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The term Urbi et Orbi (which means "for the city and for the world") signifies that a papal document is addressed not only to the City of Rome but to the entire Catholic world. This phrase is applied especially to the solemn blessing with plenary indulgence which, before the occupation of Rome, the pope was accustomed to impart on certain occasions from the balcony of the chief basilicas of the city. This blessing was given annually at St. Peter's on Holy Thursday, Easter, and the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul; at St. John Lateran on the Ascension ; at St. Mary Major on the Assumption. It was imparted also on extraordinary occasions, as at St. Peter's when the pope was crowned, at St. John's when he was enthroned, at various times during the holy year, or jubilee, for the benefit of pilgrims. The blessing Urbi et Orbi of Ascension Day was sometimes postponed till Pentecost on account of the inclemency of the weather, illness of the pope, etc. Innocent X in the jubilee of 1650 on the Ephiphany, Pentecost, and All Saints, as well as later popes, including Pope Pius IX, for special reasons, gave this solemn blessing from the balcony of the Quirinal Palace.


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The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed between 1907 and 1912 in fifteen hard copy volumes.

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Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

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