The Office of Papal Charities is the department of the Holy See charged with offering charitable assistance to the poor in the name of the Holy Father.
This tradition goes back to the earliest centuries of the Church. Originally one of the immediate responsibilities of the Deacons, this duty was later exercised by one or more members of the Papal Household without any particular titular rank, something that was only granted later. A Bull of Innocent III (1198-1216) mentions the post of Almoner as already in existence.
The first Pope to organize the Office of Papal Charities was Blessed Gregory X (1271-1276), who stipulated the duties of the Almoner. In a Bull of 1409, Alexander V laid down guidelines and regulations for this Office, which has always carried out its work as an expression of the constant care of the Roman Pontiffs. The Almoner of His Holiness has the rank of Archbishop; he is a member of the Papal Household and as such takes part in the Holy Father’s liturgical celebrations and official audiences.
As a means of helping to fund the charitable works entrusted to the Charities Office, Pope Leo XIII delegated the Almoner to grant the Apostolic Blessing by parchment certificate: to be authentic, these parchments must bear the Almoner’s signature and the embossed seal of his Office.
Please note that costs associated with the issue of the Papal Blessing are applied only to the preparation of the parchment and postage, and include a contribution to the Pope’s charitable works.
The proceeds accruing to the Office of Papal Charities from the preparation of Papal Blessing parchmentsare applied entirely to the works of charity which this Office carries out on behalf of the needy who appeal daily to the Successor of Peter for assistance.