In ancient Rome, an apparitor
(also spelled apparator
in English, or shortened to paritor
) was a civil servant whose salary was paid from the public treasury. The apparitores
assisted the magistrates. There were four occupational grades (decuriae
) among them. The highest of these was the scribae
, the clerks or public notaries, followed by the lictores
, lictors; viatores
, messengers or summoners, that is, agents on official errands; and praecones
, announcers or heralds.
The term has hence referred to a beadle in a university, a pursuivant or herald; particularly, in Roman Catholic
canon law, which was largely inspired by Roman law. Apparitor remained an official title for an officer in ecclesiastical courts
. They were designated to serve the summons, to arrest a person accused, and in ecclesiastico-civil procedure, to take possession, physically or formally, of the property in dispute, in order to secure the execution of the judge's sentence. This was done in countries where the ecclesiastical forum, in its substantial integrity, is recognized. He thus acts as constable and sheriff. His guarantee
of his delivery of the summons is evidence of the knowledge of his obligation to appear, either to stand
trial, to give testimony, or to do whatever else may be legally enjoined by the judge; his statement becomes the basis of a charge of contumacy against anyone refusing to obey summons.