Protonotarius Apostolicus

Protonotarius Apostolicus is a notary appointed by the papal see. The qualification of 7irpLTro (primus) is but honorary. In the apostolic chancery rules the word "prothonotary" is regularly employed, but the papal bulls and rescripts call the same functionary "notarius apostolicus." The papal notaries appointed in the city of Rome (in curia), and forming, twelve in number, a special college of prelates, are distinguished by the addition [Notarii] "de numero participantium" from those appointed abroad (extra curiam), who are simply notarii or protonotarii, sometimes with the specification "extra numerum." The former are the regular and paid, the latter the extraordinary and titular notaries. The origin of the papal notariate is assigned to the 1st century, for pope Clement I is said to have employed seven of them in noting the memorabilia of the Church, and composing trustworthy accounts of the various manners in which the martyrs were brought to death. In later times it became the business of the prothonotaries to write the biographies of the popes, to draw up authentic minutes of the debate in the Consistory of Cardinals, especially in cases of beatification, canonization, etc. Their college was increased to twelve members and endowed with great privileges by pope Sixtus V. They precede in the papal chapel at different solemnities the Auditores S. Rotae, all cameral ecclesiastics and lower prelates, and the generals of orders. Formerly they even enjoyed precedence over bishops, but Paul II decreed that at Rome and abroad they should step after the episcopate. Only in public consistories and in processional cavalcades four prothonotaries take their place immediately after the assistant bishops of the pontifical chapel, and consequently in front of the episcopate. They are, moreover, not subject to the jurisdiction of the ordinaries, but are placed under the immediate protection of the pope; they can freely dispose by testament even of their beneficial fortune to the amount of 2000 ducats; they receive all messages and graces of the pope free of tax and stamp; they have free access to the papal chancery, to the public consistories, and to the cardinal consistories, debating cases of beatification or canonization. They are entitled, under certain restrictions, to use portable altars in saying mass, and at certain festivals to wear the pontifical badges (comp. Sixt. V, Constt. "Romanus Pontifex" and "Laudabilis"). They have also the peculiar privilege of creating annually six doctors, who enjoy all the rights of regularly graduated doctors; but only residents of Rome can be thus promoted (Bened. XIV, Const. Inter Conspicuos, d. iv Cal. Septbr. 1744). These distinctions belong exclusively to the regular prothonotaries appointed by the pope himself. Those "extra statum," and the titular notaries, who can be appointed not only by the pope, but also by his legate a latere, and, with some restrictions, by the college of real prothonotaries, occupy in the scale of rank the degree next to the canons of a cathedral, and only if they are themselves provided with a canonry have they precedence over the other members of chapters. They wear the violet talarium, with the mantlet of the same color. In the performance of Church functions they are permitted the ring, but without jewel. — Wetzer u. Welte, Kirchen-Lexikon, s.v.

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