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The highest ranking corps of the papal ministry service. It originated in the light cavalry that was a mounted guard for the Pope and had been reorganized many times. Pope Leo XIII gave them their modern name. The Pope appointed the commander, who was always a Roman prince. All members were to show a sixty-year line of nobility recognized by the papacy. They appeared with the Pope at public functions and left always with him. They were privileged to convey the tidings to newly appointed cardinals of their appointments. The Noble Guards were abolished in 1970.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.