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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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Coat of arms of Bishop Ivan Ljavinec of the Ruthenian Catholic Church, showing a blend of Eastern and Western heraldic styles.

Ecclesiastical heraldry is the tradition of heraldry developed by Christian clergy. Initially used to mark documents, ecclesiastical heraldry evolved as a system for identifying people and dioceses. It is most formalized within the Catholic Church, where most bishops, including the Pope, have a personal coat of arms. Clergy in Anglican, Lutheran, Eastern Catholic, and Orthodox churches follow similar customs. Institutions such as schools and dioceses bear arms called impersonal or corporate arms.Ecclesiastical heraldry differs notably from other heraldry in the use of special symbols around the shield to indicate rank in a church or denomination. The most prominent of these symbols is the ecclesiastical hat, commonly the Roman galero or Geneva Bonnet. The color and ornamentation of this hat carry a precise meaning. Cardinals are famous for the "red hat", but other offices are assigned a distinctive hat color. The hat is ornamented with tassels in a quantity commensurate with the office.

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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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Benedict XVI

Clement (died 1258) was a thirteenth century Dominican friar who was the first member of the Dominican Order in Britain and Ireland to become a bishop. In 1233, he was selected to lead the ailing Diocese of Dunblane in Scotland, and faced a struggle to bring the bishopric of Dunblane (or "bishopric of Strathearn") to financial viability. This involved many negotiations with the powerful religious institutions and secular authorities which had acquired control of the revenue that would normally have been the entitlement of Clement's bishopric. The negotiations proved difficult, forcing Clement to visit the papal court in Rome. While not achieving all of his aims, Clement succeeded in saving the bishopric from relocation to Inchaffray Abbey. He also regained enough revenue to begin work on the new Dunblane Cathedral.

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Archbishop John Carroll, SJ

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Feast Day of October 16

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Saint Hedwig of Andechs (German: Hl. Hedwig von Andechs Polish: Święta Jadwiga Śląska, born 1174 at Castle Andechs, Bavaria - died 15 October 1243 at Trebnitz (Trzebnica), Silesia) was the daughter of Berthold III, Count of Tyrol and Duke of Carinthia and Istria (Andechs-Meran), and his wife Agnes.

One of Hedwig's sisters married king Andrew II of Hungary. Their daughter was Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, also known as Elizabeth of Thuringia. Another of Hedwig's sisters was abbess at the Benedictine convent of Lutzingen in Franconia, where Hedwig received her education.

At age 12, Hedwig married Henry I the Bearded of Silesia. In 1233 Henry also became Duke of Greater Poland.

In 1238, upon his death, Henry was buried at the Cistercian convent of Trebnitz (Trzebnica) which he had founded in 1202 on the request of Hedwig. The widow moved into the convent which was led by one of her daughters. On 15 October 1243, she died and was buried there, while relics of her are preserved at Andechs Abbey.

Hedwig and Henry had a son, Henry II the Pious who in 1241 was killed by the Mongols in the battle of Legnica.

Hedwig and Henry had lived a very pious life, and Hedwig had great zeal for religion. She always helped the poor, went barefoot even in winter, and donated all her fortune to the Church and the poor. Hedwig was canonized in 1267.

In 1773 Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, built the St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin, now the mother church of the Archdiocese of Berlin, for the Roman Catholic immigrants from Silesia. As Silesians (and other Germans) were expelled from their homes after World War II, Silesian expellees regard Hedwig as their patron saint.

Patronage: Brandenburg, Berlin, Silesian expellees, Silesia and its capital Wrocław, Trzebnica, the Diocese of Görlitz, Andechs Abbey, Cracow

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Saint Thomas Aquinas

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Divine Mercy

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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.