Master of the Sacred Palace

Master of the Sacred Palace was a title which is currently referred to as the Theologian to the Papal Household. The title was changed in 1968 as an implementation of Pope Paul VI’s apostolic letter. The Master of the Sacred Palace was the pope’s theologian. The main function of the Master of the Sacred Palace was to develop the Palace School, which later on became the Roman University "Sapienza". Among the duties that the position of Master of the Sacred Palace used to encompass was the sanctioning of the printing of all religious books. Currently, the Master of the Sacred Palace, now the Theologian to the Papal Household is among the most honored roles in the Roman Catholic Church. The holder of this title’s residence is within the Vatican.

The first person to be given the title of Master of the Sacred Palace was St. Dominic. After the end of his office there were 84 other Dominicans who were given the title. The majority of them were associated with teaching positions and great works in the field of theology. These people generally specialized in studying theology because they were responsible for advising the pope on all matters related to theology; hence their title pope’s theologian”. Quite a number of them were lecturers at the papal palace school. St. Dominic established the foundation of the Master of the Sacred Palace's office by taking on all of the responsibilities of the position. He organized lectures to teach cardinals on theological matters and lobbied for the establishment of the Palace School.

The Master of the Sacred Palace had a huge responsibility; during the reign of several popes, no book could be printed in Rome or in any of its districts without permission from the Master of the Sacred Palace and the cardinal vicar. Before a book was printed or published, several copies were supposed to be given to the cardinal vicar and the Master of the Sacred Palace for scrutiny before granting or denying permission. But this applied only to the authors who resided and wanted to publish religious books within Rome.

Until today, the position of the Master of the Sacred Palace is still very highly ranked. The current Master of the Sacred Palace is among the three Palatine prelates and is always addressed with great honor even by the cardinals as “Most Reverend”. Originally, the official apartment of the Master of the Sacred Palace was in the Quirinal but currently they are in the Vatican.

The Master of the Sacred Palace is also a consultor of the Biblical Commission and the pope consults him frequently as his theologian. During the papal processions, the Master of the Sacred Palace always walks beside the auditors. The current Master of the Sacred Palace is Fr. Ciertych who was appointed the Theologian to the Papal Household by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.