Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Abbreviators , a body of writers in the papal chancery, whose business was to sketch out and prepare in due form the pope's bulls, briefs and consistorial decrees before these are written out in extenso by the scriptores.

They are first mentioned in Extravagantes of Pope John XXII and of Pope Benedict XII. Their number was fixed at seventy-two by Pope Sixtus IV. From the time of Pope Benedict XII (1334-1342) they were classed as de Parco majori or Praesidentiae majoris, and de Parco minori. The name was derived from a space in the chancery, surrounded by a grating, in which the officials sat, which is called higher or lower (major or minor) according to the proximity of the seats to that of the vice-chancellor.

After the protonotaries left the sketching of the minutes to the abbreviators, those de Parco majori, who ranked as prelates, were the most important officers of the apostolic chancery. By Pope Martin V their signature was made essential to the validity of the acts of the chancery; and they obtained in course of time many important privileges.

They were suppressed in 1908 by Pope Pius X and their duties were transferred to the protonotarii apostolici participantes. (See Curia Romana.)

Initial text from a 1911 Encyclopedia. Please update as needed.