Monday, November 28, 2016

Cavallerizzo Maggiore di Sua Santita' (Master Horseman of His Holiness)

From the time of Gregory the Great (590 - 604), the general administration of the Palatine Stables was entrusted to this lay dignitary of the Papal Court.

Whenever the pope went out in a carriage or on horseback through the city, or set out on a journey, the Master Horseman would visit the monsignoral prefect for information about the route to be taken, so as to make the appropriate arrangements for a herald and to ride before the papal carriage.

His perogative, besides that of being able to open and close the Holy Father's carriage door (genuflecting after doing so, as the pope exited), was that of presenting the Pontiff with a horse to ride, and then of taking it back again.

After 1870 the post of Master Horseman became merely honorary.  It was completely abolished in 1968 by Paul VI. 

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