OFFICE OF PAPAL CHARITIES
The Office of Papal Charities is the department of
the Holy See charged with exercising charity to the poor in the name of the Holy
This tradition goes back to the earliest centuries of
the Church. Originally one of the immediate responsibilities of the Deacons,
responsibility for the Pope’s charities was later exercised by one or more
members of the papal household with no particular hierarchical dignity, which
was granted later. A Bull of Innocent III (1198-1216) mentions the post of
Almoner as already in existence. The first Pope to organize the Office of Papal
Charities was Blessed Gregory X (1271-1276), who set down the duties of the
Almoner. In a Bull of 1409, Alexander V laid down guidelines and regulations for
the Office, which has always functioned as an expression of the constant concern
of the Roman Pontiffs. The Almoner of His Holiness has the rank of
Archbishop; he is a member of the Papal Family and as such takes part in the
Holy Father’s liturgical celebrations and official audiences.
Pope Leo XIII, as a means of helping to fund the
charitable works carried out by the Office, delegated the Almoner to grant the
Apostolic Blessing by parchment certificate: these parchments, in order
to be authentic, must bear the Almoner’s signature and the seal of his Office.
Please note that costs associated with the issue of the Papal Blessing
are incurred only by reason of the parchment itself, the preparation costs,
postage and a contribution to the Pope’s charitable works.
The proceeds accruing to the Office of Papal Charities
from the preparation of papal blessing parchments are applied entirely to the
works of charity which this Office carries out on behalf of the needy who
appeal to the Successor of Peter.