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Royal Archconfraternity of SS. John the Baptist and Evangelist of the Knights of Malta ad Honorem of Catanzaro
(attached to the Lateran Archbasilica)
The history of the Royal Archconfraternity of Saints John the Baptist and Evangelist of the Knights of Malta ad Honorem of Catanzaro stands out for being distinguished by a mantle of extraordinary and exceptional not only juridical but also ecclesial. His direct filiation to the Lateran Chair, that is to the mother Church of Rome "Omnium Urbis et Orbis Ecclesiarum Mater et Caput" is certainly his greatest pride.
The Chair and the Temple arose on land that was part of the Patrimonium Brutium of the Holy See, effectively constituting the branch in Calabria and enjoying the right of extraterritoriality right from its birth. In the year 1457 being Pope Nicholas V and Bishop of Catanzaro Palamede, the construction of the temple was started, using the materials taken from the ruins of the destroyed castle of Count Centelles.
Once the construction was completed, a confratria made up of citizens of noble lineage and irreproachable customs, governed by a Prior, was already operating. The Prior had so much consideration in the city that only those who had occupied this position were chosen as first citizen.
The indulgences, privileges, honors granted by the Supreme Pontiffs have been numerous over the centuries, bearing witness to the singularity and vitality that made this glorious association powerful and important. Among the main ones, not least, that of Pope Alexander VI (Rodrigo de Borja) who with the Bull of 28 April 1502 enlarged and granted a further visible sign of direct belonging, allowing it to be able to boast the heraldic emblem of the Triregno and the Sacre Keys: the very emblem of the Roman Pontiffs Vicars of Christ. his is visible during the processions and in Rome on the day of Corpus Domini precedes the canopy of the Pope with the Blessed Sacrament up to the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Numerous Popes gave and reconfirmed the autonomy of the Church and of the Confraternity from the Diocesan Authority and the same Pope Paul V (Camillo Borghese) with Bull n. 69, synonymously proclaimed himself "Spiritual Father ad Honorem" of the Sodality.
Another "favor" attesting to direct filiation to the Bishop of Rome is the traditional and centuries-old obligation to pay a "pound of worked wax and a barrel of crimson damask" by the Prior of the Archconfraternity. This was wanted on May 14, 1688 by the great Pope Innocent XI (Benedetto Odescalchi) as a tangible sign of subjection. The current Prior restored this honor-burden on the day of the Dedication of the Lateran Archbasilica by delivering the symbol of this centuries-old offering and privilege to the direct hands of the Auxiliary Bishop of Rome.
Another aspect that highlights the uniqueness of the Sodality is to be recognized in the attribution by King Charles III of Spain in 1735, when he was in Catanzaro as a guest of the Marquis De Riso , Prior of the Confraternity, of the title of Knights of Malta ad Honorem. This recognition was given for the high spiritual value that distinguished the members of the Brotherhood and for the important charitable works that they carried out for the benefit of the sick (remember the first city hospital founded and run by association), for the poor and needy of the city .
This donation constitutes a unicum in the legal systems thus bringing about a transformation relative to the juridical nature of the Archconfraternity and thus becoming a religious-chivalric-noble institution. This privilege, with the right to carry the white Jerusalem cross, was reconfirmed by the Royal Decree of 21 March 1777 by HM King Ferdinand IV of the Two Sicilies and on 8 December 1974 by HM Charles X of Bourbon .
We still want to recall two moments on the juridical and religious level: the first with the letter of Praefectus Ecclesiarum Unitarum Can. Mons de Toth of 3 November 1986 in which he reaffirms the property right of the Catanzaro monastery at the Lateran Chapter and therefore of the dependence of the Royal Archconfraternity; the second is what was stated by the Supreme Pontiff Pope Innocent in 1612 and reconfirmed by numerous successors, not least Pope Pius XII with the apostolic letter of 1939 "Jam recolendae memoriae", and concerns the indulgences that are obtained by entering the Sacred Temple of Catanzaro, in fact he wrote: ... Ut numerari non possint .. nisi solo Deo, quasomnesconfirmo, et etiam dixit Papa Bonifacius: Si homines scirent quot sunt indulgentiae in Ecclesia S. Joannis Lateranem et suismembris, a summis Romanis Pontificibus concessae, nequaquam works pretium estum proficisci ad Sepulchrum Hyerosolimitanum ... "
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