Dignitas a classical term, gradually applied to offices, was purely secular at first. In the process of time, when ecclesiastics were appointed to secular offices, the people began to speak of "dignities" in the Church. First applied to the lower ranks, the term was finally used for all Church officials, i.e., pope, cardinal, patriarch, archbishop, metropolitan, bishop, etc. According to Ducange, in ecclesiastical parlance, "when a benefice included the administration of ecclesiastical affairs with jurisdiction, it was called a dignity."

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