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A body of jurists constituting a society whose statutes were confirmed by a brief of Leo XIII, 5 July, 1878. As the name indicates, its main object is the defense of the Holy See in its rights and privileges, both in the spiritual and temporal order. It binds its members to refute calumnies of enemies of the Church, whether derived from distortions of history, jurisprudence, or dogma, but above all are they to devote their legal knowledge to a defense of the Church's rights before civil tribunals. The society was formed in 1877, on the occasion of the Golden Episcopal Jubilee of Pope Pius IX , and the Advocate Count Cajetan Agnelli dei Malherbi, of Rome, became its first president. Pope Pius IX warmly approved of the undertaking, and desired a wide extension of the society, as the immunities of the Church need defense everywhere, and under every system of government. It has spread rapidly over the Catholic world, and branches of the society are found among the principal nations of Christendom. The ordinary members must be jurists, but the society also enrolls as honorary members distinguished ecclesiastics or laymen who have made it a practice to defend Church interests along the lines of this organization. Colleges of the Advocates of St. Peter, numbering many hundred members, exist in Italy, England, Austria, France, Spain, Germany, Canada. and South America. All of there bodies are affiliated to the directory in Rome.


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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 in fifteen hardcopy 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

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