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“Cardinal” is the title of the highest dignitaries below the pope in the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinals were originally priests of the principal churches (sing. cardo) in or near Rome, from whom the pope sought help in leading the whole church. The beginnings of the College of Cardinals date back to the 12th century. The ranks of cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons reflect this origin. In the last few centuries the patriarchs of the Uniate churches of the East have also become cardinal bishops.

The number of cardinals was fixed at 70 by Sixtus V in 1586. John XXIII (d. …

Cite this page
Grote, Heiner, “Cardinal”, in: Encyclopedia of Christianity Online. Consulted online on 05 December 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2211-2685_eco_C150>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004169678, 20080512

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