Skip to content
Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Prelate

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

Real Prelate, the incumbent of a prelature, i.e., of an ecclesiastical office with special and stable jurisdiction in foro externo and with special precedence over other ecclesiastical offices; or, honorary, with distinctions of this ecclesiastical dignity without the corresponding office. The original prelates are the bishops as possessors of jurisdiction over the members of the Church based on Divine institution. Apart from the bishops, the real prelates include:

  • (1) those who have quasi-episcopal, independent jurisdiction over a special territory separated from the territory of a diocese ( prœlatus nullius , sc. diœceseos ), as is the case with the abbeys and provostships of monasteries ( Monte Cassino, Einsiedein, St. Maurice in the Canton of Wallis, etc.);
  • (2) those who have offices in the administration of dioceses, and enjoy an independent and proper jurisdiction (e.g., the earlier archdeacons, the provosts and deans of cathedral and collegiate churches, in so far as these still exercise a regular, personal jurisdiction ;
  • (3) abbots and provosts of monasteries, even when they administer no territory with episcopal powers, but have merely the permanent, supreme distinction of the monastery ;
  • (4) titular bishops, both those who in the vicariates Apostolic and other territories have supreme ecclesiastical administration, and those who have simply received episcopal consecration without jurisdiction over a special district, such as certain officials in Rome, consecrating bishops, etc.;
  • (5) the highest officials of the Roman offices, who, in addition to the cardinals, have a prominent share in the direction of the Roman Church, and thus have a special relation to the person of the pope.

In consequence of the extent of the government of the Church, prelates are especially numerous in Rome. The most important real prelates of the papal curia are: the three highest officials of the Camera Apostolica (vice-camerlengo, general auditor, and treasurer) and the Majordomo of the Vatican, who are called prelati di fiocchetti; the secretaries of the congregations of cardinals, the regent of the papal chancery, the regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, and certain other high officials of the congregations of the Curia ; the members of the College of Prothonotaries Apostolic de numero participantium , the auditors of the Rota, the clerics of the Apostolic Chamber, the referendaries of the Siqnatura justitiœ . In the Constitution "Inter ceteras" of 11 June, 1659, Alexander VII laid down the conditions under which these real prelatures might be accepted. The dignity granted by the pope with mention of these conditions is called "prælatura justitiæ"; when the conditions are not imposed in the granting of the dignity, the latter is called "prælatura gratiæ". To the real prelates belong, therefore, although no jurisdiction in foro externo is attached to their offices, all the highest palace officials, who perform a constant service in the retinue of the pope and in the offices created for that purpose. The appointment to these offices confers of itself the prelature. Such officials are the Papal Almoner, the Secretary of Latin Briefs and Briefs to the Princes, the substitute of the Cardinal Secretary of State, the four real Privy Chamberlains, the real Privy Chaplains of the Pope. A second class of prelates are those on whom the title and rank of the prelature are conferred with the corresponding dress and privileges, but without the office or court service otherwise attached to it. These are:


Saints Fun Facts Coloring Book FREE PDF

Free PDFs: Hail Mary, Our Father, How to Pray the Rosary & more

PDF educational & learning resources for Students, Parents, and Teachers and it’s 100% FREE. How to Pray the Rosary, Hail Mary, Our Father, Saints, Prayers, Coloring Books, Novenas, Espanol and more. All FREE to download and faithful to the Magisterium. Download Now >


  • (1) the prothonotaries Apostolic other than the real ones (see PROTHONOTARY APOSTOLIC);
  • (2) the papal domestic prelates ( Antistes urbanus, Prœlatus urbanus, Prœlatus domesticus ), who are appointed to this dignity by papal Brief. They have the right of wearing the garb of a prelate and of using in Solemn High Mass the special candle ( palmatoria ), but not the other episcopal insignia (Motu Proprio "Inter multiplices" of Pius X , 21 February, 1905, in "Acta S. Sedis", XXXVII, 491, sq.);
  • (3) the supernumerary privy chamberlains ( Camerieri segreti sopra-numerarii ), honorary chamberlains and chaplains, who may on special occasions wear the same garb as the officiating chamberlains of the pope.

All prelates have the title "Monsignore" and a special costume (purple) corresponding to their rank; the higher prelates enjoy in addition other special privileges.

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

Never Miss any Updates!

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


First Confession and Reconciliation with 'Certificate of Completion'

First Confession and Reconciliation with Certificate of Completion This exciting course helps prepare the catechumen for the Sacrament of First Confession and Reconciliation. Students will find the videos easy to understand, with clear, concise, and helpful explanations of important concepts. This course is a Supplement to your parish-based catechetical program.

Enroll in FREE Class Now
Face Mask with Cross BOGO 50% OFF

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!