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A consistory is a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church. Consistories are held in Vatican City for taking care of the business of the college, which usually involves advising the Pope on important matters concerning the church.
Since the Pope creates new cardinals in the presence of the college, the consistory is where this takes place. The identities of the cardinals-to-be are generally announced some time in advance, but only at the time of the consistory does the elevation to the cardinalate take effect, since that is when the Pope formally publishes the decree of elevation. Some men have died before the consistory date, and if a Pope dies before the consistory all the nominations are voided. However, the cardinal himself does not have to attend the consistory for his elevation to be effective.
Those new cardinals present are presented with their rings, zuccheti (small skullcaps), and biretti (four-cornered silk hats) by the Pope. Formerly they also received an elaborate broad-brimmed tasseled hat, the galerum rubrum, at the ceremony, but Pope Paul VI abolished this in 1967 and those cardinals who want these obtain them privately from a maker in Rome.
The zucchetto, the biretta, and the galerum rubrum are all red, the distinctive color of cardinals' vestments. When a diocesan cardinal dies, his galerum rubrum is suspended from the ceiling of his cathedral.
At the consistory cardinals are generally assigned titular churches in the diocese of Rome, though Paul VI abolished their functional involvement in the governance of these churches; the cardinals formally "take possession" of these churches at a later date.
In Protestant churches in Germany and Scandinavia, the word consistory (Konsistorium etc.) has been used for the chapter of a cathedral. In Scandinavia and in Finland (when Swedish is used) as well as in Germany, it is also used as the name of the board of some universities. In the Reformed Church, a Consistory is the board of elected church officials that include the Elders and the Deacons.
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