PROTHONOTARY APOSTOLIC (PROTONOTARIUS APOSTOLICUS): A member of a Roman Catholic college of twelve (formerly seven) prelates whose duty it is to register papal acts, proceedings of canonization, and similar records of exceptional importance. Clement I. is said to have appointed a notary for each of the seven districts of the city of Rome to record the acts of martyrs. They belonged to the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church and were appointed by the pope himself. In course of time additional notaries were required both inside and outside of Rome, whereupon the earlier "regional notaries" received the title of prothonotaries apostolic in token of their rights of precedence. Besides these acting prothonotaries there were also supernumerary and titular prothonotaries. The latter class, however, who claimed equal rights with the actual prothonotaries, were officially limited by Benedict XIV., Pius VIL, and Pius IX. The pope last named, moreover, ruled that for the attestation of documents which are to be regarded as genuine in all Christendom there is no need of a titular prothonotary, but that the regular notaries apostolic suffice, these being appointed for each diocese on nomination by the bishop.


BIBLIOGRAPHY: P. M. Baumgarten, Der Papst, die Regierung and die Vermaltung der heiligen Kirche in Rom, pp. 287-288, Munich, 1904.


PROTOPRESBYTER, ARCHPRESBYTER: Titles used in the early Church to designate the head of the college of presbyters who represented the bishop in case of absence or vacancy of the see (Bingham, Origines II., xix. 18). According to the Justinian Code (I., iii. 42, 10), there were sometimes several protopresbyters at one and the same church, who seem to have exercised a general supervision over worship. In the East, at the end of the twelfth century and later, the name protopapas ("protopope") occurs with similar meaning, and as approximating the functions of the Chorepiscopus (q.v.), although in at least one instance a protopapas (of


Corfu, 1367) had an almost episcopal position with nine archpresbyters under him (Nicholas Bulgaris, Katechesis hiera, Venice, 1681, preface). At present "protopresbyter" or "protopope" is an honorary title in the Greek Church. In the Russian Church it designates a minor supervisory office (cf. ARCHDEACON and ARCHPRIEST).



CCEL home page
This document is from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library at
Calvin College. Last modified on 06/03/04. Contact the CCEL.
Calvin seal: My heart I offer you O Lord, promptly and sincerely