* Cardinal Priest
|LIFE OF CARDINAL MEZZOFANTI|
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AMONG the offices connected with the Roman Court, there is a certain class, known as Poste Cardinalizie, the tenure of which is, in the ordinary course of affairs, a step to the Cardinalate. The chief keepership of the Vatican Library is not necessarily one of these ; but it had long been known that Monsignor Mezzofanti was destined for the purple ; and, in a consistory held on the 12th of February, 1838. he was "preconized" as Cardinal Priest, in company with three other prelates—Angelo Mai, (who had been "reserved in petto " from the former year,) Orioli, and Mellini.
The order of Cardinal Priests, as is well known, are the representatives, in the more modern constitution of the Roman church, of the ancient Presbyteri Cardinales—the priests of the principal churches in which Baptism was administered, (tituli Cardinales) of the ancient city. Their number, which at the end of the fifth century was twenty-five, has been gradually increased to fifty : but
the memory of their primitive institution is preserved in the titles under which they are named, and which are taken from the churches over which the ancient Presbyters presided. The title of Cardinal Mezzofanti was derived from the ancient church of Saint Onuphrius, (Sant' Onofrio,) on the Janiculum, which is probably best known to visitors of .Rome as the last resting-place of the poet Tasso.
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