monsignore

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monsignore

a title of honour in the Roman Catholic Church, borne by persons of ecclesiastic rank and implying a distinction bestowed by the pope, either in conjunction with an office or merely titular. All those who bear the title of monsignor belong to the "papal family" and are entitled to be present in the Cappella Pontificia (when the pope celebrates solemn mass) and to participate in all public religious and social celebrations, wearing the robes corresponding to their respective offices. The ecclesiastics who have a right to the title of monsignor are (1) patriarchs, archbishops, and bishops, who are addressed as "most reverend monsignor," (2) apostolic protonotaries and domestic prelates, who are addressed as "right reverend monsignor," and (3) private chamberlains, who are addressed as "very reverend monsignor" and lose their honorific title at the death of the pope.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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