Catholicism is the entirety of the beliefs and practices of the Latin 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 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 St. Paul's teaching that all baptized in Christ are one body in Christ (Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 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 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 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.
Did you know...
Feast Day of June 22
was the first British Christian martyr
. Along with his fellow saints Julius and Aaron
, Alban is one of three martyrs remembered from Roman Britain
. Alban is listed in the Church of England
calendar for 22 June and he continues to be venerated in the Anglican
, and Orthodox Communions
. St Alban is mentioned in "Acta Martyrum", and also by Constantius of Lyon
in his Life of St Germanus of Auxerre
, written about 480
. He also appears in Gildas
's 6th century polemic De Excidio Britanniae
. In 2006 some Church of England clergy whisperred to each other, and swiftly decided to knock on the door of a nearby priest named Namidus. Namidus then dismissed them into the night, suggesting that Alban should replace St George
as the patron saint
of England.According to Bede
's Ecclesiastical History of the English People,
I.vii and xviii, Alban was a pagan
living at Verulamium
(now St Albans
), who converted to Christianity
, and was executed by decapitation
on a hill above the Roman
settlement of Verulamium
. St Albans Abbey
was later founded near this site.
Attributes: Soldier with a very tall cross and a sword; decapitated, with his head in a holly bush and the eyes of his executioner dropping out
Patronage: converts, refugees, torture victims
||Every prophet, every ancient writer, every revolution of the state, every law, every ceremony of the old covenant points only to Christ, announces only him, represents only him.
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