Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

( Latin palatium , palace)

The designation, primarily, of certain high officials in the papal court. In the Middle Ages, the judices palatini were the highest administrative officers of the papal household; with the growth of the temporal power of the popes they acquired great importance. These judices palatini were (1) the primicerius notariorum and (2) secundarius notariorum , the two superintendents of the papal notarii , who superintended the preparation of official documents, conducted judicial investigations, and also exercised jurisdiction in legal matters voluntarily submitted by the interested parties to the papal court; they were the highest officers of the papal Chancery and of the archives of the Lateran Palace. Other palatini were: (3) the nomenculator or adminiculator (originally perhaps two distinct officials), who took charge of, and decided upon, petitions to the pope. (The nomenculator was superseded in the course of the ninth century by the protoscriniarius , or superintendent of the Roman public schools for scribes.) (4) The arcarius and (5) saccellarius were the highest financial officers, custodians of the treasures of the Lateran Palace, who had charge of the receipt and payment of moneys. (6) The primicerius and (7) secundicerius defensorum , being superintendents of the defensores , who aided and protected widows, orphans, captives, and other needy persons, had the supervision of charitable institutions. These various offices developed from the end of the fourth century, with formation of the papal household. Their functions covered the whole central administration of the papacy, both at Rome and in the outlying possessions ( patrimonia ) of the Roman Church . The judices palatini were also employed as papal envoys; they also had definite duties in the solemn processions and other great church ceremonies at which the pope was present in person. Their authority continued down until the middle of the eleventh century, when the reforms of the papal administration, inaugurated after the troubles of the tenth century, placed the cardinals in that position at the Roman curia, which the judices palatini had previously occupied, and the latter gradually disappeared. In later times the designation palatini has been borne (1) by certain cardinals, whose position brings them into constant relation with the pope, and who formerly resided in the papal palace, and (2) the highest prelates of the pope's personal suite. Until very recent times the cardinales palatini were: the cardinal prodatary, the cardinal Secretary of State, the cardinal secretary of Briefs, and the cardinal secretary of Memorials. Pius X has abolished the two last-mentioned positions; the holders of the other two are still called cardinales palatini , or "palatine cardinals" but only the cardinal secretary of State lives at the Vatican. The prælati palatini are: the majordomo ( maggiordomo ), the high chamberlain ( maestro di camera ), the auditor of the pope ( uditore santissimo ), and the pope's theologian ( maestro del sacro pallazo ). The last-named is always a Dominican.

In the times of the French kings and of the German emperors there were comites palatini , counts palatini who originally presided in the High Courts of Justice of a palatinate as representatives of the Crown. In Germany the counts palatine were entrusted, after Otto I (931-73), with the supervision of the imperial lands and revenues, and were also imperial judges. The court officials bearing this title, introduced by Charles IV (1346-78), had various powers, partly judicial, partly administrative.

More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Parents' Prayer For Their Children HD Video
  • Pope Francis does the unthinkable following emotional tragedy in ...
  • Prayer For Faith HD Video
  • St. Eligius: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • Opium, heroin or cocaine: What drug is YOUR country known for?
  • Daily Readings for Tuesday, December 01, 2015
  • 'Body lifted from the ground': Young Central American woman dies ...

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Romans 10:9-18
9 that if you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 19:2-3, 4-5
2 day discourses of it to day, night to night hands on the ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 4:18-22
18 As he was walking by the Lake of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 30th, 2015 Image

St. Andrew
November 30: Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a ... Read More