Fishers of Men

\”Come, follow me,\” Jesus said, \”and I will make you fishers of men.\”

Church History & Government

Source:  OUR FAITH & THE FACTS, compiled by Rev. C. F. Donovan, M.A., published by Patrick L. Baine of Chicago, 1927 – Chapter 1, pages 13-36. 

Early  Narrative

The greatest event in the history of God’s dealings with men is the Redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

The coming of the Redeemer was promised by God to our first parents after the fall, and this promise was renewed from time to time to the patriarchs and prophets, whom god raised up to keep alive in the hearts of His people His traditions and His revelations.

The nations who had fallen away into idolatry retained only an obscure and distorted idea of the future incarnation of God and the Redemption. Their belief, that their gods had appeared in human form among men was a distorted tradition of the mystery of the Incarnation. The Greeks, for instance, preserved in their legend of Prometheus (their name for Adam) an old prophecy, that the son of their highest god would become man and be born of a virgin-mother in order to redeem our fallen race. We read that  in the year 64 after Christ, Mingdi, the emperor of China, sent ambassadors westwards to search for the divine teacher foretold in ancient Chinese books. Having come to India, they found there the religion of Buddha, which they embraced, mistaking it for the true. The coming of the Wise men from the East proves most clearly that the traditions of a Saviour to come lived among the Gentiles. Suetonius and Tacitus, writers of ancient pagan Rome, have recorded that at the time of the birth of Christ, the world was full of rumors about a mysterious power, which, according to old traditions, was to rise in Palestine and rule the whole world.

The people of Israel alone preserved the true traditions about the Redeemer, and it is quite evident that it was their mission to prepare for and to foreshadow the future kingdom of God on earth. Israel was brought by God to Palestine into the middle of the great historical nations of antiquity. The Babylonian, Assyrian and Persian kingdoms east and north, Egypt south, and Macedonian and Roman empires west, all made Israel share in the world moving history. Hence Ezeckiel,  the prophet, called Jerusalem “gate of the nations.”

Palestine lay on the great thoroughfare leading from Africa into Asia, while the Red and the Mediterranean seas gave it a water-way to India and to the great nations of the west. Thus Israel’s children, bearing the hope of the Messiah to come, spread into all lands, thereby preparing the way for the apostles, who set forth from  Jerusalem to evangelize the world.

God sustained Israel in this mission of keeping alive the hope of the Messiah by frequent prophecies and by His miraculous protection and guidance. And He fulfilled His promise and His prophecies, when He sent His only begotten Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary.

The Coming of Christ

At the time of our Savior’s birth the whole world was at peace. Augustus was emperor of Rome, and Herod, king of Judea. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary in a stable at Bethlehem. His coming into the world was announced by Angels to the shepherds, who were watching their flocks at night. Three kings, led by a star, came from the East to worship Him. Herod, the king, was angry when it was announced to him that the “King of the Jews,” long foretold, was born, and he endeavored to put Jesus to death, slaying, in the attempt to do so, several thousands of infants. He hoped by this means to include the child of Mary, but, warned in a dream, Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, removed the Divine Child and His mother to a place of safety in Egypt. After some years they returned, to live at Nazareth, in Galilee. Here Jesus remained subject to His parents until His maturity, there being practically only one incident mentioned to illumine what writers call the “hidden life” of Jesus, and that was The Finding in the Temple. At the age of twelve, He, with His parents, went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Pasch, or Passover, a story told in the Gospel.

His Public Life

When thirty years old, the intervening years having been spent in the privacy of His home, where He lived with His mother, we find the first incident of His public life in His Baptism by St. John the Baptist. Then our Lord was led away by the Spirit into the desert for fasting and prayer for forty days. Coming forth in the strength of His victory, he began the work of Redemption by gathering together disciples, later to found a Church by which His teachings should be spread over the whole world. He went about the country preaching and teaching the people, and the first members of His Church came from every walk in life. He proved the truth of His teaching by so many miracles, that from the first, He attracted nation-wide attention. Many believed Him to be the Messiah. All held Him in the greatest respect, traveling great distances to hear Him, even to see Him.

The Apostles

He chose from those who had come to be known as His followers, twelve men, whom He knew to be fit for the work of spreading the Gospel. They were known as His apostles, or messengers. They were to receive especial preparation during the three years of His public life, to be witnesses of His teaching and miracles, that, after His death, they  might preach to the world what they had heard and seen. The names of the Apostles were: Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, his brother; James, the elder, the son of Zebedee,  and John, his brother; Philip and Bartholemew; Thomas and Matthew; James the less, the son of Alpheus, and Thaddeus his brother, sometime called Jude; Simon the Chananite and Judas Iscariot, who afterwards betrayed Him. He chose also seventy-two disciples, who preached His Gospel during His own ministry.

Miracles of Jesus

Our Savior gave to the people such proofs of His Divine mission on earth as never had been given to a people before. He made the blind to see, the lame to walk; He restored the sick to health, and raised the dead to life. He fed the multitude of five thousand on a few loaves of bread and a few fishes. He fearlessly rebuked the wickedness of men in high places, and drew therefore upon Himself their implacable hatred. They set out to destroy Him, to ruin His work, and the result of their calumnious efforts may be judged from the contrast between the early enthusiastic receptions accorded Him and the inhuman attitude of the mob on the last day of His life on earth.

The Last Supper

The Gospel tells of the scene in the Upper Room where Jesus and His apostles gathered to celebrate the Pasch. It was to be their last tribute to the Old Law. Next day meant the death of the Old Dispensation. Our Savior’s resurrection opened a New Law and a new Sacrifice. Yet this night all celebrated the feast of the Old Law as prescribed. As they were eating, Jesus took bread in His Holy and venerable hands, blessed it and said: “Take ye and eat, for this is My Body which shall be delivered for you.” Then He took a cup of wine and gave it to them, saying: “Drink ye all of this, for this is my blood, which shall be shed for you and for many, unto the remission of sins. Do this for a commemoration of Me.” That is to say, “Offer the sacrifice as you have seen Me do it. By so doing you make a real and true sacrifice of My Body and Blood, the same sacrifice that to-morrow I shall offer on the altar of the Cross. And this you shall do, you and your successors, until I come again to judge the world.”

His Passion

After this He led them out of the city into the Garden of Gethsemane. There, in the night, alone, His apostles asleep, He underwent a great agony of suffering for the sins of the world. His sweat became as great drops of blood trickling down to the ground. “My Father,” He prayed, “If it be possible, let this chalice pass from Me. Nevertheless not My will but Thine be done!” (St. Matthew, XXVI, 39) Then came Judas, one of the twelve, with a troop of soldiers, having arranged with the Chief Priests for thirty pieces of silver to betray Him. Jesus was saluted with the kiss of the traitor. He was bound and led away to the Hall of the High Priest, who afterwards sent Him before Pilate, the Roman governor. Fearing the fury of the mob, now excited by the propaganda of the priests, and demanding His death, Pilate, after the cruel scourging, the agonizing Crowning of Thorns and all the other indignities heaped upon Jesus, condemned Him to be crucified between two thieves as a malefactor of the worst order.

On that sorrowful Way of the Cross, as it is called by the Church, Jesus, tottering under the great weight of the Cross, fell three times. Then He met His mother. Like a criminal, she saw the One, to whom she had given birth, going to Calvary to be crucified for the sins of the world. And she offered Him up to the same God who had found her worthy to be the mother of the Redeemer of the world.

The Crucifixion

When the sorrowful procession had reached Calvary (the place of a skull), so called because there was a tradition that the skull of Adam was buried there, the cross was thrown on the ground, Jesus was violently stripped of his garments and His hands and feet nailed to the instrument of torture. The Cross was then raised and planted in the ground. For three long weary hours Jesus hung between earth and sky, while His executioners tortured Him in the various ways which their fiendish minds suggested. A little group of his followers, in which were His mother and St. John, watched the agonizing scene from a little distance. Jesus committed Mary, His Mother, to the care of St. John. He pardoned the thief by His side, sometimes called Dismas, the Good Thief. At the end of three hours He bowed His head and yielded up His soul to His Father.

Then there was darkness over the earth. The veil of the Temple was rent in two. The bodies of the Saints arose and appeared to many. There was much confusion among the Jews, who said, “Surely, This was the Son of God.”

Later Events

And now came the friends of Jesus, with Joseph and Nicodemus at their head, to take down the body of Jesus and prepare it for burial. They washed it, and anointed it, according to their customs, and then, wrapping it up in a long white linen cloth, placed it in a sepulchre which belonged to Joseph, who was from Arimathea. The Jews, remembering that He had said He would rise from the dead the third day, set a guard, lest, as they said, “the disciples might come and steal the body and then say that He was risen.” Yet Christ rose from the dead very early on the morning of Sunday. For forty days after this He remained on the earth instructing and teaching His apostles. He gave them the power to forgive sins, and commanded them to remain together and to await the coming of His Holy Spirit. He again appointed Peter as head of His Church, constituting him His Vicar, and finally, having given the apostles orders to preach the Gospel to the whole world, He left them and went up into Heaven, with the assurance that he would so come in like manner as they had seen Him go away.

The Early Church

On Pentecost day came the miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost, after which St. Peter and the other apostles began to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem. They converted 3,000 Jews. The number of believers grew daily, and the Church spread rapidly over Judea and into Samaria, Galilee and the surrounding countries. At Antioch, the capital of Syria, the faithful were first called Christians.

The Apostles did not confine their labors to the Jews, for Christ had told them to go into the whole world and teach all nations; and the Holy Ghost bestowed on them the gift of preaching in divers tongues. At the Council of the Apostles held in Jerusalem about the year 51, it was decreed that converted Gentiles should be dispensed from observing the Mosaic rites. Thus the Church showed from the very beginning the mark of Catholicity.

Careers of the Apostles

St. Peter laboured in Palestine, Syria and Asia Minor. As head of the Church, he presided over the election of Matthias to the place left vacant by Judas, and over the first Council held in Jerusalem. He established his See at Antioch, but removed it about the year 42 to Rome, the capital of the world, which became the seat of the Papacy and the center of Christendom. There, St. Peter died the death of a martyr, June 19, A. D. 67.

St. Paul, formerly called Saul, and a persecutor of the infant Church, was converted near Damascus. Having been a zealous Apostle, he made four great voyages and brought the Gospel to Cyprus, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy and Spain. After a life of trials he obtained the crown of martyrdom, on the same day as St. Peter.

St. John, the beloved of our Lord, took under his care, the Blessed Virgin entrusted to him by Jesus while dying on the cross. He became Bishop of Ephesus, and died at a very advanced age.

St. James, the brother of St. John, labored in Judea, and as tradition states, also in Spain. He was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa, A. D. 43.

St. James the Less became Bishop of Jerusalem and was called the “Just,” on account of his holiness. He was martyred by being thrown from the wall of the temple in the year 63.

St. Andrew preached in southern Russia and on the coast of the Black Sea. He was crucified at Patras, Greece.

St. Philip died at Hieropolis in Phrygia, Asia. St. Bartholomew went to Armenia, where he was martyred, being flayed alive. St. Thomas is said to have gone to India; St. Jude Thaddeus to Syria, Mesopotamia and Persia; St. Simon to Egypt, Northern Africa and Babylon. St. Mattias is said to have gone into the countries south of the Caucasus mountains, and St. Matthew to the countries south of the Caspian Sea.

Everywhere the preaching of the Apostles was confirmed by numerous miracles, by the sublime holiness of their lives, their heroic sacrifice of earthly things, and by the shedding of their blood in testimony of the Faith.

Their Last Resting Places

Of the body of St. John the Evangelist there are not tidings. No trace has ever been found that might indicate his burial-place.

St. James, the Greater, is at St. Jago de Compostello in Spain. This is a place of far-famed pilgrimage because of the fact of his burial.

In Rome, there are seven of the Apostles, namely, Saints Peter and Paul, Philip, James the Lesser, Jude, Bartholomew and Matthias. St. Peter is, of course, in the Church named for him, because of his tomb being there. In St. Peter’s are also the bodies of Saints Simon and Jude. St. Jude is sometimes called St. Thaddeus, for instance, in the Church of the Lateran, where are statues of all the Apostles with the name of each carved beneath. In the Church of the Holy Apostles are St. James the Lesser and St. Philip.

In the ancient kingdom of Naples there are St. Matthew, at Salermo; St. Andrew, at Amalfi; and St. Thomas, at Ortona.

In the island of St. Bartholomew in the river Tiber is the body of the saint of that name, in the church dedicated to his memory.

St. Matthias is at the church of St. Mary Major, under the altar of that great basilica.

Two Evangelists who were not Apostles are also in Italy, St. Mark at Venice and St. Luke at Padua.

Although many Jews were converted, the majority and the leaders of the nation remained obstinate and even persecuted the Christians. In the year 70, Jerusalem was destroyed by a Roman army under Titus. A million Jews perished, many were sold as slaves and the rest were scattered throughout the world. With the destruction of the Temple, the worship of the Old Law ceased forever, to make room for the New Law of which it had been the type.

Early Church Organization

The Apostles converted many thousands of people in foreign lands, who were organized into congregations, and their disciples were placed in charge. From these, the religion spread in ever widening circles. For instance, St. Paul appointed his disciple Titus, bishop of the island of Crete. St. Peter sent St. Mark to Alexandria, whence Christianity spread all over Egypt.

St. Justin wrote about the year 150, “There is no people, neither among the barbarians, nor the Greeks, nor any known tribe, where prayers and thanksgiving are not offered to God in the name of Christ crucified.”

From Scripture and from Tradition we learn the Holy Mass, with Holy Communion and instruction, was regularly celebrated. (Acts 2, 2) After Baptism, the Sacrament of Confirmation was conferred, as St. Peter and St. John did, in Ephesus (Acts 8, 17 and 19, 6) The Sacrament of Penance and confession of sins is noted in Acts 19, 18. Holy Orders was conferred on Saul and Barnabas, Acts 13, 3. St. Paul called Matrimony a great sacrament in Christ and His Church (Eph. 5 32  1 Cor. 7. 39) St. James describes the sacrament of Extreme Unction (St. James 5. 14)  St. Ignatius (A. D. 107) wrote of fasting in Lent, and of the hierarchy of the apostolic age, “Let all be obedient to the bishop, as Jesus to the Father, to the priests as to the Apostles.”

St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, St. Matthew, St. James, St. Jude, and two disciples of the Apostles, St. Luke and St. Mark wrote on various occasions, and their writings are formed into the New Testament by the Church as inspired. (See Chapter on the Bible) Several other disciples of the Apostles left important writings, for instance, St. Clement of Rome wrote a letter to the Corinthians; St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Polycary of Smyrna. St. Barnabas, an early companion of St. Paul, left a letter in which he gives the reasons why the Christians discarded the Sabbath and substituted Sunday as the Lord’s Day. All the writers of this period refer directly to Church practices, as we know them to exist today.


The history of the Church in the early ages is a history written in blood. There were ten great persecutions of the Christian Church by the Roman emperors. The first was under Nero, and the last, under Diocletian, came to an end in the year 317 A. D. During these years, in spite of persecution, the Church gained countless converts everywhere, and the numbers of martyrs who shed their blood for the Faith will never be known on this side of the grave.

All the Popes but one received the martyr’s crown until the end of the last persecution. The reason given for these persecutions was the teaching of the Christian religion which openly condemned the false religions of the empire, and taught that only in the Name of Jesus could eternal life be attained. The fact that Christianity endured these attacks, and prospered under them, ought to be a standing proof of its divinity: for how could any merely human institution thrive in the midst of such terrible bloodshed and opposition? “The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church,” says one of the writers of these times.

The Work of the Cross

In the year 312 the Church became free from her bondage under the persecuting Roman emperors. Diocletian had lately boasted that the  name of Christian was blotted out. There was civil war in the empire, between the East and the West. One day Constantine, the Emperor of the West, realizing the strength of his enemy forces, prayed for the first time to the true God for assistance. Suddenly in the sky a cross appeared, with these words over it: “In this Sign thou shalt conquer.” The emperor accepted this as his standard in battle, and his army was victorious. Constantine then ordered that the Christian religion be protected in the empire.

The Church had conquered over her persecutors only to engage in internal warfare against those enemies foretold by our Lord, “those of His own household.” Numerous heresies sprang up. (See Chapter on Heresies) General Councils were held, based on Apostolic practices, under the presidency of the Pope or his legates, which councils from time to time condemned Arius and his successors in heresy promulgation. This age was also that of the great teachers called the Fathers of the Church, such as St. Athanasius, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, in the East: and in the West, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome and St. Augustine. In the See of Peter were many great Pontiffs, such as St. Leo the Great, and later, St. Gregory the Great.

Missionary Labors

During the third century monastic life originated among devout men and women who preferred to live in solitude and silence. Distinguished among whom were St. Simon Stylites, St. Paul the Hermit and St. Anthony. The hermits preceded the real monastic life, the patriarch of which in the West was St. Benedict, who lived in the sixth century. It was the followers of St. Benedict who saved religion and civilization during the barbarous invasion of the wild tribes from Asia and the north of Europe, and then gave these ancestors of modern Europe the doctrine and church of Christ, training them in the ways of civilized life.

Meanwhile St. Patrick had converted Ireland. France, through St. Martin of Tours, England through St. Austin, Germany through missionaries from Ireland, and rather on Slavonia and Scandinavia, accepted the Gospel of Christ. But these brief sentences mean ages of heroic suffering and labor, and even martyrdom, on the part of many thousands of Catholic missionaries.

In the seventh century Mohammedanism arose, a fanatical sect founded upon the lying visions of Mohammed, the world’s greatest deceiver. In the East it gradually gained ground, and nearly destroyed Christianity in those countries. The West was saved from it by the Crusades, or the wars of the Cross, inspired by the Popes and preached by such servants of God as Peter the Hermit and St. Bernard.

The Crusades

The Crusades (1095-1272) were military expeditions under the banner of the Cross, undertaken by the princes of western Europe to deliver the Holy Land from the Mahometans, who were persecuting resident Christians and pilgrims, and desecrating sacred places in the Holy Land. There were eight of these expeditions, but from a military viewpoint the first was the most important, the only one that fully achieved its object.

The first Crusade was headed by Godfrey, Duke of Boulogne. Under him the Crusaders won victory after victory, and finally Godfrey was crowned King, after the capture of Jerusalem, A. D. 1099.

The next  in importance was the third Crusade, which was undertaken at a time when Saladin, the famous Saracen Sultan, had taken Jerusalem and nearly all Palestine from the Christians. England, France and Germany took part in this Crusade, with Richard I of France as its principal leader. The Crusades made a good beginning, but, owing to dissensions among their leaders, they were forced to abandon their enterprise. The other Crusades were only partly successful, at least in a military way, and the Mahometans gradually regained their sway over all Palestine.

The benefits of the Crusades were innumerable and many of them can be felt even to this day. They saved Europe from being overrun by the Eastern barbarians, and promoted concord among Christian princes in  Europe by uniting them against a common enemy. They relieved the Feudal System of many oppressive features, made traveling more easy and secure, improved navigation, gave facilities to commerce, awakened a spirit of enterprise, and by sustaining communication with Greece and Syria materially assisted in the spread of art and science. England took a leading part in the Crusades. France was in no manner less prominent however, while Germany, Spain and Italy were active in the work of the Cross to which Europe owes so much.

The Middle Ages

In these centuries (called the middle ages) arose the great institutions of learning in Europe. In 1500, there were 66 universities, holding charters from the Pope. Paris alone had 20,000 students. The great inventions of the period were all fostered by the Church, such as printing by Gutenberg (1450). Arts acknowledged such distinguished men as Angelo, Raphael, Reni, Dante, Petrarch.

The rulers of the nations were not as well converted as were their subjects, and there were many disputes with the Church as to her authority. In spite of the great missionaries whom God raised up, like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Dominic, St. Vincent Ferrer,  and St. John Capistran, heresy found enough of fostering among the rulers to keep it alive. The sixteenth century then found the word ready for the great desertion. Great plagues had laid waste the population, the ranks of the clergy were decimated, and the people were not instructed, either from lack of priests and teachers or from other conditions which account for popular unrest.

The Great Desertion

In Germany the rebellion against the Christian Church was led by Luther, an apostate monk. (See chapter) In England it was begun by a tyrant kind, served by greedy nobles and weak-kneed subjects. The  English people never really desired the false religion, in fact, resented it and fought against it; but by mingled cunning and violence it finally prevailed. Half of Germany and Switzerland, all of Ireland and Poland, most of the Netherlands and all of Southern Europe remained Catholic.

Protestantism became the name of the new faith. Luther and Calvin in Europe, and the rulers of England, were its founders and leaders. By the favor of princes who enriched themselves on the Church’s property, it obtained control of most of the nations of Northern Europe. Disputes, disunion, contention, and cruel religious wars sprang up, not only between Catholics and Protestants, but among Protestants themselves. The Holy Father assembled the General Council of Trent, in the middle of the sixteenth century. Its success was marvelous. The progress of error was stayed, the entire Church was filled with new life. Saints appeared everywhere: new religious orders, among them the Jesuits, founded by St. Ignatius Loyola, aided in spreading truth; the older ones kept up their activities and the newly discovered parts of the world, in America and Asia, gave to the Church new races of Christians in place of those lost to the faith in Europe. A devout Christian life was taught by such men as St. Francis de Sales and St. Philip Neri.

In charitable work the Church won the greatest victories. St. Vincent de Paul founded the order of the Sisters of Charity — the first of hundreds of other such orders.

More Recent Events

During the last two centuries Europe has undergone many political and social convulsions. The Church has suffered much both in the person of her chief ruler, the Pope, and in her clergy and people. France and Portugal in particular have been torn by government oppression and persecution. There the Religious Orders have been driven out, their property confiscated and priests forbidden to continue their work unless they proved completely subservient to unfriendly authority. Gradually, however, conditions are righting themselves. The Religious Orders have returned. The Hospital Sisters in a few cases were invited, even before the war of 1914, to take up their former work. Their patriotism at this critical period is illustrated elsewhere. There is now prospect of a universal return to former religious conditions.

The Catholic Hierarchy

The Catholic Hierarchy, the governing body of the Holy Catholic Church, consists:

  1. His Holiness the Sovereign Pontiff, assisted by the Sacred College of Cardinals and by twelve Sacred Congregations, three Tribunals, five Offices and three Commissions;

  2. The Patriarchs, Archbishops, and Bishops;

  3. The Apostolic Delegates, Vicars and Prefects; and

  4. Certain Abbots and Prelates.

The Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Jesus Christ, the two hundred and sixtieth successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles: Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Temporal Dominions of the Holy Roman Church is his Holiness pope Pius XI. (Achille Ratti) born in Desio, March 31, 1857; ordained priest 1879; Apostolic Visitor to Poland 1918: Appointed Apostolic Nuncio 1919: Appointed to titular see of Lepanto 1919: Created Cardinal June 16, 1921: Cardinal Archbishop of Milan June, 1921: Elected Pope February 6, 1922: Crowned February 12, 1922.

How the Church is Governed

The affairs of the Church are conducted by what is called the Roman Curia, made up of Cardinals, Bishops, Priests. These men are arranged into various committees or congregations, with duties somewhat as follows:

The Holy Office Congregation conducts defense of doctrine, passes judgment on heresy, use of indulgences, questions of the Sacraments, etc.

The Consistory prepares work for consistories, considers erection of new dioceses, choice of bishops, government of dioceses, seminaries, etc.

The Discipline of the Sacraments committee considers Dispensations.

The Council controls discipline of the clergy and of the faithful, fasts, feasts, etc. Sodalities, church goods, etc.

The Religious committee holds regulation of religious orders, vows and precepts.

The Propagation of the Faith controls missionary work.

The Index congregation examines dangerous books and periodicals, and when necessary passes on their condemnation.

The Sacred Rites congregation controls ceremonies of the Church, Beatification and Canonization of Saints, Sacred Relics.

The Ceremonial body conducts ceremonies in the Pontifical Chapel and Court.

Business affairs committee arranges all matters submitted by the Cardinal Secretary of State.

The congregation of studies has the regulation of educational features, colleges, universities, degrees, etc.

Beside these congregations there are the tribunals which control affairs of Penance and all possible cases. There is the Apostolic Chancery office with the Secretary of State in charge, where administration of property, conferring of honors, promotion of Scripture study, and general care for the preservation of the Faith, are the principal activities.

The duties of each of these congregations have been condensed for better understanding. On the death of the Pope, the Cardinal Camerlengo (Chamberlain), has administration of the affairs of the Holy See.

The College of Cardinals

The Sacred College is directly representative of the entire Catholic world. It is literally an “International” body. As now constituted, the Sacred College consists in about equal parts of Italians and members of other nationalities, about seventy in all. There are six Cardinal bishops whose sees are near Rome, fifty Cardinal priests who take their titles from the “titular” churches to which they are appointed and fourteen Cardinal deacons appointed to other churches.

Until the time of Pope Pius X the power of veto was several times exercised, even in the conclave, by Cardinals who had come to Rome with instructions from the monarchs of their nations that the election of some Cardinal, believed to be friendly to another power, should not be permitted. This power of veto, always protested by the Popes, has now been removed altogether. Because of this attempted interference by rulers, Pope Pius issued new orders for the conduct of the conclave. The English speaking cardinals now re Cardinal Dougherty, Philadelphia; Cardinal O’Connell, Boston; Cardinal Mundelein, Chicago; Cardinal Hayes, New York; Cardinal Begin, Quebec; Cardinal Bourne, England; Cardinal Logue, Ireland. In addition to these, however, there is Cardinal Falconio, who although Italian by birth, is a naturalized American citizen who for years was Apostolic delegate at Washington.

Many new Cardinals were created by Pope Benedict at the Consistories recently held and it is a notable fact that men who rose within the Church, from the position of simple parish priests of humble families, rank equally in the selections with those of noble blood.

A Conclave

A conclave may be briefly defined as a congress of Cardinals who have assembled for the election of a successor of St. Peter. The word also means the closed hall or apartments where the Cardinals remain during the election.

The election of the Roman Pontiff was not always carried out in the same way. We give here only the chief rules that govern the election of the Pope at present. All previous legislation concerning the Conclave was codified and renewed in the year 1904 by the constitution (vacante Sede Apostolica) in which the most minute precautions are taken to secure a free and rapid election. In this new Constitution the right of choosing the Pope is reserved to the Cardinals. The right of sharing in the election is enjoyed by all the Cardinals who have received at least the order of the diaconate. Later legislation concerning the time when they must reach the place of the Conclave was enacted under Pope Pius I. Instead of beginning ten days after the death of the Pope, the Cardinals have now an extension of time to enter the Conclave and proceed to the election. If a Cardinal arrives after the electors have entered the Conclave, and before the new Pope has been elected, he has he right to be admitted. The Cardinals are to met first for the celebration of the Mass of the Holy Ghost. They are admonished by the Cardinal Dean (first Cardinal Bishop), “to lay aside all private feelings and with God alone before their eyes to make it their care with all possible dispatch and diligence to provide a capable and suitable Pastor for the Holy Roman and Universal Church.”

Election of a Pope

After the divine service, they enter the Conclave, the Dean of the Cardinals reciting a prayer at the altar. The Constitutions are read. The oath is pronounced by all the Cardinals, who then retire to the cells which have been assigned them by lot.

Each Cardinal is allowed to bring with him two or three attendants, but with the exception of some officials specified in the law, such as sacristans, masters of ceremonies, physicians, etc., no one is allowed to remain with the Cardinals in the Conclave.

All the officials of the conclave and all the attendants then take the oaths in the prescribed forms. The same is done by the prelates to whom the custody of the Conclave is entrusted. The bell is then rung three times and all others are excluded. The Conclave is closed. The Cardinals who are heads of orders, with lighted candles, diligently examine the place to see that nobody forbidden has remained within. All the Conclavists are to be identified and they are ordered to enter the chapel and are afterward separately examined.

No letters or writings of any kind, even printed matter, are to be sent to those in the Conclave, and still less from the Conclave to persons outside. Daily papers or periodicals are absolutely forbidden. Secrecy is to be religiously observed concerning everything relating to the election of the Pope. Everything, words, writings, signs and every other means whatsoever which might lead directly or indirectly to a violation of secrecy, must be avoided and guarded against under pain of excommunication. Cardinals are not to make known to their Conclavists or attendants anything whatever regarding the voting and they must observe secrecy even after the election.

Forms of Election

The Constitution (Vacante Sede Apostolica) allows three kinds or forms of election, called respectively: inspiration, (inspiratio); compromise, (compromissum); scrutiny or ballot, (scrutinium). The first form, which is very extraordinary, would be observed if without any previous special consultation, at the mere proposal of a candidate made by one of the Cardinals, the others present should at once and unanimously express their consent orally or in writing. The second form is followed if all the Cardinals present empower three, five or seven Cardinals to elect the new Pope, and promise to recognize as Pope the person so chosen. According to the third form of procedure, which is the one ordinarily observed, a candidate, to be elected, must have in his favor the votes of two-thirds of the Cardinals present. The votes must be secret, and for this reason they must be given in writing, on papers especially prepared for the purpose, and folded in such a way that the name of the elector can not be seen even by the tellers. If nobody should receive the necessary number of votes on the first ballot, a second ballot is immediately taken. Thus two ballots are taken in the morning and two in the afternoon, until some one receives the two-thirds required by the law.

After the election, as soon as a Cardinal receives the necessary two-thirds vote, the consent of the elected is to be asked by the Cardinal Dean; and the moment he expresses his consent he becomes Pope ipso facto, and acquires supreme jurisdiction over the Universal Church. The election is then published to the people by the first Cardinal Deacon. Finally, the successor of St. Peter is solemnly crowned by the Dean of the Cardinal Deacons.

Announcing a Choice

The method of announcing that the Conclave has come to a choice is very ancient. After each vote the ballots are burned in a small stove. When that vote is reached which decides the election, there is mixed with the ballot papers a traditional mixture which darkens the smoke issuing forth from the chimney. This darkening of the color of the smoke announces to the world that a new Pope has been chosen. Great crowds usually assembly awaiting the verdict.

These rules of procedure obtain at the present time for facilitating the choice of a worthy occupant of the chair of Peter. It is obvious, however, that they do not minimize the action of God. They are only the dictates of human prudence, as gathered through long centuries of experience. Not to them, not to any device of men does the Church trust. Her confidence is in the divine direction of her Spouse, the Holy Spirit.

List of Popes from St. Peter to Pius XI

1 St. Peter, d. 67. 2 St. Linus, 67-79. 3 St. Anacletus 1, 79-90. 4 St. Clement 1,90-99. 5 St. Evaristus, 99-107. 6 St. Alexander 1, 107-16. 7 St. Sixtus (Xystus) 1, 116-25. 8 St. Telesphorus, 125-36. 9 St. Hyginus, 136-40. 10 St. Pius, 140-54. 11 St. Anicetus, 154-65. 12 St. Soter, 165-74. 13 St. Eleutherius, 174-89. 14 St. Victor, 189-98. 15 St. Zephyrinus, 198-217. 16 St. Callistus 1, 217-22. 17 St. Urban 1, 222-30. 18 St. Pontian, 230-35. 19 St. Anterus, 235-36. 20. St. Fabian, 236-50.

21 St. Cornelius, 251-53. 22 St. Lucius 1, 253-54. 23 St. Stephen 1, 254-57. 24 St. Sixtus (Xystus) II, 257-83. 25 St. Dionysius, 259-68. 26 St. Felix 1,269-74. 27 St. Eutychian, 275-83. 28 St. Caius, 283-96. 29 St. Marcellinus, 296-304. 30 St. Marcellus I, 308-09. 31 St. Eusebius, 309 (310). 32 Melchiades (Miltiades), 311-14. 33 St. Sylvester I. 314-35. 34 St. Marcus, 336. 35 St. Julius, 337-52. 36 St. Liberius, 352-66. Felix II, 355-65 (Pope during the exile of Liberius) 37 Damasus I, 366-84. 38 St. Siricius, 384-98. 39 St. Anastasius I, 389-401. 40 St. Innocent I. 402-17.

41 St. Zosimus, 417-18. 42 St. Boniface I. 418-22. 43 St. Celestine I. 422-32. 44 St. Sixtus (Xystus) III, 432-40. 45 St. Leo I, 440-61. 46 St. Hilarius, 461-68. 47 St. Simplicius, 468-83. 48 St. Felix III, 483-92. 49 St. Gelasius I, 492-96. 50 St. Anastasius II, 496-98. 51 St. Symmachus, 498-514. 52 St. Hormisdas, 514-23. 53 St. John I, 523-26. 54 St. Felix III (IV), 526-30. 55 Boniface II, 530-32. 56 John II. 533-35. 57 St. Agapetus I, 535-36. 58 St. Silverius, 536-38 (?). 59 vigilius, 538 (?)-55. 60 Pelagius I, 556-61.

61 John III, 561-74. 62 Benedict I, 575-79. 63 Pelagius II. 579-90. 64 St. Gregory I, 590-604. 65 Sabinianus, 604-06. 66 Boniface III, 607. 67 St. Boniface IV, 608-15. 68 St. Deusdedit, 615-18. 69 Boniface V, 619-25. 70 Honorius I, 625-38. 71 Severinus, 638-40. 72 john IV, 640-42. 73 Theodore I, 642-49. 74 St. Martin I, 649-55. 75 Eugene I, 654-57. 76 St. Vitalian, 657-72. 77 Adeodatus, 672-76. 78 Donus, 676-78. 79 St. agatho, 678-81. 80 St. Leo II, 682-83.

81 St. Benedict II, 684-85. 82 John V, 685-86. 83 Conon, 686-87. 84 St. Sergius, I, 687-701. 85 John VI, 701-05. 86 John VII, 705-07. 87 Sisinnius, 708. 88 Constantine, 708-15. 89 St. Gregory II, 715-31. 90 St. Gregory III, 731-41. 91 St. Zacharias, 741-52. Stephen (II), 752. (Died before his consecration) 92 Stephen III, 752-57. 93 St. Paul I, 757-67. 94 Stephen IV. (V), 768-72. 95 Adrian I, 772-95. 96 St. Leo III, 795-816. 97 Stephen IV (V), 816-17. 98 St. Paschal I, 817-24. 99 Eugene II, 824-27. 100 Valentine, 827.

101 Gregory IV, 827-44. 102 Sergius II, 844-47. 103 St. Leo IV, 847-55. 104 Benedict III, 855-58. 105 St. Nicholas I, 858-67. 106 Adrian II, 867-72. 107 John Viii, 872-82. 108 Marinus I (Martin II), 882-84. 109 Adrian III, 884-85. 110 Stephen V (VI), 885-91. 111 Formosus, 891-96. 112 Bontiface VI, 896. 113 Stephen VI (VII), 896-97. 114 Romanus, 897. 115 Theodore II, 897. 116 John IX, 898-900. 117 Benedict IV, 900-03. 118 Leo V. 903. 119 Christopher, 903-04. 120 Sergius III, 911-13.

121 Anastasius III, 911-13. 122 Lando, 913-14. 123 John X, 914-28. 124 Leo VI, 928. 125 Stephen VII (VIII), 928-31. 126 John XI, 931-36. 127 Leo VII, 936-39. 128 Stephen VIII (IX), 939-42. 129 Marinus II (Martin III), 942-46. 130 Agapetus II, 946-55. 131  John XIII, 955-64. 132 Leo VIII, 963-65. 133 Benedict V, 964. 134 John XIII, 965-72. 135 Benedict VI, 973-74. 136 Benedict VII, 974-83. 137 John XIV 983-84. 138 Boniface VII, 984-85. 139 John XV, 985-96. 140 Gregory V, 996-99.

141 Silvester II, 999-1003. 142 John XVII, 1003. 143 John XVIII, 1003-09. 144 Sergius IV, 1009-12. 145 Benedict VIII, 1012-24. 146 John XIX, 1012-32. 147 Benedict IX (a) 1032-45. 148 Gregory VI, 1045-46. 149 Clement II, 1046-47. 150 Damasus II, 1048. 151 St. Leo IX, 1049-54. 152 Victor II, 1055-57. 153 Stephen IX (X), 1057-58. 154 Bendeict X, 1058-59. 155 Nicholas II, 1059-61. 156 Alexander II, 1061-73. 157 St. Gregory VII, 22 Apr., 1073-25 May, 1085. 158 Victor III, 9 May, 1987-16 Sept, 1987. 159 Urban II, 2 March, 1088-99 July, 1099. 160 Paschal II, 13 Aug., 1099-21 Jan, 1118.

161 Gelasius II, 24 Jan., 1118-28 Jan., 1119. 162 Callistus II, 2 Feb., 1119-13 Dec., 1124. 163 Honorius II, 15 Dec., 1124-13 Feb., 1130. 164 Innocent II, 14 Feb., 1130-24 Sept., 1143. 165 Celestine II, 26 Sept., 1143 8 March 1144. 166 Lucius II, 12 March 1144 (cons.) 15 Feb., 1145. 167 Eugene III, 15 Feb. 1145-8 July 1153. 168 Anastasius IV, 12 July 1153 (cons.)-3 Dec. 1154. 169 Adrian IV, 4 Dec. 1154-1 Sept., 1159. 170 Alexander III, 7 Sept., 1159-30 Aug., 1181. 171 Lucius III, 1 Sept., 1181-25 Nov., 1185. 172 Urban III, 25 Nov., 1185-20 Oct., 1187. 173 Gregory VIII, 21 Oct.-17 Dec., 1187. 174 Clement III, 19 Dec., 1187-March 1191. 175 Celestine III, 30 March, 1191-8 Jan., 1198. 176 Innocent III, 8 Jan., 1198-17 July, 1216. 177 Honorius III, 18 July, 1216-18 March 1227. 178 Gregory IX 19 March, 1227-22 Aug., 1241. 180 Innocent IV. 25 June, 1243-7 Dec. 1254.

181 Alexander IV, 12 Dec., 1254-25 May, 1261. 182 Urban IV, 29 Aug., 1261-2 Oct., 1264. 183 Clement IV, 5 Feb. 1265-29. Nov., 1268. 184 St. Gregory X, 1 Sept., 1271-10 Jan., 1276. 185 Innocent V. 21 Jan.,-22June, 1276. 186 Adrian V, 11July -18 Aug., 1276. 187 John XXI, 8 Sept., 1276-20 May, 1277. 188 Nicholas III, 25 Nov., 1277-22 Aug., 1280. 189 Martin IV, 25 Feb., 1281-28 March 1285. 190 Honorius IV, 2 Apr., 1285-3 Apr., 1287. 191 Nicholas IV, 22 Feb. 1288-4 Apr., 1292. 192 St. Celestine V, 5 July-13 Dec., 1294. 193 Boniface VIII, 24 Dec., 1294-11 Oct., 1303. 194 Benedict XI, 22 Oct., 1303-7 July, 1304. 195 Clement V. 5 June, 1305-20 April, 1314. 196 John XXII 7 Aug., 1316-4 Dec., 1334. 197 Benedict XIII, 20 Dec., 1334-25 Apr. 1342. 198 Clement VI, 7 May, 1342-6 Dec., 1352. 199 Innocent VI, 18 Dec., 1352-12 Sept., 1362. 200 Urban V, 6 Nov., 1362 (cons.)-19 Dec., 1370.

201 Gregory XI, 30 Dec., 1370-27 March, 1378. 202 Urban VI 8Apr., 1378-15 Oct., 1389. 203 Boniface IX, 2 Nov., 1389- 1 Oct., 1404 204 Innocent VII, 17 Oct., 1404-6 Nov., 1406. 205 Gregory XII , 30 Nov., 1406-4 July 1415. 206 Alexander V, 26 June, 1409-3 May, 1410. 207 John XXIII, 17 May1410-29 May 1415. 208 Martin V. 11 Nov., 1417-20 Feb., 1431. 209 Eugene IV, 3 March, 1431-23 Feb., 1447. 210 Nicholas V, 6 March, 1447-24 March, 1455. 211 Callistus III. 8 Apr., 1445-6 Aug., 1458. 212 Pius II, 19 Aug., 1458- 1464. 213 Paul II. 31 Aug., 1464-26 July, 1471.  214 Sixtus IV 9 Aug., 1464-1471-12 Aug., 1484. 215 Innocent VIII, 29 Aug., 1484-25 July, 1492.  216 Alexander VI, 11Aug., 1492-18 Aug., 1503.  217 Pius III, 22Sept.,- 18 Oct., 1503.  218 Julius II, 1 Nov., 1503-21 Feb., 1513.  2219 Leo X, 11 March, 1513- 1 Dec., 1521. 220 Adrian VI, 9 Jan. 1522-14 Sept., 1523.

221 Clement VII, 19 Nov., 1523-25 Sept., 1534.  222 Paul III, 13Oct., 1534-Nov., 1549.  223 Julius III, 8 Feb., 1550-23 March., 1555.  224 Marcellus II, 9-30 Apr., 1555.  225 Paul IV, 23 May, 1555-18 Aug., 1559.  226 Pius IV, 25 Dec., 1559-9 Dec., 1565.  227 St. Pius V, 7 Jan., 1566-1 May, 1572.  228 Gregory XIII, 13 May, 1572-10 Apr., 1585.  229 Sextus V, 24 Apr., 1585-27 Aug., 1590.  230 Urban VII, 15-27 Sept, 1590.  231 Gregory XIV, 5 Dec., 1590-15 Oct., 1591. 232 Innocent IX, 29 Oct., -30 Dec., 1591.  233 Clement VIII, 30 Jan., 1592- 5 March. 1605.  234 Leo XI, 1-27 Apr., 1605.  235 Paul V., 16 May 1605-28 Jan., 1631.  236 Gregory XV, 9 Feb., 1621-8 July 1623.  237 Urban VIII, 6 Aug., 1623-29 July, 1644.  238 Innocent X, 15 Sept., 1644-7 Jan., 1655.  239 Alexander VII, 7 Apr., 1655-22 May, 1667.  240 Clement IX, 20 June, 1667-9 Dec., 1669.

241 Clement X, 29 Apr., 1670-22 July, 1676.  242 Innocent XI, 21 Sept., 1676-11 Aug., 1689.  243 Alexander VIII, 6 Oct., 1689-1 Feb., 1691.  244 Innocent XII, 12 July, 1691-27 Sept., 1700.  245 Clemet XI, 23 Nov., 1700-19 March 1721.  246 Innocent XIII, 8 May, 1721-7 March, 1724.  247 Benedict XIII, 29 May, 1724-21 Feb., 1730.  248 Clement XIII, 12 July, 1730-6 Feb., 1740.  249 Benedict XIV, 17 Aug., 1740-3 May 1758.  250 Clement XIII, 6 July, 1758-2 Feb., 1769.  251 Clement XIV 19 May 1769-22 Sept., 17-1774.  252 Pius VI, 15 Feb., 1775-29 Aug., 1799.  253 Pius VII, 14 March, 1800-20 Aug., 1823.  254 Leo XII, 28 Sept., 1823-10 Feb., 1829.  255 Pius VIII, 31 March, 1829-30 Nov., 1830.  256 Gregory XVI, 2 Feb., 1831-1 June, 1846.  257 Pius XI, 16 June, 1846-7Feb., 1878.  258 Leo XIII, 20 Feb., 1878- 20 July, 1903.  259 Pius X, 4 Aug., 1903-19 Aug., 1914.  260 Benedict XV, 3 Sept., 1914.  261 Pius XI, 12 Feb., 1922.

The Vatican and St. Peter’s

The word Vatican refers to a collection of buildings on one of the seven hills of Rome, which cover a space of 1,200 feet in length, and 1,000 feet in breadth. It is built on the spot once occupied by the gardens of Nero. It owes its origin to the Popes, who, in the early part of the sixth century, erected an humble residence on its site. About the year 1150 Pope Eugenius rebuilt it on a magnificent scale. Innocent II, a few years afterwards, gave it up as a lodging to Peter II, King of Arragon. In 1367, the Vatican was put into a state of repair, and again enlarged; and it was thenceforth considered as the regular palace and residence of the Popes, who one after another added fresh buildings to it, and gradually enriched it with antiquities, statues, and books, until it became the richest repository in the world. The library of the Vatican was commenced fourteen hundred years ago. It contains 40,000 manuscripts, among which are some by Pliny, St. Charles Borromeo, and many Hebrew, Syriac, Arabian and Armeniac Bibles. The whole immense buildings composing the Vantican are filled with statues, found beneath the ruins of ancient Rome, with paintings by the masters, and with curious medals and antiquities of almost every description. When it was known that there have been exhumed more than 70,000 statues from the ruined temples and palaces of Rome, the reader can form some idea of the riches of the Vatican. The Vatican will ever be held in veneration by the student, the artist, and the scholar.

It was on the Vatican Hill that St. Peter died, and the ground that had drunk in his blood was afterwards made the site of a Church, dedicated to his honor. On the Ostian-road, near to the hill, St. Paul was martyred. And when the churches dedicated to their memories were falling into decay, the great Church of St. Peter’s was commenced, under Julius II, 1506. But it was  not finished for 120 years, and in 1626 it was solemnly dedicated by Urban VIII. This Church of St. Peter’s at Rome is by far the most magnificent in the whole world and well worthy of being the Cathedral Church of the Sovereign Pontiff. In a sumptuous vault, beneath a magnificent altar, repose the relics of the Holy Apostles, SS. Peter and Paul.

St. Peter’s of Today

The building above referred to is the second Church of St. Peter built on the spot where lies the body of the great Apostle. The first building was erected under Constantine. The present building is 694 feet long. Its transepts are 451 feet wide. The nave is 151½ feet high. The summit of the cross on the dome is 435 feet from the ground. The diameter of the dome is 138 feet. The whole building occupies an area of 163,182 feet.


The Vatican Prisoner

The Pope refuses to leave the Vatican grounds as a protest against the seizure of the Papal States by the Italian government. This theft of Papal territory occurred in 1871, and Pius IX declared then that he would never recognize as lawful the claims of the Italian government, and as a protest against its conduct he would always remain a prisoner within the Vatican. His resolution was kept rigorously. His successors, Leo XIII, Pius X and Benedict XV, have followed his practice. The Italian government on several occasions has attempted to persuade the Holy Father to abandon this practice to travel about freely, but the Pontiffs, recognizing that this would be a virtual sanction of the government’s seizure, refuse to do so.

The Bishops at Rome; Visit Ad Limina

At different times we hear of a Bishop going to Rome for a visit. Leaving aside the times when other business may call one of our present day Apostles to the seat of Church government, there is one occasion which is of interest, because of its origin and antiquity. Regularly the Bishops of the Catholic Church make visits to Rome, “Ad Limina,” by force of a very ancient custom.

The gospel of St. Luke tells how the Apostles, whom Christ had sent forth to preach and teach, came back and told the Master what things they had done: “And the Apostles, when they had returned, told Him all they had done.” (St. Luke ix. 10) This was the way when Christ counted His followers only a few hundred; and so it is today when His 300,000,000 children cover the face of the glob.

A Bishop’s visit “Ad Limina” brings with it the obligation of performing certain devotions and of giving an account to the proper authorities of the condition of his diocese. The first is made up of a visit to the tombs, of St. Peter and St. Paul on the Ostian Way.

The second part is concerned with strictly official business with the congregations which regulate affairs in his diocese. To one or other of these congregations the “relatio status,” or official account, of his see will be given, telling of the number of Priests in his diocese, of religious of both sexes, its Catholic and non-Catholic population, the number of its schools and other educational institutions, its seminary and everything pertaining to its staff and students.

In one way, the most pleasant part of a Bishop’s official visit is his reception by the Pope, which comes last of all.

The Sistine Choir

The most famous musical organization in the world is the Sistine Choir, a male organization which for years has been associated with the Vatican, under the direct patronage of the Holy Fathers. It has always been customary for the dignitaries of the Church to have private chapels and the one which gave its  name to this famous choir, probably is adaptation from the name of the builder of this chapel, Pope Sixtus IV, who began its construction in 1473. It is renowned no less for its famous choir, than for its paintings, Raphael, Michael Angelo and other famous artists having contributed to its decoration.

Membership in this choir has always been the desire of singers and composers everywhere. Its ideal has always been the highest model of liturgical performance. The Gregorian music, and its development into polyphony in later years, have received adequate interpretation which sets the standard of purity of melody and its rendition for all the world. The use of instruments, even of the organ, has ever been excluded from this choir, the ideal vocal style being the desired effect aimed at. Latterly, the falsetto voice has been excluded, boys’ natural voices are cultivated and the artistic level of the choir has been raised to a higher degree than it has been attained for the last thirty or forty years.

History of the Choir

The choir was founded by St. Sylvester I, whose pontificate lasted from 314 to 337 and its name was derived from Sixtus IV, who built the Capella Sixtina in 1477. The choir was endowed by Gregory I (the Great) the actual founder of choir singing, and in whose pontificate which lasted from 590 to 604, the choir began to attract the attention of the then civilized world. It was not, however, until the pontificate of John XIX, 1024-1032, when the monk Guido d’Arrezo invented the Gamut and laid down the foundation of harmony that the choir began to climb to that eminence of perfection from which it has never receded. When Gregory XI returned to Rome after the seventy years’ exile of the Holy See at Avignon, France, the old Gregorian School of Singing was amalgamated with the new school and the most eminent singers and composers of Europe made the Schola Cantorum under which title the choir was endowed, the central seat for the  knowledge and cultivation of vocal music. The choir consists of 32 choral chaplains, 8 bassos, 8 tenors, 8 counter-tenors, and 8 sopranos and contraltos.

The Temporal Power of the Popes

By the Temporal Power of the Popes is known the claim that the Holy Father makes to certain estates over which the sovereignty of the Bishop of Rome has had all the force of centuries of sacred tradition.

Pope Pius IX, in his Allocution of April 20, 1849, said: “Peoples, kings, and nations would never turn with free confidence and devotion to the Bishop of Rome if they saw him the subject of a Sovereign or a government, and did not  know him to be in the possession of his full liberty.”

That the Holy Father, ruling as he does over the spiritual needs of millions of subjects throughout the world, should not himself be the subject of any government will always seem reasonable and just to Americans, who understand the arrangement by which the President of the United States and the seat of the country’s government are entirely free and independent of the sovereignty of any state, being settled in a district over which the United States government alone exercises control. Otherwise there would arise a strong suspicion that the acts of Congress might sometime yield to the influence of the State in whose territory the United States government was located.

So, too, the Pope should be entirely free from any attempt at coercion or undue influences. The Church could not risk the chance that its laws would be disobeyed, because of even a suspicion of such influence. Then, the Holy Father, if he were a subject, must render service as a citizen. The needs of his country must be paramount. He must devote his talents, time and energy to his country’s service when called upon. He must further its interests in the event of clash with another country. Now, no one country is the Holy Father’s. From the time that he ascends the Papal throne he ceases to belong to any one nation. He is the common possession of millions scattered throughout all the nations of the earth. If he cannot be the subject of any earthly power, then he must be a sovereign. There is no intermediate state.

The prerogative of temporal power is of course not actually necessary for the being of the Church, but it is necessary for its well being. It is not necessary for the exercise of the Pope’s supreme power over the Church, but it is necessary peaceful and independent exercise. Gregorovius in his History of Rome, Vol. 3, page 5, says: “The existence of the ecclesiastical Roman state was an essential condition of the spiritual independence of the Pope.” Lord Ellenborough, in the British House of Commons, June 12, 1849, voiced the feelings of his own and of other nations, when he said, that, “It was as much an object of interest to us, not a Catholic state, as to any of the Catholic Powers of Europe, that the Pope should be in a position of independence.”

Acquisition of Temporal Power

The acquisition of the temporal sovereignty by the Popes was not the result of ambitious striving, but the natural outcome of historical changes. It came unsought, as the result of Christian transformation. It was never desired for itself, for the power confided to them by Christ was not of this world. Nor was it ever claimed as absolutely indispensable. The possessions were free gifts for services rendered.

After Constantine removed the seat of his empire to Byzantium in the year 330, less and less interest was taken in the affairs of central Italy by the government. The people were shamefully neglected and turned naturally to the Pope for assistance. In time came the Heruli, the Goths, the Visigoths, the Huns and the Lombards, threatening Rome with sack and ruin, and the armies of the empire were not there to oppose them. It was the Pope who saved Rome, not the government far away at Constantinople. Leo, the Great, stood against Attila, the scourge of God and compelled him to retreat. Pope Leo also prevailed upon Genseric to withdraw from Rome. Pope Zachary, in the eighth century, saved Rome on two occasions from the Lombards. So it happened that from the Peace of Constantine to the Crowning of Charlemagne the Popes were gradually released because of services to the state from all subjection to any civil authority. They became the rulers of certain states in Italy given to them by Pepin and Charles. How well they ruled in the eighth century is noted in Gibbons’ “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.” “The Romans were accustomed to consider the Popes as first magistrates or princes of the city. Their temporal dominion is now confirmed by the reverence of a thousand years, and their noblest title is the free choice of a people whom they had redeemed from slavery.” Vol. VI, P. 151.


The Loss of Temporal Power

With the entry of the Italian troops into Rome, in August, 1870, under Victor Emmanuel, the Pope ceased to exercise the rights of sovereignty over any part of the ancient Pontifical States. The Italian government offered the Holy Father what was termed an adequate substitute for his vanished temporal power, contained in the Law of Guarantees, passed May, 1871. Its provision decreed the person of the Pope as sacred and inviolable. There were to be no offenses against him, either in speeches or acts of any kind. The government was to pay him the honors accorded him by Catholic sovereigns. His correspondence with the  Catholic world was to be free of interference. Catholic institutions in Rome were not to be interfered with. Monsignor Prior, D. D., in a work on “The Roman Question,” says of these provisions of the Law of Guarantees, that (1) the Law was never sanctioned by the Powers, (2) It has never been observed by the Italian government, (3) It contains essential defects, (4) It has been consistently rejected by the Popes.

It is a fact that the different governments had previously declared that the question of Temporal Power was an international  one, in which they were interested. They have not sanctioned the Law of Guarantees. They have been content to reserve judgment, and their right to intervene. Some measure of support has been given the Pope by some of the Powers, noticeable in the fact, that with one exception, none of the Catholic powers have visited Rome since 1870.

The Courts of Cassation in Rome, Naples and Turin are on record, in interpretation of the New of Guarantees, as placing the person of the Pope as on a level with the person of the King. Yet the Italian government has persistently refused to notice insults against the Pope, published in certain journals, and uttered in open meetings. He was called the “worst of rogues”; yet there was no action from the government. The Civilta Cattolica, March 1, 1907, bitterly lamented the outrages committed against the Holy Father by the anti-religious and immoral press of Rome. Shameless and obscene caricatures were flaunted everywhere, and everything possible was done to excite the hatred and contempt of the populace against him. The law was publicly and repeatedly trodden under foot. Only the protecting walls of the Vatican have saved him from personal injury. Property of the congregations of the Church has been confiscated by the government. Convents and religious houses have been suppressed, their inmates turned adrift. Priests have been made subject to military duties.

Really a better spirit prevails at the present writing, due perhaps to Catholic assistance in the Great War, especially in the counsels of the Italian ministry. The above is mentioned merely to illustrate the grave instances in which they have violated their own law, claimed by them to be an adequate substitute to the Holy Father for the confiscation of the Papal States.

Arbitration and the Popes

The great war in Europe in the early part of the twentieth century gave rise to some talk, mostly anti-Catholic newspaper comment, as to the power of the Church in controlling nations supposed to be entirely Catholic. As a matter of fact, the nations involved were not Catholic. Great Britain cannot be so considered, France has forfeited any such claim by its iniquitous persecutions and confiscation of Church property, Germany is not a Catholic country and the Balkan nations have been too frequently involved in war to come even slightly under the influence of the Church. Austria and Italy may be considered as Catholic countries, and Austria alone was Catholic in government. Any reasonable being will understand that the Church cannot always prevent the outbreak of hostilities caused by various influences attributed to the greed, avarice and ambitions of so called Christian people. But students of history understand that the Church was just as actively engaged in working towards a peaceful settlement of the European differences of our time as at any other period. The Head of the Catholic Church has ever been active in advocating pacificism and the principle of arbitration in the settlement of difficulties. More than that, the Pope has been especially prominent in such proceedings ever since the days of early Christianity. The editor of Rome, an Italian semi-officer periodical, points out several occasions, notably the arbitration between Spain and Portugal regarding American possessions, and on the subject of the Caroline Islands entrusted to Leo XIII by Bismarck.


A concordat is an agreement between the Holy see and some secular government, between Church and State, for the regulation and practice of religion in that State. From time to time the Church has found it to be necessary for practical purposes to have an understanding with the State regarding the exercise of religion. The Church has been constituted to work for the salvation of souls. To her, Almighty God who gave this mission, has entrusted powers in proportion to the duty imposed. The State, too, has its mission and its corresponding faculties, but as in the human person, there is contention of the lower nature against the higher, so in that system where social and religious elements enter, the forces that make for this world  array themselves against the spiritual.

One of the most famous concordats was that between Pius VII and Napoleon Bonaparte. France had become the prey of the irreligious. Napoleon was wise enough to comprehend the necessity of religious influence to control a people. And the Pope understood that the best practical results, for that time at least, were obtainable by agreement with the Emperor. The Church had been robbed, persecuted, and doomed to death, but after its delirium, France in a return to reason invoked the aid of the Church as necessary to its own preservation. This concordat was in a measure to repair the thievings of the Revolution by according salaries (?) to the Bishops and Priests.

Other famous concordats: That of Worms, in 1122, between Pope Calixtus II and the Emperor Henry V; that of Frankfort or Vienna (1446-8) called the concordat of the German Nation; that of 1515, between Leo X and Francis I. Later times there have been concordats with Russia, in 1847; with the Republic of Costa Rica, in 1852, with Austria in 1855.

Peter’s Pence

An annual tax of one penny for every house in England, collected at Mid-summer and paid to the Holy See, is given in Addis-Arnold’s Catholic Dictionary as the origin of our modern offering of Peter’s Pence. There is evidence of it being done under Canute in 1031. It is thought to be of even earlier origin. Some hold that Alfred the Great was one to send offerings in this way to the Pope, about 870.

The Peter’s Pence of our day is a voluntary offering of the faithful, sent for the support of the Pope, in some form of regularity, especially since the deprivation of the Papal States in recent years cut off the Vatican from all other source of revenue. All offerings made in the parish church for this fund are forwarded to the bishop of the diocese and by him transferred to the Vatican.

It may be said, however, that in the great distress following upon the war, the poor of Europe turned to the Holy Father for aid in such numbers and with such frequency that Peter’s Pence represented our charity to the world’s poor more particularly than support of the Pope.


  • Holy Bible

  • Businger’s History of the Catholic Church

  • Josephus Historian of the Jews

  • Parson’s Church History

  • Fouard’s Life of Christ

  • Monks of the West, Montalambert

  • Poland’s Sovereignty of Rome

  • Bishop Vaughan’s Purpose of the Papacy

  • Father Martin’s Roman Curia

  • Guggenberger, History of Christian Era

  • Spaulding’s History of Protestant Reformation

  • Mayrick’s Lives of the Early Popes

  • Beginnings of the Church, Fouard

  • Christian Anthropology, Thein

  • Catholic Encyclopedia

  • Genius of Christianity, Chateaubriand


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