papal bull

[illustration of the seal of bull of canonization of The Little Flower]
Latin: bulla, seal

At the present time the document used by the pope in appointing a bishop; the name is derived from the disk-like leaden seals attached. Formerly all important papal letters including canonization, decrees were called Bulls. Even the Code of Canon Law makes Bull synonymous with major papal letter, but the “Acta Apostolicae Sedis” gives these other letters diverse names.