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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

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.

— Ignatius of Antioch, 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 (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.


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A view of Mission San Juan Capistrano in April of 2005.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded on All Saints' Day November 1, 1776 by Spanish Catholics of the Franciscan Order. Named for a 15th century theologian and "warrior priest" who resided in the Abruzzo region of Italy, San Juan Capistrano has the distinction of being home to the oldest building in California still in use, a chapel built in 1782; known alternately as "Serra's Chapel" and "Father Serra's Church," it is the only extant structure wherein it has been documented that the padre officiated over mass. One of the best known of the Alta California missions (and one of the few missions to have actually been founded twice — others being Mission San Gabriel Arcángel and Mission La Purísima Concepción) — the site was originally consecrated on October 30, 1775 by Father Fermín Lasuén, but was quickly abandoned due to unrest among the indigenous population in San Diego.
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Credit: Diliff

St. Vitus Cathedral (Czech: Katedrála svatého Víta) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Prague, Czech Republic, and the seat of the Archbishop of Prague. The full name of the cathedral is St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert Cathedral. Located within Prague Castle and containing the tombs of many Bohemian kings, this cathedral is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and is the biggest and most important church in the country.

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Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa (Albanian: Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu; Albanian pronunciation: [ˈaɡnɛs ˈɡɔndʒa bɔˈjadʒu]) (August 26, 1910 – September 5, 1997) was an Albanian Roman Catholic nun who founded the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata (Calcutta), India in 1950. For over forty years she ministered to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while guiding the Missionaries of Charity's expansion, first throughout India and then in other countries. By the 1970s she had become internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless, due in part to a documentary, and book, Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her humanitarian work. Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity continued to expand, and at the time of her death it was operating 610 missions in 123 countries, including hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, children's and family counseling programs, orphanages, and schools.
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Rose Historic Chapel, showing significant damaged from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

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Pope St. Pius X (Latin: Pius PP. X) (June 2, 1835—August 20, 1914), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was the 257th Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church, reigning from 1903 to 1914, succeeding Pope Leo XIII (1878–1903). He was the first Pope since Pope Pius V (1566–72) of the Counter-Reformation to be canonized.

Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto was born June 2, 1835 in Riese, province of Treviso (Veneto), Italy. Giuseppe's childhood was one of poverty, being the son of the village postman. Though poor, his parents valued education, and Giuseppe walked 6 kilometers to school each day.

On September 18, 1858, Giuseppe Sarto was ordained a priest, and became chaplain at Tombolo. In 1867, he was named Archpriest of Salzano. He became popular with the people when he worked to assist the sick during the cholera plague that swept into northern Italy in the early 1870s. In 1875 he was made Canon (or Chancellor) of the Cathedral and Diocese of Treviso, holding offices such as spiritual director, rector of the Treviso seminary, and examiner of the clergy. As Chancellor he made it possible for public school students to receive religious instruction.

After 1880, Sarto taught dogmatic theology and moral theology at the seminary in Treviso. On November 10, 1884, he was raised to the episcopate as Bishop of Mantua. Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in a secret consistory on June 12, 1893. Three days after this, Cardinal Sarto was publicly named Patriarch of Venice.

On July 20, 1903, Leo XIII died. Cardinal Sarto was elected to be the 257th Bishop of Rome. Sarto took as his Papal name Pius X.

The pontificate of Pius X was noted for its conservative theology and reforms in liturgy and church law. Pius X reformed the Roman Curia, established regional seminaries (closing some smaller ones), and promulgated a new plan of seminary study. He also barred clergy from administering social organizations.

As secular authority challenged that of the papacy, Pius X suspended the Opera dei Congressi, which coordinated the work of Catholic associations in Italy, as well as condemned Le Sillon, a French social movement that tried to reconcile the Church with liberal political views.

In 1913 Pius X suffered a heart attack. He died on 20 August 1914.


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Pope John XXIII

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Particular Churches (grouped by liturgical rite):
Latin Rite: Latin ChurchAlexandrian Rite: Coptic Catholic Church · Eritrean Catholic Church · Ethiopic Catholic ChurchArmenian Rite: Armenian Catholic Church
East Syrian Rite: Chaldean Catholic Church · Syro-Malabar Catholic ChurchWest Syrian Rite: Maronite Church · Syriac Catholic Church · Syro-Malankara Catholic Church
Byzantine Rite: Albanian Greek Catholic Church · Belarusian Greek Catholic Church · Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church · Greek Byzantine Catholic Church
Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia · Hungarian Greek Catholic Church · Italo-Albanian Greek Catholic Church · Macedonian Byzantine-Catholic Church
Melkite Greek Catholic Church · Romanian Greek Catholic Church · Russian Greek Catholic Church · Ruthenian Catholic Church
Slovak Greek Catholic Church · Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

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  1. ^ 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.