A priest giving a blessing.
A priest giving a blessing.

A priest who shows uncommon service to his diocese and is over the age of 65 may be rewarded by his bishop with a nomination to the pope for the designation of monsignor. Once approved, the priest receives the title of Chaplain to His Holiness.

History of the Title

Conferring the monsignorate dates back to the 14th century, when the papal court operated in Avignon, France. Priests who worked in the papal curia, the pope's administrative and judicial offices, were honored with the title of monsignor, which was otherwise reserved for bishops. In 1968, the 14 grades of "monsignor" were reduced to three: Apostolic Protonotary, Honorary Prelate of His Holiness and Chaplain of His Holiness. In 2014, Pope Francis reduced the honor to the last grade and set a minimum age of 65 in order to discourage careerism in the priesthood.

Privileges of the Title

The title of monsignor brings certain benefits. A monsignor wears special vestments: a black cassock with fuchsia piping and buttons, along with a fuchsia sash. Also, the new monsignor receives a special diploma from the Vatican Secretariat of State. He is also considered to be a member of the papal household and is listed in the papal yearbook.