The Benedictine authors of "Nouveau traité de diplomatique" in ascribing a much earlier date to this formula were misled by a forged bull purporting to be addressed to the monastery at St. Again, in these early letters the pope often addressed his correspondent, more especially when he was a king or a person of high dignity, by the plural As ages went on, this became rarer, and by the second half of the twelfth century, it had completely disappeared.

On the other hand, it may be noticed incidentally that persons of all ranks, in writing to the pope, invariably addressed him as Vos.

One formulary of this description is probably still preserved to us in the book called "Liber Diurnus", the bulk of which seems to be inspired by the official correspondence of Pope Gregory the Great.

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The pope now takes the first place in the superscription of letters unless they are addressed to sovereigns. But especially we must attribute to the time of Adrian the introduction of the "double date" endorsed at the foot of the bull.

The first date began with the word ), indicated, with a new and more detailed specification of year and day, the name of the dignitary who issued the bull after it had received its final stamp of authenticity by the addition of the seal.

The text of a letter of Pope Gregory the Great is preserved in a marble inscription at the basilica of St. As the letter directs that the document itself is to be returned to the papal archives (), we may assume that the copy on stone accurately represents the original. In the time of Pope Adrian the support of Pepin and Charlemagne had converted the patrimony of the Holy See into a sort of principality.

It is addressed to Felix the subdeacon and concludes with the formula BENE VALE. This no doubt paved the way for changes in the forms observed in the chancery.

The pope still wrote the words BENE VALETE in capitals with a cross before and after, and in certain bulls of Pope Sylvester II we find some few words added in shorthand or "Tyronian notes." In other cases the BENE VALETE is followed by certain dots and by a big comma, by a S S (), or by a flourish, all of which no doubt served as a personal authentication.

To this period belong the earliest extant bulls preserved to us in their original shape.Sometimes a salutation was introduced by the pope at the end of his letter just before the date--for example, "Deus te incolumem custodiat" or "Bene vale frater carissime." This final salutation was a matter of importance, and it is held by high authorities (Bresslau, "Papyrus und Pergament, 21; Ewald in Neues Archiv," III, 548) that it was added in the pope's own hand, and that it was the equivalent of his signature. anno secundo, et consultatus eius anno primo, indict. This suggests that such letters were fully dated and indeed we find traces of dating even in extant copies as early as the time of Pope Siricius (384-398).The fact that in classical times the Romans authenticated their letters not by signing their names, but by a word of farewell, lends probability to this view. We have also some or leaden seals preserved apart from the documents to which they were once attached.A much more precise acceptance has prevailed since the fifteenth century, and a bull has long stood in sharp contrast with certain other forms of papal documents.For practical purposes a bull may be conveniently defined to be "an Apostolic letter with a leaden seal," to which one may add that in its superscription the pope invariably takes the title of In official language papal documents have at all times been called by various names, more or less descriptive of their character.Gregory the Great (590-604) Ewald has been at least partially successful in reconstructing the books which contained the copies of the pope's epistles.