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Apostolic Dataria

Emblem of the Papacy
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Roman Curia

The Apostolic dataria was one of the five Ufficii di Curia ('curial offices') in the Roman Curia. It was abolished by Pope Paul VI in 1967.


According to some authorities, among them Amydenus (De officio et jurisdictione datarii necnon de stylo Datariae), the office of the dataria is of very ancient origin, but that it is not appears from the fact that the business which eventually fell to it was originally transacted elsewhere. The Dataria was entrusted, chiefly, with the concession of matrimonial dispensations of external jurisdiction, and with the collation (the abstract of conferring) of benefices reserved to the Holy See. To this double faculty was added that of granting many other indults and graces, but these additions were made later. Until the time of Pope Pius IV matrimonial dispensations were granted through the Apostolic Penitentiaria; and as to the collation of reserved benefices, that authority could not have been granted in very remote times, since the establishment of those reservations is comparatively recent: although some vestige of reservations is found even prior to the twelfth century, the custom was not frequent before Innocent II, and only from the time of Pope Clement IV the reservation of benefices was adopted as a general rule [c. ii, "De pract. et dignit." (III, 4) in 6°]. It may be said that, while this office certainly existed in the fourteenth century, as an independent bureau, it is impossible to determine the precise time of its creation.

The Dataria consisted first, of a sibyllic, for example the "prefect of the per obitum", the "prefect of the concessum", the "cashier of the componenda", an "officer of the missis" etc.

apostolic constitution "Sapienti consilio", according to which the Dataria consisted of the cardinal datary, the sub-datary, the prefect and his surrogate (sostituto), a few officers, a cashier who had also the office of distributor, a reviser and two writers of Papal Bulls. The new Constitution retained the theological examiners for the competitions for parishes. Among the Datary offices that were abolished mention should be made of that of the Apostolic dispatchers, which in the new organization of the Curia had no longer a reason for being: formerly these officials were necessary, because private persons could not refer directly to the Dataria, which dealt only with persons approved by itself, but since, anyone could deal directly with the Dataria, as with any of the other pontifical departments.

To the Dataria, which was commissioned to grant many papal indults and graces, remained only the tasks to investigate the fitness of candidates for Consistorial benefices, which are reserved to the Holy See, to write and to dispatch the Apostolic Letters for the collation of those benefices, to dispense from the conditions required in regard to them, and to provide for the pensions, or for the execution of the charges imposed by the Pope when conferring those benefices.

It would be both lengthy and difficult to retrace the former modes of procedure of this office, all the more as it was mainly regulated by tradition, which was jealously guarded by the officers of the Datary, who were generally laymen, and who had in that way established a species of monopoly as detrimental to the Holy See as profitable to themselves. Thus it happened that these offices often passed from father to son, while the ecclesiastical superiors of the officials were to a great extent blindly dependent upon them. Leo XIII began the reform of this condition of things so unfavorable to good administration, and Pius X totally abolished it.


In 1967, following the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI reorganized the Curia with the apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae universae of 15 August 1967. The Dataria was abolished.


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain:  Roman Curia (section)
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