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Pope Clement V (1305–14) holds a consistory in Avignon (illumination)
Pope Pius X. (1903–14) created the prelates Rafael Merry del Val y Zulueta and Giuseppe Callegari as cardinals at his first solemn consistory on November 9, 1903 (drawing)

A consistory (from the Latin consistorium "place of assembly, assembly; imperial cabinet, privy council, senate assembly") is the name given to the full assembly of cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church , and a church court or ecclesiastical authority in the Protestant churches .

Roman Empire

The advisory group of the Roman emperors initially developed from the Amici principis of early Augustus to the Consilium principis . In this, the position of the princeeps as primus inter pares was characterized by the fact that, in addition to the ruler, the advisors also deliberated sitting down. The imperial reform of the late antique ruler Diocletian meant that the emperor's direct working committee was formalized and geared towards the emperor as sole ruler. This was also expressed in the term consistory (from Latin consistere “to step in”, “to come together”), because only the emperor and his family were allowed to sit on chairs while the advisors had to stand.

Roman Catholic Church

In addition to many other rules and structures, the consistory was adopted by the Popes into the organization of the Church. Since the eighth century, the synods and councils convened and chaired by the Pope had assumed not only a consultative but also a representative form. In the 11th century, the Roman Catholic Church began to be jointly led by the Pope and the College of Cardinals . With the implementation of the Roman Curia by Pope Sixtus V (1585–1590), the assembly of cardinals lost its importance and was only convened for solemn acts; it is nominally an advisory body to the Pope.

In the current church law (CIC 1983), a distinction is made between ordinary and extraordinary consistories. In the former, the cardinals living in Rome are convened; in the latter, all cardinals are obliged to participate. Newly appointed cardinals are given the appointment decree and the red biretta by the Pope in a consistory . Only when the decree is promulgated before the College of Cardinals does the cardinal's appointment become legally effective. This also applies to cardinals whose names are not mentioned for special (e.g. political) reasons and who are therefore appointed to pectore . In exceptional cases (for example, due to advanced age and frailty) a cardinal can also by a papal envoy and outside the consistory created to be.

Until the 20th century, Catholic administrative authorities in dioceses and other types of jurisdiction were sometimes called consistory . In some cases, they also had tasks of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In the present, the authority is usually referred to as the Episcopal Ordinariate . In some German-speaking dioceses , the episcopal church court is still called the consistory .

That of Pope Pius XII. (1939–1958) convened consistory in February 1946 broke the dominance of Italians in the Catholic hierarchy that had existed for about four centuries.

Protestant churches

Member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany

In some Protestant regional churches in Germany (especially in formerly Prussian areas, e.g. in the Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia with the consistory in Berlin and in the former Evangelical Church of the ecclesiastical province of Saxony ) the consistory designates the ecclesiastical administrative authority. Consistories were created in the 16th century to exercise the sovereign church regiment , the sovereign and episcopal rights of the German princes over the Protestant churches, and were state authorities until its abolition in 1918. In the Kingdom of Württemberg , for example, there was a department within the Ministry of Culture for the administration of church affairs, headed by the Consistorial President.

In Bavaria there were also consistories, such as the Bayreuth consistory, which took over sovereign church power after the Reformation, which in the Kingdom of Bavaria were subordinated to the Royal Bavarian Protestant Superior Consistory in Munich from 1817.

Consistories consist of about as many theologians as there are lawyers. In addition to the church leadership, the consistory also fulfills church leadership tasks. It prepares the resolutions of the church leadership, conducts the day-to-day business of the regional church, is responsible for the legal supervision of parishes and church districts and supports all church areas in the fulfillment of their tasks. The head of the consistory (with the title of president) is usually a lawyer. The decisions of the consistory are made by the college. The members of the college bear the title of consistorial councilor or senior consistorial councilor.

Names for corresponding authorities are u in other churches. a .:

Evangelical churches in Austria

Member churches in the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches

Other confessions

In some Reformed congregations the organ that governs the congregation is called the consistory (in France and the Netherlands), which in the German churches is called the parish council / parish council, church council or presbytery . For Judaism see Consistoire central israélite .

Protestant Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine

For the Protestant Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine, there is a consistory (Consistoire supérieure) based in Strasbourg in Alsace . It was created in 1852 - on the basis of the amendment to the state-issued consistorial order for the Protestant churches in France - as the spiritual governing body of the Lutheran church in France, superordinate to the regional consistories. Since the German annexation in 1871, the authority of the senior consistory has been limited to the Lutheran parishes in Alsace and in the Moselle department in Lorraine , which gave rise to the Augsburg Confession of Alsace and Lorraine. The senior consistory is made up of elected members who are formally appointed by the Prime Minister to take office. Several parishes each form a consistory (also called parish district, provost or parish in German regional churches), which stand in the tradition of the French consistorial model as created by the organic articles . The executive church leadership is called Directory (Directoire) .

Evangelical Augsburg Church in Poland

The Evangelical-Augsburg Church in Poland maintains a consistory of the church (Konsystorz Kościoła) , which forms both the general church leadership and the executive branch of the synod.

Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church

In the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK), the bishop heads the church leadership. Members are the four provosts of the four districts, the executive church council and six lay councilors. The church leadership directs the fate of the SELK between the church synods. She is also responsible for all teaching and supervisory functions.

Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine

In the Reformed Church of Alsace and Lorraine , several parishes each form a consistory (also called parish, provost or parish in German regional churches), which are in the tradition of the French consistorial model as created by the organic articles . The church leadership created in 1895, on the other hand, is known as the synodal council (Conseil synodal) .


With the organic articles in the French Empire and some dependent areas (Batavian Republic, Westphalia) from 1808, Israelite consistories (Consistoires israélites) also emerged as representative bodies of the Jewish communities and their governmental control. The consistories were thus of a semi-official nature. The consistories should each include the Jewish communities of a department, provided that their total number of souls was at least 2,000. If this number was not reached, Jewish communities of several departments could form a common consistorial district. However, it was not permitted for many Jews to have more than one consistory in a department. At the head of the French Israelite consistory was the Central Israelite Consistory in Paris. In the Kingdom of Westphalia , Israel Jacobson built the Israelite Consistory and took over the office of Consistorial President.

After 1815, the Israelite consistories outside France were mostly abolished, but not in Belgium. Initially part of the United Netherlands, the Jewish consistory there were subdivisions of the Nederlands-Israëlitisch Kerkgenootschap (Dutch-Israelitic Religious Community). After Belgium separated from the Netherlands, the Centraal israëlitisch consistorie van België was formed, which continues the consistorial constitution from 1808 until today. While the French Israelite consistories lost their official function in 1905 in the course of the separation of state and religion, this function has remained in place for the consistories of Colmar , Metz and Strasbourg, which came to Germany in 1871 , since secularism never came into force in their consistorial districts.


The largest collegial central body of a university in Schleswig-Holstein according to §§36–38 HSG is also known as the consistory.

See also

The Berlin Kollegienhaus , which now forms the entrance area of ​​the Jewish Museum Berlin , was the seat of the Berlin Consistory between 1737 and 1826 and from 1913 to 1945 .

Web links

Commons : Consistories  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. consistere PONS online dictionary Latin. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  2. ^ Matthew Bunson: Encyclopedia of the Roman Empire , p. 141
  3. 'Extra Consistorium' ,, February 21, 2014
  4. New hats in sight . In: Der Spiegel . No. 33 , 1948, pp. 13-14 ( Online - Aug. 14, 1948 ).
  5. ^ Max Döllner : History of the development of the city of Neustadt an der Aisch up to 1933. Ph. C. W. Schmidt, Neustadt a. d. Aisch 1950, OCLC 42823280 ; New edition to mark the 150th anniversary of the Ph. C. W. Schmidt publishing house, Neustadt an der Aisch 1828–1978. Ibid 1978, ISBN 3-87707-013-2 , p. 410 f.
  6. See "Konsystorz Kościoła" , on: Centrum Informacyjne Kościoła Ewangelicko-Augsburskiego w Polsce , accessed on December 2, 2013.