An archconfraternity (Spanish: archicofradía) is a Catholic confraternity, empowered to aggregate or affiliate other confraternities of the same nature, and to impart to them its indulgences and privileges.
Status and operation
Canonical erection is the approval of the proper ecclesiastical authority which gives the organization a legal existence. Archconfraternities do not erect confraternities; they merely aggregate them. It ordinarily belongs to the bishop of the diocese to erect confraternities.
In the case, however, of many confraternities and archconfraternities, the power of erection is vested in the heads of certain religious orders. Sometimes the privileges of these heads of orders are imparted to bishops. The vicar-general may not erect confraternities unless he has been expressly delegated for the purpose by his bishop.
Aggregation, or affiliation, as it is also called, may be made by those only who have received from the Holy See express powers for that purpose. They must make use of a prescribed formula. In the same church only one confraternity of the same name and purpose may be aggregated. The consent of the bishop must be given in writing.
In the case of religious orders aggregating their own confraternities in their own churches, the consent of the bishop given for the erection of the house or church of the order is sufficient. The bishop must approve, but may modify the practices and regulations of the confraternity to be aggregated, except those to which the indulgences have been expressly attached. Only those indulgences are imparted by aggregation which have been conceded with that provision.
Only the general process of conducting the aggregation is given. If it pertains to the bishop to erect the confraternity, then the pastor of a church or the superior of a religious house petitions him for canonical erection,. If the erection pertains to the head of a religious order, then the bishop's consent to the aggregation is required.
Examples of archconfraternities include the following.
- Archconfraternity of the Holy Family
- Archconfraternity of the Most Precious Blood
- Archconfraternity of the Misericordia
- Archconfraternity of St. Stephen
- Archconfraternity of Holy Agony
- Archconfraternity of the Gonfalone
- Archconfraternity of the Holy Face
- Confraternity of the Rosary
- Sodality of the Blessed Virgin
- Archconfraternity of Our Lady of Consolation
- Archconfraternity of the Cord of Saint Francis
- Archconfraternity of the Cord of Saint Joseph
- Confraternity of Christian Doctrine
- Bona Mors Confraternity
- Archconfraternity of the Scapular of St. Michael
- Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers
- Béringer, Franz. Les indulgences, leur nature et leur usage: d'après les dernières décisions de la S. Congrégation des Indulgences. Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1905. Volume 2 gives the legislation on this subject, with a list of the archconfraternities, their nature and requirements, and formulae for canonical erection and for aggregation.
- Mocchegiani, Collectio indulgentiarum theologice, canonice ac historice digesta. Ad Claras Aquas (Quaracchi): Typographia Collegii S. Bonaventurae, 1897.
- Tachy, A. Traité des confréries et des oeuvres pies. Langres: Rallet-Bideaud, 1898.