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Vatican Insider - Vatican glossary
Category: History and Culture > The Vatican
Date & country: 01/08/2013, IT
Words: 206

A divinis
Canonical punishment for which a cleric is forbidden to exercise all or some acts of his ministry; for example, to celebrate the Eucharist or other sacraments

A latere
In Latin, from the side of or on behalf of (the Pope). This expression is used to designate a delegate or personal envoy to the Pope

Superior of a monastery of a monastic order

The waiver of a heresy, a schism or apostasy, according to the rites laid down by the Pontifical Romanum

Brief expression, usually of joy, uttered by the Assembly at certain moments during the celebration. For example, acclamations are: amen, hallelujah .

Minister who is not ordained. Helps the priest and deacon at the altar. He is also entrusted with distributing Communion when needed

Charity in Greek, intended as love that comes from God. Fraternal meeting of the community of origin, set out to eat together as brothers, usually in connection with the Eucharist

White linen tunic, tied at the waist by a cincture, used by the sacred minister when celebrating the liturgy

Liturgical garment consisting of a rectangle with two strips of linen that covers the shoulders and surrounds the neck

Vessel which houses the holy oils

Small containers of various shapes and materials (glass, metal

Members of the official Church of England, a national community born from the schism of Henry VIII and organized by Queen Elizabeth I. Several internal divisions have given rise to separate churches: Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, etc

Expression or argument in defense or justification

Apostolic Administrator
Prelate who, in a manner similar to that of the bishop, governs a particular church in the name of the sovereign pontiff, for special and particularly serious reasons

Apostolic Chamber
Office of the Roman Curia, that once administered the temporal goods of the Holy See. Today it plays a certain role during the so-called Vacant seat. It is presided over by the Cardinal Camerlengo

Apostolic Constitution
Papal document of the utmost importance, along with the bull, although lacking its material aspects (court seal in lead)

Apostolic Constitutions
Collection of writings compiled in the third and fourth centuries on documents dating back to the apostles and containing perhaps the most ancient laws of the Church

Apostolic Delegate
Representative of the Pope without diplomatic title who, in the area assigned (the Apostolic Delegation), which usually includes several dioceses, apostolic vicariates and prelacies, observes the conditions of the Church to keep the Holy Father informed

Apostolic Nuncio
The Pope

Apostolic Prefecture
Ecclesiastic district or special Church that, for important reasons, has not yet been established as a diocese and is entrusted to the pastoral care of a apostolic prefecture

Apostolic See
The Apostolic See or Holy See refer not only to the Roman Pontiff, but also the Secretary of State, the Council for Public Affairs of the Church and other organizations of the Roman Curia

Apostolic Signatura
Supreme Tribunal of the Holy See which focuses mainly on the procedural validity of sentences produced by other courts

From Greek hapsis, node or keystone. Part of the temple which occupies the opposite end of the facade. It is generally semi-circular and a little higher

Language spoken in Palestine in the first century, derived from ancient Hebrew

Is the bishop at the head of an Archdiocese. Also known as a metropolitan bishop or simply metropolitan. He has no jurisdiction other than over his own diocese

Diocese at the head of a group that forms an ecclesiastical province. While the diocese is governed by a Bishop, Archdiocese are governed by an Archbishop

Ash Wednesday
First day of Lent. It is called this because during the liturgy of this day we celebrate the rite by putting a little ash on the head or forehead, to remind man of his frailty and invite him to conversion

Liturgical instrument used to sprinkle holy water in the blessing of persons or property. It consists of a hollow, perforated sphere and a handle

Each of the Churches which, while retaining common tradition, are independent from Rome or any other higher ecclesiastical order

Auxilliary Bishop
It is the bishop assigned to the titular bishop of a diocese to help him govern it

Refers to rich drapery supported by rods and decorated with fringes, used as a shelter and portable ornament (procession of the Blessed Sacrament), or stable ornament (altar, seat)

First sacrament of Christian initiation. It is the sacrament that makes us members of the Church, announces life as children of God (Grace) and frees from sin (original and present)

Place for celebrating baptism. It can be either a dedicated building, or part of a church

Today Basilica refers to distinguished churches to which the Pope conferred this title either for their age or importance. They enjoy special privileges, and in this sense, there are major basilicas (St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls, Saint John the Lateran, Saint Mary Major, Saint Lawrence outside the walls, all in Rome) and minor basili...

Rite by which a servant of God is raised to the altars, that is to say, proposed as a model of Christian life and can be worshiped. Beatification is a step towards canonization, where the person beatified is declared a saint

Or beghards or beguines. Men and especially women who, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, led a life of piety and austerity in solitude or in community. They did not belong to religious institutions, but they largely followed the same commitments

Liturgical book that contains the Church's teaching on blessings and formulas for celebrating this sacrament in various different circumstances

Income or other profit related to a Church ministry. The current Code of Canonic Law provides that, where it still exists, it be gradually eliminated

Red cap that the Pope delivers to Cardinals when they are promoted to that rank

From the Greek episcopo, that is, inspector, overseer. Normally it is the pastor of a diocese or particular church and, by virtue of collegiality, shares the responsibility of the whole Church with the pope and other bishops. Bishops are successors of the apostles

The servant of God who has been beatified

Blessed/Blessed Sacrament
Species (bread and wine) consecrated in the celebration of the Eucharist. It is kept in the tabernacle for patients who ask to take communion or others who cannot participate in the Eucharistic celebration, to worship privately or publicly

Prayer by which we praise or glorify God and the saints. In another sense, it means the favor or protection granted by God or the saints. It is also the prayer by which the Church implores God

From the Latin breviarium, compendium. This was named given to the book or books that contained the divine office or official prayer of the Church. The post-Vatican II reform replaced this name with that of Liturgy of the Hours

Document of the utmost importance signed by the Pope. The name comes from the lead bulla which on one side has the effigies of the apostles Peter and Paul and on the other the name of the Pope. The first words of the bull, that are always written in Latin, give the name to the document

From the Hebrew Kabbalah, meaning tradition. A philosophical-theological system that in Jewish and Christian mystical circles of the Middle Ages, was used to analyze the Bible using anagrams, a combination of letters and occult sciences, to discover its meaning

Breakdown of the time during the year. The Church has its own calendar that combines the calendar year with the liturgical year

From the Latin, calvaria, or skull. The name is due to the round and barren shape of the hill near Jerusalem where the crucifixion took place during the Roman domination

Cardinal who presides over the Apostolic Chamber. During the vacant seat, he is responsible for temporal administration of the Vatican. Formally establishes the Pope's death and arranges the Conclave

Is the famous golden seven-branched candelabrum that was found in the temple of Jerusalem and that was the only source of light in the sanctuary. It became the symbol of Judaism

Utensils, usually metal, that hold the candles. There may be a few or a number of these lit for the Mass, depending on the degree of solemnity

Canon Law
A group of ecclesiastical laws (canons). Since the early days of the Church there prevailed the custom, by private initiative, to gather together the all the laws mainly dictated by the councils and the Popes

Refers to the cleric, member of the chapter of a cathedral or collegiate, which is responsible for carrying out the most solemn liturgical functions

Castel Gandolfo
Municipality in the province of Rome, near Lake Albano, where the Holy See has a summer residence for the Pope, which began in 1628

Education in the faith. Christian, integral and fundamental formation the purpose of which is the confession of faith

Text of Christian doctrine, generally structure synthetically which serves as a support and is complementary to catechesis

Pastoral worker who assumes the task of systematically educating children, youth and adults in the faith

A period of training in Christian life. A times catechumenate also refers to the commitment of rediscovering and deepening the faith of those who are already members of the Church or baptized

Seat, symbol of authority and teaching. We talk about the Cathedra of Peter with reference to the doctrinal authority of the Pope and Episcopal Cathedra to indicate the seat of the bishop in the cathedral, the symbol of his doctrinal authority

Mother church of the diocese, in which the Bishop has his seat (Cathedra)

Catholic Social Teaching
The teaching body of the Church that has developed since the end of the nineteenth century with the awakening of a sense of justice for the inhuman conditions of employees. Later, it expanded to social aspects such as peace, relations between people, family, education, consumption, democracy, human rights, work. Among the key principles of the soci...

Abbreviation for the Latin American Bishops Council (and Conference). The Council is the working body of the Episcopal Conference. It consists of some bishops and auxiliary staff. It is based in Bogot

Condition of those who are unmarried. In the Catholic Church priests and religious take vows of absolute chastity. In the Eastern Church, celibacy is required only for bishops; among Protestant pastors marriage is permitted

(from the Latin cenaculum), also known as the Upper Room. In ancient times, the room used for dining. Par excellence, the place where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with his disciples

A receptacle containing embers upon which incense will be placed that is the used in religious celebrations

The person to whom the bishop or his representative, mandates to examine a work of a religious-moral nature, before authorizing its publication

Cup or bowl that the priest uses to consecrate and drink wine in the Eucharistic celebration

Official Secretary of the diocesan curia, whose main task is to ensure that the documents of the curia are fully drawn up and preserved in its archives

Place of worship for a particular group, such as those in a hospital, a boarding school in a district. Belongs to the context of a parish

Priest in charge of taking care of a chapel or a group of believers, usually smaller than that of a parish, such as a religious community, a college, university, etc

Chapter of canons, whether cathedral or collegiate, is a college of priests whose role is to perform the most solemn liturgical functions in the cathedral church or collegiate

God's gift to a person for the good of the community. In recent times, there was a revival of interest in the Holy Spirit and for its gifts in groups called charismatics or of charismatic renewal

Charterhouse - Carthusians
The Charterhouse is a Carthusian monastery (from the French Chartreuse, region of Dauphin

Liturgical garment shaped like a cloak without sleeves and with an opening in the center to pass the head

Oil mixed with balm that the bishop consecrates during the Chrism Mass on the morning of Holy Thursday. It is used in baptism, in confirmation, and in priestly and episcopal consecrations

The religious community founded by Christ which, animated by the Holy Spirit continues its work in the world. The word means invitation, meeting. The Catholic Church has about 850 million faithful distributed in some 2,500 dioceses. Its hierarchy is composed of approximately 4,000 bishops, 412,000 priests and 9,000 deacons

Cord which the priest wraps around the alb in church services

Ecclesial body made up of those who received the sacrament of the Order. It is divided into the secular clergy, consisting of those who belong to the diocesan clergy, and regular clergy, formed by the clerics of religious congregations

Member of the clergy

Codes of Canon Law
Systematic collection of all general laws of the Church. It consists of 1,752 canons divided into seven books, or large sections

Raising money for charity; but it is also the first prayer recited by the priest during Mass, to collect and conclude the prayers of all

College of Bishops
The body or assembly of all bishops, headed by the Pope

Referred to bishops around the world, the principle of collegiality is Pastoral-Theological by which the government of the Church implies responsibility shared by all bishops for the cause of the whole Church

Church, which, although not a cathedral, is under the care of a chapter who celebrates the Liturgy of the Hours each day

Communion Cloth
Square white linen cloth, placed on the altar cloth during the mass, on which the priest places the host, paten and chalice. It is so named because it comes in contact with the Sacred Species containing the Body of Christ

From the Latin, cum clavis, with key, room that can be locked. The name comes from the fact that for centuries the place where the cardinals were gathered and lived until the election was concluded was locked from the outside. Since the last reform established by Pope John Paul II in 1996, seclusion is in effect over because the c...

A global agreement between the Holy See and the government. The treaty that regulates the mutual relations between two states, when one of them is the Holy See or the Vatican, it is called concordat

Cohabitation of a man and a woman more uxorio (as if they were husband and wife) outside of religious marriage

Assembly of Cardinals convened and presided over by the Pope. All the cardinals present in Rome participate in the ordinary consistory. For the extraordinary consistory all the cardinals of the world are summoned in a secret session for serious matters

From the Latin, conventus, or assembly, meeting. Residence of a community of religious brothers or sisters born after the thirteenth century (those of monks, before and after, are called monasteries)

Assembly of Bishops. Referred to as universal or ecumenical council when the Pope summons all the bishops of the Church (with the title of Council Fathers) to define key issues

Council of Jerusalem
The assembly that met in the year 48 or 49, in Jerusalem, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, James and other apostles and elders, to discuss the observances to be imposed upon converted pagans


Priest that looks after souls, and which is entrusted with a church and a particular territory within the boundaries of a parish

Administrative and judicial body needed for pastoral operations. The diocesan curia assists the bishop in running the diocese

Liturgical vestments, similar to the chasuble, which is worn over the alb. It is a kind of long robe with very wide sleeves. Today it is worn by the deacon during mass and by the bishop during solemn mass: the bishop wears it under the chasuble

The man who received the ministry of the diaconate

Cardinal who presides, primus inter pares, the College of Cardinals. It is his responsibility to ordain the bishop the Roman Pontiff elected, if it were not ordained

In Greek, it means the service. Today the permanent diaconate has been reinstated and can be bestowed to both singles and married. With the diaconate one becomes part of the sacred ministers or clerics

A document which the religious superior or the bishop of a candidate for the priesthood provides the bishop asking to proceed with the ordination