- In antiquity, the mons vaticanus was a religious
site associated with the taking of auguries and auspices; it was at
the end of the circus of Nero; and since it was outside the original
city walls, it was appropriate as a necropolis to which the
Christians brought their dead, many of whom had been persecuted in
the nearby circus. Among those interred here was St. Peter, and so
the Basilica of St. Peter was built atop his grave. Since the end of
the Avignon captivity in 1377, the Vatican has served as the chief
residence of the Popes, and so the term “Vatican” often serves to
denote the Holy See, the papal provenance of Church policies or
pronouncements. Located within the Vatican are most of the offices
of the Papal Curia, the residences of some cardinals and other
Church officials, the Swiss Guard, and the Vatican Museums and
- Official name, Stato della Città del Vaticano. It is
the territorial see of the Papacy, determined by the Lateran Treaty
of 1929. Situated within the geographic boundary of Rome, it covers
an area of 108.7 acres and includes the Vatican Palace, St. Peter’s
Basilica, Vatican Radio Station, and numerous other buildings that
serve the Pope and the administration of the universal Church.
Ultimate authority for Vatican City is vested in the Pope but
actually administered by the Pontifical Commission for the State of
Vatican City. In general, the government is based on canon law or,
where this does not apply, on existing laws of the city of Rome. It
is politically a neutral state and enjoys all the privileges and
duties of a sovereign power. The Papal Secretariat maintains
diplomatic relations with other nations. Only the citizens of
Vatican City owe allegiance to the Pope as temporal ruler.
A title given to one who, by papal decree, has been declared
heroically virtuous and whose sanctity has been proved. It is a
preliminary step toward the beatification and ultimate canonization
of the subject.
Veneration of Saints
- reverence, respect.’ The reverence or honor paid to
saints, relics of martyrs, etc. because of their personal sanctity
and closeness to God. ‘Cultus dulice’ is a special respect
due to angels and saints; ‘cultus hyperdulice’ is a still
greater respect due to Mary, the Mother of God. It is not the same
as adoration and worship paid to God. St Jerome says, “We do not
worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the
creature rather than the Creator, but we venerate the relics of
martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.”
Honor paid to the saints who, by
their intercession and example and in their possession of God,
minister to human sanctification, helping the faithful grow in
Christian virtue. Venerating the saints does not detract from the
glory given to God, since whatever good they possess is a gift from
his bounty. They reflect the divine perfections, and their
supernatural qualities result from the graces Christ merited for
them by the Cross. In the language of the Church’s liturgy, the
saints are venerated as sanctuaries of the Trinity, as adopted
children of the Father, brethren of Christ, faithful members of his
Mystical Body, and temples of the Holy Spirit.
Venial Sin - An offense against God which does not deprive the sinner of sanctifying grace. It is called venial (from venia, pardon) because the soul still has the vital principle that allows a cure from within, similar to the healing of a sick or diseased body whose source of animation (the soul) is still present to restore the ailing bodily function to health.
Deliberate venial sin is a disease that slackens the spiritual powers, lowers one’s resistance to evil, and causes one to deviate from the path that leads to heavenly glory. Variously called “daily sins” or “light sins” or “lesser sins,” they are committed under a variety of conditions: when a person transgresses with full or partial knowledge and consent to a divine law that does not oblige seriously; when one violates a law that obliges gravely but either one’s knowledge or consent is not complete; or when one disobeys what is an objectively grave precept but due to invincible ignorance a person thinks the obligation is not serious.
The essence of venial sin consists
in a certain disorder but does not imply complete aversion from
humanity’s final destiny. It is an illness of the soul rather than
its supernatural death. When people commit a venial sin, they do not
decisively set themselves on turning away from God, but from
overfondness for some created good fall short of God. They are like
persons who loiter without leaving the way.
- Special garments worn by the clergy, in conformity with Church
regulations, at the celebration of the Mass, administration of the
sacraments, in procession, when giving blessings, and in general
whenever exercising their official priestly duties. The use of
vestments goes back to the ritual garb of the priesthood of Aaron.
In the Catholic Church, even in catacomb days, priests and bishops
were specially, if not always distinctively, garbed when celebrating
the liturgy. With the Church’s liberation and her emergence into
public life, liturgical garments were commonly used to distinguish
them from secular dress.
The Latin word meaning "with you on the way." Viaticum refers to
communion received when one is near death. This sacrament of
Communion is meant to bring special comfort and strength to the
person who may experience death in the near future. Immediately
after the usual formula, " The Body of Christ, Amen," the priest
adds, " May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal
life," and the response made is, Amen." Viaticum is given together
with the Sacrament of the Sick when the person is really near death;
if the person is not near death, Communion is not referred to as
- One appointed by the Holy See to govern a
territory which has not yet been established as a diocese. The
appointee usually is a titular bishop, although a priest can be
selected. Missionary territories comprise most of the present day
“vicarities apostolic” as they are called.
A priest appointed by the bishop to help him
rule the diocese. Considered the second highest official in the
diocese, he has the same powers of jurisdiction as the bishop except
insofar as his bishop or Canon Law makes certain exceptions. The
bishop may remove him from office at any time. At the death of the
bishop, his office automatically is lost.
- A title given to the Pope who, as a
successor of St. Peter, is the visible head of the Church, the
representative of Our Lord, and in whom is invested the spiritual
leadership of Catholics throughout the world.
A bad moral habit.
Technically a vice is the strong tendency to a gravely sinful act
acquired through frequent repetition of the same act. Qualities that
characterize a vice are spontaneity, ease, and satisfaction in doing
what is morally wrong.
The day or eve before a more or less prominent feast or solemnity.
It was observed as a preparation for the following day with special
offices and prayers and formerly with a fast, honoring the
particular mystery of religion or the saint to be venerated on the
feast day. The Church today observes solemn vigils for Christmas,
Easter, and Pentecost. Although the number of such solemn vigils has
been reduced since the Second Vatican Council, the Church still
wants the notion of vigils to be kept alive in the minds of the
faithful. Thus “it is fitting that Bible services on the vigils of
great feasts, on certain ferial days of Lent and Advent, on Sundays
and feastdays, should also have the same structure as the liturgy of
the Word at Mass” (Inter Oecumenici, 1964, 38).
of Christ - A dogma of the Church which
states that Christ, the Son of God, was conceived of the Holy Spirit
and was born of the Virgin Mary who remained a virgin before the
conception, during and after His birth. Luke repeatedly stressed
that the betrothed Mary was still a virgin at the time of the
Annunciation to her. The account of Matthew is in perfect agreement
with that of Luke – that Mary was with child from the Holy Spirit
before she lived with her betrothed, Joseph. Although the other two
evangelists omit this information they do mention the Heavenly
Father of Jesus, and thus presuppose His virgin birth.
- Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was a virgin before,
through and after the conception and birth of Christ, ante
partum, in partu, et post partum, according to the consistent
teaching of the Church from antiquity, thus, it is held that Mary’s
virginity was perpetual. Although some misunderstand the reference
to the “brethren of the Lord” as violating her virginity, actually
this reference is probably to close relations or cousins. Jesus
Christ remains the only Son of Mary, while her maternity encompasses
all who are born again in Christ, “the first-born among many
brethren” (Rom 8:29).
- The state of bodily integrity in either sex. This integrity
may be physical or moral, and either factual or intentional.
Physical virginity is sometimes defined as the absence of any
sinfully experienced lustful sensation. But, strictly speaking, a
person is physically a virgin unless he or she has had sexual
intercourse with a person of the opposite sex. Moral virginity means
the absence of any willful consent to venereal pleasure; again,
strictly speaking, with a person of the opposite sex. Virginity is
factual when, de facto, a person has not in the past sought or
indulged in sexual pleasure; it is intentional when a person intends
never to experience such pleasure, according to the previous
- A good habit of the intellect or will that enables one to
perform an action with ease. Some are infused (e.g. theological
virtues: faith, hope, charity) while others are developed by
practice (e.g. cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, fortitude,
temperance). Virtue brings to fulfillment the powers and abilities
that one possesses.
Vocation - In the religious sense, a call from God to serve Him in a particular state such as a priest or religious. This beckoning is not audible, nor is one struck blind as St. Paul. Rather, it consists of a strong inclination to serve God alone and to devote one´s life to His service. The other elements of a vocation are: 1. The physical, intellectual, and moral aptitude for a religious life; 2. The desire to more surely secure one´s salvation and to aid others to attain eternal happiness; 3. Admission to a religious order or, for ordination, acceptance in a seminary and a calling by the bishop.
In a general sense a vocation
denotes any specific calling in life, such as marriage.
- A free, deliberate promise made to God to do something that
is good and that is more pleasing to God than its omission would be.
The one vowing must realize that a special sin is committed by
violating the promise. A vow binds under pain of sin (grave or
slight) according to the intention of the one taking the vow. If one
vows with regard to grave matter, one is presumed to intend to bind
oneself under pain of serious sin. Vows enhance the moral value of
human actions on several counts. They unite the soul to God by a new
bond of religion, and so the acts included under the vow become also
acts of religion. Hence they are more meritorious. By taking a vow,
a person surrenders to God the moral freedom of acting otherwise,
like the one who not only gives at times the fruit of the tree, but
gives up the tree itself. And vows forestall human weakness, since
they do not leave matters to the indecision or caprice of the
moment. Their very purpose is to invoke divine grace to sustain
one’s resolution until the vow expires or, in the case of perpetual
vows, even until death.
Vow of Chastity
- The vow by which a person freely gives up the right to
marriage, and adds the obligation of the virtue of religion to the
duty of abstaining from all voluntary indulgence of sexual pleasure.
Vow of Obedience
The voluntary binding of oneself
under oath to obey superiors in a religious institute, or a
confessor, or spiritual guide. By this means a person is more
permanently and securely united with God’s saving will. Speaking of
religious, the Second Vatican Council declares: “Moved by the Holy
Spirit, they subject themselves in faith to those who hold God’s
place, their superiors. Through them they are led to serve all their
brothers in Christ, just as Christ ministered to his brothers in
submission to the Father and laid down his life for the redemption
of many. They are thus bound more closely to the Church’s service
and they endeavor to attain to the measure of the stature of the
fullness of Christ” (Decree on Renewal of Religious Life,
14). In some institutes of perfection a promise of obedience is
taken instead of a formal vow.
Vow of Poverty -
The vow by which a person freely gives up the ownership, or at least
the independent use and administration, of temporal goods.