Glossary of the Catholic Church

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This is a glossary of terms used within the Catholic Church.


  • Abbess — the female head of a community of nuns (abbey)
  • Abbot — the male head of a community of monks (monastery)
  • Acolyte
  • Actual grace
  • Ad limina visits — visit by diocesan bishop to the Holy See, usually every five years
  • Altar
  • Altar server
  • Altarage — the revenue reserved for the chaplain (altarist or altar-thane) in contradistinction to the income of the parish priest, it came to signify the fees received by a priest from the laity when discharging any function for them
  • Ambo
  • Ambry
  • Amovibility
  • Annulmentsee: Declaration of Nullity (below)
  • Apostolic administrator
  • Apostolic Chancery — a former office of the Roman Curia
  • Apostolic life, Society ofsee: Society of apostolic life (below)
  • Apostolic nunciosee: Nuncio (below)
  • Apostolic prefect
  • Apostolic succession
  • Apostolic vicar
  • Apse
  • Archbishop — the bishop of an archdiocese, with limited jurisdiction over his suffragan sees; an titular and largely honorary designation granted to certain bishops, often Nuncios and other members of the Holy See diplomatic corps
  • Archpriest (Latin Church)see: Vicar Forane (below)
  • Auxiliary bishop


  • Baptism
  • Baptism of Jesus
  • Baptismal font
  • Beatification
  • Bishop — an ordained minister who holds the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders and is responsible for teaching the Catholic faith, ruling the Church, and sanctifying her people.
  • Bishop emeritus (or Archbishop emeritus) — the title given to a retired bishop or archbishop
  • Bishops' conferencesee: Episcopal conference (below)
  • Blessed (beatified person)see: Beatification (above)
  • Brother — a male lay member of a Catholic religious institute





  • Faithful — the collective members of the church incorporated into it through sacramental baptism.[2][3]
  • Fall of Man — the willful transition of the first humans from a state of original holiness and justice, in communion with God, to a state of guilt and perennial disobedience
  • Family wage
  • Father (cleric) — a traditional title of priests
  • Father, God the — a name for the First Person of the Blessed Trinity
  • Five Wayssee: Quinque Viæ (below)
  • Font, Baptismalsee: Baptismal font (above)
  • Font, Holy watersee: Holy water font (below)
  • Friar
  • Full communion




  • Immaculate Conception — the dogma that Mary was conceived without original sin (not to be confused with the Incarnation of Christ)
  • Incardinationsee also: excardination (above)
  • Incarnation — The Word of God taking on a human nature and becoming true man, Jesus Christ (not to be confused with the Immaculate Conception of Mary)
  • Institute of consecrated life
  • Institute, Religioussee: Religious institute (below)
  • Institute, Secularsee: Secular institute (below)






  • Officialissee: Judicial vicar (above)
  • Order, Religioussee: Religious order (below)
  • Ordinariate, Militarysee: Military ordinariate (above)
  • Ordinariate, Personalsee: Personal ordinariate (below)
  • Ordinarysee: Local ordinary (above)



  • Quinque Viæ — Aquinas' famous philosophical proofs for the existence of God found in his Summa Theologiæ






  • Universal Church


  • Wage, Familysee: Family wage (above)
  • War, justsee: Just war (above)
  • Ways, Fivesee: Quinque Viæ(above)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Consuetudinarium Provinciae Marylandiensis-Neo Eboracensis Societatis Jesu
  2. ^ "CCC, 871".
  3. ^ CIC 1983, c. 204.
  4. ^ Cunningham, Lawrence S.; John J. Reich (2010). Culture & Values. Cengage Learning. ISBN 0-495-56925-9.
  5. ^ John Paul II, Pastor Bonus Article 1
  6. ^ Canon 553 §1, 1983 Code of Canon Law