Pontificalis Aula

De creatione novorum cardinalium

Appointing new cardinals is the exclusive privilege of the Holy Father who, in any time, could nominate new prelates, not exceeding the fixed number (seventy) of the College members. In the formal way the procedure started from informing the cardinals, present on a secret consistory, about the Pope’s will to create the new ones. The Pope addressed the present: Quid vobis videtur? It was a purely courteous expression, dating back to the times when the election of the new cardinals had to be accepted by the majority of the then princes of the Church. As a response sufficed only the gesture of the prelates who, having risen to their feet, took off their zucchettos and bowed their heads. Then, the Pope announced officialy his decision with the following words: Auctoritate omnipotentis Dei, sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli ac Nostra, creamus Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinales presbyteros quidem N.N. diaconos vero N.N., cum dispensationibus, derogationibus et clausulis necessariis et opportunis. In nomine Pa+tris et Fi+lii et Spiritus + Sancti. Amen. The Pope could also choose cardinals whose names, because of various reasons, he kept only for himself. He announced it to the consistory in the following way: Alios autem [here the number of the elected was given] in pectore reservamus arbitrio Nostro quandocumque declarandos.

 The Consistorial Hall prepared to hold a secret consistory.
The Consistorial Hall prepared to hold a secret consistory.

The information on the will of the Holy Father was carried to the chosen cardinals by a member of the household of the Cardinal Secretary of State and also by the papal Master of Ceremonies, if the elected abode in Rome, or by an Apostolic delegate, who was an officer of the Noble Guard, who gave it, together with a red zucchetto, to the cardinals abiding outside of Rome. On the day of the receiving of the biretta, the members of the household of a new cardinal went to the Apostolic Palace, carrying the rochet, the mozzetta, the sash with golden tassels and the red hat with pompons of the same colour: in the case of the prelates who were monks the mozzetta and the sash were in the colour appropriate for the given order, whereas the tassels were made of silk only. A new prince of the Church, in the cassock, mantelletta, zucchetto and black hat, arrived at the place, accompanied by several familiares, and, having greeted the Cardinal Secretary of State, he went to the designated room where a Master of Ceremonies put the sash on him and dressed him in the rochet and the mantelletta. In such dress, led by two Masters of Ceremonies, he arrived at the room where, surrounded by his court, the Holy Father, dressed in the choir dress, sat.

Pope Pius XII in the choir dress and a short falda held by two papal Masters of Ceremonies.

Having knelt three times, as the prelate approached the papal throne, he knelt and kissed the cross on the papal shoe. Subsequently  the pope put on him the mozzetta, given by the first Master of Ceremonies,  and the biretta, given by a sacristan, which the  cardinal gave him back straightaway in order to kiss the foot and the knee of the pope again, and to receive kiss of peace twice. Then, he went back in the designated place. When all prelates received birettas the Holy Father addressed them, explaining the reasons of their promotion and reminding them of their duties; the eldest of the new cardinals, on behalf of all, thanked the pope for the grace of receiving this honour and assured him that the responsibility connected to their new function will be fulfilled.

Pope John XXIII puts the mozzetta on the shoulders of cardinal Joseph Ritter.

Afterwards, the first Master of Ceremonies, with the words Extra omnes, order all to leave, except for the cardinals, because then the cases reserved only for the pope and the College were examined. When, after the debate, new cardinals left the consistory room they took a red zucchetto, given on a silver plate by the second sacristan, and, having put the biretta on it, they went to the room where their robes had been previously placed. There, having given the biretta to one of accompanying household members, they donned saturno and returned to their residences. Having taken off the rochet and the mantelletta, and holding the cardinal biretta in hand, they received congratulatory visits. A cardinal never used the biretta received from the pope but, to show respect, he kept it on the place of honour in the anticamera or in the throne room of his palace, between two candlesticks.

chierica Pio XII e Siri
Cardinal Giuseppe Siri receives his red biretta from Pope Pius XII.

The biretta for a cardinal abiding outside of Rome was carried usually by an Apostolic ablegate who was a secret or honorary chamberlain. The emissary passed the biretta to the papal delegate or to the ruler of the given country, so that he put it on the head of the new cardinal. It took place in the main church of the city, if the ceremony was conducted by a clergyman, or in the chapel in a palace, if the ruler of the country did it. The ceremony was preceded by the reading of the papal breve, the oath of loyalty taken before the representative of the Holy Father and customary speeches. Subsequently, the biretta was put on the head of the kneeling cardinal and, when he rose to his feet, he received pax from the person who presented it to him. The ceremony ended with Te Deum and a solemn Mass which was celebrated by the cardinal or by a bishop present at the ceremony. For this Mass the new prelate changed purple robes for red ones.

Cardinal Roncalli receives the red biretta from the president of France, Vincent Auriol, in the Elysee Palace.

Before the public consistory new cardinals were informed of the hour and of obligatory dress, the colour of which, because of the tradition of holding the ceremony on Ember Days, was usually purple. In the morning on that day the cardinals arrived at the Apostolic Palace together with their courts, including a train-bearer in croccia. Having taken off the saturno, mozzetta and mantelletta, they donned cappa magna and went to the chapel where, after a short prayer, they sat in designated places, loosening the folds of the great cape. At the feet of every cardinal, on a step, their train-bearer sat. Afterwards, new cardinals walked before the altar where they took the oath in the presence of the three first cardinals of each class and of the cardinal chancellor (formerly vice-chancellor), the camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church and the camerlengo of the Holy College of Cardinals.

P. Pfister, Pages de Rome Immortelle, Arthaud 1954 (44)
Valerian cardinal Gracias, archbishop of Bombay (Mumbai), at the time of taking the oath.

After the oath the new members of the College remained in the chapel, whereas the rest walked to the consistorial hall where the Holy Father, carried on sedia gestatoria and dressed in red mantum and golden mitre, entered: he sat on the previously prepared throne behind which there was a tapestry depicting the personification of the Providence sitting on the Earth between Justice and Charity, under which there were two lions lying, each of which held the flag of the Holy Church. The prelates paid homage to the pope and, subsequently, new cardinals were called from the chapel, each accompanied by two cardinal deacons. If the number of cardinal deacons was not sufficient, the function was fulfilled by the youngest cardinal priests.

The cardinals paid homage to Pius XII during the public consistory in the Vatican Basilica.

The new princes of the Church, led in such a way, with the spread trains of cappa magna, approached the throne and, one by one, three times bowing low to the pope and subsequently kneeling on the highest step, kissed the papal shoe and the ring, after which they received twice the kiss of peace from the Holy Father. Having left the throne, with the train on arm, they embraced all present cardinals and took their seats in accordance with the established order. Subsequently, each of new prelates approached the steps of the throne and knelt. A Master of Ceremonies covered the cardinal’s head with the hood of the cappa on which the pope put the hat passed by a sacristan or his deputy. In the same time the Holy Father read the formula of a rituale held by an assistant bishop accompanied by another one holding a candle: Ad laudem omnipotentis Dei et Sanctae Sedis Apostolicae ornamentum, accipe galerum rubrum, insigne singulare dignitatis Cardinalatus, per quod designatur, quod usque ad mortem et sanguinis effusionem inclusive, pro exaltatione Sanctae Fidei, pace et quiete Populi Chiristiani augmento et statu Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae, te intrepidum exhibere debeas. In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti. Amen. A Master of Ceremonies passed the hat to the sacristan and took the hood off the head of the cardinal; he, having kissed the papal ring, stood on the right side of the throne, waiting for the others.

Pope John XXIII imposes the galero on the head of one of the newly created cardinal.

After the ceremony the new cardinals, following the papal cross and preceding the Holy Father, went to the room where the pope took off the vestments. Afterwards, the first of new prelates said a thanksgiving prayer in Italian. This could be skipped and new prelates could thank pope in private, after all ceremonies. When the Holy Father left for his apartments, new cardinals returned to the consistorial hall from where the whole College, following the choir singing Te Deum, went to the chapel in the procession: at the head of the procession walked cardinal bishops, then cardinal priests and finally cardinal deacons but in reverse order – firstly the younger, later the elder ones; between them new cardinals walked. Having entered the chapel, the choir took its place next to the altar on the Epistle’s side and the elder cardinals sat in pews.

The imposition of a cardinal’s hat at the public consistory during the pontificate of Pius XII.

When the choir started to sing the verse Te ergo quaesumus in fauxbourdon, new prelates gave reverence to the altar and then they laid on purple cushions on its steps, with the heads covered with the hoods of cappa magna and with their trains spread. This prostration lasted until the end of the hymn after which the dean of the College said proper prayers at the altar on the Epistle’s side. Afterwards everyone left the chapel, whereas new cardinals, having the trains of cappa held by train-bearers, once more exchanged kiss of peace with their older colleagues. Subsequently they returned to their residences where, during the consistory, the household members installed new coats of arms and a baldachin over the throne in the drawing room.

Prostration during the chant of Te Deum. The picture is from the consistory of the year 1927, during which the cardinal hats were given to five archbishops: Binet and Hlond S.D.B. (those in brighter cappa magna) and Lépicier O.S.M., Rouleau O.P. (in the middle) and Serédi O.S.B. [photo from 20 lecie].

On the same day new cardinals received congratulations from secular, as well as religious, dignitaries, they visited the Vatican Basilica where they prayed at the Confession of St. Peter, leaving alms for the needy in the form of 5 golden coins, zecchini, (if the consistory was held in Vatican they did it immediately after it was closed) and paid a visit to the dean of the Holy College.

P. Pfister, Pages de Rome Immortelle, Arthaud 1954 (42)
New cardinals praying at the Confessio of St. Peter.

In the evening, a papal sacristan with his deputy and several members of the papal Anticamera arrived in the residence of a new cardinal in order to present him the red hat on behalf of the Holy Father. After the sacristan’s speech and thanks of the cardinal, the galero, covered with a red veil trimmed with golden tassels, was placed on a table covered with damask, between two candlesticks with lit candles.

Cardinal Bernard Alfrin receives the galero in his residence in Rome.

In the very beginning of the following secret consistory the pope conducted the symbolic closing of mouth of new cardinals, which meant that until they are open again, they will not be able to have the floor. The formula was as follows: Claudimus vobis os, ut neque in Concistoriis, neque in Congregationibus, aliisque funictionibus Cardinalitiis sententiam vestram dicere valeatis. Formerly such a situation lasted until the next meeting of the College. It was to allow new cardinals to familiarise themselves with the ways of working e.g. in congregations, before they themselves would take part in the proceedings. However this practice had been abolished and the opening of the mouth of new prelates took place before the end of the same consistory in which it was closed. The formula was identical as the former one, except for the beginning: Aperimus vobis os, ut in concistoriis, congregationibus etc. In the end the pope made the sign of the cross three times, saying: In nomine Pa+tris, et Fi+lii, et Spiritus + Sancti. Amen.

Cardinal Aloysius Muench tries on his galero.

After the ceremony solemn presentation of cardinal rings took place, as well as the conferment of titular churches. The Holy Father put a golden ring with a sapphire (for which the recipient had to pay a specified sum of money for the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith) on a finger of the right hand of the cardinal kneeling before the papal throne with the train of the cappa spread. The pope also gave him the scroll in which he conferred the titular church on him, saying: Ad honorem Dei omnipotentis, sanctorum apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et s. N [here the patron of the church was called], commissam tibi ecclesiam s. N, cum clero, et populo, et cappellis suis [these words were omitted in the case of cardinal deacons], secundum formam, qua commilti Cardinalibus consuevit, qui eamdem ecclesiam suam intitulatam pro tempore habuerunt. Afterwards the cardinal kissed the pope’s foot and knee and received kiss of peace from him, after which he returned to his place. After the consistory the princes of the Church returned to their residences.

Ferdnando cardinal Quiroga y Palacos receives from the hands of Pope Pius XII ring and the titular church of St. Augustine.