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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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The capture of Jerusalem marked the First Crusade's success

The First Crusade was launched in 1095 by Pope Urban II with the dual goals of liberating the sacred city of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslims and freeing the Eastern Christians from Muslim rule. What started as an appeal by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos for western mercenaries to fight the Seljuk Turks in Anatolia quickly turned into a wholesale Western migration and conquest of territory outside of Europe.Both knights and peasants from many nations of Western Europe travelled over land and by sea towards Jerusalem and captured the city in July 1099, establishing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and other Crusader states. Although these gains lasted for less than two hundred years, the First Crusade was a major turning point in the expansion of Western power, as well as the first major step towards reopening international trade in the West since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

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Christus Ravenna Mosaic.jpg

Credit:Click picture for information

6th century mosaic in Ravenna portrays Jesus dressed as a philosopher king in a cloak of Tyrian purple. He appears as the Pantokrator enthroned as in the Book of Revelation, with the characteristic Christian cross inscribed in the halo behind his head.

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Selected biography

Thomas Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas, O.P. (also Saint Thomas Aquinas, Thomas of Aquin, or Aquino; c. 1225 – 7 March 1274) was an Italian Catholic priest in the Order of Preachers (more commonly known as the Dominican Order), a philosopher and theologian in the scholastic tradition, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Universalis and Doctor Communis. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology, and the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology. Aquinas is held in the Catholic Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood (Code of Canon Law, Can. 252, §3). The works for which he is best-known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles.

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Did you know...

A brick church building with a tall spire, seen against a blue sky

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Feast Day of August 1

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Saint Alphonsus Liguori (27 September 1696 – 1 August 1787) was an Italian Doctor of the Catholic Church, spiritual writer, and founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or Redemptorists, an influential religious order.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori was born in Marianella, in the Kingdom of Naples. Liguori finished school and went to law school at age sixteen. Eleven years later, after having lost an important case, he decided to give up his career because of the corruption in the courts of Naples.

In 1723, he began his seminary studies. He was ordained a priest on 21 December 1726, at the age of 30. He lived his first years as a priest with the homeless and marginalized youth of Naples. He founded the "Evening Chapels". Run by the young people themselves, these chapels were centers of prayer, community, the Word of God, social activities and education. At the time of his death, there were 72 of these chapels with over 10,000 active participants.

On 9 November 1732 Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, also known as Redemptorists. This order's goal was to teach and preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. They also fought Jansenism which was a heresy that denied humans free will and didn't allow many Catholics to receive the Eucharist. He gave himself entirely to this new mission. A companion order of nuns was founded simultaneously by Sister Maria Celeste.

Alphonsus was consecrated bishop of the diocese of Sant'Agata dei Goti in 1762. He tried to refuse the appointment because he felt too old and too sick to properly care for the diocese. During this time he wrote sermons, books, and articles to encourage the devotion of the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin Mary. In 1775 he was allowed to retire from his office and went to live in the Redemptorist community in Pagani, Italy where he died on 1 August 1787. He was canonized in 1831 by Pope Gregory XVI, proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871 by Pope Pius IX, and Patron of Confessors and Moralists in 1950.

Patronage: confessors, moralists, theologians, vocations

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Selected quote

Henry Cardinal Manning, Archbishop of Westminster
Praise consists in the love of God, in wonder at the goodness of God, in recognition of the gifts of God, in seeing God in all things He gives us, ay, and even in the things that He refuses to us; so as to see our whole life in the light of God; and seeing this, to bless Him, adore Him, and glorify Him.

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