Roman Catholicism has served as the primary spiritual and religious presence throughout Western civilization. It is one of three primary branches of Christianity alongside Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. With billions of Roman Catholics throughout the world, it draws interest toward such a prominent religion. From its origins to the way it spread throughout the world and its core religious principles, there seems to be quite a bit of interesting information surrounding Roman Catholicism. Although the Roman Catholic Church itself might seem simple enough in that it follows Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the Holy Trinity, it is far more intricate and sophisticated. Its elaborate history is enough to draw the interest of theologians and scholars alike.
The Roman Catholic Church traces its roots as far back as 30 AD, when the first church was founded on Jerusalem’s Day of Pentecost. The event occurred because of the execution of Jesus at Passover. Just a few weeks after his death, the church was erected. By 63 AD, the Apostle Paul visited the established church (Oakes). Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church takes its roots from the historic and well-known first Christian church of Rome, hence the name Roman Catholic Church. Of course, the modern Roman Catholic Church as it is known to its Christian followers today is quite different from the first established church in Rome. Today, the Roman Catholic Church has its incense, sacraments, vestments, nuns, priests, and popes (Oakes).
Roman Catholics serve one god, who they refer to as God, the Almighty, or the Father. Roman Catholics also pay homage to Jesus Christ, the son of God, and the Virgin Mary, who is the mother of Jesus Christ. Although God is the only god in Roman Catholicism, there are saints and idols that Roman Catholics pray to, which they often recite through prayers like the Hail Mary, Our Father, and Glory Be (Stewart). Some Catholics will pray to Saint Anthony based on the belief that he is the patron saint of restoring lost or stolen objects. Others may pray to Saint Pancras, the patron saint of children. However, the church still primarily revolves around praying to God Almighty, the creator of Heaven and Earth according to Roman Catholicism.
The Roman Catholic Church has several traditions and principles. For instance, Roman Catholics celebrate Lent, which is a period of fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. This form of fasting involves Roman Catholics giving up meat, other than fish, for the entire length of Lent. In some situations, Roman Catholics will instead exclude all meat, other than fish, from their diet every Friday during Lent, while continuing to consume meat all other days of the week. Lent is a time of specialized prayer, sacrifice and penance to prepare for Easter celebration, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Saunders). Since the establishment of the first church, Lent existed in some form or another, though it might not have resembled the form of Lent as Roman Catholics know it today.
Overall, the Roman Catholic Church has a long history, and it currently has the largest Christian following of all the modern churches in existence with almost 1.1 billion Roman Catholics throughout the world (Frassetto et al.). This religion seems simplistic enough with only one true God, but upon closer inspection, reveals a multi-faceted network beneath the surface with its saints, Apostles, and religious traditions all steeped in rich history. Over the years, the church has gained popularity, maintaining its dominant position throughout Western civilization.
- Frassetto, Michael, Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Michael David Knowles, Lawrence Cunningham, John L. McKenzie, and Francis Christopher Oakley. “Roman Catholicism.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Enyclopedia Britannica, 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
- Oakes, John. “Where and When Did the Catholicism Begin?” Evidence for Christianity. Evidence for Christianity, 11 Aug. 2010. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
- Saunders, Fr. William. “History of Lent.” CERC. Catholic Education Resource Center, N.D. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
- Stewart, Cynthia. “Religion Library: Roman Catholicism.” Patheos.com. Patheos Library, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.