A papal bull is a type of public decree, letters patent, or charter issued by a pope of the Roman Catholic Church. It is named after the leaden seal (bulla) that was traditionally appended to the end in order to authenticate it.
Papal bulls have been in use at least since the 6th century, but the phrase was not used until around the end of the 13th century, and then only internally for unofficial administrative purposes. However, it had become official by the 15th century, when one of the offices of the Apostolic Chancery was named the "register of bulls" ("registrum bullarum").
By the accession of Pope Leo IX in 1048, a clear distinction developed between two classes of bulls of greater and less solemnity. The majority of the "great bulls" now in existence are in the nature of confirmations of property or charters of protection accorded to monasteries and religious institutions. In an epoch when there was much fabrication of such documents, those who procured bulls from Rome wished to ensure that the authenticity of their bull was above suspicion. A papal confirmation, under certain conditions, could be pleaded as itself constituting sufficient evidence of title in cases where the original deed had been lost or destroyed.
Since the 12th century, papal bulls have carried a leaden seal with the heads of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul on one side and the pope’s name on the other. Papal bulls were originally issued by the pope for many kinds of communication of a public nature, but by the 13th century, papal bulls were only used for the most formal or solemn of occasions. Papyrus seems to have been used almost uniformly as the material for these documents until the early years of the eleventh century, after which it was rapidly superseded by a rough kind of parchment.
Modern scholars have retroactively used the word "bull" to describe any elaborate papal document issued in the form of a decree or privilege, solemn or simple, and to some less elaborate ones issued in the form of a letter. Popularly, the name is used for any papal document that contains a metal seal.
Today, the bull is the only written communication in which the pope will refer to himself as "Episcopus Servus Servorum Dei" ("Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God"). For example, when Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree in bull form, he began the document with "Benedictus, Episcopus, Servus Servorum Dei".
While papal bulls always used to bear a metal seal, they now do so only on the most solemn occasions. A papal bull is today the most formal type of public decree or letters patent issued by the Vatican Chancery in the name of the pope.
A bull's format formerly began with one line in tall, elongated letters containing three elements: the pope's name, the papal title "Episcopus Servus Servorum Dei" ("Bishop, Servant of the Servants of God"), and its incipit, i. e., the first few Latin words from which the bull took its title for record keeping purposes, but which might not be directly indicative of the bull's purpose.
The body of the text had no specific conventions for its formatting; it was often very simple in layout. The closing section consisted of a short "datum" that mentioned the place of issuance, day of the month and year of the pope's pontificate on which issued, and signatures, near which was attached the seal.
For the most solemn bulls, the pope signed the document himself, in which case he used the formula "Ego N. Catholicae Ecclesiae Episcopus" ("I, N., Bishop of the Catholic Church"). Following the signature in this case would be an elaborate monogram, the signatures of any witnesses, and then the seal. Nowadays, a member of the Roman Curia signs the document on behalf of the pope, usually the Cardinal Secretary of State, and thus the monogram is omitted.
The most distinctive characteristic of a bull was the metal seal (bulla), which was usually made of lead, but on very solemn occasions was made of gold, as those on Byzantine imperial instruments often were (see Golden Bull). On the obverse it depicted, originally somewhat crudely, the early Fathers of the Church of Rome, the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, identified by the letters Sanctus PAulus and Sanctus PEtrus (thus, SPA •SPE or SPASPE). St. Paul, on the left, was shown with flowing hair and a long pointed beard composed of curved lines, while St. Peter, on the right, was shown with curly hair and a shorter beard made of dome-shaped globetti (beads in relief). Each head was surrounded by a circle of globetti, and the rim of the seal was surrounded by an additional ring of such beads, while the heads themselves were separated by a depiction of a cross. On the reverse was the name of the issuing pope in the nominative Latin form, with the letters "PP", for Pastor Pastorum ("Shepherd of Shepherds"). This disc was then attached to the document either by cords of hemp, in the case of letters of justice and executory letters, or by red and yellow silk, in the case of letters of grace, that was looped through slits in the vellum of the document. The term "bulla" derives from the Latin "bullire" (""to boil""), and alludes to the fact that, whether of wax, lead, or gold, the material making the seal had to be melted to soften it for impression.
In 1535, the Florentine engraver Benvenuto Cellini was paid 50 scudi to recreate the metal matrix which would be used to impress the lead bullae of Pope Paul III. Cellini retained definitive iconographic items like the faces of the two Apostles, but he carved them with a much greater attention to detail and artistic sensibility than had previously been in evidence. On the reverse of the seal he added several fleurs-de-lis, a heraldic device of the Farnese family, from which Pope Paul III descended.
Since the late 18th century, the lead bulla has been replaced with a red ink stamp of Saints Peter and Paul with the reigning pope's name encircling the picture, though very formal letters, e. g. the bull of Pope John XXIII convoking the Second Vatican Council, still receive the leaden seal.
Original papal bulls exist in quantity only after the 11th century onward, when the transition from fragile papyrus to the more durable parchment was made. None survives in entirety from before 819. Some original lead bullae, however, still survive from as early as the 6th century.
In terms of content, the bull is simply the format in which a decree of the pope appears. Any subject may be treated in a bull, and many were and are, including statutory decrees, episcopal appointments, dispensations, excommunications, Apostolic constitutions, canonizations, and convocations.
The bull was the exclusive letter format from the Vatican until the 14th century, when the papal brief appeared. The brief is the less formal form of papal communication and was authenticated with a wax impression, now a red ink impression, of the Ring of the Fisherman. There has never been an exact distinction of usage between a bull and a brief, but nowadays most letters, including encyclicals, are issued as briefs.
Benedictus Deus is a papal bull written by Pius IV in 1564 which ratified all decrees and definitions of the Council of Trent. It maintains that the decrees of the Council of Trent can be interpreted solely by the Papal office itself; and enjoins strict obedience upon all Catholics, forbidding, under pain of excommunication, all unauthorized interpretation. This was seen by Church contemporaries of Pius IV as an attempt to strengthen the influence of the Papacy against the rise of Conciliarism exemplified by the Council of Trent itself.
There is a more minor bull of the same title written by Benedict XII in 1336.Bull of Gniezno
Ex commisso nobis, more commonly known as the Bull of Gniezno, was a papal bull issued on July 7, 1136 by Pope Innocent II. The bull split off the Bishopric of Gniezno from the Archbishop of Magdeburg. From a historical perspective, the bull is especially important as it contains the earliest written record of the Polish language. Slavic language scholar Aleksander Brückner called the document a "złota bulla języka polskiego" (the golden bull of the Polish language).Canonical coronation
A canonical coronation (Latin: coronatio canonica) is a pious institutional act of the Pope, duly expressed in a Papal bull in which oftentimes a Papal legate or Papal nuncio, or at rare occasions the Pontiff himself designates a crown, tiara, or stellar halo to a Christological, Marian, or Josephian image with a specific devotional title that is prominently venerated in a particular diocese or locality.Previously, the Holy Office issued the authorization of a canonical coronation through a dicastery called the "Vatican Chapter", and later the Sacred Congregation of Rites was assigned this duty. Since 1989, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments executes the act that the decree authorizes.Cum nimis absurdum
Cum nimis absurdum was a papal bull issued by Pope Paul IV dated 14 July 1555. It takes its name from its first words: "Since it is absurd and utterly inconvenient that the Jews, who through their own fault were condemned by God to eternal slavery..."
The bull revoked all the rights of the Jewish community and placed religious and economic restrictions on Jews in the Papal States, renewed anti-Jewish legislation and subjected Jews to various degradations and restrictions on their personal freedom.
The bull established the Roman Ghetto and required the Jews of Rome, which had existed as a community since before Christian times and numbered about 2,000 at the time, to live in it. The Ghetto was a walled quarter with three gates that were locked at night. Under the bull, Jewish males were required to wear a pointed yellow hat, and Jewish females a yellow kerchief. Jews were required to attend compulsory Catholic sermons on the Jewish shabbat.
The bull also subjected Jews to various other restrictions such as a prohibition on property ownership and practising medicine among Christians. Jews were allowed to practice only unskilled jobs, as rag men, secondhand dealers or fish mongers. They could also be pawnbrokers.
Paul IV's successor, Pope Pius IV, enforced the creation of other ghettos in most Italian towns, and his successor, Pope Pius V, recommended them to other bordering states. The Papal States ceased to exist on 20 September 1870 when they were incorporated in the Kingdom of Italy, but the requirement that Jews live in the ghetto was only formally abolished by the Italian state in 1882.Cum sæpe accidere
Cum sæpe accidere was a papal bull issued by Pope Clement VIII on 28 February 1592, which decreed that the Jews of Avignon were forbidden to trade "new commodities" in public places.Decet Romanum Pontificem
Not to be confused with Romanum decet pontificem.
Decet Romanum Pontificem (English: It Befits the Roman Pontiff) (1521) is the papal bull excommunicating Martin Luther, bearing the title of the first three Latin words of the text. It was issued on January 3, 1521, by Pope Leo X to effect the excommunication threatened in his earlier papal bull Exsurge Domine (1520) since Luther failed to recant. Luther had burned his copy of Exsurge Domine on December 10, 1520, at the Elster Gate in Wittenberg, indicating his response to it.
There are at least two other important papal bulls with the title Decet Romanum Pontificem: one dated February 23, 1596, issued by Pope Clement VIII, and one dated March 12, 1622, issued by Pope Gregory XV.
Toward the end of the 20th century, Lutherans in dialogue with the Catholic Church requested the lifting of this excommunication; however, the Vatican's response was that its practice is to lift excommunications only on those still living. Roland Bainton in "Here I Stand after a Quarter of a Century", his preface for the 1978 edition of his Luther biography, concludes: "I am happy that the Church of Rome has allowed some talk of removing the excommunication of Luther. This might well be done. He was never a heretic. He might better be called, as one has phrased it, 'a reluctant rebel.'"
Luther's rehabilitation has been denied however by the Vatican: "Rumors that the Vatican is set to rehabilitate Martin Luther, the 16th-century leader of the Protestant Reformation, are groundless", said the Vatican spokesman, the Jesuit Federico Lombardi.Dionysius (Dean of Armagh)
Dionysius (some sources Denis) was appointed Dean of Armagh in 1301 and served until 1330..
In 1303 he was elected Archbishop of Armagh but declined. He is mentioned in the Pipe Rolls of 1313 and in In 1319, acting for Roland Jorz, Archbishop of Armagh he confirmed the
election of Michael Mac Lochlainn to the Bishopric of Derry. In 1325 he is witness to the publication of a Papal Bull at Armagh.Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy
The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy (Latin: Iubilaeum Extraordinarium Misericordiae) was a Roman Catholic period of prayer held from 8 December 2015, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to 20 November 2016, the Feast of Christ the King.
Like previous jubilees, it was seen by the Church as a period for remission of sins and universal pardon focusing particularly on God's forgiveness and mercy. It was an extraordinary Jubilee because it had not been predetermined long before; ordinary jubilees are usually celebrated every 25 years.
The 2016 Jubilee was first announced by Pope Francis on 13 March 2015. It was declared in the pope's April 2015 papal bull of indiction (formal announcement or proclamation), Misericordiae Vultus (Latin for "The Face of Mercy"). It is the 27th holy year in history, following the ordinary 2000 Jubilee during John Paul II's papacy. The opening day was also the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council.Francis wished for the Jubilee to be celebrated not only in Rome but all around the world; for the first time holy doors are open in single dioceses, either in the cathedral or in historical churches. The first holy door was opened by Pope Francis in Bangui on 29 November 2015, during a tour of East Africa.
The Jubilee officially ended on November 20, 2016 with the closing of the Holy Door of Saint Peter's Basilica which was open since the Holy Year began the previous December.Feast of the Immaculate Conception
The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the solemn celebration of belief in the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. It is universally celebrated on December 8, nine months before the feast of the Nativity of Mary, which is celebrated on September 8. The Immaculate Conception is one of the most important Marian feasts in the liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church, and is celebrated worldwide.
By Pontifical designation and decree, it is the patronal feast day of Argentina, Brazil, Korea, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Philippines, Spain, the United States, Uruguay and Italy. By royal decree, it is also designated as the Patroness of Portugal. It is celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church as well as a few other closely related Protestant Christian churches, but not by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Church, and Church of the East.
Since 1953, the Pope in his capacity as Bishop of Rome visits the Column of the Immaculate Conception in Piazza di Spagna to offer expiatory prayers commemorating the solemn event.
The feast was first solemnized as a Holy Day of Obligation on 6 December 1708 under the Papal Bull Commissi Nobis Divinitus by Pope Clement XI and is often celebrated with Mass, parades, fireworks, processions, ethnic foods, and cultural festivities in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is generally considered a Family Day, especially in many majority Catholic countries.Inter caetera
Inter caetera ("Among other [works]") was a papal bull issued by Pope Alexander VI on the fourth of May (quarto nonas maii) 1493, which granted to the Catholic Majesties of Ferdinand and Isabella (as sovereigns of Castile) all lands to the "west and south" of a pole-to-pole line 100 leagues west and south of any of the islands of the Azores or the Cape Verde islands.It remains unclear to the present whether the pope was issuing a "donation" of sovereignty or a feudal infeodation or investiture. Differing interpretations have been argued since the bull was issued, with some arguing that it was only meant to transform the possession and occupation of land into lawful sovereignty. Others, including the Spanish crown and the conquistadors, interpreted it in the widest possible sense, deducing that it gave Spain full political sovereignty.The Inter caetera bull and others similar to it, particularly Dudum siquidem, made up the Bulls of Donation.M. de Dunblan
M. de Dunblan is the way the first known Bishop of Dunblane is written in a copy of a papal bull of Pope Adrian IV preserved in England; the bull dates to 1155.The papal bull was addressed to the bishops of Scotland ordering them to submit to the metropolitan authority of the Archbishop of York; the copyist made two other mistakes in the initials of bishops, so it is not totally reliable.Cockburn speculated that M. might stand for Máel Ísu; it is very unlikely that M. was a mistake for La., standing for Laurence the successor of M. at Dunblane.Manifestis Probatum
Manifestis Probatum (also known as Manifestus Probatum) was a papal bull dated May 23, 1179, in which Pope Alexander III officially recognised Afonso Henriques as the first King of Portugal.
The Papacy did not at first recognize the legitimacy of Afonso's adoption of the royal title in 1139, but continued to regard him as a vassal of the kingdom of León. The switch in papal policy in 1179 was justified by Afonso's conquest of lands to the south to which no other Christian monarch had claim.Manila Cathedral
The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Filipino: Basilika Menore at Kalakhang Katedral ng Kalinis-linisang Paglilihi; Spanish: Basílica Menor y Catedral Metropolitana de la Inmaculada Concepción), also known as Manila Cathedral (Spanish: Catedral de Manila), is the cathedral of Manila and basilica located in Intramuros, the historic walled city within today's modern city of Manila, Philippines. It is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, a title for the Blessed Virgin Mary, the principal patroness of the country. The cathedral serves as the episcopal see of the Archbishop of Manila.
The cathedral was originally a parish church in Manila under the Archdiocese of Mexico in 1571, until it became a separate diocese on February 6, 1579 upon the issuance of the papal bull, Illius Fulti Præsido by Pope Gregory XIII. The cathedral was damaged and destroyed several times since the original structure was built in 1581 while the eighth and current structure of the cathedral was completed in 1958.The basilica has merited a papal endorsement from Pope Gregory XIII and three apostolic visits from Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. On 27 April 1981, Pope John Paul II issued papal bull Quod Ipsum designating the cathedral as a minor basilica by his own Motu Proprio.Papal Bull (horse)
Papal Bull (foaled 29 March 2003) is a British Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. Although he never won a Group 1 race he was rated at his peak as one of the best middle distance horses in the world. He was variously described by the men who rode him as "quirky", "a bit of a monkey" and "a lazy little devil". After winning one minor race as a juvenile in 2005 he improved in the following year to win the Chester Vase and the King Edward VII Stakes. He was even better in 2007 when he took the Princess of Wales's Stakes and the Geoffrey Freer Stakes. In 2008, as a five-year-old he failed to win a race but produced a career-best performance when narrowly beaten by Duke of Marmalade in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He made very little impact as a breeding stallion.Papal brief
A papal brief is a formal document emanating from the Pope, in a somewhat simpler and more modern form than a papal bull.Regimini militantis Ecclesiae
Regimini militantis Ecclesiae (Latin for To the Government of the Church Militant) was the papal bull promulgated by Pope Paul III on September 27, 1540, which gave a first approval to the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits, but limited the number of its members to sixty.Rex Catholicissimus
The Latin title Rex Catholicissimus, rendered as Most Catholic King and Most Catholic Majesty, was awarded by the Pope to the Sovereigns of Spain. It was first used by Pope Alexander VI in the papal bull Inter caetera in 1493.
One of the rights of a "Most Catholic" queen – either regnant or consort – is the privilège du blanc, meaning that she may wear white when meeting the Pope rather than the normal black used by other consorts and heads of state.
The best-known example of this title is the Catholic Monarchs (Los Reyes Católicos), used solely in reference to Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon.Sicut dudum
Sicut dudum (English: Just as Long Ago) is a papal bull promulgated by Pope Eugene IV in Florence on January 13, 1435, which forbade the enslavement of local natives in the Canary Islands who had converted or were converting to Christianity. Sicut dudum was meant to reinforce Creator omnium, issued the previous year, condemning Portuguese slave raids in the Canary Islands. Over forty years after Creator omnium and Sicut dudum, Pope Sixtus IV found it necessary to repeat the prohibition in his papal bull Regimini gregis, which threatened the excommunication of all captains or pirates who enslaved Christians.Sublimis Deus
Sublimis Deus (English: The sublime God; erroneously cited as Sublimus Dei) is a papal encyclical promulgated by Pope Paul III on June 2, 1537, which forbids the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas (called Indians of the West and the South) and all other people. It goes on to state that the Indians are fully rational human beings who have rights to freedom and private property, even if they are heathen. It strengthens the recent decree issued by Charles V of Spain in 1530 in which the King prohibited the enslavement of Indians. Another related document is the ecclesiastical letter Pastorale officium, issued May 29, 1537, and usually seen as a companion document to Sublimis Deus.There is still some controversy about how this bull is related to the documents known as Veritas ipsa, Unigenitus Deus and Pastorale officium (May 29, 1537). Alberto de la Hera (see footnote 1) believes that Veritas ipsa and Unigenitus Deus are simply other versions of Sublimis Deus, and not separate bulls. Joel Panzer (The Popes and Slavery [New York: Alba House, 1996] p. 17) sees Veritas ipsa as an earlier draft of Sublimis Deus. While some scholars see Sublimis Deus as a primary example of Papal advocacy of Indian rights, others see it as part of an inconsistent and politically convenient stance by Paul III, who later rescinded Sublimis Deus or the Pastorale in 1538.
In Sublimis Deus, Paul III unequivocally declares the indigenous peoples of the Americas to be rational beings with souls, denouncing any idea to the contrary as directly inspired by the "enemy of the human race" (Satan). He goes on to condemn their reduction to slavery in the strongest terms, declaring it null and void for any people known as well as any that could be discovered in the future, entitles their right to liberty and property, and concludes with a call for their evangelization.
The bull had a strong impact on the Valladolid debate, and its principles eventually became the official position of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain, although it was often ignored by the colonists and conquistadores themselves. The executing brief for the bull ("Pastorale Officium") was annulled by Paul in 1537 at the request of the Spanish who had rescinded the decree previously issued by Charles. The bull is cited at times as evidence of a strong condemnation by the church of slavery in general, but some scholars point out that Paul sanctioned slavery elsewhere after the issuing of Sublimis Deus.
of the Catholic Church