Congregation of the Council, Positiones

with the contribution of the Max-Planck-Institut for European Legal History (MPIeR)

n the Max-Planck-Institut for European Legal History (MPIeR) a research project concerning the history of the Holy Congregation of the Council has recently started. This dicastery was founded in 1564 by pope Pius IV who bestowed upon it the authority for the authentic interpretation of the disciplinary decrees of the Council of Trent and the surveillance of their proper application. The research will be conducted in an interdisciplinary historico-juridical and long term perspective covering a period between the 16th and the 17th centuries.

In April 2013, in agreement with the Vatican Secret Archives (ASV), a project directed by the MPIeR and supported by an external researcher, was initiated in order to reorganize the archives of the Congregation and to ensure full usability for researchers.

The project will be structured in three phases:

1) A general survey of the old part of the archive of the Congregation of the Council (1554-1922), which was incorporated into the ASV in different periods. In order to clarify some central steps in the history of the dicastery, the history of the archive will be investigated with special attention to the various deposits in the ASV.

Congregation of the Council, Positiones 214-225
(ASV pictures)


2) Analytical inventory of the series of Positiones by the Congregation of the Council in which there are preserved the decisions taken by the Congregation about specific issues of interpretation regarding Tridentine canon law, requested by the faithful, by local ecclesiastical institutions or by other Roman congregations. Once the inventory will be concluded, it will be possible to reconnect to the section of the Positiones other archive series which are currently not available for scholars due to a lack of research tools. Also in preparation is a semi-analytical index of the Positiones series in replacement of previous manuscript research tools, in order to facilitate the consultation of the archival complex and furthermore to allow the acquisition of a more exhaustive knowledge of the content of the Positiones series.

3) The inspection and accurate description of the abundant material not yet inventoried, among which stand out different archival subseries: these documents will allow to improve the understanding of the functioning of the dicastery and its history.