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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 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.]

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Pope Benedict XIV promulgated Vix Pervenit in 1745.

Vix Pervenit: On Usury and Other Dishonest Profit was an encyclical, promulgated by Pope Benedict XIV on November 1, 1745, which condemned the practice of charging interest on loans as usury. Because the encyclical was addressed to the Bishops of Italy, it is generally not considered ex cathedra. The Holy Office applied the encyclical to the whole of the Roman Catholic Church on July 29, 1836, during the reign of Pope Gregory XVI. The encyclical codified Church teachings which date back to early ecumenical councils, at a time when scholastic philosophy (which did not regard money as a productive input) was increasingly coming into conflict with capitalism. Though never formally retracted, the encyclical's relevance has faded as the Church retreated from actively enforcing its social teachings in the financial sphere, and as the practice of charging interest on loans became almost universally accepted—legally and ethically.

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Credit: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci's cartoon The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist combines two themes popular in Florentine painting of the 15th century: the Virgin and Child with St John the Baptist and the Virgin and Child with St Anne.

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William de Corbeil or William of Corbeil (c. 1070– 1136) was a medieval archbishop of Canterbury. Educated as a theologian, he served the bishops of Durham and London before becoming a canon. He was elected as a compromise to the see of Canterbury in 1123, succeeding Ralph d'Escures who had employed William as a chaplain. William was the first canon to become archbishop in England. William was soon involved in a dispute over primacy with Thurstan, archbishop of York, and he also concerned himself with the morals of the clergy. He was known as a builder, having built the keep of Rochester Castle in England. At the end of his life, William was instrumental in the selection of Count Stephen of Boulogne as king of England instead of the Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry I of England. William de Corbeil was born probably at Corbeil on the Seine possibly around 1070, and was educated at Laon, where he taught for a while.

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Statues of Saint Severinus and Saint Severus (right), carried during a procession at San Severo.

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Feast Day of April 20

Saint Agnes of Montepulciano (in Italian: Agnese Segni di Montepulciano) (12681317) was born into a noble family in Gracciano, a small village near Montepulciano in Tuscany, Italy where, at the age of nine she entered the monastery. Some four years later the administration of the castle of Proceno, a fief of Orvieto, invited the nuns of Montepulciano to send some of their sisters to Proceno to found a new monastery. In 1288 Agnes, despite her youth, was selected as prioress. There she gained a reputation for performing miracles: people suffering from mental and physical ailments seemed cured by her mere presence and she was reported to have multiplied loaves—recalling the miracle of the loaves and fishes—on a number of occasions.

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Benedict XVI
After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble labourer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with inadequate instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers.

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Pope John XXIII

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