Thursday, December 25, 2014


Watch Vatican as you have never done before. The beauty and splendor The Vatican (click the link) in 360 degrees Panoramic View.

This page on the Vatican’s website allows you to click on any of several different locations and quickly go inside for a look around. Make sure your computer is muted if you don’t want to hear music.

The Vatican Catacomb Beneath the modern city of Rome lies a network of catacombs, the ancient burial places for the remains of Christians, Jews and pagans. Carved out of volcanic rock and connected by tunnels, these subterranean tombs are adorned with art and sculpture. Whether you prefer to explore on foot, by bus or in a private car, a tour of the Vatican catacombs is a fascinating way to spend a day. 

The Sistine Chapel - Michaelangelo
 One place the tour of the Vatican doesn't include is the Sistine Chapel. Click here and look skyward to see Michelangelo’s handiwork. Use your arrow keys to move the picture around.

Vatican City is the smallest independent state in the world with a total area of 0.44 square kilometers and the total length of the state border of 3 kilometers.
The "border" is quite symbolic. It's a white line on the pavement along the outer perimeter of St. Peter's Square and the defense wall built in the XVI century to prevent trespassing. Actually, this type of wall surrounds any monastery or a bastion. Vatican has neither border guards nor passport control, but it has a certain dress code. Since Vatican is a religious country, visitors are supposed be dressed appropriately (no shorts or cleavage). However in general, Vatican and its majestic monuments belong to a long list of Rome landmarks.
Vatican has almost two thousand years of history. Mons Vaticanus hill was here in the past; the name is translated from Latin as "the place of divination." It was considered sacred in ancient Rome. The Circus of Nero was built here, a place where the ruthless emperor tortured his victims. Also, it was in this circus that Saint Peter met his death. In 326 A.C., when Christianity came to this land, Constantinian Basilica was built atop of alleged tomb of Saint Peter, which gave start to Papal State.

St. Peter's Basilica and Saint Peter's Square
It rapidly expanded, and by the end of XIX century it occupied most of the Apennine peninsula. In 1870 the Kingdom of Italy seized the papal lands. At that time the Pope locked himself in the Vatican Hill, declaring himself a prisoner. It took six decades to settle the political confrontation between the Italian Government and the Papacy. So in 1929 Vatican City State became a sovereign territory of the Holy See.
Despite its small territory, Vatican City has fabulous treasures. The treasures have accumulated gradually, and over time this collection has grown so much that now it requires separate museums. So today the main Vatican landmarks contain priceless works of art, created by famous artists and sculptors. 
Interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Famous St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City is more than just a tourist attraction. It's the heart of the country, a symbol of Catholicism and, until recently, the largest Christian church in the world. It employed several generations of great artisans, including Raphael and Michelangelo.
The church has the internal floor area 15160 square meters (with total area about 23000 square meters). Its height is 133 meters and length is 211.5 meters (with portico). The dome sits on top of four heavy pillars; it has an inner height of 119 meters and 42 meters in diameter. St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City has given up its first place only recently. In 1990 a church in the capital of Cote d'Ivoire, an African country, surpassed it in size. But even this largest Christian church was built after St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City!
St. Peter's Basilica
And of course, we should mention the giant Cathedral Square, which was built to accommodate maximum number of believers. It's a world masterpiece of urban planning. It has monumental fountains and an obelisk, which contains pieces of the Holy Cross. At nighttime the square is illuminated, creating a special atmosphere in this sacred place. 
St. Peter's Basilica and Saint Peter's Square

Of course, Vatican City is more than just a church, the square, and museums. Over a half of the city-state territory is filled with gardens established during Renaissance and Baroque era by order of the Pope. Most of the gardens are well maintained, but there are wild areas with dense thickets of oak, cypress and other wild trees. There are bats, snakes, rabbits, and birds in the gardens! As well as Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pius IV villa decorated with mosaics, palaces, towers, college, and the Vatican Railway: cleanest and most un-crowded train station in the world.
These (and many more) parts of Vatican City are not open for tourists. However, now you can see them on our aerial panoramas.
Photography by Stanislav Sedov and Dmitry Moiseenko
31 October 2012

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Map of the spread of Christianity by 300 in dark blue, by 600 in light blue, 
and by 800 in green-yellow.
Early Christianity (generally considered the time period from its start to 325), spread from the Eastern Mediterranean throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, reaching as far east as India. Originally, this progression was closely connected to already established Jewish centers, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora. The first followers of Christianity were Jews or biblical proselytes, commonly referred to as Jewish Christians and Godfearers.

The Apostolic Sees claim to have been founded by one or more of the Apostles of Jesus, who are said to have dispersed from Jerusalem sometime after the Crucifixion of Jesus, c. 26–36, perhaps following the Great Commission. Early Christians gathered in small private homes, known as house churches, but a city's whole Christian community would also be called a church – the Greek noun ἐκκλησία literally means assembly, gathering, or congregation but is translated as church in most English translations of the New Testament.

Many of these Early Christians were merchants and others who had practical reasons for traveling to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and other places. Over 40 such communities were established by the year 100, many in Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, such as the Seven Churches of Asia. By the end of the first century, Christianity had already spread to Rome, India, and major cities in Armenia, Greece and Syria, serving as foundations for the expansive spread of Christianity, eventually throughout the world.

Exactly when Christians first appeared in Rome is difficult to determine (see Godfearers, Proselytes, and History of the Jews in the Roman Empire for the historical background). The Acts of the Apostles claims that the Jewish Christian couple Priscilla and Aquila had recently come from Rome to Corinth when, in about the year 50, Paul reached the latter city, indicating that belief in Jesus in Rome had preceded Paul. In the second century Irenaeus of Lyons, reflecting the ancient view that the church could not be fully present anywhere without a bishop, recorded that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as bishop. While the church in Rome was already flourishing when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans to them from Corinth, about 57, he greets some fifty people in Rome by name, but not Peter whom he knew. There is also no mention of Peter in Rome later during Paul's two-year stay there in Acts 28, about 60–62. Church historians consistently consider Peter and Paul to have been martyred under the reign of Nero in 64, after the Great Fire of Rome which, according to Tacitus, Nero blamed on the Christians.

Paul's Epistle to the Romans 16 (c 58) attests to a large Christian community already there but does not mention Peter. The tradition that the See of Rome was founded as an organized Christian community by Peter and Paul and that its episcopate owes to them its origin can be traced as far back as second-century Irenaeus. Irenaeus does not say that either Peter or Paul was "bishop" of the Church in Rome, and some historians have questioned whether Peter spent much time in Rome before his martyrdom.

Oscar Cullmann sharply rejected the claim that Peter began the papal succession, and concludes that while Peter was the original head of the apostles, Peter was not the founder of any visible church succession.

The original seat of Roman imperial power soon became a center of church authority, grew in power decade by decade, and was recognized during the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, when the seat of government had been transferred to Constantinople, as the "head" of the church.

Rome and Alexandria, which by tradition held authority over sees outside their own province, were not yet referred to as patriarchates.

The earliest Bishops of Rome were all Greek-speaking, the most notable of them being: Pope Clement I (c. 88–97), author of an Epistle to the Church in Corinth; Pope Telesphorus (c. 126–136), probably the only martyr among them; Pope Pius I (c. 141–154), said by the Muratorian fragment to have been the brother of the author of the Shepherd of Hermas; and Pope Anicetus (c. 155–160), who received Saint Polycarp and discussed with him the dating of Easter 
Pope Victor I (189–198) was the first ecclesiastical writer known to have written in Latin; however, his only extant works are his encyclicals, which would naturally have been issued in both Latin and Greek.

Greek New Testament texts were translated into Latin early on, well before Jerome, and are classified as the Vetus Latina and Western text-type.

During the 2nd century, Christians and semi-Christians of diverse views congregated in Rome, notably Marcion and Valentinius, and in the following century there were schisms connected with Hippolytus of Rome and Novatian.

The Roman church survived various persecutions. Among the prominent Christians executed as a result of their refusal to perform acts of worship to the Roman gods as ordered by emperor Valerian in 258 were Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. The last and most severe of the imperial persecutions was that under Diocletian in 303; they ended in Rome, and the West in general, with the accession of Maxentius in 306.

The Roman Catholic Church

The term "catholic" is derived from the Greek word καθολικός (katholikos) meaning "universal" and was first used to describe the Church in the early 2nd century. The term katholikos is equivalent to καθόλου (katholou), a contraction of the phrase καθ' ὅλου (kath' holou) meaning "according to the whole". The combination "the catholic Church" (he katholike ekklesia) is recorded for the first time in the letter of St Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans, written about 110 AD. In the Catechetical Discourses of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the name "Catholic Church" is used to distinguish it from other groups that also call themselves the Church.

Since the East–West Schism of 1054, the Eastern Church has taken the adjective "Orthodox" as its distinctive epithet, and the Western Church in communion with the Holy See has similarly taken "Catholic", keeping that description also after the 16th-century Reformation, when those that ceased to be in communion became known as Protestants.
The name "Catholic Church" is the most common designation used in official church documents. It is also the name which Pope Paul VI used when signing documents of the Second Vatican Council. However, documents produced both by the Holy See and by certain national episcopal conferences occasionally refer to the Church as the Roman Catholic Church. The Catechism of Pope Pius X, published in 1908, also used the term "Roman" to distinguish the Catholic Church from other Christian communities who are not in full communion with the Holy See

 Constantine the Great (Latin: Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus;c. 27 February 272 -- 22 May 337), also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity,[notes Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all religions throughout the empire.

The foremost general of his time, Constantine defeated the emperors Maxentius and Licinius during civil wars. He also fought successfully against the Franks, Alamanni, Visigoths, and Sarmatians during his reign -- even resettling parts of Dacia which had been abandoned during the previous century. Constantine built a new imperial residence in place of Byzantium, naming it Constantinople, which would later be the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire for over one thousand years. He is thought of as the founder of the Eastern Roman Empire.

When did the term "Roman Catholic Church" first come into being? 

It is not possible to give an exact year when the Catholic Church began to be called the "Roman Catholic Church," but it is possible to approximate it. The term originates as an insult created by Anglicans who wished to refer to themselves as Catholic. They thus coined the term "Roman Catholic" to distinguish those in union with Rome from themselves and to create a sense in which they could refer to themselves as Catholics (by attempting to deprive actual Catholics to the right to the term).
Different variants of the "Roman" insult appeared at different times. The earliest form was the noun "Romanist" (one belonging to the Catholic Church), which appeared in England about 1515-1525. The next to develop was the adjective "Romish" (similar to something done or believed in the Catholic Church), which appeared around 1525-1535. Next came the noun "Roman Catholic" (one belonging to the Catholic Church), which was coined around 1595-1605. Shortly thereafter came the verb "to Romanize" (to make someone a Catholic or to become a Catholic), which appeared around 1600-10. Between 1665 and 1675 we got the noun "Romanism" (the system of Catholic beliefs and practices), and finally we got a latecomer term about 1815-1825, the noun "Roman Catholicism," a synonym for the earlier "Romanism."
A similar complex of insults arose around "pope." About 1515-25 the Anglicans coined the term "papist" and later its derivative "papism." A quick follow-up, in 1520-1530, was the adjective "popish." Next came "popery" (1525-1535), then "papistry" (1540-1550), with its later derivatives, "papistical" and "papistic." (Source: Random House Webster's College Dictionary, 1995 ed.)
This complex of insults is revealing as it shows the depths of animosity English Protestants had toward the Church. No other religious body (perhaps no other group at all, even national or racial) has such a complex of insults against it woven into the English language as does the Catholic Church. Even today many Protestants who have no idea what the origin of the term is cannot bring themselves to say "Catholic" without qualifying it or replacing it with an insult.

Catholic Answers Staff

How Did the Catholic Church Get Her Name?

by Kenneth D. Whitehead
The Creed which we recite on Sundays and holy days speaks of one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. As everybody knows, however, the Church referred to in this Creed is more commonly called just the Catholic Church. It is not, by the way, properly called the Roman Catholic Church, but simply the Catholic Church.
The term Roman Catholic is not used by the Church herself; it is a relatively modern term, and one, moreover, that is confined largely to the English language. The English-speaking bishops at the First Vatican Council in 1870, in fact, conducted a vigorous and successful campaign to insure that the term Roman Catholic was nowhere included in any of the Council's official documents about the Church herself, and the term was not included.
Similarly, nowhere in the 16 documents of the Second Vatican Council will you find the term Roman Catholic. Pope Paul VI signed all the documents of the Second Vatican Council as "I, Paul. Bishop of the Catholic Church." Simply that -- Catholic Church. There are references to the Roman curia, the Roman missal, the Roman rite, etc., but when the adjective Roman is applied to the Church herself, it refers to the Diocese of Rome!
Cardinals, for example, are called cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, but that designation means that when they are named to be cardinals they have thereby become honorary clergy of the Holy Father's home diocese, the Diocese of Rome. Each cardinal is given a titular church in Rome, and when the cardinals participate in the election of a new pope. they are participating in a process that in ancient times was carried out by the clergy of the Diocese of Rome.
Although the Diocese of Rome is central to the Catholic Church, this does not mean that the Roman rite, or, as is sometimes said, the Latin rite, is co-terminus with the Church as a whole; that would mean neglecting the Byzantine, Chaldean, Maronite or other Oriental rites which are all very much part of the Catholic Church today, as in the past.
In our day, much greater emphasis has been given to these "non-Roman" rites of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council devoted a special document, Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches), to the Eastern rites which belong to the Catholic Church, and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church similarly gives considerable attention to the distinctive traditions and spirituality of these Eastern rites.
So the proper name for the universal Church is not the Roman Catholic Church. Far from it. That term caught on mostly in English-speaking countries; it was promoted mostly by Anglicans, supporters of the "branch theory" of the Church, namely, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed was supposed to consist of three major branches, the Anglican, the Orthodox and the so-called Roman Catholic. It was to avoid that kind of interpretation that the English-speaking bishops at Vatican I succeeded in warning the Church away from ever using the term officially herself: It too easily could be misunderstood.
Today in an era of widespread dissent in the Church, and of equally widespread confusion regarding what authentic Catholic identity is supposed to consist of, many loyal Catholics have recently taken to using the term Roman Catholic in order to affirm their understanding that the Catholic Church of the Sunday creed is the same Church that is united with the Vicar of Christ in Rome, the Pope. This understanding of theirs is correct, but such Catholics should nevertheless beware of using the term, not only because of its dubious origins in Anglican circles intending to suggest that there just might be some other Catholic Church around somewhere besides the Roman one: but also because it often still is used today to suggest that the Roman Catholic Church is something other and lesser than the Catholic Church of the creed. It is commonly used by some dissenting theologians, for example, who appear to be attempting to categorize the Roman Catholic Church as just another contemporary "Christian denomination"--not the body that is identical with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed.
The proper name of the Church, then, is the Catholic Church. It is not ever called "the Christian Church," either. Although the prestigious Oxford University Press currently publishes a learned and rather useful reference book called "The Oxford Book of the Christian Church," the fact is that there has never been a major entity in history called by that name; the Oxford University Press has adopted a misnomer, for the Church of Christ has never been called the Christian Church.
There is, of course, a Protestant denomination in the United States which does call itself by that name, but that particular denomination is hardly what the Oxford University Press had in mind when assigning to its reference book the title that it did. The assignment of the title in question appears to have been one more method, of which there have been so many down through history, of declining to admit that there is, in fact, one--and only one--entity existing in the world today to which the designation "the Catholic Church" in the Creed might possibly apply.
The entity in question, of course, is just that: the very visible, worldwide Catholic Church, in which the 263rd successor of the Apostle Peter, Pope John Paul II, teaches, governs and sanctifies, along with some 3,000 other bishops around the world, who are successors of the apostles of Jesus Christ.
As mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, it is true that the followers of Christ early became known as "Christians" (cf. Acts 11:26). The name Christian, however, was never commonly applied to the Church herself. In the New Testament itself, the Church is simply called "the Church." There was only one. In that early time there were not yet any break-away bodies substantial enough to be rival claimants of the name and from which the Church might ever have to distinguish herself.
Very early in post-apostolic times, however. the Church did acquire a proper name--and precisely in order to distinguish herself from rival bodies which by then were already beginning to form. The name that the Church acquired when it became necessary for her to have a proper name was the name by which she has been known ever since-the Catholic Church.
The name appears in Christian literature for the first time around the end of the first century. By the time it was written down, it had certainly already been in use, for the indications are that everybody understood exactly what was meant by the name when it was written.
Around the year A.D. 107, a bishop, St. Ignatius of Antioch in the Near East, was arrested, brought to Rome by armed guards and eventually martyred there in the arena. In a farewell letter which this early bishop and martyr wrote to his fellow Christians in Smyrna (today Izmir in modern Turkey), he made the first written mention in history of "the Catholic Church." He wrote, "Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" (To the Smyrnaeans 8:2). Thus, the second century of Christianity had scarcely begun when the name of the Catholic Church was already in use.
Thereafter, mention of the name became more and more frequent in the written record. It appears in the oldest written account we possess outside the New Testament of the martyrdom of a Christian for his faith, the "Martyrdom of St. Polycarp," bishop of the same Church of Smyrna to which St. Ignatius of Antioch had written. St. Polycarp was martyred around 155, and the account of his sufferings dates back to that time. The narrator informs us that in his final prayers before giving up his life for Christ, St. Polycarp "remembered all who had met with him at any time, both small and great, both those with and those without renown, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world."

We know that St. Polycarp, at the time of his death in 155, had been a Christian for 86 years. He could not, therefore, have been born much later than 69 or 70. Yet it appears to have been a normal part of the vocabulary of a man of this era to be able to speak of "the whole Catholic Church throughout the world."
The name had caught on, and no doubt for good reasons.
The term "catholic" simply means "universal," and when employing it in those early days, St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna were referring to the Church that was already "everywhere," as distinguished from whatever sects, schisms or splinter groups might have grown up here and there, in opposition to the Catholic Church.
The term was already understood even then to be an especially fitting name because the Catholic Church was for everyone, not just for adepts, enthusiasts or the specially initiated who might have been attracted to her.
Again, it was already understood that the Church was "catholic" because -- to adopt a modern expression -- she possessed the fullness of the means of salvation. She also was destined to be "universal" in time as well as in space, and it was to her that applied the promise of Christ to Peter and the other apostles that "the powers of death shall not prevail" against her (Mt 16:18).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church in our own day has concisely summed up all the reasons why the name of the Church of Christ has been the Catholic Church: "The Church is catholic," the Catechism teaches, "[because] she proclaims the fullness of the faith. She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation. She is sent out to all peoples. She speaks to all men. She encompasses all times. She is 'missionary of her very nature'" (no. 868).
So the name became attached to her for good. By the time of the first ecumenical council of the Church, held at Nicaea in Asia Minor in the year 325 A.D., the bishops of that council were legislating quite naturally in the name of the universal body they called in the Council of Nicaea's official documents "the Catholic Church." As most people know, it was that same council which formulated the basic Creed in which the term "catholic" was retained as one of the four marks of the true Church of Christ. And it is the same name which is to be found in all 16 documents of the twenty-first ecumenical council of the Church, Vatican Council II.
It was still back in the fourth century that St. Cyril of Jerusalem aptly wrote, "Inquire not simply where the Lord's house is, for the sects of the profane also make an attempt to call their own dens the houses of the Lord; nor inquire merely where the church is, but where the Catholic Church is. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Body, the Mother of all, which is the Spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (Catecheses, xviii, 26).
The same inquiry needs to be made in exactly the same way today, for the name of the true Church of Christ has in no way been changed. It was inevitable that the Catechism of the Catholic Church would adopt the same name today that the Church has had throughout the whole of her very long history.

From The Catholic Answer, May/June 1996?
Published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750, 1-800-521-0600.

 See also the spread of Christianity:
I hope you enjoyed the tour of the Vatican City, the center of Christianity.

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