2007)

The Camerlengo ( Italian for Chamberlain , Latin Camerarius Camerae Apostolicae ) or Cardinal Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church (also Cardinal Camerlengo and Cardinal Chamberlain ) is a high office in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church . The minister is always a cardinal and administers the possessions and income of the Holy See . During the vacancy he is responsible for the organization of the conclave and the administration of the Holy See , that is, he leads the affairs of state.

After the death of Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran on July 5, 2018, the office was vacant until the appointment of Kevin Cardinal Farrell on February 14, 2019. Vice Camerlengo is Archbishop Ilson de Jesus Montanari . The predecessors are included in the list of Cardinal Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church .

A distinction must be made between the office of treasurer of the Holy College of Cardinals , which existed from 1150 to 1997 and was responsible for the administration of the income of the College of Cardinals.


The Camerlengo is responsible for running the Apostolic Chamber , the former papal financial authority. Camerlengo, who came from the ranks of the College of Cardinals , has been appointed by the Pope since the 15th century .

Tasks when the sedis vacancy occurs

The ecclesiastical chamberlain of the Church, who has the rank of cardinal , declares the death of the Pope and takes over the administration of the Roman Church as chairman of the special congregations, supported by three cardinal assistants determined by lot, during the sedis vacancy, but without jurisdiction .

The determination of death takes place according to a fixed ritual. The Cardinal Chamberlain, accompanied by a guard of the Swiss Guard armed with halberds (as a sign of the authority that has been transferred to him), enters the Pope's bedroom in the presence of the ceremonial , the prelates and the secretary and chancellor of the Apostolic Chamber. The Camerlengo officially declares the death of the Pope. After that, the secretary and chancellor of the Apostolic Chamber immediately issues an official death certificate (the cause of death does not have to be named, an autopsy does not have to be ordered). The ivory or silver hammer previously used, with which the camerlengo tapped the deceased three times on the forehead, as well as the procedure of calling the deceased in Latin by his baptismal name and asking him whether he was sleeping, is no longer carried out. “Albine, dormisne?” (“Albino, are you sleeping?”) Was asked of the late Pope John Paul I (real name: Albino Luciani).

The timing of the publication of the death is in the hands of the Camerlengo. Once the Pope's death is officially established, the Camerlengo removes the fishing ring , the symbol of papal power, from the deceased . During the first assembly of the cardinals after the death of the Pope, the ring, together with the lead seal of the pontificate, is broken in front of those present, theoretically into as many parts as there are cardinals present.

Coat of arms of the Cardinal Chamberlain during the Sedis vacancy

The Camerlengo takes possession of the papal palaces and sees to it that the study and private apartments of the late Pope are sealed. The burial of the Pope and the correct election of the successor are also the responsibility of the camerlengos. During the vacancy, the coat of arms of the Holy See is replaced by the insignia of the Apostolic Chamber , which is composed of the personal coat of arms of the Camerlengos, which is surmounted by a canopy called Padiglione ( Latin: umbraculum ) and the crossed Peter keys . He informs the general vicar (also: cardinal vicar ) of the diocese of Rome about the death of the Pope , who in turn informs the population. The Cardinal Chamberlain also leads the solemn procession for the laying of the deceased Pope in St. Peter's Basilica.

coat of arms

During the vacancy, the Cardinal Chamberlain is responsible for the state affairs of the Holy See and, as a sign of his power, in addition to the insignia of a cardinal, he has the key of Peter and the Padiglione in his coat of arms. The content of the escutcheon is unique to each wearer.


  • Jürgen Erbacher: The Vatican. The lexicon . St. Benno, Leipzig [2009], pp. 30, 84f, 145f, 378f, ISBN 978-3-7462-2752-8
  • G. Felici, La Rev. Camera Apostolica , Roma 1940
  • MG Pastura Ruggiero, La Reverenda Camera Apostolica , Roma 1984

Individual evidence

  1. Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Farrell as the new Camerlengo. , accessed on February 14, 2019 .
  2. ^ Nomina del Camerlengo e del Vice Camerlengo di Santa Romana Chiesa. In: Daily Bulletin. Holy See Press Office , December 20, 2014, accessed December 20, 2014 (Italian).
  3. Cardinals Camerlengo of the Sacred College of Cardinals (1198-1997). In: Salvador Miranda : The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church. ( Florida International University website ), accessed December 5, 2016.