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The Spiritual and Apostolic Nature of Royal Selection in the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

+++David Leon Cooper, MS
Metropolitan Archbishop

The Apostolic Commission on Royalty and Nobility of the Spanish Orthodox Church and Ecumenical Apostolic Chaplain Service


This paper is an analysis of the spiritual, historical and apostolic character of the creation of royalty. The analysis and synthesis includes an overview of topics and historical events within a Biblical, catholic and apostolic context. The paper attempts to provide a simple historical and basic theological framework for the creation of royalty within the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic church." The idea of "fons honorum" is explored and discusses it in a context of historical reality and Judeo-Christian origins of royalty. A Biblical case for apostolic knighthood via the escopate without need for secular royalty is included.

The Spiritual and Apostolic Nature of Royal Selection in the Catholic and Apostolic Church

Chapter One

Holy Men, Holy Oil and Christian Kings

Some individuals hold that the pope is somehow a "king maker" and an source of nobility because of his status as a prince. This requires an analysis of the true history of the principality of the Vatican city-state, the defunct papal states and the role of senior bishops in the creation of royalty.

The notion that the pope is somehow entitled to make a king because he is "like a king" (prince) who ruled the papal states and later the Vatican City does not square with logic. The spiritual significance of anointing by senior bishops of the apostolic succession in coronations as well as its roots in ancient Judaism refute that assertion.

Duchy of Rome Not Under the Pope

Looking back into history, donations of lands and buildings from the time of the very early church was not a "state" but church property referred to as the "patrimony of Peter."(1) It was a collection of properties owned by the see of Rome --the church. Rome was a Byzantine duchy—part of the exarchate and governed civilly by a secular official legally independent of the pope. (2)

Pepin III Not of Royal Blood, Donated Real Estate to St. Peter

Much has been made of the "papal states" as the historical rationale for the pope being a "fons honorum" and such. It is therefore helpful to see how the "patrimony of St. Peter" and the "papal states" started and by whom.

We begin with a key figure in the beginning of Germanic kingship and historical precedent. Pepin III made his donations to the pope as successor of St. Peter; it was specifically to St. Peter that the lands were given. (3) The "mayor of the palace," Pepin III, was not fully a king until an archbishop (Boniface) anointed him (4). Pepin the Short, as he was also called, or "Pippin" (Pepin III) was crowned at Soissons in 751 AD and consecrated (anointed) king at Saint Denis cathedral in 754 AD by Saint Boniface, archbishop, whom also was called Winfred. (5) The point here is that Pepin III was not of royal blood. The mayors of the palace were not royalty. They exercised power, true; yet, one can not say that they were any more a king than one could say a British Prime Minister is one. (6) (7)

The crown was not given by the pope in Pepin's case; that was done by the Franks after his election. Again, archbishop Boniface anointed Pepin III first; the pope did it again so as to make sure no one would question the validity of Pepin and his new kingdom. (8) The Germanic tribes tended to elect their kings (9) (10) So the fact is that the German kings were elected and anointed by a senior bishop to create their royal status.

So what we have here is a "nonroyal" elected by tribes and made a king by an archbishop first. So that the creation of new royalty would not be questioned, the pope performed it again. This "non royal" that was made a royal by bishops, gave real estate to "St. Peter"; this, of course, was the church.

Christian Kings Model on the Kings of Israel With Anointing

As in the case of Pepin, we see elsewhere in other Christian cultures the king or emperor was anointed by an archbishop, patriarch or pope (11) following the model of the Old Testament anointing of the kings of Israel by the prophets (12) For example we see patriarchs coronating Bulgarian and Serbian kings (13).

Role of Archbishops

Conrad II, the Emperor, was coronated king of Italy by an archbishop before he was coronated emperor by the pope (14) (15) (16) There are detailed manuscripts of rubrics of coronations in France describing the role of an archbishop in performing it as well (17).

After the pope stopped performing coronations of emperors, the archbishops of Mainz continued administering it themselves crowning the emperors-elect as kings of the Romans (18) Otto I was coronated by the archbishop of Mainz in Aachen (19) It is clear that Germanic royalty became royalty from election and by anointing of archbishops and or the pope as apostolic successors not because they were secular royals themselves.

More on History: Kings of Israel Anointed

Historically, anointing was the way that a king was made in Israel ; a crown was not even necessary. Looking at Old Testament origins we see this: "Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward." (Samuel 16:13) (20) It was that same "spirit of the Lord" that the Christian kings wished to receive in the church by archbishops, patriarchs and popes.

Why Christian Kings Came to Archbishops, Patriarchs and Popes

The kings were coming to the archbishops, patriarchs and the popes because they were holy men of God and recognized as such. They came seeking the "spirit of God" to be upon them.

For a person to take the position that a king would have to make another king would be similar to advocating the position, for example, that King David was not a king because Saul did not make him one! It was the prophet Samuel that anointed David the king. David was not royal blood when it was done. There was no election either.

Where royalty was purely hereditary, we continue to see the anointing by a patriarch or archbishop during the coronation; this was the case with the English, Byzantine and Frankish kings (21).

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Chapter Two

Fons Honorum vrs. Fons Spiritu Santus


There has been much discussion about the idea of "Fons Honorum"—the "fountain of honors" concept. The question is this: what type of person can bestow titles of nobility, royalty, knighthood, and such?

We have already seen that a prophet of God made a king—without an election. We have seen that a person that was not a royal could be elected and then anointed by an archbishop and become a royal (Pepin). We need to ask ourselves this: To whom do we point as the primary actor in the creation of royalty? Is it man or God? Clearly, in king David's case it was God. Was the process then corrupted over time?

The Holy Spirit Acts Through Bishops

I have previously stated that my position is that bishops do not establish a fons honorum nor carry it. I have said this because the evidence indicates that bishops of the Apostolic Succession do not need it. My view is that fons honorum as it is touted today is a concept conjured up by worldly men for the earthly dominions and does not apply to bishops of the Apostolic Succession. My thesis is that any bishop of the Apostolic Succession is a "fons spiritu sanctus" because from his hands flow the Holy Spirit in ordination to Holy Orders and the other 6 sacraments. Either God does acts through the bishops or not. Both the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches believe that God does act through the bishops in the sacraments of the church and Ecumenical Councils.

Bishops as Successors of the Apostles to Rule the Church

As we know, bishops are the successors of the Apostles of Christ (22)and may invoke the blessing of Almighty God upon anyone deemed worthy. Bishops rule a diocese. They govern the church and provide the sacraments through the Holy Spirit. Individuals that oppose their authority are warned not to do that but to follow them "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (bishops). Be shepherds of the church of God , which he bought with his own blood." (Acts 20:28). (Overseers and bishops are from the same word in Greek: episkopeos.

Bishops as Free Actors Governing the Church

Bishops may choose to recognize any royal titles that we choose. Normally we do not issue them ourselves. (Even so, a Biblical case could be made for it based upon the case of king David.) Can a bishop bless a man to be a knight? I believe that this has a much clearer Biblical context for precedent. Let us look at early Christian history.

Apostles as the First Knights

The first militarized Christian "Religious" were the apostles! They carried swords authorized by Christ into the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26: 36-56). (Christ did not resist being arrested since he chose to die for our sins.) Since the Apostles carried swords to the Garden (Lk 22:36-37), the first Christian knights were the apostles! It is true that in Matthew 26:52 Jesus advises his disciple to get rid of swords because those who "live by the sword shall die by it." However, Jesus advises his disciples to buy swords (Lk 22:36-37). The ear that was cut off the Temple guard is clear proof that Christ allowed them to be brought there.

"Living by the sword" is not the same as defending with the sword. Peter's act was one of needless violence since Christ wanted to be arrested so his resistance was stopped by Christ (John 1810-11) (23).

Bishops as Soldiers of Christ Do Not Need Fons Honorum

Bishops, as successors to the apostles, may appoint bishops' guards and militant Religious (knights) ourselves just as Christ told his disciples to buy swords. We do not need some worldly man-made notion of "fons honorum" to militarize our Religious.

St. Paul referred to himself as a "soldier of Christ." "Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don't get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them." (II Timothy 2:3-4) (Timothy was the bishop of Ephesus .) (24)

Soldiers of Christ Under the Church in a Different Category

Thus we find support for the fact that worldly or earthly soldiering is not the same as that from Christ. Thus a Christian knight (soldier) under the church is in a different classification from the worldly royal one. Christ's royal priesthood is separate and distinct from the so-called "blood" royalty which is really a fleshy (sperm) one. "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"(Eph 6:12-13)

Christ told Pilate: "My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." (25)

The notion of "fons honorum" does not apply to apostolic churchmen (more accurately bishops) at all. Bishops receive men and women into religious orders. Members of religious orders must be under the jurisdiction of a bishop. They are all subject to canon (church) law either as laity or as a cleric. Religious in holy orders must have faculties (license) from a bishop.
Christ's kingdom did not rise from this world as do physical kingdoms (Dan. 7:3-17). Christ's laws are not worldly; it is a kingdom whose laws are written the hearts of men and of divine origin (Heb. 8:10). The Holy Spirit led the apostles and has and does lead their successors the bishops in councils. Christ's kingdom is not a visible physical kingdom (Matt. 4:8). It is a different category from worldly kingdoms and so are its' soldiers!

Origins of the Friars of the Hospital of St. John in the Church

"The Friars of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem" were not an authorized religious order until the Bishop of Rome said that they were (Pope Paschal II in 1113). (26) The first leader was a Rector (27) and the members were friars. Keep in mind that all of that was about one thousand years after the apostles first were authorized by Christ to get swords.

Final Analysis and Conclusions

Bishops can recognize anyone as a warrior (militant). Thus a knight (warrior) in a religious order is not to be classified as one would categorize a person in a worldly royal organization. They are in an entirely different category.

Bishops by definition are of the lineage of the royal priesthood of Christ and carry that Apostolic Succession. (28) Every bishop is as valid as another; all titles beyond "bishop" are honorary or organizational since the offices or degrees of major orders are deacon, priest and bishop (29). This ranking of honor of bishops was understood as early as the 4th Century. The pope was considered to be honored first among "equals" (30) These beliefs still hold true today for the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox. (31)

Some secular nobility "commissions" have made up some ideas about which bishops or clergy can make knights. These same people would tell you that some abbot can make a knight but not all bishops can and other such conjured up rubbish. It is a silly argument to hold that any abbot in the world has more spiritual authority than any bishop. An abbot is not a bishop but a priest. A priest can not rule or govern anything without license (faculties) from a bishop. (32)

Some nobility "authorities" show their ignorance of church matters when they try to say that only certain bishops can create knights. A bishop definitely can ordain a person into major holy orders and bless and receive vows to bring others into minor religious orders (33). If that bishop chooses to appoint them as guards or otherwise arm them or militarize them it is his prerogative as ruler of the diocese.

Religious orders are subject to the rule of a bishop of the Apostolic Succession as evidenced by the 4th Canon of the Council of Chalcedon, which decreed that "the monks in every city or place shall be subject to the Bishop." (34)

Certain "nobility authorities" or secular "commissions" have tried to conjure up rules from thin air or build upon the opinion of some other theological invalid fellow regarding religious military orders created and overseen by a bishop of the Apostolic Succession.

Knighthood under a bishop as a religious order is valid because it is of the Apostolic Succession. Soldiers of Christ were first with the apostolic church not earthly royalty.

Additionally, the church can recognize or bless anyone that it pleases. Since any bishop with a valid Apostolic Succession is considered to be a real bishop no matter what church he is in, a blessing from that bishop is a real one. (The Roman Catholic Church holds that even a "break off" and excommunicated bishop still has full power of holy orders!)(35)

Some think that it is because a certain city-state or community is governed by a bishop that this is why he can make knights. No Christian earthly rule existed in the early church. Some would assert some special status to the pope over chivalry or what can be termed a "papal states" and " Vatican city-state" argument. This rings hollow in light of the fact that a lie called the Donation of Constantine started such notions. Charlemagne's grants of cities were based upon his belief in a forgery. (36) (37) (38) (39)

About 800 years before that polygamist named Charlemagne, Saint Paul told a bishop named Timothy to "wage the good warfare" (1 Tim. 1:18) and to "endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2 Tim. 2:3). Again, Christian soldiers (knights) came first. That apostolic authority as soldiers of Christ has always been with the church governed by the bishops of the Apostolic Succession.

Paul also told Christians to put on the "whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:10–20). The words translated as "whole armor" (Gr. panopli÷a, panoplia) denote the "whole armor" of the heavily armed legions. Since we are not fighting a fleshly battle, our weaponry must not be carnal. This is one of many ways the spiritual was declared to be superior and preferable to the worldly. That does not mean that Christian solders may never pick up physical weapons. Recall Christ's violent cleansing of the Temple . (John 2:13-16)

I have provided the following translations of Luke 19:27 to emphasize what will happen to those who refuse to acknowledge the rule of the kingdom of Christ. (Combine this with Acts 20:28 and you have application to those who would resist the rule of the bishops.) Christ was speaking to his disciples in a parable. Those who would not submit to the rule of the royal priesthood of Christ should consider this:
"But as for these enemies of mine who didn't want me to be their king-bring them here and slaughter them in my presence!'" (New American Standard Bible, 1995) The same verse is translated differently but the meaning is clear: "But bring those enemies of mine who didn't want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me.'" (Young's Literal Translation)

Now, consider that the rule is Christ's kingdom and is preserved in the Apostolic Succession in the Holy Church by the Holy Spirit. If you defy or ignore the rule of the bishops, you may incur the wrath of Almighty God upon your soul! This includes the rule of religious orders. Again, see Acts 20:28. Jesus equipped his followers with swords and note that Peter cut a Temple guard's ear off. Two swords were brought there. Jesus could have said to go totally unarmed but he did not. Jesus wanted to die for our sins so Jesus instructed Peter to put his sword away.

The point is that Christ's soldiers (knights) were commissioned by Christ and they were the apostles. Their successors are the bishops. The authority to commission soldiers of Christ therefore lies foremost, firstly and mainly with the bishops of the Apostolic Succession as "fons spiritu sanctus" --not secular royalty and definately not to be judged by some nobility "commission".

The secular nobility and royalty "commissions" are excessively restrictive because they are afraid of losing their elite control. They are intimidated by apostolic churchmen because deep down they know the truth. It is clear that those of us with the dignity of the apostolic succession have the prerogative of performing this anointing rite. It is clearly a decision of the episcopacy and not secular self appointed authorities; and, I should add, not to be done by those same ones whose lineage is about 1000 years younger than our apostolic lines.

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  1. Wikipedia. "Patrimonium Sancti Petri" Retrieved from
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrimony_of_Saint_Peter on July 7 2009.
  2. Wikipedia. "Duchy of Rome ." Retrieved from
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duchy_of_Rome on July 7, 2009.
  3. "The Donation of Pepin 756" From the Liber Pontificalis. Retrieved from
    http://pirate.shu.edu/~wisterro/cdi/0756a_donation_of_pepin.htm July 8, 2009.
  4. New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia. "Pepin the Short." Retrieved from
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11662b.htm on July 9, 2009.
  5. Holmes, J.T., "Pepin III (The Short) King of Franks" Retrieved from
    http://www.rpi.edu/~holmes/Hobbies/Genealogy/ps03/ps03_449.htm July 9, 2009.
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayor_of_the_palace July 8, 2009.
  7. La Roche, Walter W. "The Next (Second) Step" {version: 02/25/98 as updated 7/02 and 12/04}. Retrieved from
    http://larocheusa.org/Deutsch1.htm on 7/10/09.
  8. New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia: "Pepin the Short." Retrieved from
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11662b.htm on July 9, 2009.
  9. Wikipedia. "Germanic Peoples." Retrieved from
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_tribe on July 10, 2009.
  10. The Web Chronology Project: "The Germanic Tribes" Retrieved from
    http://www.thenagain.info/webchron/westeurope/GermanicTribes.html on July 10, 2009.
  11. New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia. "Coronation." Retrieved from
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04380a.htm on July 11, 2009.
  12. Wikipedia. "Coronation." Retrieved from
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  13. Wikipedia. "Tsar" Retrieved from
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  16. Co notes website. "Conrad II."Retrieved from
    http://www.packrat-pro.com/stevens/conx.htm on July 9, 2009.
  17. Hederman, Anne D. "The Commemoration of Jeanne d'Evreux's Coronation in the Ordo ad Consecrandum at the University of Illinois " University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved from:
    http://www.luc.edu/publications/medieval/vol7/hedeman.html on July 4, 2009.
  18. Factmonster World from Information Please Encyclopedia--Frankfurt Retrieved from
    http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/world/A0858227.html on July 9, 2009.
  19. Wikipedia. "Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor" Retrieved from
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  20. 1 Samuel 16:13 New American Bible , US Conference of Catholic Bishops retrieved from
    http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/1samuel/1samuel16.htm on July 8, 2009.
  21. New World Encyclopedia: Anointing. Retrieved from
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  22. Pope Clement I, (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).
  23. John 18:10-11
  24. www.jesus-passion.com/Saint_Timothy_Bishop.htm
  25. John 18:36
  26. http://blessed-gerard.org/bgt_1_3.htm
    See also: http://www.beyond.fr/history/hospitalers.html
  27. http://cilialacorte.com/grandmasters/gerard.html
  28. Pope Clement I, (Letter to the Corinthians 42:4–5, 44:1–3 [A.D. 80]).
  29. http://www.deacons.net/Articles/Holy_Orders_Bishops_Priests_Deacons.htm
    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Orders_(Catholic_Church)
  30. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080107170115AAxDTIu
  31. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=10986
  32. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Orders
  33. Ibid
  34. http://anglicanhistory.org/religious/ohc/relation_religious.html
  35. http://india.smashits.com/wikipedia/Catholic_priest
  36. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donation_of_Constantine
  37. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05118a.htm
  38. http://www.answers.com/topic/donation-of-constantine
  39. Fried, Johannes. Donation of Constantine and Constitutum Constantini : the misinterpretation of a fiction and its original meaning . Walter de Gruyter: 2007. Retrieved 8/2/09 from

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Acts 20:28: "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you bishops, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Again, the Holy Spirit is with the bishops of the Apostolic Succession. Bishop and overseer are from the same Greek word.

Luke 19:27: Additional translations are provided below. Consider why Christ chose these words. He could have used another parable but he did not. "But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence." (GOD'S WORD Translation, 1995) And again: "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." (American King James Version)

John 2:13-16: ". . . Jesus went up to Jerusalem . In the Temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords and drove all from the Temple , both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said: 'Get out of here.

John 18:10-11: "Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.) Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"