Saturday, May 15, 2021

The Modern Pontifical Court: Here’s why it matters.

By Jean Du Bois


The modern Pontifical Court (Pontificia Corte) is the direct continuation of the historic Pontifical Court and is formally part of the Anglican Patriarchate, Patriarchal See of the Stato Pontificio (Pontifical Roman State) and temporal successor of St. Peter the Apostle. It is distinct from the modern Pontifical Household of the Bishop of Rome in the Vatican City-State.

In modern society today, some question the necessity of such a ceremonial organisation as the Pontifical Court. With its ancient traditions and style that it continues, some think it is anachronistic and want it to fall prey to the countless cultural revolutions that take place. But it is not only relevant, it is essential to the faith and to the Church. What some perceive as anachronistic or out of step with the world is instead its strength, for it demonstrates in a living way the unchanging truth of the faith and love of Christ.

The Pontifical Court is not a hobby or a past time. It is not entertainment. It is not even a special privilege granted to the chosen. Instead, it is a vocation of service. Every single clergyman and every single layman, whether male or female, who is admitted to the Pontifical Court is expected to serve. That service may be at times directly in the court, and it may be service in many other areas. It comes with privileges, such as the laissez passer (a sort of diplomatic passport) of the Stato Pontificio and Anglican Patriarchate. But with position comes expectation of filial respect, dedication, and service. Members of the Pontifical Court are expected to give all of themselves in service to God.

The Grand Master of the
Noble Company
There is no denying that the Pontifical Court has a certain mystique about it. It is complex, an arena of silk, velvet, golden-tasseled hats, and long, flowing capes. It is comprised of clergy and laity, most of whom are of the nobility. There are priests, and there are knights. There are scarlet-coated gentlemen, and there are guards with a legacy back to the Crusades. There is the jeweled tiara of the Archfather, and the flabella (ostrich-feathered fans). Then there is the Noble Company, with its green robes and silver and gold collars. Most clergy are prelates and addressed as Monsignor – with twelve different levels. On one hand it is theatrical, but the theater has a purpose. That purpose is to support the Church, protect it against its enemies, and sustain it into the future. The theatre’s symbolism also attracts, explains, and preserves historical heritage. The ostentatious display was and is for God alone.

And what exactly is the Pontifical Court? It is the ceremonial and administrative organisation that supports the ministry of the Archfather-Prince and Coadjutor of Rome. In the past, it fulfilled the same function for the Bishop of Rome, but that has now been replaced by the Pontifical Household of the Vatican. Its membership has always included both the laity and the clergy. In its current organisational structure, it has several key sections. First is the Chapter, which is part of the upper-half of the court known as the Nobile Anticamera Segreta. It includes the senior-most dignitaries of the clergy. Their role is to serve as spiritual advisors to the Archfather and to fulfill various ceremonial roles in the liturgy. The Pontifical (or Patriarchal) Household is considered the immediate family and includes the three Archprinces and three Archprincesses of the Patriarchate, among a very few others.

The Master of the Chamber
Then there is the Pontifical Family, which spans both the Nobile Anticamera Segreta and the Seconda Anticamera and includes certain high officials, both clerical and lay, that support the Anglo-Roman Papa in his ceremonial and administrative duties. These include Patriarchal Chamberlains (clergy) and Chamberlains of Honour (lay nobles), Parafrenieri (noblemen who serve as grooms), the Patriarchal Majordomo (who can be a cleric or a layman), the Guardroba (wardrobe master), and certain other nobles, both male and female.

The Nobles of the Anticamera form another part of the Nobile Anticamera Segreta. The remainder of the Seconda Anticamera includes Private Chaplains of His Holiness and Eminence (clergy) and Private Chaplains of Honour (laity). Offices in this section include the mace bearers, bussolanti (ushers who also serve as altar servers), and Patriarchal Cursors (heralds), and also private attendants, assistants of the household, and porters.

The Chief of the General Staff,
Pontifical Walsingham Guard
Today with all of the various “-isms” that we all hear about on the news and read on the internet, each claiming to be the latest, greatest solution to all the woes of the world, the traditions of the church are put under pressure to “get with the times.” The Church naturally responds that this is impossible, for the message of the Church is timeless and also knows no geographical or political borders. This pressure is compounded by blatant anti-Catholicism with which society is bombarded by the media, in popular entertainment, in the workplace, and in politics. The ultimate goal appears to be first to convince the population that there are no absolute truths, and that one idea is just as good as another. From there, it is not a difficult leap for people to reach the sad conclusion that God does not exist. This is already taking place, with some churches proclaiming that belief in Jesus is not necessary to be Christian. This sad state of the world today may have differences from the environment of the past but nevertheless echoes the threats to Holy Mother Church that have always existed. This is the reason why the Pontifical Court, complete with all its pomp and ceremony, complete with all its complexity and grandeur is absolutely essential and necessary in the world today.

Some Members of the Patriarchal Chapter
Maintaining the traditions of the Pontifical Court is a tried-and-true method of maintaining the moral fibre of the church so necessary to transmitting the Christian Faith and providing Christian service to humanity. As society changes, it also provides mechanisms of service for noble families, both ancient and modern, who may be struggling with keeping their family identity and relevance in the modern world. The Church truly is eternal, and the message of Christ is timeless. Showing that to the world is the mission of the Pontifical Court. Christ founded the Church, and both the authority of the Church hierarchy and the traditional, complementary structure of society are believed by the doctrine of the faith to be divinely ordered. This is demonstrated in the Pontifical Court. With all its grandeur, the court awakens the imagination, engages the senses, and opens the mind to the truth of Christ.

Today the Pontifical Court is part of the intangible cultural heritage safeguarded by the Anglican Patriarchate by divine right under the leadership of the Archfather as temporal successor to St. Peter the apostle. It is a sacred duty and obligation not only of the Anglo-Roman Papa, but of all members of the Pontifical Court, to safeguard its traditions in the face of outside pressure so that the glory of God may be reflected on earth now and in the future until the end of the world.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Roman Rite as Intangible Cultural Heritage

FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 10 maggio 2021 (NRom)

The Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Roman Rite
as Intangible Cultural Heritage

In the Stanze di Raffaello
The Anglican Patriarchate represents Old Roman Catholicism (traditional Roman Catholicism stemming from the ancient Roman Catholic See of Utrecht in modern-day Netherlands, formerly part of the Holy Roman Empire, given independence in 1145) of the Anglican Rite, being pre-reformation Anglo-Roman Catholicism. As a result, the unique Anglo-Roman Rite of the Christian faith uses Catholic rites and customs that were once far more common than those used by Catholics today. Modernly known as the Anglican Rite Roman Catholic Church, the Patriarchate is thus historically and culturally distinct from the modern Vatican Church, which no longer uses many of the ancient Catholic rites of it own origin. Rather, the Patriarchate finds itself the unique keeper of traditional Catholic cultural heritage. In so doing, the Anglican Patriarchate constitutes a distinct minority that keeps that intangible culture alive for future generations in Italy, the British Isles, parts of Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, and the Americas.

Patriarchal Basilica of
Santa Maria Antiqua
 As defined by UNESCO, "intangible cultural heritage" includes traditions inherited from ancestors and passed on to descendants. Such heritage include social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. Therefore, today's Anglican Patriarchate, as a representative of the Anglo-Roman Rite, represents a distinct and unique religious activity based on an ancient, intangible world cultural heritage. However, although the modern community organisation of the Anglican Patriarchate is the traditional representative of more than 400 million people across several nations, that number is decreasing, along with the very few people whom are active participants in keeping its ancient traditions alive. Growing tends of globalisation, couple with other social forces make the Patriarchate's expression of cultural diversity in danger and in need of protection. For, an understanding of the intangible cultural heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Romano Rite helps with factual historical perspective, leading to better-informed intercultural dialogue, while encouraging mutual respect between peoples and different ways of life. Indeed, intangible cultural heritage is important not because of cultural manifestation, but because of the wealth of knowledge, skills, and traditions that is transmitted through it across the generations.

St. Peter receives the keys to the
Kingdom of Heaven from Christ
 The intangible cultural heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate and Anglo-Roman Rite not only represents inherited traditions from the past, but also includes contemporary practices grounded in those ancient traditions. Diverse cultural groups such as a wide variety of ethnic minorities around the world take part in its practices.

Our intangible cultural heritage contains elements that are similar to those practised by others, such as the Vatican Roman Catholic Church, other Old Roman Catholics, and others of Anglican heritage. Yet our practices today remain a distinct minority. They were passed from one generation to another, but declined in numbers dramatically in recent times. Some elements appear to be kept alive only within the Anglican Patriarchate. Yet, the combined intangible cultural heritage of the Anglican Patriarchate contributes to social cohesion and encourages a sense of identity and responsibility within it community and allied organisation, both helping individuals to feel part of that community and society at large. That sense of identity and continuity provides a link from the past to the present and into future.

Our intangible cultural heritage is representative. Our people depend on knowledge of traditions and customs passed through the community, from generation to generation, and to other communities.

Our intangible cultural heritage is recognized as invaluable and inherent to us by our community. It is our community membership and hierarchy that create, maintain and transmit that heritage. By UNESCO definition, it is our recognition, not that of anyone else, that defines our beliefs, knowledge, expression, rituals, and practices as our heritage.

The Anglican Patriarchate today is indeed a much smaller Catholic community with history, heritage, and location in various parts of the world. However, the Anglo-Roman Rite is remains a distinct culture, characterised by a number of distinct features, including its own unique liturgy based on the pre-1955 Tridentine Roman Rite with Anglican cultural elements. For example, the use of both Latin and liturgical English in rituals; Anglo-Roman, Anglo-Italian, Spanish, and other Latin heritage; Frankish/Germanic heritage; vestments and dress not currently known to be in use in other similar communities anymore; the use of ceremonial colour representation that has fallen out of use in other similar communities; the use of offices within the community of ancient origin but not known to be use in other similar communities today; and the use of various visual and artistic representations of cultural of ancient origin but not known to be in use in other similar communities today. In accordance with its ancient patrimony, women are able to hold certain high community offices often barred to them in other similar communities.

The synthesis of pre-Reformation Anglican practice (Anglo-Roman Catholicism) with the Roman Rite, combined with certain pre-Christian Roman cultural traditions has created a unique blend of intangible cultural heritage in the modern Anglican Patriarchate. The pillar of its identity – the traditional Catholic Church – is believed to be maintained for the Anglican Rite with supreme authority from the modern Anglican Patriarchate under the leadership of the Anglo-Roman Papa, also known as the Archfather. However, despite its maintaining an ancient and distinct heritage, today only a few people have a good knowledge of its cultural heritage, traditions, beliefs, and practices. Thus there is an urgent need to disseminate this knowledge and to involve more people in its preservation by recovering elements preserved only in written documents, film and audio archives, and various depositaries.

Its viability and very existence is at risk due to cohesion issues stemming from a number of factors, including: geographical dispersion, pressure to change by outside cultures, diminishing fiscal resources, reduced opportunities for physical practice and transmission of heritage, resulting in less visibility and lowered prestige among society at large in much of the world. There is thus a definite need to identify a number of strategic safeguarding interventions so that such targeted efforts will contribute to a more general strengthening of the cultural heritage and identity of the Anglican Patriarchate and the Anglo-Roman Rite and its people.

Useful links:

Monday, May 10, 2021

Ecclesiastical Coats of Arms from the Cronista Re d'Armi Italiano Imperiale

 FIRENZE-NUOVA ROMA 10 Maggio 2021 (NRom)

The following are some renderings of ecclesiastical coats of arms done by the Cronista Re d'Armi Italiano Imperiale for some of the members of the Pontifical Court. 

H.H.E. the Archfather

H.M.E.R.H. the Elector of Trier

H.M.E.R.H. the Crown Cardinal of France

H.M.E.R.H. the Elector of Mainz

H.E. Rt. Rev. Monsignor Rodrigues

H.E. Rt. Rev. Monsignor Palevicino

H.E. Rt. Rev. Archabbot Anthony

All images copyright. All rights reserved.
Designs are copyright Cronista Re.
Contents of jurisdictional arms are ecclesiastical copyright.
Contents of personal arms are copyright by the individual.