Legates and NUNCIOS of the Roman Catholic Church. With reference to the endeavors of that Church to unite all the congregations into one vast system, and to rule over them successfully, preventing all heresy and division, the Council of Sardica (343) expressly stated: "Quod si is, qui rogat causam suam iterum audiri, deprecatione sua moverit episcopum Romanum, ut de latere suo presbyteros mittat, erit in potestate ejus," etc. (Con. Sardic. 100:7, in 100:36, can. 2, qu. 6). The Romish clergy was therefore sent abroad everywhere. In the African churches, however, they refused to admit into fellowship those "qui ad transmarina (concilia) putaverit appellandum" (Codex eccles. Afric. 100:125), and wrote to Celestine at Rome, "Ut aliqui tanquam a tuce sanctitatis latere mittantur, nulla invenimus patrum synodo constitutum" (ibid. 100:138). Thomassin (Vetus ac nova ecclesiae disciplina, p. 1, lib. 2, cap. 117) has collected instances of delegations having been sent in various cases during the 4th and 5th centuries. But, as vicars of the bishop of Rome, we find in Western Illyria the bishops of Thessalonica after Damasus (a. 367); in Gaul, the bishops of Aries after Zosimus (a. 417); in Spain, the bishops of Seville after Simplicius (a. 467) (Constant, De antiquis canonum collectionibus, No. 23-25; Gallande, De vetustis canonum collectionibus dissert. 1:23 sq.; Petrus de Marca, De concordia sacerdotii ac inperii, lib. 5, cap. 19 sq., 30 sq.). Among the delegates of the bishop of Rome we must also put the Apocrisiarii SEE APOCRISIARIUS, sent to the imperial court at Constantinople. Leo I, and particularly Gregory I, carefully continued the relations established by their legates, and created more, in order to improve the condition of the churches, and to increase the influence of Rome. Gregory appointed bishop Maximus of Syracuse over all the churches of Sicily (" super cunctas ecclesias Sicilie te . . . vices sedis apostolicae ministrare decernimus"), with the right of deciding on all except the causce masjores. This office was, however, vested only in the individual, not in the see ("Quas vices non loco tribuimus, sed personae," 100:6, X. Depraesumtionibus, 2:23, a. 592; 100:3, can. 7, qu. 1:30 [a. 594], 100:39; can. 11, qu. 1, and Gonzalez Tellez to c. 1, X. De officio legati. 1:30, a. 9). To England Gregory sent Augustine (a. 601), with the mission of improving the Church organization of that country, and particularly of upholding the episcopacy (Epist. 64, a. 601, in 100:3, can. 25, qu. 2); and Agathon (678) also sent the Roman abbot John to that country to organize worship, convoke a council to inquire into the state of religion, and report thereon at his return (Beda, Hist. Eccl. lib. 4, cap. 18). Augustine is said to have himself taken part in settling ecclesiastical affairs during a journey through Gaul, and conferred with the bishop of Aries as his legate. Gregory I sent also other special delegates to Gaul, in order to improve the state of the churches there, with the aid of the bishops and the king (Thomassin, 100:118). In the course of time the legates were empowered to act by themselves on the orders communicated to them at Rome. The vicariates became connected with some of the ancient bishoprics, by whose incumbents they had long been exercised, and it became difficult to erect new permanent ones on account of the opposition of the other dignitaries of the Church; so that special delegates were only sent when affairs of importance rendered such a step necessary. Even then it became customary to await the wish, or at least to secure the sanction, of the governments into whose states they were sent. There were, then, two kinds of legates, the legati nuti, and the legayci dati or meissi.
1. Legati nati, in cases where the legation was connected with a bishopric. The rights of such a legate were at first very large; his jurisdiction had the character of jurisdictio ordinaria; it also appears as ordinarii ordinariorun, and formed a court of last resort for those who voluntarily appealed to it. After the 16th century their prerogatives were gradually restricted, and finally, after the introduction of the legati a latere, the title became merely a nominal one, the metropolitan not being even entitled to having the cross borne before him where there was a legatus a latere (e. 23, X. De privilegiis, 5. 33; Innocent III, in 100:5, Conc. Lateran. a. 1215).
2. Legati missi or dati. These are divided into,
(1) Deleqati, appointed for one specific object. It was already forbidden in the Middle Ages to appoint members of the clergy in their place.
(2) Nuncii apostolici, who are empowered to enforce the commands contained in their mandates. In order to effect this object they were given a right of jurisdiction until the 16th century. To enable them to legislate in reserved cases, they were invested with a mandatum speciale, making the reservations generaliter for them. They could grant indulgences for any period not exceeding a year. All other legates were subject to them except such as had special privileges granted them by the pope. The insignia of the nuncio comprised a red dress, a white horse, and golden spurs.
(3) Legati ab latere. Special delegates who acted as actual representatives of the popes, and who possessed all the highest prerogatives. Their plenary power is thus expressed: "Nostra vice, quae corrigenda sunt corrigat, quae statuenda constituat" (Gregor. VII, Ep. lib. 4, cp. 26). They exercised ajurisdictio ordinaria in the provinces, had power to suspend the bishops, and to dispose of all reserved cases. The manifold complaints which arose in the course of time led the popes to alter some points of the system. Leo X, in the Lateran Council of 1515, caused it to be ruled that the cardinal legate should have a settled residence; and the Congregatio pro interpretatione. Cone. Trid. construed the resolutions of the councils so as to make them very favorable to the bishops.
The Reformation gave occasion for the sending of a large number of legates, and also for the nomination of permanent nuncios at Lucerne, 1579; Vienna, 1581; Cologne, 1582; Brussels, 1588: this, however, gave rise to fresh disturbances in the Church. The troubles caused by the nuncios were the cause of the adoption of a new article under the gravamina nationis Germanicae. In the mean time the French Revolution broke out, disturbing all preconceived plans. After the restoration of order in the hierarchy the system of legations was revived, but with many modifications altering its Middle-Age features. The second article of the French Concordat of 1801 states expressly: "Aucun individu se disant nonce, legat, vicaire ou commissaire apostolique, ou se prevalant de toute autre denomination, ne pourra, sans l'autorisation du gouvernement, exercer sur le sol Franqais ni ailleurs, aucune fonction relative aux affaires de l'eglise Gallicane." This clearly removed the original foundation of the intercourse formerly existing between the papal see and these countries. Moreover, several Roman Catholic governments, such as Austria, France, Spain, etc., reserved to themselves the right to point out the parties who should be accredited to their courts as nuncios (Klüber, Europäisches Völkerr. § 186, Anm. a.). The formula of the oath of obedienco to the pope, which, since Gregory VII, is taken by bishops at their ordination, says: "Legatum apostolicas sedis . . . honorifice tractabo et inll sis inecessitatibus adjuvabo" (100:4, X. De jurejurando, 2:24). This involves the duty of supporting the procurations. But the state is also enlisted on account of its power.
The usual envoys of the pope have now the titles of,
1. Legati nati, no longer invested with an inherent right to the management of ecclesiastical affairs.
2. Legtuli dati, missi, which are divided into
(1) Legali a latere or de latere, who, it is stated, are entitled to be canonically designated as cardinals a latere or legates de latere. This is incorrect, for cardinals are now seldom sent on such missions; if ever, but, on the contrary, other members of the clergy, cum potestate legati a latere.
(2) Nuncii apostolici, bearers of apostolic mandates. While the former are looked upon as ambassadors, it is a nice question whether the hltter occupy the second position, that of envoys. They are either ordinary permanent nunmcios, as in Germany, or extraordinary, sent for some special purpose.
(3) Internuncii (residentes), considereed by some as formingm a third class, by others as belonging to the second. At the Congress of Vienna, 1815, it weas decided by the first article of the Reglement sur le rang entire les Agonns diplomatiques that the first class would be formed of Ambassadeurs, Legatts ou Nonces; and in article fosurth. that no change would be made in regard to papal representatives. See Klüber, Völkerrecht; Heffter, Völkerrecht; Miruss, Das Europäische Gesandschaftsrecht; Schulte, Katholisch. Kirchenrecht (Giessen, 1856); Walter, Kirchenrecht (11th edit. Bonn, 1854); Herzog, Real Encyklop. 8:269 sq.; Wetzer und Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, 6:409 sq.