What in the World Is an Almoner?

“The portrait of the almoner” or “The breviary” (1886) by Jules-Alexis Muenier

Father Z reported today that the Pope has a new almoner.

“What?” I thought….  I mean, I know a lotta church-y stuff, but that is not on my short list of familiar terms.

Father Z writes:

The new Papal Almoner, His Excellency Most Reverend Konrad Krajewski was consecrated bishop at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica by His Eminence Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State, presided as consecrator with the two co-consecrators, Archbishop Piero Marini, President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, and Władysław Ziólek, Bishop emeritus of Łódź. 10 cardinals, 45 bishops, 300 priests were there.

Pope Francis with his new Almoner

But what is it?  He doesn’t explain.

So I looked it up.  An “almoner” is a chaplain or church officer who originally was in charge of distributing money to the deserving poor.

Wikipedia explains:

Historically, almoners were Christian religious functionaries whose duty was to distribute alms to the poor. Monasteries were required to spend one tenth of their income in charity to the poor (a tithe). Bishops kept their own almoners and almoners were attached to the courts of the Kings of France. Charles VIII of France had a Grand Almoner in his employ.

In the United Kingdom, the Marquess of Exeter also holds the title of hereditary Grand Almoner. Today, however, one of the most prominent such offices is that of the Anglican Lord High Almoner. The Lord High Almoner (currently the Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester) is responsible for organising the Queen’s annual distribution of Maundy money on Maundy Thursday.

The “Almoner of His Holiness,” the pope’s official almoner, continues in office even after the pope dies. He “continues to carry out works of charity in accordance with the criteria employed during the pope’s lifetime” (Universi Dominici Gregis, 22).

So there you have it.

  • Kelly Thatcher

    The theme of this Sunday’s readings! One of them, anyway, but an important one.

  • Dale

    Fr. Krajewski, now archbishop, had organized a food distribution from the Vatican. It may be one reason that Pope Francis took notice of him. Quoting from LaStampa’s Vatican Insider column:

    The Polish prelate said he had been “inspired by Mother Teresa”, at whose beatification he had assisted, to begin this work of feeding the poor and needy. He did not do this alone; he did so with the Albertine Sisters, who work with the Swiss Guards, and with the Presentation Sisters who work in the Vatican’s warehouse.

    “We collect the food that is left over from the canteen or dining hall of the Swiss Guards (more than 100 guards) and the food that is left over from the Pope’s table, and take it to the poor and needy on the streets adjacent to the Vatican”, he said.

    “We are not social workers. They are better than us at this, they are professionals”, he stated. “We do this in order to touch Christ, who is on the street”.


  • Pastor Ron Budwine

    Very interesting & informitive even to one who in the clergy. Thank you “Sister” Schiffer for this article as I have sincerly enjoyed it & its lessons. “Pace e Bene”