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Pontifical right

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Part of a series on the
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Di diritto pontificio is the Italian term for “of pontifical right”. It is given to the ecclesiastical institutions (the religious and secular institutes, societies of apostolic life) either created by the Holy See or approved by it with the formal decree, known by its Latin name, Decretum laudis [“decree of praise”].[1]

The institutions of pontifical right depend immediately and exclusively on the Vatican in the matters of internal governance and discipline.[2]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ The Role of the Subdeacon in the Solemn High Mass/Die Rolle des Subdiakons beim Levitenamt
  • ✪ Commencement Day at The Pontifícia Universidade Católica 2012


My name is Roland Weiss I am a deacon of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and I will be ordained to the priesthood this year in the summer. Yesterday, we celebrated a Solemn High Mass which I served as Subdeacon for. I'd like to briefly discuss the role of the Subdeacon in the liturgy The adornments of the vestments already hinted in this direction: The vestments worn by the three 'Levites': the Priest (Celebrant), the deacon, who always stays on the right side of the priest, and the subdeacon. These particular, ornate dalmatics make it clear that the subdeacon and the deacon represent the Old and New Testament The four Evangelists adorn the vestment of the Deacon. Ss. Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John The vestment of the Subdeacon on the otherhand is adorned with the prophets of the Old Testament. That is why the Deacon chants the Gospel And the Subdeacon chants the Epistles which often make references to the Old Testament The subdeacon is also distinguished for standing before the altar with a humeral veil shielding his eyes And he does not look, he doesn't see, at all, what is occurring on the altar. He hides his face. He hides himself from the vision of the Holiness of God, the Mystery and gravity of what is occurring on the altar, That God becomes present on the altar, giving Himself to man, at the hands of a priest. It is a special moment in the liturgy to stand there as subdeacon, with time to reflect on the role of the subdeacon and the great magnitude of the Sacrifice on the altar, in that moment, what one can only imagine is actively occurring at the altar, not being able to see There are different explanations for why the subdeacon covers his face during this part of the Holy Mass First a spiritual explanation: Since the subdeacon represents the Old Testament, in this moment he represents the synagogue, which does not see the redemption and salvation On the otherhand, the historical explanation: How did it come to this situation? The Pope in Rome would offer Holy Mass after each Mass was finished, small pieces of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, would be dispatched to various Roman parishes and churches, by the subdeacon. The subdeacon would carry the Sacred Species, hidden in a Ciborium, enveloped in a humeral veil to the parishes In the churches, the priest would take a particle of the Pope's consecrated host from the subdeacon at Mass, and dissolve it in the Precious Blood in the Chalice. This is still evident in the Mass today: the priest breaks the Host and dissolves a piece in the chalice. This was exactly what the subdeacon once would bring from the Papal Masses.


Until the 19th Century the religious communities were divided into two groups: regular orders with solemn vows and congregations of simple vows. Only those taking the solemn vows were valued by the Church and the civil authorities.[3]

In 1215, in the Fourth Lateran Council, Pope Innocent III decreed that no regular orders could be founded without papal approval. The bishops, however, retained the right to form communities whose members lived the religious life without taking formal vows. These groups later took the name of “congregations of simple vows”.[3]

The congregations of simple vows, especially women’s, were increasing dramatically during the 17th and 18th Centuries, and in the early 19th Century, many of them were seeking papal recognition from Rome. in 1816 the Holy See began to approve the congregations with simple vows but they were still not recognized as religious institutions.[4]

In 1854 Giuseppe Andrea Bizzarri, the Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for Consultations about Regulars, created on the behalf of Pope Pius IX a procedure for the approval of congregations of simple vows, which was communicated to the bishops in 1861.[4]

With this new procedure, the distinction was formally made for the creation of an institute, operated by a bishop, and its approval by the Holy See. After its foundation, the institute (i.e., congregation) would have the status "of diocesan right". Under it, it would remain under the protection of the bishops of its diocese, where it was founded, increasing its importance. If the Holy See grants the institute the decretum laudis [decree of approval], the institute would be placed under its direct protection, and the institute would then acquire the status "of pontifical right".[4]

The distinction between the legal status of an institute of diocesan right and an institute of pontifical right was permanently drawn on 8 December 1900 by Conditae a Christo Ecclesiae [Latin, “Founded by the Church of Christ”], the apostolic constitution of Pope Leo XIII.[4]


  1. ^ Code of Canon Law (C.I.C.), can. 589.
  2. ^ Code of Canon Law (C.I.C.), can. 593.
  3. ^ a b Direttorio canonico, p. 53.
  4. ^ a b c d Direttorio canonico, p. 54.


  • (it) Direttorio canonico per gli istituti religiosi, gli istituti secolari e le società di vita apostolica [Canonical Directory for Religious Institutes, Secular Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life]. (Cinisello Balsamo, Italy: Edizioni paoline [Pauline Editions], 1988) ISBN 88-215-1618-0.
This page was last edited on 6 August 2019, at 09:38
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