The Catholic Church (continued)
 
 

Christ gives the keys to St. Peter

Peter died in Rome, crucified upside down according to tradition. At the time, Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire and the Church established there by Peter and Paul , had always a pre-eminence. There they died and there they were buried. The members of the Church were forbidden to practice their faith and were persecuted. For their religious services they used to gather secretly in private homes and in the catacombs. When Emperor Constantine officially recognized the Catholic Church in 312, it marked the beginning of building churches in Rome and throughout the Roman Empire. At the foot of Vatican Hill, Christians built a church that was later replaced in the 16th century by the present Basilica of St. Peter.
In the same way that in Rome Peter had his successors, the other Apostles had theirs in many other cities; from the earliest times they were called bishops. All bishops united under the authority of the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter, to form the College of Bishops. It is in this Episcopal College that the power given by Christ to teach, feed and govern the Church is exercised by each bishop in his diocese, where he resides. There are approximately 4,400 Catholic Bishops in the world.
List of the successors of St. Peter the apostle.
(The Popes of the Catholic Church)
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
 
 
Each bishop receives from another bishop the Sacred Order to feed Christ's flock, the Catholic Church, and he passes that Sacred Order on to other bishops. The power of passing on this Sacred Order (spiritual power) is exclusively reserved to bishops. In order to serve more effectively the members of the Church, the bishops ordain as their collaborators other persons called presbyters or priests. Today, there are about 404,000 Catholic priests in the world.

Last Supper, Juan de Juanes

 
Back Page
Back to menu