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Papal bull

A Papal bull is a written communication from the Vatican Chancery, bearing a formal papal seal. The title of a bull is its opening words.

The term is derived from the Latin bulla referring to the seal impressed onto wax which was contained in a hemisphere of gold about the size of the eye of a bull, through which passed the ends of a gold and silver braided cord that was looped through slits in the document. Later seals were contained in flat, disk-shaped cannisters with removable covers. Such seals were used to authenticate a document because the seal could not be transferred to a forged document without either cutting the cord (which would be too obvious) or first removing the cord from the seal (which could not be done, due to knots in the cord within the wax seal, without melting the wax, thus also destroying the image impressed into it).

There has never been an exact distinction of usage between a bull and other forms of communication, such as a Papal brief .

Examples of papal bulls

See also

External links

  • Papal bulls
  • Papal Encyclicals at Vatican
  • Papal Encyclicals Online

Last updated: 02-08-2005 15:58:50
Last updated: 02-28-2005 17:35:37