The first record of the meeting of a Roman Curia was under the papacy of Urban II in 1089, although there is strong evidence that Curiae had existed long before. Historically, Catholic Bishops normally maintained a council of priests to advise him on church matters. The Pope, as Bishop of Rome, often kept a council comprised of other bishops. This advisory group eventually evolved into the Curia, which still exists.
The curia has historically been divided into sub-groups known as "congregations." The first such organization was organized in 1542 by Pope Paul III and entitled "the Holy Office." It's purpose was to lead the fight against heresy, particularly Protestantism. Since that time, a large number of separate departments have been added, often denominated "discasteries," (from Greek, meaning "law courts.)
The Curia is presently the administrative arm of the Catholic Church under the authority of the Pope, who makes changes whenever he sees fit. Almost all elements of church government and doctrine are under the supervision of some part of the Curia. Although too numerous to mention all of them here, they include:
- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- The Congregation of the Clergy
- The Apostolic Penitentiary
- The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciplne of the Sacraments.
The links below can provide you with more detailed information.