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Papal bull

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A Papal bull is a patent from the Vatican Chancery, bearing a metal papal seal. The title of a bull is its opening words, or incipit.

The most distictive characteristic of a bull was the metal seal, usually made of lead but sometimes other metals, depicting the saints Peter and Paul on one side and the name of the issuing pope on the other. This was attached to the document by a chain that was looped through slits in the document. The term bulla comes from the fact that the metalic seal looked like a bubble floating on water. Bulla in Latin comes from bullire which means "to boil".

There has never been an exact distinction of usage between a bull and other forms of communication, such as a Papal brief . The difference between the two is that the brief was authenticated with a wax impression (now a red ink impression) of the Ring of the Fisherman and that bulls are the more formal of the two documents.

Examples of papal bulls

See also

External links

Last updated: 06-02-2005 13:43:48
Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13