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Consistory

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Antiquity

Originally, the Latin word consistorium meant simply 'sitting together', just as the Greek syn(h)edrion (from which the biblical sanhedrin was a corruption).

In the Roman empire though, it was specifically applied to a formal meeting of the Comites consistoriales, i.e. those members of the Emperor's court with the title of Comes (the translation count is rather confusing) who were assigned -and this conferred the highest rank amongst Comites- to advise him in official, important matters, suching as drafting bills and other written decisions, rather like the privy council of a feudal king. As the senate -in law still retaining the highest constitutional position, as the republic was never formally ended- lost most of its political importance, almost reducing it to a rubber stamp as a single party-state's parliament usually is, they stepped in as an official alternative power besides the throne, but real power could just as well lay mainly elsewhere, depending on the imperial favor and personal machinations.

Religion

Roman Catholic

The consistory is a formal meeting of the Sacred College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church, except when convened to elect a new pope (then the name is conclave, and specific rules apply, also to its composition). Consistories are held in Vatican City for taking care of the business of the college, which usually involves advising the Pope on important matters concerning the church.

Since the Pope creates new cardinals in the presence of the college, the consistory is where this takes place. The identities of the cardinals-to-be are generally announced some time in advance, but only at the time of the consistory does the elevation to the cardinalate take effect, since that is when the Pope formally publishes the decree of elevation. Some men have died before the consistory date, and if a Pope dies before the consistory all the nominations are voided. However, the cardinal himself does not have to attend the consistory for his elevation to be effective.

Those new cardinals present are presented with their rings, zucchetti (small skullcaps), and biretti (four-cornered silk hats) by the Pope. Formerly they also received an elaborate broad-brimmed tasseled hat, the galerum rubrum, at the ceremony, but Pope Paul VI abolished this in 1967 and those cardinals who want these obtain them privately from a maker in Rome.

The zucchetto, the biretta, and the galerum rubrum are all scarlet, the distinctive color of cardinals' vestments. When a diocesan cardinal dies, his galerum rubrum is suspended from the ceiling of his cathedral.

At the consistory cardinals are generally assigned titular churches in the diocese of Rome, though Paul VI abolished their functional involvement in the governance of these churches; the cardinals formally "take possession" of these churches at a later date.

In Protestant churches

In Germany and Scandinavia, the word consistory (Konsistorium etc.) has been used for the chapter of a cathedral. In the Reformed Church, a Consistory is the board of elected church officials that include the Elders and the Deacons.

Jewish

Somewhat comparable body of a jewish community in an area, e.g. a country There may be more than one sharing a territory, but defined by an 'ideological' tendency, e.g. an ortyhodox, conservative one and a liberal one in Belgium

Academic

The word consistory (konsistorium) is also used in the sense of "university board" at some universities in Germany, Scandinavia and Finland (when Swedish is used). In other countries another august assembly lends an alternative name to an equivalent body, e.g. senat in Belgium.de:Konsistorium it:Concistoro nl:Consistorie pl:Konsystorz

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