Papal Bull from Pontificate of Clement IV, Dated 1266
Papal Bull from Pontificate of Clement IV, Dated 1266

The following commentary is from the EWTN series, The Papacy: A Living History, The Papal Artifacts Collection of Father Richard Kunst. This artifact is the oldest document in the Collection and was featured on Episode 5 of the series, Popes of the 17th Century and Earlier.

Here is Father’s Commentary:

The item presented here is the oldest document in the Collection. I have items that are older, but this is the full document. It is from Pope Clement IV and is dated 1266. It’s a papal bull and you can see the lead seal hanging from silk thread, which means it was more important than if twine thread had been used. So this is a silk thread bull attached to the parchment from 1266. So it’s a great item, and is not too long after Francis of Assisi lived.

Again I have items that are older, but this is the oldest full document in the Collection.

The Collection is so fascinating for both clergy and laity, and even non-Catholics, I think, find it fascinating. If you think that this item in 1266 was before the ‘split’–that is, the Protestant Reformation–Clement IV was their Pope, too.

Additional Information:

This papal bull is unsigned and untranslated and dated 1266 from the second year of Pope Clement IV’s pontificate. It is one of the oldest items in the collection.

The word, bull comes from the Latin, bubble. It is the lead seal that was appended to the end of a document acting as the signature of the pope. On one side, it contains the pope’s name and on the other, images of Saints Peter and Paul from whom the pope is given his authority.

The bull is generally an official document of the Holy Father. We know by the choice of threading used, either silk or twine, the importance of any particular bull.

In this document the bulla is still attached to the item.