Penitentiary,, a prison in which convicted offenders are confined and subjected to a course of discipline and instruction with a view to their reformation. Misdemeanants and persons guilty of lesser felonies are confined therein.

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Penitentiary,, one of the offices of the Roman Catholic Curia, taking special cognizance of matters relating to the confessional, and dispensations from such impediments to marriage as are not diriment. The dignitary who presides over the office described above. He is a cardinal priest, and must be a doctor of theology or canon law.

Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Pen`i*ten"tia*ry (?), a. [Cf. F. p'enitentiaire.]


Relating to penance, or to the rules and measures of penance.

"A penitentiary tax."

Abp. Bramhall.


Expressive of penitence; as, a penitentiary letter.


Used for punishment, discipline, and reformation.

"Penitentiary houses."



© Webster 1913.

Pen`i*ten"tia*ry, n.; pl. Penitentiaries (#). [Cf. F. p'enitencier. See Penitent.]


One who prescribes the rules and measures of penance.




One who does penance.




A small building in a monastery where penitents confessed.



That part of a church to which penitents were admitted.


5. R. C. Ch. (a)

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.


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


© Webster 1913.

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