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The Catholic Church, sometimes referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide . As the world's oldest and largest 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 is the Holy See.

The Christian beliefs of Catholicism are found in the Nicene Creed. The Catholic Church teaches that it is the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles, and that the pope is the successor to Saint Peter upon 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, enclosed monastic orders and third 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 Divine Mercy, 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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The Sistine Chapel has been the location of the conclave since 1492.

A papal conclave is a meeting of the College of Cardinals to elect the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church (or Bishop of Rome) who is considered by Catholics to be the Successor of Saint Peter and head of the Church. A history of political interference in these elections and consequently long vacancies between popes, and most immediately the interregnum of 1268-1271, prompted the Second Council of Lyons which decreed in 1274 that the electors should be locked in seclusion cum clave (Latin for "with a key"), and not permitted to leave until a new Bishop of Rome is elected. Conclaves are now held in the Sistine Chapel in the Palace of the Vatican. In the early centuries of Christianity the bishop of Rome (like other bishops) was chosen by the consensus of the clergy and people of Rome. The body of electors was more precisely defined when, in 1059, the College of Cardinals was designated the sole body of electors. Since then other details of the process have developed. In 1970 Pope Paul VI limited the electors to cardinals under 80 years of age.
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Leonardo da Vinci - Virgin and Child with Ss Anne and John the Baptist.jpg

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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'The Venerable Bede translates John'

Bede (/ˈbd/; c. 672 or 673 – May 25, 735), also Saint Bede, the Venerable Bede, or (from Latin) Beda (Old English pronunciation: [beda]), was a Benedictine monk at the Northumbrian monastery of Saint Peter at Monkwearmouth, today part of Sunderland, and of its companion monastery, Saint Paul's, in modern Jarrow (see Wearmouth-Jarrow), both Northumbria. He is well known as an author and scholar, and his most famous work, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History of the English People) gained him the title "The father of English history". Bede became known as Venerable Bede (Lat.: Beda Venerabilis) soon after his death, but this was not linked to consideration for sainthood by the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, his title is believed to come from a mistranslation of the Latin inscription on his tomb in Durham Cathedral, intended to be Here lie the venerable bones of Bede, but wrongly interpreted as here lie the bones of the Venerable Bede.
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Red Scapular of the Passion

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Feast Day of January 8

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depiction of Saint Gudula bearing a lantern which the demon endeavors to extinguish; from New York Public Library
Saint Gudula was born in the pagus of Brabant (in present-day Belgium). According to her 11th-century biography (Vita Gudilae), written by a monk of the abbey of Hautmont between 1048 and 1051, she was the daughter of a duke of Lotharingia called Witger and Amalberga of Maubeuge. She died between 680 and 714.

Her name is connected to several places:

  • Moorsel (where she lived)
  • Brussels (where a chapter in her honour was founded in 1047)
  • Eibingen (where the relic of her skull is conserved).

In Brabant she is usually called Goedele or Goule; (Latin: Gudila, later Gudula, Dutch: Sinte Goedele, French: Sainte Gudule).
Attributes: depicted as a woman with lantern which the devil tries to blow out
Patronage: Brussels; single laywomen

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Robert Bellarmine, SJ, Doctor of the Church
Robert Bellarmine Decree on the Bishops' Pastoral Office


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IHS with angels,
Crown of Thorns,
at Hostýn,
Czech Republic.
31 December 2019 – 2018–19 Southern Africa drought
Severe drought conditions continue in Zimbabwe where close to 7 million people are facing food shortages, according to a Catholic aid agency. Because of repeated droughts over the past five years, many of Zimbabwe’s small farmers are unable to feed their families. Catholic Relief Services is working with farmers teaching soil and water conservation methods. The agency offers drought-resistant crops to farmers and is cooperating on a notification system warning farmers about threats to their harvest. (Catholic News Agency) (Bloomberg News)
20 December 2019 –
The Two Popes film is released on Netflix just before the holiday season. It has a limited theatrical release during November in the United States and United Kingdom. Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis gives a dramatic interpretation of a series of conversations that took place between the liberal cardinal and the conservative incumbent Pope Benedict (played by Anthony Hopkins). (Screen Daily)
8 December 2019 –
Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, to head the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. It is a congregation of the Roman Curia, responsible for world-wide missionary work and related activities. (Catholic News Agency)
26 November 2019 – 2019 Albania earthquake
Pope Francis prays for victims of the earthquake in Albania and sends “heartfelt condolences” to Albanian President Ilir Meta. The quake's epicenter is less than 20 miles from Tirana, the country’s capital city, which has a population of 900,000. Additional earthquakes occurred in southern Bosnia and the Greek island of Crete. (CNA)

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