2 May 2023

What is Papal Bull? – Learn the different uses and history of the Papal Bull

By Donald

The figure of the Pope is of great importance in the world, since he has a lot of power as he is in command of one of the richest nations on the planet. One of the attributes of this ruler is to create or bestow the papal bull, a decree that can give legal rights, forgiveness or punishment to a person. So, this article explains what the papal bull is and the functions it has. In the same way, the most famous examples of these permits are mentioned and what relevance they had.

Papal Bull Meaning and Definition

The Pope rules as the head of the Catholic Church, so he has great power and respect from the other rulers of the world. The person who holds this position is in command of the Holy See and the Vatican, which has the recognition of an independent country. Therefore, the Pope has the ability to enter into negotiations and discuss civil or legal issues. Likewise, he can issue documents addressed to presidents, kings and other heads of state regardless of whether the date of the liturgical calendar or if there is a war involved.

The papal bull is an object with a lot of history and represents a solemn letter in which the lead seal of the Pope can be seen plus the illustrations of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. In the same way, they have the name of the Pope on duty, the date of their issuance and, on some occasions, the name of the bishop of the place of reception.

Throughout history, various papal bulls have been issued, the subject of which may vary according to the needs of the Vatican or the receiving country. In this sense, a papal bull can contain orders for all the churches of a country, it can also condemn or punish people. Likewise, in a bull the Pope has the ability to forgive any individual for his acts or make deliveries and concessions to a State.

What is the origin story of the Papal Bull?

The word bull comes from the Latin language, in which it is written noise, its meaning refers to an object that has a round shape. In principle, the word was used to refer to a medal or pendant worn by men in ancient Rome. This amulet was placed around the neck a few days after birth and was intended to protect the person.

The bull of the Romans was no longer used at the time when the people of this city were getting ready to get married. Other theories say that the bulls were gold and only the Roman sons of noble families wore them. Many authors agree that the use of the medallion had some relationship with the Sabine people.

In this sense, the author Plutarch tells that the bulls were destined for the children of the first Romans with the kidnapped Sabine women. While Pliny tells that Tarquin, the monarch of Rome He gave this prize to his young son, since he managed to kill a Sabino at only 14 years of age.

Some time later, in the Middle Ages, the bull is described as a writing of a prince, which was marked with lead, gold or silver. However, the object of the seal was called a bull, not the document. Later, the bull indicated the mandates issued by the Roman empire.

However, the word changed to speak of a document sent by the Pope from the Catholic Church. This document usually deals with issues legal, civil or religious and it can be addressed to anyone, although it is usually addressed to a member of a government. It is recognized because it has a circular lead seal (bulla) printed on it, in addition to the papal seal.

The shipment is not made directly to the recipient, on the contrary, it is first received by the bishop or archbishop of the diocese of the place where the president resides. There, this member of the church translates it into the official language of the country of residence and delivers it. It should be noted that the papal bull it is written in latinwhich is the official language of the Holy See.

Most Important Papal Bulls

Among the most important papal bulls in history are the Bull of the Holy Crusade, which was delivered to the Templars for the Holy War. There, all those people who fought against the infidels in the recovery of Jerusalem were pardoned.

The bull of the deceased is written in commemoration of a person who died to inform his ecclesiastical forgiveness. Another important bull was that of lacticinios, which was an authorization to use said substance in times when it was prohibited. While, the bull of meat gave the possibility of eating in times of vigil.

However, the most famous example of this type of papal document is the Alexandrian bulls, granted by Alexander VI to the crown of Castile. It is a set of documents with the lead seal that the Holy See authorized in 1943. These bulls were proclaimed at the incessant request of the Catholic kings (Isabel I and Fernando II).

There, Pope Alexander VI grants several permits to the Crown of Castile. Among them was the legal right to conquer and evangelize the territories of America. Therefore, this decree authorized the extermination of Mesoamerican cultures and what is the imposition of christianity In America.

What was the first Papal Bull?

The first papal bull was called Brief Inter caetera which was granted in 1493 by Alexander VI to the kings of the Crown of Castile. This document was the first of the Alexandrian bulls and was created after the arrival of Christopher Columbus from his first voyage to America. There the possession, domain, control and legal permission of these kings over the ‘discovered’ territories was dictated. In the same way, said control extended to the lands that were close to being discovered.