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The dome of St. Peter's Basilica.

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 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". 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 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.]

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Feast Day of January 18


Saint Margaret (Castle of Klisa, January 27, 1242 – St.Margaret Island, near Buda, January 18, 1271) was a nun and the daughter of King Béla IV and Maria Laskarina. She was the niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and the younger sister of Saint Kinga and Blessed Yolanda.

She was born as the eighth and last daughter (9th of 10 children) of the royal couple, when they lived in exile in Croatia during the Mongol invasion of Hungary (1241–42). Her parents vowed that if Hungary was liberated from the Mongols, they would dedicate the child to religion. Four-year-old Margaret entered the Dominican convent of Veszprém in 1245. Six years later she was transferred to the Convent of the Blessed Virgin founded by her parents on the Nyulak szigete ("Rabbits' Island") near Buda (today Margaret Island, named after her, and a part of Budapest. The ruins of the convent can still be seen.) She spent all her life here, dedicating herself to religion and opposing all attempts of her father to arrange a political marriage for her with King Ottokar II of Bohemia. She appears to have taken solemn vows when she was eighteen years old. Much of the details of her life are known from the Legend of Saint Margaret, written probably in the 14th century and translated from Latin to Hungarian in the 15th. The only remaining copy of the legend is in the Margaret Codex copied by the Dominican nun Lea Ráskay around 1510. According to the legend, Margaret chastised herself from early childhood, wore an iron girdle, hair garments and shoes spiked with nails. She also performed the dirtiest works in the convent.

She was venerated as a saint already in her lifetime, e.g., a stone church was dedicated to her in Bocfolde, Zala[disambiguation needed] county, and steps were taken for her canonization shortly after her death, at the request of her brother King Stephen V. The necessary investigations were taken up between 1271 and 1276, but the canonization process was not completed, even though seventy-four miracles were ascribed to her, most of them referring to her curing illnesses and awakening someone from death. Among those giving testimony were twenty-seven in whose favour the miracles had been wrought. She was finally canonized in 1943.

When the Dominican monastery was suppressed in 1782, her remains were given to the Poor Clares. They were kept in Pozsony (today Bratislava) and Buda. The relics were partly destroyed in 1789 (seven years after the suppression of all religious orders by Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor, but some portions were preserved and are now kept in Esztergom, Győr, and Pannonhalma.
Attributes: depicted in a nun's habit, with a white lily and holding a book in her hand
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Pope John XXIII

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