The Kingdom of Sicily, which later would also include the whole southern Italy with Palermo as its capital, was given the privilege of ruling over the clergy in Sicily. This happened in 1098, during the pontificate of Pope Urban II who appointed Count Roger I as head of the Catholic Church in Sicily to reward him for the victory over the Arabs.
This royal prerogative was called the Legatio Apostolica (Apostolic Legate) according to which the Kings of Sicily were entitled to rule over the Catholic Church in Sicily. The pope had no power over the clergy and his acts needed to be ratified by the king to be effective in Sicily.
Over the years, the popes tried to put an end to such a prerogative, but to no avail. Even King Vittorio Amedeo di Savoia, who was appointed King of Sicily according to the Treaty of Utrecht, jailed the priests who sided with the pope. At the time, in my hometown of Enna, four priests sided with the pope, others with the king.
The Legatio Apostolica lasted until 1864, a few years after Sicily became part of the kingdom of Italy.
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind