PAPAL PRELATES 415
sleeveless mantle that reaches to the feet. Among them are the Papal master of ceremonies, the Honorary Chamberlain, and the secret chap- lains. All of them are called monsignori and they look very hand- some and picturesque in their violet robes, which are of silk in the summer time. Ribbons flutter from their shoulders; and on solemn occasions they wear a scarlet cappa. The dignity of a mantellone prelate is conferred by the Majordomo.
Though they wear raiment of many colours, the cut is always the same a familiar detail of the Roman street scene, or of the Papal college interior. Possibly the brightest shade is the flaming red of the Germanicum, wearers of which are vulgarly referred to as gambari cotti, which means boiled crawfish.
The largest palace in the world is occupied by 'the most dignified court of the world. It consists only of men. A visitor finds it hardly credible that these quiet, empty, solemn rooms really house the great- est government office in the world. The threads of a kingdom which has a dominion over 350,000,000 souls are gathered together in one hand, which wears the simple Fisherman's ring. There is no com- parable concentration of power,
'Until the sixteenth century, the Pope was surrounded by the Con- sistory of Cardinals just as a king is surrounded by his councillors. It is true that the Pope always had the upper hand in the frequent, almost daily sessions, by reason of the fact that his decisions were final; but it depended entirely upon personalities how much weight the Conr sistoty really could bring to bear on the Pope's will. As long as the College of Cardinals ruled as a body together with the Pope, the Papal crown was in danger of losing authority to a veritable parliament. When at the Council of Trent the Papacy was strengthened and given new self-assurance, it also was able to free itself to a certain extent from the too immediate influence of its assistants. The process of sunder- ing certain important domains of activity from the discussion of busi- ness as a whole now began. In 1587 a Bull of Sixtus V divided the Sacred College into fifteen "Congregations," six of which were to take part in the government of the Papal States and nine of which were to share in the government of the Church. Thus the unified crown council was broken up into a group of ministries. The influence of