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"His Eminence" is the commonly accepted style of reference to refer to a Cardinal.
(Portrait of Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernardino Spada by Guido Reni, c. 1631.)

His Eminence is a historical style of reference for high nobility, still in use in various religious contexts.



The style remains in use as the official style or standard of address in reference to a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, reflecting his status as a Prince of the Church.

A longer, and more formal, title is "His (or Your when addressing the cardinal directly) Most Reverend Eminence".[a]

Patriarchs of Eastern Catholic Churches who are also cardinals may be addressed as "His Eminence" or by the style particular to Eastern Rite patriarchs, His Beatitude.

When the Grand Master of the Military Order of the Knights of Malta, the head of state of their sovereign territorial state comprising the island of Malta until 1797, who had already been made a Reichsfürst (i.e., prince of the Holy Roman Empire) in 1607, was granted ecclesiastical equality with the Cardinals in 1630, he was also awarded the hybrid style His Most Eminent Highness.[1]

While the term is shunned by many individuals of other faiths or denominations of Christianity, the title is officially maintained in international diplomacy without regard for its doctrinal, philosophical and theological origins.

Orthodox Christianity

Archbishops in the Eastern Orthodox Church are addressed to with the styles of "Beatitude" or "Eminence". The senior Orthodox Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem are referred to as "His Beatitude", as are the junior Patriarchs of Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is styled "His All-Holiness", and so is, exceptionally, the Metropolitan Bishop of Thessaloniki. The Patriarch of Moscow is called "His Holiness." In Oriental Orthodoxy clergy holding the rank of Metropolitan are referred to as 'His Eminence'.

Other religions

It is also used, informally (perhaps as a rendering of an oriental style), in Islam for highly honorable religious leaders of other religions.


  1. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia recommends using this form for ending a formal letter to an Italian cardinal: "Embracing the purple of His Most Reverend Eminence, I am His Eminence's very humble and obedient servant."[2]


  1. ^ "History of the Order 1099-1999". Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Grand Priory of England. Retrieved 2007-05-06.  
  2. ^ Battandier, Albert (1907). "Ecclesiastical Addresses". The Catholic Encyclopedia. 1. Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved 2007-05-06.  

See also



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