Brief (Lat. breve, used in later Latin for a writing or letter). Briefs apostolical are pontifical letters from the court of Rome, subscribed by the secretary of briefs, who is usually a bishop or cardinal. They differ in many respects from bulls. Briefs are issued from the Roman court by the apostolic secretary, sealed by the fisherman's ring with red wax; bulls are issued by the apostolic chancellor, under a seal of lead, having on one side impressed the likeness of St. Peter-and St. Paul, and on the other the name of the reigning pope. Briefs are written on fine and white skins; bulls on those that are thick and coarse. Briefs are written in Roman character, in a legible and fair manner; bulls, though in Latin, are in old Gothic characters, without line or stop. Briefs are dated a die nativitatis; bulls, a die incarnationis. Briefs have the date abbreviated; bulls have it at full length. Briefs begin with the name of the pope, thus, "Clemens, Papa XII," etc.; bulls begin with the words "(Clemens) Lpiscopus serv seservorum," by way of distinct heading. Briefs may be issued before the pope's coronation, but bulls not till afterward. Both are equally acts of the pope; but a greater weight is generally attached to the bull, on account of its more formal character. SEE BULL.

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