Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
Familiars of the Inquisition
Persons who assist in apprehending such as are accused, and carrying them to prison. They are assistants to the inquisitor, and called familiars, because they belong to his family. In some provinces of Italy they are call cross bearers; and in others the scholars of St. Peter the martyr; and wear a cross before them on the outside garment. They are properly bailiffs of the inquisition: and the vile office is esteemed so honourable, that noblemen in the kingdom of Portugal have been ambitious of belonging to it. Nor is this surprising, when it is considered that Innocent III. granted very large indulgencies and privileges to those familiars; and that the same plenary indulgence is granted by the pope to every single exercise of this office, as was granted by the Laternan council to those who succoured the Holy Land. When several persons are to be taken up at the same time, these familiars are commanded to order matters that they may know nothing of one another's being apprehended; and it is related, that a father and his three sons and three daughters, who lived together in the same house, were carried prisoners to the inquisition without knowing any thing of one another's being there till seven years afterwards, when they that were alive were released by an act of faith.
See art. ACT OF FAITH.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Familiars of the Inquisition'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/f/familiars-of-the-inquisition.html. 1802.