penitentiarymedical dictionary

Origin: Cf. F. Penitencier. See Penitent.

1. One who prescribes the rules and measures of penance.

2. One who does penance.

3. A small building in a monastery where penitents confessed.

4. That part of a church to which penitents were admitted.

5. An office of the papal court which examines cases of conscience, confession, absolution from vows, etc, and delivers decisions, dispensations, etc. Its chief is a cardinal, called the Grand Penitentiary, appointed by the pope. An officer in some dioceses since A. D. 1215, vested with power from the bishop to absolve in cases reserved to him.

6. A house of correction, in which offenders are confined for punishment, discipline, and reformation, and in which they are generally compelled to labour.

(01 Mar 1998)

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