St. Dominic, appointed in 1218, was the first Master of the Sacred Palace. Among eighty-four Dominicans who consecutively succeeded him till the early 20th century, eighteen were subsequently created Cardinals, twenty-four were made archbishops or bishops (including some of the cardinals), and six were elected Superior generals of the order.
Though he gradually lost some of his ancient authority and rank, nevertheless the Master of the Sacred Palace is a very high official. He is one of the three Palatine prelates to whom, as to bishops, the papal guards present arms. He is always addressed, even by cardinals, as "Most Reverend".
In the Dominican Order he ranks next to the general, ex-general and vicar-general. He is ex-officio consultor of the Holy Office, prelate-consultor of Rites, and perpetual assistant of the Index. He is consultor of the Biblical Commission, and is frequently consulted on various matters by the pope as his theologian. His official audience occurs once a fortnight.
The official apartment of the Master of the Sacred Palace contains the unbroken series of portraits of the Masters of the Sacred Palace, from St. Dominic down.
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