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Introduction

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The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within Rome, Italy.

Catholic theology is based on the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the Pope is the successor to Saint Peter to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus Christ. It maintains that it practises the original Christian faith, reserving infallibility, passed down by sacred tradition. The Latin Church, the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, and institutes such as mendicant orders and enclosed monastic orders reflect a variety of theological and spiritual emphases in the church.

Of its seven sacraments the Eucharist is the principal one, celebrated liturgically in the Mass. The church teaches that through consecration by a priest the sacrificial bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. The Virgin Mary is venerated in the Catholic Church as Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, honoured in dogmas and devotions. Its teaching includes sanctification through faith and evangelisation of the Gospel as well as Catholic social teaching, which emphasises voluntary support for the sick, the poor, and the afflicted through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of education and health care in the world.

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Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo, the roof of which was removed in an attempt to speed up the election

The papal election from November 1268 to September 1, 1271, following the death of Pope Clement IV, was the longest papal election in the history of the Roman Catholic Church. The election of Tebaldo Visconti as Pope Gregory X, the first example of a papal election by "Compromise," was effected by a Committee of six cardinals agreed to by the other remaining ten, occurred more than a year after the magistrates of Viterbo locked the cardinals in, reduced their rations to bread and water, and legendarily removed the roof of the Palazzo dei Papi di Viterbo.As a result of the length of the election, during which three of the twenty cardinal-electors died and one resigned, Gregory X promulgated the apostolic constitution, Ubi periculum, on July 7, 1274 (or 16), during the Second Council of Lyon, establishing the papal conclave, whose rules were based on the tactics employed against the cardinals in Viterbo. The election itself is sometimes viewed as the first conclave.
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Credit: Eadfrith, Bishop of Lindisfarne

The incipit of the Gospel of Matthew from the Lindisfarne Gospels, an illuminated Latin manuscript of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The manuscript was produced in Lindisfarne in Northumbria in the late 7th century or early 8th century, and is generally regarded as the finest example of the kingdom's unique style of religious art. It is currently in the collection of the British Library.

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Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal (French pronunciation: ​ [blɛz paskal]), (June 19, 1623 – August 19, 1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the construction of mechanical calculators, the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method. Pascal was a mathematician of the first order. He helped create two major new areas of research. He wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of sixteen, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he abandoned his scientific work and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. His two most famous works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées. Pascal suffered from ill health throughout his life and died two months after his 39th birthday.
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He was probably born near the city of Idanha-a-Nova (in Lusitania, Hispania), in what is present-day Portugal, or near the city of Guimarães (in what is present-day Portugal), in Gallaecia (now Galicia, Spain).

Damasus I is known to have been raised in the service of the church of the martyr St. Laurence in Rome, and following the death of Pope Liberius, he succeeded to the Papacy amidst factional violence. A group of Damasus' supporters, previously loyal to the Antipope Felix II, attacked and killed rivals loyal to Liberius' deacon Ursinus, in a riot that required the intervention of Emperor Valentinian I to quell.

Damasus faced accusations of murder and adultery in his early years as pope. The neutrality of these claims have come into question with some suggesting that the accusations were motivated by the schismatic conflict with the supporters of Arianism. His personal problems were contrasted with his religious accomplishments, which included restoring the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le Mura, appointing the later-Saint Jerome as his personal secretary, creating (through Jerome) a standard Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate, that replaced existing Vetus Latina, and translated from the original Hebrew instead of the Greek Septuagint, and presiding over the Council of Rome in 382, at which, according to Roman Catholic tradition and the 6th century document Decretum Gelasianum, the modern Catholic canon of scripture was first set down.

Damasus' parents were Antonius, a priest at the Church of San Lorenzo in Rome, and Laurentia.

When Pope Liberius was banished by Emperor Constantius II to Beraea, in 354, Damasus was arch- deacon of the Roman church and followed Liberius into exile, though he immediately returned to Rome. During the period before Liberius' return, Damasus had a great share in the government of the church.

In the early Church, new Bishops of Rome were elected or chosen by the clergy and the people of the diocese in the presence of the other bishops in the province, which was the manner customarily used in other dioceses. On the death of Liberius, September 24, 366, one faction supported Ursinus, while the other faction supported Damasus. This dissension climaxed with a riot which led to a three-day massacre. Damasus prevailed, but only with the support of the city prefect. Once he was securely consecrated bishop of Rome, his men attacked Ursinus and his remaining supporters, resulting in a massacre of one hundred and thirty seven supporters of Ursinus.

Many in both Pagan and Christian society saw in Damasus a man whose worldly ambitions outweighed his pastoral concerns.

Damasus I was active in defending the Roman Church against the threat of schisms. In two Roman synods (368 and 369) he condemned Apollinarianism and Macedonianism, and sent legates to the First Council of Constantinople that was convoked in 381 to address these heresies.

Damasus also contributed greatly to the liturgical and aesthetic enrichment of the city churches. His ceremonial embellishments and the emphasis on the Roman legacy of Peter and Paul amounted to a general claim to the Roman upper classes that the real glory of Rome was Christian and not pagan.

The reign of Gratian, during Damasus' papacy, forms an important epoch in ecclesiastical history, since during that period ( 359- 383), Orthodox Christianity, for the first time became dominant throughout the empire.

Attributes: as a pope with patriarchal cross and model of a church
Patronage: against fever
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Eusebius of Caesarea


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