Papal honorary title

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Alfred Vanneste, Papal Honorary Prelate in Bruges (2009)

Papal honorary titles are awards that the Pope bestows on clergymen , usually at the request of a bishop .

There are three levels of honorary titles with different clothing and coat of arms rights :

Papal honorary chaplain

Coat of arms of a chaplain to His Holiness

The lowest rank is the chaplain of His Holiness ( Italian Cappellano di Sua Santità ), also known as the Papal Honorary Chaplain . A papal chaplain of honor is addressed as " Monsignore " and is often referred to as that in German-speaking countries. Inside and outside of the service he may wear a black cassock with purple piping , purple buttons and a zingulum ( fascia ) made of purple silk with fringes of the same color. Outside of the liturgy , like ordinary clergy, he wears a black biretta with a black tassel as headgear , although in Germany, in clear contradiction to the Vatican Instructio Ut sive sollicite (March 31, 1969), this is often still made and used in purple.

Since January 2014, the title has only been awarded to deserving clergy from the age of 65.

Papal Honorary Prelate

Coat of arms of an honorary prelate of His Holiness

The next level is the Honorary Prelate of His Holiness ( Italian Prelato d'onore di Sua Santità ), who is also called the Papal Honorary Prelate (formerly: Papal House Prelate ) or Prelate of His Holiness . In the original sense of the word, a prelate denotes a spiritual dignitary of the Catholic Church to whom certain supreme pastoral power is assigned. The papal honorary prelate is allowed to wear the violet choir clothes during the service and outside a black gown with violet buttons and violet zingulum. He uses a black biretta with a black or purple tassel. The usual salutation is "Most Honorable Prelate", "Monsignore" is also used less often.

In January 2014, Pope Francis ended the award of the title, which he had temporarily suspended shortly after his election . Titles that had already been awarded were retained.

In 2010 almost 6,000 people wore this title. Since the title is no longer awarded and every year some of those honored die, the number of titleholders is falling steadily.

Apostolic protonotary

Coat of arms of an apostolic protonotary

The highest level of honorary title is Apostolic Protonotar supra numerum . The Protonotare de numero active in Rome actually carry the title Apostolic Protonotary ; However, it is also awarded as the highest papal honor to deserving diocesan priests. The apostolic protonotary wears the clothes of the papal honorary prelate with red buttons and is also allowed to wear a purple silk cloak. Honorary prelates, d. H. the “surplus protonotaries” use a black biret with a black tassel, only the real protonotaries use a purple one. Apostolic protonotaries are among the members of the papal family . In January 2014, shortly after the 2013 papal election, the re-assignment of the title by Pope Francis was completely stopped.


A papal honorary title is conferred by means of a document drawn up in the Vatican State Secretariat . As a rule, it is presented to the honored priest in a solemn ceremony by the diocesan bishop of his diocese after it has been delivered to him through the apostolic nunciature .

All holders of these three honorary titles are listed in the Annuario Pontificio , the honorary chapels only in the register.

In September 2013, the news that Pope Francis was not awarding any papal honorary titles to clerics until further notice was circulated in the Italian media. At the beginning of 2014, the unofficial report went through the media that Pope Francis no longer wants to award the honorary title of prelate and the honorary title of monsignor only to deserving clerics from the age of 65. However, titles that had already been awarded remained.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c Pope abolishes honorary title , Tagesspiegel , January 6, 2014
  2. The theologian Andreas Brauns on
  3. No more papal honorary titles for the time being? Retrieved September 14, 2013
  4. Pope Francis significantly reduces spiritual honorary titles.Retrieved January 6, 2014