|Papal Bulls, PB.03a&b, PB.04a&b, PB.05, PB.06, PB.08,
A papal bull is a particular type of decree uniquely issued by the Pope. The document gets its name from the attached authenticating seal, or bulla. (Bullire means "to boil" in Latin, referring to the process of softening the metal in order for it to take the impression of the mould.) The distinctive seals are made of lead and feature the images of saints Peter and Paul on one side, and the name of the issuing pontiff on the reverse.
All papal bulls begin with the issuing Pope's name and the Papal title episcopus servus servorum Dei, meaning "bishop, servant of the servants of God." In the unrolled bull above, the name Pius X can be seen in the top left and on the seal. Papal bulls are usually written on parchment. They can be delightfully medieval looking, with gilding and meticulously formed calligraphy.
Most of the papal bulls we have in the archives are declarations of episcopal appointments. Four of the seven are shown in their original mailing tubes with Vatican Post issued stamps.
|Detail of the bulla (seal).
The seals are cast over the cord that is threaded through the document to authenticate it. They are made from lead. Apostles Paul and Peter, Fathers of the Church, are depicted on the left and right of the cross, respectively. The Pope's name (e.g. Pius Papa X) is on the reverse.