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The Protopriest of the College of Cardinals (Italian : protopresbitero, and, rare, Italian : protoprete) in the College of Cardinals, is the first Cardinal-Priest in the order of precedence, hence directly after the Cardinal-bishops.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire and, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to it of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it still plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Italian is included under the languages covered by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Romania, although Italian is neither a co-official nor a protected language in these countries. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

College of Cardinals body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church

The College of Cardinals, formerly styled the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church. Its current membership is 213, as of 3 September 2019. Cardinals are appointed by the Pope for life. Changes in life expectancy partly account for the increases in the size of the College.


This title is always attached to the most senior Cardinal Priest according to date of his creation. From the 17th century until the end of the 19th century, the Protopriest was usually assigned to the Titular church of San Lorenzo in Lucina. [1]

A titular church or titulus is a church in Rome assigned or assignable to one of the cardinals, or more specifically to a cardinal priest.

San Lorenzo in Lucina church

The Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence in Lucina is a Roman Catholic parish, titular church, and minor basilica in central Rome, Italy. The basilica is located in Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina in the Rione Colonna, circa two blocks behind the Palazzo Montecitorio, proximate to the Via del Corso.

The protopriest has the honor of pronouncing the formal prayer for the new pope at the papal inauguration after the protodeacon (most senior Cardinal deacon) bestows the pallium and before the Dean of the College of Cardinals (most senior Cardinal-bishop) presents the Ring of the Fisherman. This last happened at the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, [2] but did not happen at the inauguration of Pope Francis in 2013 because the protopriest, Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns, then 91 years old, remained in São Paulo, Brazil, and did not attend. [3] [4] [5] [lower-alpha 1]

Papal inauguration liturgical service of the Catholic Church

Papal inauguration is a liturgical service of the Catholic Church within Mass celebrated in the Roman Rite but with elements of Byzantine Rite for the ecclesiastical investiture of a pope. Since the inauguration of Pope John Paul I, it has not included the 820-year-old (1143–1963) papal coronation ceremony.

Protodeacon derives from the Greek proto- meaning 'first' and diakonos, which is a standard ancient Greek word meaning "assistant", "servant", or "waiting-man". The word in English may refer to any of various clergy, depending upon the usage of the particular church in question.

Pallium an ecclesiastical vestment in the Catholic Church: a narrow band, seen from front or back the ornament resembles the letter Y and decorated with six black crosses

The pallium is an ecclesiastical vestment in the Roman Catholic Church, originally peculiar to the Pope, but for many centuries bestowed by the Holy See upon metropolitans and primates as a symbol of their conferred jurisdictional authorities, and still remains papal emblems. Schoenig, Steven A., SJ. Bonds of Wool: The Pallium and Papal Power in the Middle Ages (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0-8132-2922-5. In its present form, the pallium is a long and "three fingers broad" white band adornment, woven from the wool of lambs raised by Trappist monks. It is donned by looping its middle around one's neck, resting upon the chasuble and two dependent lappets over one's shoulders with tail-ends on the left with the front end crossing over the rear. When observed from the front or rear the pallium sports a stylistic letter 'y'. It is decorated with six black crosses, one near each end and four spaced out around the neck loop. At times the pallium is embellished fore and aft with three gold gem-headed stickpins. The doubling and pinning on the left shoulder likely survive from the Roman pallium. The pallium and the omophor originate from the same vestment, the latter a much larger and wider version worn by Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic bishops of the Byzantine Rite. A theory relates origination to the paradigm of the Good Shepherd shouldering a lamb, a common early Christian art image — but this may be an explanation a posteriori, however the ritual preparation of the pallium and its subsequent bestowal upon a pope at coronation suggests the shepherd symbolism. The lambs whose fleeces are destined for pallia are solemnly presented at altar by the nuns of the convent of Saint Agnes and ultimately the Benedictine nuns of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere weave their wool into pallia.

Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu of Bangkok has been the protopriest since 14 December 2016.

Michael Michai Kitbunchu Catholic cardinal

Michael Michai Kitbunchu is a Thai prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Bangkok from 1973 to 2009 and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1983. He has been the Protopriest of the College of Cardinals since 14 December 2016.

Protopriests since 1920

James Gibbons Catholic cardinal

James Gibbons was an American prelate of the Catholic Church. He served as Apostolic Vicar of North Carolina from 1868 to 1872, Bishop of Richmond from 1872 to 1877, and as ninth Archbishop of Baltimore from 1877 until his death in 1921. Gibbons was elevated to the rank of cardinal in 1886.

Michael Logue Catholic cardinal

Michael Logue was an Irish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland from 1887 until his death in 1924. He was created a cardinal in 1893.

Giuseppe Francica-Nava de Bontifè was an Italian Cardinal of the Catholic Church who served as Archbishop of Catania from 1895 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1899.

See also


  1. The duties of the protopriest were discharged by the senior cardinal-priest from the cardinal-electors, Godfried Danneels, Archbishop Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels.

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Roman Catholic Archdiocese of São Paulo archdiocese

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  1. The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church: Title of S. Lorenzo in Lucina. The last protoprete who opted for that title was Mieczysław Halka Ledóchowski in 1896.
  2. Ceremony of Papal Inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI [24.04.2005 ] on YouTube Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  3. Inaugural Mass of the Pontificate (Vatican video of Pope Francis' papal inauguration) on YouTube
  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-05-05. Retrieved 2014-12-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)