Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

(Latin Vicarius Christi ).

A title of the pope implying his supreme and universal primacy, both of honour and of jurisdiction, over the Church of Christ. It is founded on the words of the Divine Shepherd to St. Peter : "Feed my lambs. . . . Feed my sheep" ( John 21:16-17 ), by which He constituted the Prince of the Apostles guardian of His entire flock in His own place, thus making him His Vicar and fulfilling the promise made in Matthew 16:18-19 .

In the course of the ages other vicarial designations have been used for the pope, as Vicar of St. Peter and even Vicar of the Apostolic See ( Pope Gelasius, I, Ep. vi), but the title Vicar of Christ is more expressive of his supreme headship of the Church on earth, which he bears in virtue of the commission of Christ and with vicarial power derived from Him. Thus, Innocent III appeals for his power to remove bishops to the fact that he is Vicar of Christ (cap. "Inter corporalia", 2, "De trans. ep."). He also declares that Christ has given such power only to His Vicar Peter and his successors (cap. "Quanto", 3, ibid.), and states that it is the Roman Pontiff who is "the successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus Christ" (cap. "Licet", 4, ibid.). The title Vicar of God used for the pope by Nicholas III (c. "Fundamenta ejus", 17, "De elect.", in 6) is employed as an equivalent for Vicar of Christ.


More Encyclopedia

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.

Catholic Encyclopedia

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

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Innocent I: Saint of the Day for Thursday, July 28, 2016
  • Your Daily Inspirational Meme: God, Thank you for keeping me together
  • Shoulder Wound of Christ HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, July 28, 2016
  • Why don't people like Hillary Clinton? Yale researchers have an answer!
  • 'I especially loved watching the baby walking himself out of the ...
  • Blessing of an Automobile HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 15:10, 16-21
10 A disaster for me, mother, that you bore me to be a man of strife and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 59:2-3, 4, 10-11, 17, 18
2 rescue me from evil-doers, from men of violence save me.3 ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-46
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 27th, 2016 Image

St. Pantaleon
July 27: St Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black ... Read More