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Emblem of the Papacy SE.svgCatholicism PortalPope Francis in March 2013 (cropped).jpg
Main page   Pontifex Maximus   The town and the world

The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Western and 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 St.Ignatius of Antioch about A.D. 107 to the church of Smyrna, whose bishop, Polycarp, visited Ignatius during his journey to Rome as a prisoner: in his letter to Smyrna, Ignatius 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." (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8) 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 St. Paul's teaching that all baptized in Christ are one body in Christ (Gal.3:28; Eph.4:3-6, 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 Jewish Law), and in his Book of Revelation St. John calls them "Nicolaitans". 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 under the Roman Emperor Theodosius on February 27 AD 380 in the Theodosian Code XVI.i.2: "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 Father, 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."

[Extract of English translation from Henry Bettenson, ed., Documents of the Christian Church (London: Oxford University Press, 1943), p. 31, cited at Medieval Sourcebook: Theodosian Code XVI by Paul Halsall, Fordham University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007. The full Latin text of the code is at IMPERATORIS THEODOSIANI CODEX Liber Decimus Sextus (170KB download), archived from George Mason University. Retrieved Jan 5, 2007.]

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King Henry VIII of England

The English Reformation was the series of events in 16th century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church.These events were part of a wider process, the European Protestant Reformation, a religious and political movement which affected the practice of Christianity across the whole of Europe during this period. Many factors contributed to the ferment: the decline of feudalism and the rise of nationalism, the rise of the common law, the invention of the printing press and increased circulation of the Bible texts, the transmission of new knowledge and ideas not only amongst scholars but amongst merchants and artisans also; but the story of why and how the different states of Europe adhered to different forms of Protestantism, or remained faithful to Rome or allowed different regions within states to come to different conclusions (as they did) is specific to each state and the causes are not agreed.
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St Peter's Square, Vatican City - April 2007.jpg

Credit: Diliff


Saint Peter's Square, or Saint Peter's Piazza (Italian: Piazza San Pietro), is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome (the Piazza borders to the East the rione of Borgo). The open space which lies before the basilica was redesigned by Gian Lorenzo Bernini from 1656 to 1667, under the direction of Pope Alexander VII.

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A millennium-old Byzantine mosaic of Saint John Chrysostom, Hagia Sophia

John Chrysostom (349– ca. 407, Greek: Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος, Latin: Ioannes Chrysostomos) was the archbishop of Constantinople. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic sensibilities. After his death (or, according to some sources, during his life) he was given the Greek surname chrysostomos, meaning "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom.The Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches honor him as a saint (feast days: November 13 and January 27) and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30), together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. He is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint and a Doctor of the Church.
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Detail of the Westminster Retable depicting St. Peter.

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Feast Day of July 23


Altarpiece in Salem church, Södermanland, Sweden, restored digitally
Saint Bridget of Sweden (1303 – 23 July 1373) was a mystic and saint. After the death of her husband of twenty years she dedicated herself to the consecrated life and founded the Bridgettine Order. She was also the mother of a saint—Saint Catherine of Vadstena.

In 1316, when she was 13, she married Ulf Gudmarsson of the family of Ulvåsa, lord of Närke, to whom she bore eight children, four daughters and four sons. All of them survived infancy, which was very rare at that time. Birgitta’s saintly and charitable life soon made her known far and wide; she gained, too, great religious influence over her husband, with whom (1341–1343) she went on pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In 1344, shortly after their return, Ulf died in the Cistercian monastery of Alvastra Abbey in Östergötland, and Birgitta then devoted herself wholly to religion.

As a child, she had already believed herself to have visions. Her visions of the Nativity of Jesus had a great influence on depictions of the Nativity of Jesus in art, she described a vision which included the infant Jesus as lying on the ground, and emitting light himself; many depictions followed this and reduced other light sources in the scene to emphasize this effect. Her visions of purgatory were also well known.

It was about this time that she founded the Order of the Holy Saviour, or the Brigittines, of which the principal house at Vadstena was richly endowed by King Magnus Eriksson of Sweden. About 1350 she went to Rome, partly to obtain from the pope the authorization of the new order and partly in pursuance of her self-imposed mission to elevate the moral tone of the age. It was not until 1370 that Pope Urban V confirmed the rule of her order, but meanwhile Birgitta had made herself universally beloved in Rome by her kindness and good works. Save for occasional pilgrimages, including one to Jerusalem in 1373, she remained in Rome until her death on 23 July 1373. She was originally buried at San Lorenzo in Panisperna before being moved to Sweden. She was canonized in the year 1391 by Pope Boniface IX, and confirmed by the Council of Constance in 1415. Because of new discussions about her works, the Council of Basel confirmed the orthodoxy of the revelations in 1436.
Attributes: book, staff
Patronage: Europe, Sweden, Widows

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Augustine as depicted by Sandro Botticelli
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.

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