Spiritual developmentReligion

Roman Catholic Church: History, Description, Head and Saints

Perhaps, one of the largest Christian churches is the Roman Catholic Church. It otvetstvila she from the general direction of Christianity in the far first centuries of its emergence. The very word "Catholicism" is derived from the Greek "universal", or "universal." More details on the origin of the church, as well as its features, we'll talk in this article.


The history of the Roman Catholic Church begins in 1054, when an event occurred, which in the annals remained under the title of "The Great Schism." Although Catholics do not deny that all events before the split - and their history. Simply from this moment they went their own way. In the specified year the Patriarch and the Pope exchanged menacing messages and betrayed each other anathema. After this, Christianity finally split and two currents were formed - Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

As a result of the split in the Christian Church, a western (Catholic) trend was identified, centered on Rome, and east (orthodox), centered in Constantinople. Of course, the apparent cause for this event was disagreements in dogmatic and canonical questions, as well as in liturgical and disciplinary matters, which began long before that date. And in this year the disagreement and misunderstanding reached its peak.

However, in fact, everything was much deeper, and the point here was not only the differences between dogmas and canons, but also the usual confrontation between rulers (even ecclesiasticals) over the newly baptized lands. Also, the opposition was strongly influenced by the unequal position of the Roman Pope and the Patriarch of Constantinople, because, because of the division of the Roman Empire, it was split into two parts - the Eastern and the Western.

The eastern part preserved its independence much longer, therefore the Patriarch, although controlled by the emperor, had protection in the person of the state. The West, however, ceased to exist in the fifth century, and the Pope received a relative independence, but also the possibility of attacking the barbarous states that appeared on the territory of the former Western Roman Empire. Only in the middle of the VIII century the Pope is given land, which automatically makes him a secular sovereign.

The modern spread of Catholicism

To date, Catholicism is the most numerous branch of Christianity, which is spread all over the world. For 2007, there were about 1.147 billion Catholics on our planet. The largest number is in Europe, where in many countries this religion is state or predominates over others (France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Poland, etc.).

On the American continent, Catholics are everywhere. Also, followers of this religion can be found on the Asian continent - the Philippines, East Timor, China, South Korea, Vietnam. In Muslim countries, too many Catholics, but most of all they live in Lebanon. On the African continent, they are also common (from 110 to 175 million).

Internal management of the church

Now we should consider what the administrative structure of this direction of Christianity is. The Pope of the Roman Catholic Church is the highest authority in the hierarchy, and also the jurisdiction over the laity and the clergy. The head of the Roman Catholic Church is selected at the conclave by the College of Cardinals. Usually he retains his powers for the rest of his life, except for cases of lawful self-denial. It should be noted that in the Catholic teaching the Pope is considered the receiver of the apostle Peter (and according to him, Jesus ordered the whole church to be patronized), therefore his authority and decisions are infallible and true.

Further in the structure of the church there are the following posts:

  • Bishop, priest, deacon - degrees of the priesthood.
  • Cardinal, Archbishop, Primate, Metropolitan, etc. - church degrees and positions (there are a lot more of them).

Territorial units in Catholicism are the following:

  • Individual churches, which are called dioceses, or dioceses. The bishop is in charge here.
  • Special dioceses, of great importance, are called archiocese. The archbishop heads them.
  • Those churches that do not have the status of a diocese (for one reason or another) are called apostolic administrations.
  • Several dioceses, united together, are called metropolises. Their center is that diocese, whose bishop has the rank of Metropolitan.
  • Parishes are the foundation of every church. They are formed within a single locality (for example, a small town) or due to a common nationality, linguistic differences.

Existing church rites

It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church has differences in rituals during the performance of worship (however, unity in faith and morality is preserved). There are the following popular rites:

  • Latin;
  • Lyons;
  • Ambrosian;
  • Mozarabic and so on.

Their difference may be in some disciplinary matters, in the language in which the worship is read, etc.

Monastic orders in the church

Because of the wide interpretation of church canons and divine dogmas, the Roman Catholic Church has about one hundred and forty monastic orders in its composition. Their history they have since ancient times. Let's list the most famous orders:

  • The Augustinians . His story begins about the fifth century with the writing of the statute of the blessed Augustine. The immediate formation of the order took place much later.
  • The Benedictines . It is considered the first officially founded monastic order. This event occurred at the beginning of the VI century.
  • The Hospitallers . Knight's Order, which began in 1080 by a Benedictine monk Gerard. Religious regulations of the order appeared only in 1099.
  • Dominicans . The mendicant order, which Dominique de Guzman founded in 1215. The purpose of its creation is the struggle against heretical teachings.
  • The Jesuits . This direction was created in 1540 by Pope Paul III. His goal became prosaic: the struggle against the growing movement of Protestantism.
  • Capuchin . This order was founded in Italy in 1529. Its original purpose is still the same - the struggle against the Reformation.
  • Carthusians . The first monastery of the Order was built in 1084, but it was officially approved only in 1176.
  • The Templars . The military-monastic order is perhaps the most famous and enveloped in mysticism. After some time after the creation, it became more military than monastic. The original goal was to protect the pilgrims and Christians from the Muslims in Jerusalem.
  • The Teutons . Another military monastic order, which founded the German crusaders in 1128.
  • The Franciscans . The order was created in 1207-1209, but it was approved only in 1223.

In addition to the Orders in the Catholic Church there are so-called Uniates - those believers who preserved their traditional worship, but at the same time they accepted the creed of Catholics, as well as the authority of the Pope. Here you can include:

  • Armenian Catholics;
  • Redemptorists;
  • The Belarusian Greco-Catholic Church;
  • The Romanian Greek Catholic Church;
  • The Russian Orthodox Catholic Church;
  • The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

Holy Churches

Below we will consider what are the most famous saints of the Roman Catholic Church:

  • St. John the Theologian.
  • St. Stephen the First Martyr.
  • St. Charles Borromeo.
  • St. Faustina Kowalska.
  • St. Jerome.
  • St. Gregory the Great.
  • St. Bernard.
  • St. Augustine.

The difference between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church

Now, about what the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church differ from each other in the modern version:

  • For the Orthodox, the unity of the church is faith and ordinances, and for the Catholics, the infallibility and inviolability of the power of the pope are added here.
  • For the Orthodox, the Universal Church is every local church headed by a bishop. For Catholics, it is necessary to communicate with the Roman Catholic Church.
  • The Holy Spirit comes from the Orthodox only from the father. Catholics have both the Father and the Son.
  • Divorce is possible in Orthodoxy. They are inadmissible for Catholics.
  • In Orthodoxy there is no such thing as purgatory. This dogma was proclaimed by Catholics.
  • The Orthodox recognize the holiness of the Virgin Mary, but deny her immaculate conception. The Catholics have a dogma that the Virgin Mary was born as well as Jesus.
  • Orthodox have one rite, which originated in Byzantium. In Catholicism there are many.


Despite some differences, the Roman Catholic Church is still fraternal by faith for the Orthodox. Misunderstandings in the past have divided Christians, turning them into irreconcilable enemies, but this should not continue now.

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