An apostolic constitution is the most solemn form of legislation issued by the Pope. The use of the term constitution comes from Latin constitutio, which referred to any important law issued by the Roman emperor, and is retained in church documents because of the inheritance that the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church received from Roman law.
By their nature, apostolic constitutions are addressed to the public. Generic constitutions use the title apostolic constitution and treat on solemn matters of the church, such as the promulgation of laws or definitive teachings. The forms dogmatic constitution and pastoral constitution are titles sometimes used to be more descriptive as to the documents purpose.
Apostolic constitutions are issued as papal bulls because of their solemn, public form. Among types of papal legislation, apostolic letters issued motu proprio are next in solemnity.
Generic constitutions contain the following introduction:
, Bishop Servant of the Servants of God For an everlasting memorial/eternal memory/etc.
2. Examples of apostolic constitutions
Quo primum 1570 Pius Vs Apostolic Constitution on the Tridentine Mass
Ad Universalis Ecclesiae 1862 Pius IXs Papal Constitution dealing with the conditions for admission to religious orders of men in which solemn vows are prescribed
Romanos Pontifices 1881 by Pope Leo XIII
Ineffabilis Deus 1854 Pius IXs Dogmatic Constitution on the Immaculate Conception of Mary
Exsul Familia 1952 Pope Pius XIIs Constitution on Migration
Universi Dominici gregis 1996 - Pope John Paul IIs rules on electing the Roman Pontiff the Pope
Lumen Gentium 1964 by Pope Paul VI
Dei verbum 1965 Pope Paul VIs Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation
Sacrae Disciplinae Leges 1983 Pope John Paul IIs constitution instituting the 1983 Code of Canon Law
Pastor Bonus 1988 - Pope John Paul IIs rules on the re-organisation of the Roman Curia
Munificentissimus Deus 1950 Pope Pius XIIs Dogmatic Constitution on the Assumption of Mary
Bis Saeculari 1948, Pope Pius XII on Sodality of Our Lady
Veterum sapientia 1962 Pope John XXIIIs Apostolic Constitution on the promotion of the study of Latin
Missale Romanum 1969 Pope Paul VIs Apostolic Constitution on the revised liturgy
Paenitemini 1966 Pope Paul VIs Apostolic Constitution on Fasting and Abstinence in the Roman Catholic Church
Fidei depositum 1992 Pope John Paul IIs Apostolic Constitution on the new Catechism of the Catholic Church
Ex corde ecclesiae 1990 - John Paul IIs rules on Catholic universities
Romano Pontifici eligendo 1975 Pope Paul VIs Apostolic Constitution on the election of the Roman pontiff
Ut sit 1982 Pope John Paul IIs Apostolic Constitution raising Opus Dei Latin for "The Work of God" to the rank of a Personal Prelature similar to a diocese, but grouping people by some peculiar pastoral reason instead of by where they live
Veritatis gaudium 2017 - Pope Francis reform of pontifical universities and faculties
Anglicanorum Coetibus 2009 - Pope Benedict XVIs rules for providing for Personal Ordinariates for Anglican laypeople and clergy wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church
Episcopalis communio 2018 strengthens the power and influence of the Synod of Bishops.
Vultum Dei quaerere 2016 - Pope Francis rules about womens contemplative life