Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the
Eastern Churches that are in full communion with the
pope as the Bishop of Rome and successor of
Saint Peter the Apostle, united as the Catholic Church.
The first known written use of "Catholic Church" appears in a letter by
Ignatius of Antioch c. AD 107 to the church of Smyrna, whose bishop,
Polycarp, visited Ignatius during his journey to Rome as a prisoner. He wrote:
Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
His use of "Catholic Church" suggests that it was already in current use, for he sees no need to explain himself and uses the expression as one already known to his readers. It gives expression to
12–16). Dissenting groups breaking away from this universal unity were already known to the Apostles: in
his letters Paul refers to the "
Judaizers" (those requiring observance of the
Mosaic Law), and in his
Book of Revelation
St. John calls them "
Nicolaitans". They believe that it is a small step for those faithful to the teaching of the Apostles to identify themselves as the Catholic Church ("the one Church everywhere"), and not to include those dissenting and breaking away from unity with her.
The term Catholic Christianity entered into
Roman law by force of edict on 27 February AD 380:
It is our desire that all the various nations which are subject to our clemency and moderation, should continue the profession of that religion which was delivered to the Romans by the divine Apostle Peter, as it has been preserved by faithful tradition and which is now professed by the
Pontiff Damasus and by Peter,
Bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic holiness. According to the apostolic teaching and the doctrine of the Gospel, let us believe in the one Deity of the
Son, and the
Holy Spirit, in equal majesty and in a holy
Trinity. We authorize the followers of this law to assume the title Catholic Christians; but as for the others, since in our judgment they are foolish madmen, we decree that they shall be branded with the ignominious name of
heretics, and shall not presume to give their conventicles the name of
churches. They will suffer in the first place the chastisement of divine condemnation and the second the punishment of [as] our authority, in accordance with the will of
heaven, shall decide to inflict.
The papal conclave of 1492 (August 6 – August 11, 1492) convened after the death of
Pope Innocent VIII (July 25, 1492), elected Rodrigo Borja as
Pope Alexander VI. The first conclave to be held in the
Sistine Chapel, the election is notorious for allegations of
Of the twenty-three cardinals participating in the conclave, fourteen had been elevated by
Pope Sixtus IV. The Cardinals of Sixtus IV, known as the "Sistine Cardinals" and led by
Giuliano della Rovere, had controlled the conclave of
1484, electing one of their own, Giambattista Cibo as
Pope Innocent VIII.
1431 the composition of the
College of Cardinals had been radically transformed, increasing the number of
cardinal-nephews (from 3 to 10),
crown-cardinals (from 2 to 8), and representatives of powerful Roman noble families (from 2 to 4). With the exception of three curial officials and one pastor, the cardinals were "secularly-minded princes largely unconcerned with the spiritual life of either the
Latin church or its members." At the time of Innocent VIII's death, the names of Cardinals Gherardo and Sanseverino had not been published, thus making them ineligible to participate in the conclave; however, both were published as an act of the College in
sede vacante, Gherardo having been pushed by Orsini and Sanseverino by Sforza.
Did you know...
Feast Day of November 25
Saint Catherine of Alexandria, also known as Saint Catherine of the Wheel and The Great Martyr Saint Catherine (
Greek ἡ Ἁγία Αἰκατερίνη ἡ Μεγαλομάρτυς) is a
martyr claimed to have been a noted scholar in the early
4th century. She was one of the saints to speak to Saint
Joan of Arc. The
Orthodox Churches venerate her as a "great
martyr," and in the
Roman Catholic Church, she is traditionally revered as one of the
Fourteen Holy Helpers.
St. Catherine's life is mostly composed of legends which have many different variations. The most popular version is as follows. Legend states that Catherine was the daughter of Constus, governor of
Egypt. She is said to have received a "most splendid education." She declared to her parents that she would only enter into marriage with someone who surpassed her in reputation, wealth, beauty and wisdom. Catherine's mother was secretly a
Christian, and sent her to a
hermit who told her of a youth who surpassed her in everything, such that "His beauty was more radiant than the shining of the sun, His wisdom governed all creation, His riches were spread throughout all the world."
Having received a vision that urged her
baptism, she became a Christian and was transported to heaven in vision and betrothed to
Christ by the
Virgin Mary (this ancient theme of a
mystical marriage to a deity is familiar in the ecstatic mythology of the eastern Mediterranean and
Catherine's story goes on to relate how she is said to have visited the current
Maxentius and to have attempted to convince him of the error of his ways in persecuting
Christians. Her legend states that Catherine succeeded in
converting his wife, the Empress, and also many
wise men sent to dispute with her by the Emperor, all of whom were subsequently
martyred. Upon the failure of the Emperor to woo Catherine, he ordered Catherine into prison, and when the people who visited her converted, she was condemned to death on the
breaking wheel (an instrument of
torture). The wheel itself broke when she touched it, so she was
In an elaboration of the legend, angels carried her body to
Mount Sinai, where in the
6th century AD, the Eastern
Emperor Justinian established
Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, the church being built between
565. Saint Catherine's Monastery survives, a famous repository of
early Christian art,
Her principal symbol is the spiked wheel, which has become known as the
Catherine wheel, and her feast day is celebrated on
25 November in most Christian churches. However, her feast is celebrated on
24 November in the
Russian Orthodox Church because
Empress Catherine the Great did not wish to share her patronal feast with the
Leavetaking of the feast of the
Presentation of the Theotokos.
Attributes: the "
sword; with a
crown at her
bridal veil and
book; woman arguing with
craftsmen who work with a
archivists, dying people,
University of Paris, unmarried girls, haberdashers, wheelwrights,
||Whoever is separated from this Catholic Church, by this single sin of being separated from the unity of Christ, no matter how estimable a life he may imagine he is living, shall not have life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.
- July 26, 2017: The
Holy Name of Jesus cathedral in Raleigh, North Carolina was dedicated. The groundbreaking took place on January 3, 2015.
- May 21, 2017:
Pope Francis announced a
consistory for the elevation of
five new cardinals on 28 June. He adhered to his established pattern of appointing cardinals from the peripheries, including the first cardinals from
Sweden, the latter of whom will also be the first cardinal from
- April 12, 2017: Pope Francis expanded the
Secretariat for Communications and appointed the 13 new consultants in addition to the 16 members added on July 13, 2016. The secretariat was established in June 2015.
- December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016: During the
, Rome received 21.3 million pilgrims, the
shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe received 22 million pilgrims, and
World Youth Day in Krakow received 3 million pilgrims.
Things you can do
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