What was the Gonfalonier of the Church?

Introduction

The gonfalonier of the Church or papal gonfalonier (Italian: Gonfaloniere della Chiesa, “standard-bearer”; Latin: Vexillifer Ecclesiæ) was a military and political office of the Papal States.

Refer to Gonfalone of the Church.

Background

Originating from the use of the Papal banner during combat, the office later became largely ceremonial and political. At his nomination, the gonfalonier was given two banners, one with the arms of the Church (vexillum cum armis Ecclesiæ) and another with the arms of the reigning pope (cum armis suis). The gonfalonier was entitled to include ecclesiastical emblems (the Keys of St. Peter and the ombrellino) upon his own arms, usually only during his term of office but on occasion permanently. Pope Innocent XII ended the rank, along with the captaincy general, and replaced them both with the position of flag-bearer of the Holy Roman Church (Italian: Vessilifero di Santa Romana Chiesa), which later became hereditary in the Naro Patrizi.

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