The article concerns the "audientia publica", instituted by pope Paul IV on the 23th of January 1557 and convened on a monthly basis up to July 1559. Until now, it has always been confused with a congregation, the Congregazione del Terrore degli ufficiali di Roma, which never existed although it has attracted considerable historiographical attention. The author begins resolving this misunderstanding, then outlines the institution of this unique court and describes its function and activity: during the "audientia publica", presided by the Pope sitting together with members of the Sacred College and Judges from the city Rome, whoever felt unfairly burdened could present complaints or appeals. The pope was himself the final judge or he could delegate to others the handling of the case. The analysis of the Records of the "audientia publica" (conserved in the Vatican Library) also allows to single out some of the issues presented. The result is a picture of a particular tool for regulating papal justice in the mid sixteenth century.
Keywords: Public udience, Pope Paul IV Carafa, Offerings of justice, Papal States, Reponses of the subjects.