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.]
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Roman Catholic fraternal service organization. Founded in the United States in 1882, it is named in honor of Christopher Columbus and dedicated to the principles of Charity, Unity, Fraternity, and Patriotism. There are more than 1.7 million members in 14,000 councils, with nearly 200 councils on college campuses. Membership is limited to "practical Catholic" men aged 18 or older. Councils have been chartered in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, the Philippines, Guam, Saipan, and most recently in Poland. The Knights' official junior organization, the Columbian Squires, has over 5,000 Circles. All the Order's ceremonials and business meetings are restricted to members though all other events are open to the public. A promise not to reveal any details of the ceremonials except to an equally qualified Knight is required to ensure their impact and meaning for new members; an additional clause subordinates the promise to that Knight's civil and religious duties.
Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (329 – January 25, 389), also known as Saint Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th century Christian bishop of Constantinople. Gregory is widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age. As a classically trained speaker and philosopher he infused Hellenism into the early church, establishing the paradigm of Byzantine theologians and church officials.Gregory made a significant impact on the shape of Trinitarian theology among both Greek-speaking and Latin-speaking theologians, and he is remembered as the "Trinitarian Theologian." Much of his theological work continues to influence modern theologians, especially in regard to the relationship among the three persons of the Trinity.
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Feast Day of March 2
Saint Agnes of Bohemia (Czech: Svatá Anežka Česká), or Agnes of Prague (1211-March 6, 1282), was a medieval Bohemian princess who opted for a life of charity and piety over a life of luxury and comfort. Although she was venerated soon after her death, Agnes was not beatified and canonized until relatively recently.
Agnes was the youngest daughter of Bohemian king Premysl Otakar I, making her a descendant of Saint Ludmila, another Bohemian patron saint. Agnes's mother was Constance of Hungary, who was the sister of King Andrew II of Hungary, so Agnes was an elder cousin of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. When she was three years old, Agnes was entrusted to the Cistercian order at Trzebnica to be educated. The monastery had been founded by Hedwig, the wife of Duke Henry I the Bearded of Silesia. Agnes was engaged to Hedwig and Heinrich's son Boleslav. After Boleslav died, Agnes returned to Prague at the age of six.
At the age of eight, she was engaged to Henry, son of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Henry was ten years old and had just been crowned Henry VII of Germany, King of the Romans. According to custom, Agnes should have spent her childhood at her future husband's court. It was decided to send Agnes to the court of Leopold VI of Babenberg. But Leopold wanted Henry to marry his own daughter Margaret. The wedding of Agnes and Henry was cancelled after six years of engagement. In 1226 her father Otakar went to war against the Babenbergs as a result of the broken engagement. Otakar then planned for her to marry Henry III of England, but this was vetoed by the Emperor, who himself was interested in marrying Agnes.
Agnes refused to play any more part in a politically arranged marriage. She decided to devote her life to religious works, with the help of Pope Gregory IX. She became a member of the Franciscan Poor Clares, a religious order founded by Clare of Assisi (with whom she corresponded for over two decades but never met in person). On land donated by her brother, Wenceslaus I, she founded the Hospital of St. Francis (ca. 1232-33) and two convents where the Franciscan friars and Clare nuns working at the hospital resided. This religious complex was one of the first Gothic buildings in Prague. Taking the vow of poverty, she cooked for and took care of the lepers and paupers personally even after becoming the Mother Superior of the Prague Clares in 1234.
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