Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

The papal office of the referendarii (from refero , to inform) existed at the Byzantine Court. They were officials who reported to the emperor on the memorials of petitioners, and conveyed to the judges the orders of the emperor in connexion with such memorials. During the Merovingian period of the Frankish Empire, the official later known as chancellor ( cancellarius ) is called "referendarius". In the Papal Curia the office of "referendarii Apostolici " originated in the Middle Ages ; their duty was to receive all petitions directed to the Holy See, to report on them to the pope, and to tender him advice. The treatment and decision varied according to the nature of the question. If a favour was concerned, it might be either granted or refused; if some dispute, the pope decided whether it should be referred to a judge. The referendarii were entrusted with all arrangements for these papal decisions, which they had to prepare for the pope's signature ( signatura ). From these referendarii developed the court of the Signatura (Collegium referendariorum Signaturæ votantium), concerning which there are various papal constitutions. Innocent VIII (1484-92) introduced a distinction between the referendarii on questions of favours and of justice, whence developed the "Signatura gratiæ" and the "Signatura justitiæ", each competent to give final decision within its sphere. In the court of the "Signatura justitiæ" developed a distinction between the prelates entitled to vote ( prœlati votantes ) and those whose duties were confined to reporting on individual cases ( prœlati referendarii ). The whole body gradually lost all practical importance, especially after the loss of the papal States, and was entirely abolished at the reorganization of the Curia by Pius X.


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 in fifteen hardcopy 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

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Ephesians 4:7-16
7 On each one of us God's favour has been bestowed in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 122:1-2, 3-4, 4-5
1 [Song of Ascents Of David] I rejoiced that they ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 13:1-9
1 It was just about this time that some people ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 25th, 2014 Image

St. Daria
October 25: There is very little known about them. Chrysanthus was an ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter