The office that facilitates these blessings for the faithful has been around since the first centuries of the Church.
Papal blessings may be requested for various occasions, such as the reception of the sacraments, including Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage, or Ordination to the priesthood or permanent diaconate. They can also be granted for other religious events, including the profession of religious vows or secular consecration. Papal blessings are also popularly requested for major anniversaries of such occasions, or for important birthdays.
To request such a blessing, up until now it was necessary for someone to go physically to the Office of Papal Charities, located within the walls of Vatican City, or to send them a letter or fax.
But that was before: Now, the Papal Almoner has recently launched a new website where we can submit a request directly online. All of the necessary steps for this new procedure are found on the website, with exact instructions about choosing the occasion, the style of parchment, the personal information that they will include in the text of the document, and the shipping method.
The cost of the parchment ranges from 16 to 24 Euros, according to the model you choose, plus the shipping costs. The time required to receive the blessing is from 15 to 20 days.
A service that dates back to the first centuries of the Church
The Office of Papal Charities is a service of the Holy See, which has the mission of “offering charitable assistance to the poor in the name of the Holy Father.” This activity, which dates back to the first centuries of the Church, was one of the duties of the deacons. These duties were later exercised by one or more members of the Papal Household.
As the Office’s website explains, the first pope who organized the Office of Papal Charities was Blessed Gregory X (1271 to 1276), who defined the duties of the Almoner. The next important developments took place in 1409, when Pope Alexander V promulgated norms for the functioning of the Office.
The title of the head of the Office of Papal Charities is the Papal Almoner, or the Almoner of His Holiness, and he and the other members of the Office are charged with embodying the Holy Father’s care and concern for the poor.
Pope Leo XIII delegated to the almoner the faculty of granting the Apostolic Blessing by parchment certificate. This means that these blessings are only authentic if they bear the signature and seal of the Papal Almoner.
The website is quick to point out that the cost for requesting a Papal Blessing is exclusively used to cover the basic expenses of producing and sending the document itself, and to make a contribution to the pope’s charitable works.