The Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church

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4th Century

Liturgical functions of the titles defined, Marcellus I (306-309).

During the reign of Emperor Maxentius, Pope Marcellus I ordained twenty five priests and authorized the administration of baptisms, penance and funerals in the titles: XXV titulos in urbe Roma constituit, quasi diocesis, propter baptismum et penitentiam et sepulturas martyrum.

Source: Vielliard, René. Recherches sur les origines de la Rome chrétienne. Les églises romaines et leur rôle dans l'histoire et la topographie de la ville depuis la fin du monde antique jusqu'a la formation de l'état pontifical. Essai d'urbanisme chrétien. Preface per Emile Male, de l'Académie Française. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1959, p. 32.

Text: The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis). The ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715. Translated with an introduction by Raymond Davis. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989. (Translated texts for historians, Latin Text: Series V), p. 13.

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The bishop of Ostia, principal consecrator of the Roman pontiff, 336, St. Mark (336).

The Liber Pontificalis claims that he granted the pallium (a band of white wool decorated with crosses, worn by the pope and bestowed by him on metropolitans) to the bishops of Ostia (diocese established in the third century) and decreed that they should always consecrate the bishop of Rome. The former statement is doubtful, since while popes began using the pallium in the 4th century, there is no proof of their conferring it on other prelates so early; but the latter may well be correct since St. Augustine, writing in 413, takes it as established custom for the Roman pontiff to have the bishop of Ostia as the first of his three consecrators.

Hic constituit, ut episcopus Hostiae, qui consacrat episcopum, palleum uteretur et ab eodem episcopo urbis Romae consacraretur. Et constitutum de omnem ecclesiam ordinavit. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Liber Pontificalis, "XXXV. Marcus", p. 73.

Eventually, the bishop of Ostia became one of the cardinal bishops and in 1150 Pope Bl. Eugenius III decided to grant the deanship of the Sacred College of Cardinals to the prelate occupying that suburbicarian see. The practice continues to this day.

Source: Kelly, J.N.D. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, p. 29.

Text: The Book of Pontiffs (Liber Pontificalis). The ancient biographies of the first ninety Roman bishops to AD 715. Translated with an introduction by Raymond Davis. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1989. (Translated texts for historians, Latin Series V), p. 26.

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