Papal bull to be read at Mass makes naming official

By Catholic New World
Sunday, November 16, 2014

Archbishop Loris Capovilla, 96, the personal secretary of Blessed John XXIII, holds a copy of the papal bull opening the Second Vatican Council at his residence in Sotto il Monte Giovanni XXIII, Italy, Feb. 21, 2012. A papal bull will be read at Archbishop Cupich's installation Mass. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the beginning of the installation Mass on Nov. 18 at Holy Name Cathedral, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò will read a mandate from Pope Francis that names Archbishop Blase Cupich as the ninth archbishop of Chicago. The document is also unofficially called a papal bull and has a long history in the Catholic Church.

According to the “Catholic Encyclopedia of Catholic History”: “A bulla was originally a circular plate or boss of metal, so called from its resemblance in form to a bubble floating upon water (from the Latin bullire, to boil). In the course of time, the term came to be applied to the leaden seals with which papal and royal documents were authenticated in the early Middle Ages, and by a further development, the name, from designating the seal, was eventually attached to the document itself. … For practical purposes a bull may be conveniently defined to be ‘an apostolic letter with a leaden seal,’ to which one may add that in its superscription the pope invariably takes the title of episcopus, servus servorum Dei (bishop, servant of the servants of God).”