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.
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.
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.