cardinalitial dioceses; suburbicarian dioceses
Term applied to dioceses nearest Rome.
They are Albano, Frascati, Ostia and Palestrina, Porto and Santa Rufina, and Velletri.
Their bishops comprise the order of cardinal-bishops which is largely occupied in the business of the papal court; some have had auxiliary bishops for centuries, and by his constitution, "" (1910), Pius X ordained that there should be suffragan bishops for all the cardinalitial dioceses.
These dioceses had a certain importance in the Church and their bishops exercised certain prerogatives; e.g., the bishops of Ostia in the 4th century consecrated the pope, the Bishop of Albano in the 6th century recited the second prayer in the consecration ceremony, the Bishop of Porto the third, and probably as early as the 11th century they had the right of participating in the election of the pope.
In the 8th century there is reference (Vita Stephani, III) to the ancient custom by which seven of these bishops celebrated Mass in turn in place of the pope and were called episcopi cardinales as they were permanently attached to the cardo, or cathedral church of Rome.
These bishops were variously known as episcopi hebdomadarii (12th century), cardinales Romanae Sedis, Vicarii, Cooperatores papae, and episoopi romani, the last of which was applied to other bishops.
New Catholic Dictionary