The title "Camerlengo" (Italian for "Chamberlain") refers to an official of the Papal court, referring either to the Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church, to the Chamberlain of the Sacred College of Cardinals, or to various lesser dignitaries.

Table of contents
1 Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church
2 Chamberlain of the Sacred College of Cardinals
3 Other Camerlengos

Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church

The Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church is the administrator of the property and revenues of the Holy See; his responsibilities formerly included the fiscal administration of the Patrimony of St. Peter. The Camerlengo is always a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church (and therefore also always a man of episcopal dignity), and is therefore also called the "Cardinal Chamberlain". His heraldic arms are two keys in saltire surmounted by an ombrellino, a canopy or umbrella of alternating red and yellow stripes, which are also the arms of a Sede Vacante (i.e., a Papal interregnum).

Until the XI Century, the Archdeacon of the Holy Roman Church was responsible for the administration of the property of the Roman Church (i.e., the Diocese of Rome), but its numerous ancient privileges and rights had come to make it a frequent hindrance to independent action on the part of the Pope; as a result, when the last Archdeacon, Cardinal Hildebrand (St. Gregorius PP. VII), was elected to the Pontificate in 1073, he suppressed the Archdiaconate and the cardinal entrusted with the supervision of the Apostolic Camera (Camera Apostolica), i.e., the temporalities of the Holy See, became known as the Camerarius, or Chamberlain.

Chief among the present responsibilities of the Camerlengo is the government of the Catholic Church during a Sede Vacante at the head of the Sacred College of Cardinals. The Camerlengo is responsible for the formal determination of the death of the reigning Pope; the traditional procedure for this was to strike gently the Pope's head thrice with a golden hammer and to call his name, although this ceremony does not appear to have been observed in the XX Century. After the Pope is declared to be dead, the Camerlengo removes the Fisherman's Ring from his finger and smashes it with the golden hammer, symbolising the end of the late Pope's authority. The Camerlengo is furthermore responsible for convening a conclave to elect a new Pope, and takes charge during the conclave's proceedings.

The present Camerlengo is His Eminence Eduardo Cardinal Martínez Somalo, J.C.D, Titular Archbishop of Tagora, appointed by His Holiness the Supreme Pontiff on April 5, 1993.

Chamberlain of the Sacred College of Cardinals

The Chamberlain of the Sacred College of Cardinals is the secretary-treasurer of that body, and has responsibility for its financial matters. He administers all fees and revenues belonging to the College, celebrates the requiem Mass for a deceased cardinal, and is charged with the registry of the Acta Consistoralia.

The present Camerlengo is His Eminence Johannes Cardinal Willebrands, Archbishop Emeritus of Utrecht.

Other Camerlengos

Other chamberlains of the Papal court have duties about the Papal quarters, although this title is usually given as an honorary award. These camerlengos may be clergymen or laymen.

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