Definition of consistory in US English:



  • 1(in the Roman Catholic Church) the council of cardinals, with or without the Pope.

    • ‘A frail Pope John Paul II yesterday added 30 names to the list of his possible successors, installing a diverse collection of cardinals in a consistory some say may be his last.’
    • ‘Yet, when he steps forward to receive his red biretta at the consistory - the installation ceremony - in Rome on October 21, he will do so knowing his appointment was not universally endorsed by the 750,000 Catholics he now leads.’
    • ‘He was made a cardinal in October 2003 that was the last consistory Pope John Paul called.’
    • ‘Later this month the church's 184 cardinals will gather at the Vatican for the sixth consistory of Pope John Paul II's pontificate.’
    • ‘One was a special consistory, or gathering of cardinals, in May 2001 in Rome; the second was a synod, or meeting of almost 300 bishops from all over the world, in September 2001.’
    • ‘Pius VI refused to accept these changes; and meanwhile, on 29 March, in an address to a secret consistory in Rome, he condemned the Declaration of the Rights of Man and all the policies so far pursued in France on religious matters.’
    • ‘It is expected that the consistory will influence the agenda for next October's synod of bishops in Rome.’
    • ‘John Paul called nine consistories to create cardinals.’
    • ‘At meetings during the most recent consistory, after all, the cardinals had to wear name tags.’
    • ‘The next Papal consistory may not take place for some time.’
    • ‘According to those who follow Vatican politics, one certain impact of the consistory John Paul held this week is that it is no longer inevitable that popes come from Europe.’
    • ‘I was in the consistory when he gave the Mass in Central Park, and then later had a private meeting with several of us there in the cardinal's residence.’
    1. 1.1 (in the Church of England) a court presided over by a bishop, for the administration of ecclesiastical law in a diocese.
      • ‘Having failed to obtain the special licence required for marriage during Lent, they were summoned to appear before the consistory court in Worcester cathedral.’
      • ‘The media have not always shown such deference to the proceedings before a Consistory Court.’
      • ‘At first glance, one might expect a study of the deposition books of the consistory court of the diocese of Canterbury and the marriage-related provisions of wills from five sample parishes to be essentially a work of consolidation.’
      • ‘The whole point of this consistory court is that people can put their views to the chancellor.’
      • ‘The bishop then decided that there was enough evidence of impropriety for the case to go before a consistory court.’
      • ‘Twenty-six dioceses each had a consistory court with defamation cases providing about one quarter of their business.’
      • ‘The poor peasant relates his appearance before a consistory court on charges of immorality.’
      • ‘In 1995 the Dean was accused in a consistory court of having had an adulterous affair with a former verger, nearly 30 years his junior.’
      • ‘A consistory court has the power to hear against any Anglican clergyman or woman a charge of ‘conduct unbecoming a clerk in holy orders’.’
      • ‘The request was turned down by a consistory court, or church court, in 2002.’
    2. 1.2 (in other Churches) a local administrative body.
      • ‘Any complaint shall be brought first to our local Consistory.’
      • ‘A local consistory cannot plead independence.’
      • ‘The minority Protestant Church was fully tolerated and given its own organizational structure of elected consistories in 1802.’
      • ‘Collegialism is the name of a form of Church-government which attributes authority and power to a broader gathering over a local consistory.’


Middle English (originally denoting a nonecclesiastical council): from Anglo-Norman French consistorie, from late Latin consistorium, from consistere ‘stand firm’ (see consist).