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Naturalism

Naturalism is not so much a special system as a point of view or tendency common to a number of philosophical and religious systems; not so much a well-defined set of positive and negative doctrines as an attitude or spirit pervading and influencing many doctrines. As the name implies, this tendency consists essentially in looking upon nature as the one original and fundamental source of all that exists, and in attempting to explain everything in terms of nature. Either the limits of nature are also the limits of existing reality, or at least the first cause, if its existence is found necessary, has nothing to do with the working of natural agencies. All events, therefore, find their adequate explanation within nature itself. But, as the terms nature and natural are themselves used in more than one sense, the term naturalism is also far from having one fixed meaning.

  • (I) If nature is understood in the restricted sense of physical, or material, nature, naturalism will be the tendency to look upon the material universe as the only reality, to reduce all laws to mechanical uniformities and to deny the dualism of spirit and matter. Mental and moral processes will be but special manifestations of matter rigorously governed by its laws.
  • (II) The dualism of mind and matter may be admitted, but only as a dualism of modes or appearances of the same identical substance. Nature includes manifold phenomena and a common substratum of the phenomena, but for its actual course and for its ultimate explanation, it requires no principle distinct from itself. In this supposition, naturalism denies the existence of a transcendent cause of the world and endeavours to give a full account of all processes by the unfolding of potencies essential to the universe under laws that are necessary and eternal.
  • (III) Finally, if the existence of a transcendent First Cause , or personal God, is admitted as the only satisfactory explanation of the world, Naturalism claims that the laws governing the activity and development of irrational and of rational beings are never interfered with. It denies the possibility, or at least the fact, of any transitory intervention of God in nature, and of any revelation and permanent supernatural order for man.

These three forms are not mutually exclusive; what the third denies the first and the second, a fortiori, also deny; all agree in rejecting every explanation which would have recourse to causes outside of nature. The reasons of this denial — i.e., the philosophical views of nature on which it is based — and, in consequence, the extent to which explanations within nature itself are held to suffice, vary greatly and constitute essential differences between these three tendencies.

I. Materialistic Naturalism

Materialistic Naturalism asserts that matter is the only reality, and that all the laws of the universe are reducible to mechanical laws. What theory may be held concerning the essence of matter makes little difference here. Whether matter be considered as continuous or as composed of atoms distant from one another, as being exclusively extension or as also endowed with an internal principle of activity, or even as being only an aggregate of centres of energy without any real extension (see A TOMISM ; D YNAMISM ; M ECHANISM ), the attitude of Naturalism is the same. It claims that all realities in the world, including the processes of consciousness from the lowest to the highest, are but manifestations of what we call matter, and obey the same necessary laws. While some may limit their materialistic account to nature itself, and admit the existence of a Creator of the world, or at least leave this question open, the general tendency of Materialism is towards Atheism and exclusive Naturalism. Early Greek philosophers endeavoured to reduce nature to unity by pointing to a primordial element out of which all things were composed. Their views were, implicitly at least, Animistic or Hylozoistic rather than Materialistic, and the vague formative function attributed to the Nous , or rational principle, by Anaxagoras was but an exception to the prevailing naturalism. Pure mechanism was developed by the Atomists (Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius), and the soul itself was held to be composed of special, more subtile, atoms. In the Christian era materialism in its exclusive form is represented especially by the French school of the latter half of the eighteenth century and the German school of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Since matter is the only reality, whatever takes place in the world is the result of material causes and must be explained by physical antecedents without any teleology. Life is but a complex problem of physics and chemistry; consciousness is a property of matter; rational thought is reduced to sensation, and will to instinct. The mind is a powerless accompaniment or epiphenomenon of certain forms or groupings of matter, and, were it suppressed altogether, the whole world would still proceed in exactly the same way. Man is a conscious automaton whose whole activity, mental as well as physiological, is determined by material antecedents. What we call the human person is but a transitory phase in the special arrangement of material elements giving rise to special mental results; and it goes without saying that in such a system there is no room for freedom, responsibility, or personal immortality.

II. Pantheism

Pantheism in its various forms asserts that God, the First Reality, World-Ground, or Absolute, is not transcendent and personal, but immanent in the world, and that the phenomena of nature are only manifestations of this one common substance. For the Stoics, He is the immanent reason, the soul of the world, communicating everywhere activity and life. According to Scotus Eriugena, " God is the essence of all things, for He alone truly is" (De divisione naturæ, III); nature includes the totality of beings and is divided into

  • uncreated and creating nature, i.e., God as the origin of all things, unknowable even to Himself;
  • created and creating nature, i.e., God as containing the types and exemplars of all things;
  • created and not-creating nature, i.e., the world of phenomena in space and time, all of which are participations of the Divine being and also theophaniœ, or manifestations of God ;
  • neither created nor creating nature, i.e., God as the end of all things to whom all things ultimately return.
  • Giordano Bruno also professes that God and nature are identical, and that the world of phenomena is but the manifestation of the Divine substance which works in nature and animates it. According to Spinoza, God is the one substance which unfolds itself through attributes, two of which, extension and thought, are known to us. These attributes manifest themselves through a number of modes which are the finite determinations of the infinite substance. As absolute substance, God is natura naturans ; as manifesting himself through the various modes of phenomena, he is natura naturata . To-day Monism reproduces essentially the same theories. Mind is not reduced to a property, or epiphenomenon, of matter, but both matter and mind are like parallels; they proceed together as phenomena or aspects of the same ultimate reality. What is this reality? By some, explicitly or implicitly, it is rather conceived as material, and we fall back into Materialism ; by others it is claimed to be nearer to mind than to matter, and hence result various idealistic systems and tendencies; by others, finally, it is declared to be strictly unknown and unknowable, and thus Monistic Naturalism comes into close contact with Agnosticism.

    Whatever it may be ultimately, nature is substantially one; it requires nothing outside of itself, but finds within itself its adequate explanation. Either the human mind is incapable of any knowledge bearing on the question of origins, or this question itself is meaningless, since both nature and its processes of development are eternal. The simultaneous or successive changes which occur in the world result necessarily from the essential laws of nature, for nature is infinitely rich in potencies whose progressive actualization constitutes the endless process of inorganic, organic, and mental evolution. The evolution and differentiation of the one substance according to its own laws and without the guiding agency of a transcendent intelligence is one of the basic assumptions of Monistic and Agnostic Naturalism. Nor is it possible to see how this form of Naturalism can consistently escape the consequences of Materialistic Naturalism. The supernatural is impossible; at no stage can there be any freedom or responsibility; man is but a special manifestation or mode of the common substance, including in himself the twofold aspect of matter and consciousness. Moreover, since God, or rather "the divine", as some say, is to be found in nature, with which it is identified, religion can only be reduced to certain feelings of admiration, awe, reverence, fear, etc., caused in man by the consideration of nature its laws beauties, energies, and mysteries. Thus, among the feelings belonging to "natural religion", Haeckel mentions "the astonishment with which we gaze upon the starry heavens and the microscopic life in a drop of water, the awe with which we trace the marvellous working of energy in the motion of matter, the reverence with which we grasp the universal dominance of the law of substance throughout the universe " ("Die Welträthsel", Bonn, 1899, V, xviii, 396-97; tr. McCabe, New York, 1900, 344).

    III. Transcendent First Cause of the Universe

    For those who admit the existence of a transcendent First Cause of the universe, naturalism consists essentially in an undue limitation of God's activity in the world. God is only Creator, not xxyyyk.htm">Providence; He cannot, or may not, interfere with the natural course of events, or He never did so, or, at least, the fact of His ever doing so cannot be established. Even if the soul of man is regarded as spiritual and immortal, and if, among human activities, some are exempted from the determinism of physical agents and recognized to be free, all this is within nature, which includes the laws governing spirits as well as those governing matter. But these laws are sufficient to account for everything that happens in the world of matter or of mind. This form of naturalism stands in close relation with Rationalism and Deism. Once established by God, the order of nature is unchangeable, and man is endowed by nature with all that is required even for his religious and moral development. The consequences are clear: miracles, that is, effects produced by God himself and transcending the forces of nature, must be rejected. Prophecies and so-called miraculous events either are explainable by the known, or hitherto unknown, laws of nature or, if they are not thus explainable, their happening itself must be denied, and the belief in their reality attributed to faulty observation. Since, for religious and moral, as well as for scientific truths, human reason is the only source of knowledge, the fact of a Divine Revelation is rejected, and the contents of such supposed revelation can be accepted only in so far as they are rational; to believe in mysteries is absurd. Having no supernatural destiny, man needs no supernatural means — neither sanctifying grace as a permanent principle to give his actions a supernatural value nor actual grace to enlighten his mind and strengthen his will. The Fall of Man, the mysteries of the incarnation and the Redemption, with their implications and consequences, can find no place in a Naturalistic creed. Prayers and sacraments have only natural results explainable on psychological grounds by the confidence with which they inspire those who use them. If man must have a religion at all, it is only that which his reason dictates. Naturalism is directly opposed to the Christian Religion. But even within the fold of Christianity, among those who admit a Divine Revelation and a supernatural order, several naturalistic tendencies are found. Such are those of the Pelagians and Semipelagians, who minimize the necessity and functions of Divine grace ; of Baius, who asserts that the elevation of man was an exigency of his nature ; of many sects, especially among Liberal Protestants, who fall into more or Less radical Rationalism ; and of others who endeavour to restrict within too narrow limits the divine agency in the universe.

    IV. General Considerations

    From the fundamental principles of Naturalism are derived some important consequences in æsthetical, political, and ethical sciences. In æsthetics Naturalism rests on the assumption that art must imitate nature without any idealization, and without any regard for the laws of morality. Social and political Naturalism teaches that "the best interests of public society and civil progress require that in the constitution and government of human society no more attention should be given to religion than if there were no religion at all, or at least that no distinction should be made between true and false religion" ( Pius IX, Encycl., "Quanta cura", 8 Dec., 1864). Leo XIII lays it down that "the integral profession of the Catholic Faith is in no way consistent with naturalistic and rationalistic opinions, the sum and the substance of which is to do away altogether with Christian institutions, and; disregarding the rights of God, to attribute to man the supreme authority in society " (Encycl., "Immortale Dei", 1 Nov., 1885). Moreover, like individual organisms, social organisms obey fatal laws of development; all events are the necessary results of complex antecedents, and the task of the historian is to record them and to trace the laws of their sequences, which are as strict as those of sequences in the physical world.

    In ethics, the vague assumption that nature is the supreme guide of human actions may be applied in many different ways. Already the principle of the Stoics, formulated first by Zeno, that we must live consistently or harmoniously ( to homologoumenos zen ), and stated more explicitly by Cleanthes as the obligation to live in conformity with nature ( to homologoumenos te physei zen ) gave rise to several interpretations, some understanding nature exclusively as human nature, others chiefly as the whole universe. Moreover as man has many natural tendencies, desires, and appetites, it may be asked whether it is moral to follow all indiscriminately; and when they are conflicting or mutually exclusive, so that a choice is to be made, on what ground must certain activities be given the preference over the others? Before the Stoics, the Cynics, both in theory and in practice, had based their rules of conduct on the principle that nothing natural can be morally wrong. Opposing customs, conventions, refinement, and culture, they endeavoured to return to the pure state of nature. Rousseau, likewise, looks upon the social organization as a necessary evil which contributes towards developing conventional standards of morality. Man, according to him, is naturally good, but becomes depraved by education and by contact with other men. This same theme of the opposition of nature and culture, and the superiority of the former, is a favourite one with Tolstoi. According to Nietzsche, the current standards of virtue are against nature, and, because they favour the poor, the weak, the suffering, the miserable, by commending such feelings as charity, compassion, pity, humility, etc., they are obstacles in the way of true progress. For the progress of mankind and the development of the "Superman", it is essential to return to the primitive and natural standard of morality, which is energy activity, strength, and superiority; the most powerful are also the best.

    If ethical naturalism is considered in its relation with the three philosophical views explained above, it sometimes means only the rejection of any duties based on a Divine Revelation, and the assumption that the only source of right and wrong is human reason. Generally, however, it means the more radical tendency to treat moral science in the same manner as natural science. There is freedom nowhere, but absolute necessity everywhere. All human actions, as well as physical events, are necessary results of antecedents that are themselves necessary. The moral law, with its essential distinction of right and wrong conduct, is, not an objective norm, but a mere subjective result of associations and instincts evolved from the experience of the useful and agreeable, or of the harmful and painful, consequences of certain actions. It is, nevertheless, a motive that prompts to act in certain directions, but the effectiveness of which is strictly determined by the degree of its intensity in a given individual compared with the resistance it encounters on the part of antagonistic ideas. Thus, the science of ethics is not normative: it does not deal with laws existing antecedently to human actions, and which these ought to obey. It is genetic, and endeavours to do for human actions what natural science does for physical phenomena, that is, to discover, through an inference from the facts of human conduct, the laws to which it happens to conform.

    It is impossible to state in detail the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the assumptions, implications, and consequences of Naturalism. Naturalism is such a wide and far-reaching tendency, it touches upon so many points, its roots and ramifications extend in so many directions, that the reader must be referred to the cognate topics treated in other articles. In general it can only be said that Naturalism contradicts the most vital doctrines of the Church, which rest essentially on Supernaturalism. The existence of a personal God and of Divine Providence, the spirituality and immortality of the soul, human freedom and responsibility, the fact of a Divine Revelation, the existence of a supernatural order for man, are so many fundamental teachings of the Church, which, while recognizing all the rights and exigencies of nature, rises higher, to the Author and Supreme Ruler of nature.

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    One of the thirteen colonies of Great Britain, which on 4 July, 1776, adopted the Declaration of ...

    New Zealand

    New Zealand—formerly described as a colony—has, since September, 1907, by royal ...

    Newark

    (NOVARCENSIS) Diocese created in 1853, suffragan of New York and comprising Hudson, Passaic, ...

    Newbattle

    ( Neubotle , i.e. new dwelling). Newbattle, in the ancient Diocese of St. Andrews, about ...

    Newdigate, Blessed Sebastian

    Executed at Tyburn, 19 June, 1535. A younger son of John Newdigate of Harefield Place, Middlesex, ...

    Newfoundland

    A British colony of North America (area 42,734 square miles), bounded on the north by the Strait ...

    Newhouse, Abbey of

    The Abbey of Newhouse, near Brockelsby, Lincoln, the first Premonstratensian abbey in England, ...

    Newman, John Henry

    (1801-1890) Cardinal-Deacon of St. George in Velabro, divine, philosopher, man of letters, ...

    Newport (England)

    (NEOPORTENSIS) This diocese takes its name from Newport, a town of about 70,000 inhabitants, ...

    Newton, John

    A soldier and engineer, born at Norfolk, Virginia, 24 August, 1823; died in New York City, 1 May, ...

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    Ni 70

    Niagara University

    Niagara University, situated near Niagara Falls, New York, is conducted by the Vincentians. It ...

    Nicéron, Jean-Pierre

    A French lexicographer, born in Paris, 11 March, 1685, died there, 8 July, 1738. After his ...

    Nicaea

    Titular see of Bithynia Secunda, situated on Lake Ascanius, in a fertile plain, but very ...

    Nicaea, First Council of

    First Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, held in 325 on the occasion of the heresy of ...

    Nicaea, Second Council of

    Seventh Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church, held in 787. (For an account of the ...

    Nicaragua

    (REPUBLIC AND DIOCESE OF NICARAGUA; DE NICARAGUA) The diocese, suffragan of Guatemala, is ...

    Nicastro

    (NEOCASTRENSIS). A city of the Province of Catanzaro, in Calabria, southern Italy, situated ...

    Niccola Pisano

    Architect and sculptor, b. at Pisa about 1205-07; d. there, 1278. He was the father of modern ...

    Nice

    (NICIENSIS) Nice comprises the Department of Alpes-Maritimes. It was re-established by the ...

    Nicene Creed

    As approved in amplified form at the Council of Constantinople (381), it is the profession of the ...

    Nicephorus, Saint

    Patriarch of Constantinople, 806-815, b. about 758; d. 2 June, 829. This champion of the orthodox ...

    Nicetas

    (NICETA) A Bishop of Remesiana (Romatiana) in what is now Servia, born about 335; died ...

    Nicetius, Saint

    A Bishop of Trier, born in the latter part of the fifth century, exact date unknown; died in ...

    Niche

    A recess for the reception of a statue, so designed as to give it emphasis, frame it effectively, ...

    Nicholas Garlick, Venerable

    Priest and martyr, born at Dinting, Derbyshire, c. 1555; died at Derby, 24 July, 1588. He ...

    Nicholas I, Saint, Pope

    Born at Rome, date unknown; died 13 November, 867. One of the great popes of the Middle ...

    Nicholas II, Pope

    (GERHARD OF BURGUNDY) Nicholas was born at Chevron, in what is now Savoy ; elected at Siena, ...

    Nicholas III, Pope

    (GIOVANNI GAETANI ORSINI) Born at Rome, c. 1216; elected at Viterbo, 25 November, 1277; died ...

    Nicholas IV, Pope

    (GIROLAMO MASCI) Born at Ascoli in the Rome, 4 April, 1292. He was of humble extraction, ...

    Nicholas Justiniani

    Date of birth unknown, became monk in the Benedictine monastery of San Niccoló del Lido ...

    Nicholas of Cusa

    German cardinal, philosopher, and administrator, b. at Cues on the Moselle, in the Archdiocese ...

    Nicholas of Flüe, Blessed

    (D E R UPE ). Born 21 March, 1417, on the Flüeli, a fertile plateau near Sachseln, ...

    Nicholas of Gorran

    (Or GORRAIN) Medieval preacher, and scriptural commentator; b. in 1232 at Gorron, France ; ...

    Nicholas of Lyra

    ( Doctor planus et utilis ) Exegete, b. at Lyra in Normandy, 1270; d. at Paris, 1340. The ...

    Nicholas of Myra, Saint

    ( Also called NICHOLAS OF BARI). Bishop of Myra in Lycia; died 6 December, 345 or 352. ...

    Nicholas of Osimo

    (AUXIMANUS). A celebrated preacher and author, b. at Osimo, Italy, in the second half of the ...

    Nicholas of Strasburg

    Mystic ; flourished early in the fourteenth century. Educated at Paris, he was later on lector ...

    Nicholas of Tolentino, Saint

    Born at Sant' Angelo, near Fermo, in the Hermits of St. Augustine -- a star above him or on his ...

    Nicholas Owen, Saint

    A Jesuit lay-brother, martyred in 1606. There is no record of his parentage, birthplace, date ...

    Nicholas Pieck, Saint

    (Also spelled PICK). Friar Minor and martyr, b. at Gorkum, Holland, 29 August, 1534; d. at ...

    Nicholas V, Pope

    (TOMMASO PARENTUCELLI) A name never to be mentioned without reverence by every lover of ...

    Nichols, Venerable George

    (Or NICOLLS). English martyr, born at Oxford about 1550; executed at Oxford, 19 October, ...

    Nicholson, Francis

    A controversial writer; b. at Manchester, 1650 ( baptized 27 Oct.); d. at Lisbon, 13 Aug., 1731. ...

    Nicodemus

    A prominent Jew of the time of Christ, mentioned only in the Fourth Gospel . The name is of ...

    Nicodemus, Gospel of

    (Or the Gospel of Nicodemus.) This work does not assume to have written by Pilate, but to have ...

    Nicolò de' Tudeschi

    ("abbas modernus" or "recentior", "abbas Panormitanus" or "Siculus") A Benedictine canonist, ...

    Nicolaï, Jean

    Celebrated Dominican theologian and controversialist, b. in 1594 at Mouzay in the Diocese of ...

    Nicolaites

    (Also called Nicolaitans), a sect mentioned in the Apocalypse (ii,6,15) as existing in ...

    Nicolas, Armella

    Popularly known as "La bonne Armelle", a saintly French serving-maid held in high veneration among ...

    Nicolas, Auguste

    French apologist, b. at Bordeaux, 6 Jan., 1807; d. at Versailles 18 Jan., 1888. He first studied ...

    Nicolaus Germanus

    (Often called "Donis" from a misapprehension of the title "Donnus" or "Donus" an abbreviated form ...

    Nicole, Pierre

    Theologian and controversialist, b. 19 October, 1625, at Chartres, d. 16 November, 1695, at ...

    Nicolet

    (NICOLETANA) Diocese in the Province of Quebec, Canada, suffragan of Quebec. It comprises the ...

    Nicomedes, Saint

    Martyr of unknown era, whose feast is observed 15 September. The Roman Martyrologium and the ...

    Nicomedia

    Titular see of Bithynia Prima, founded by King Zipoetes. About 264 B.C. his son Nicodemes I ...

    Nicopolis

    A titular see, suffragan of Sebasteia, in Armenia Prima. Founded by Pompey after his decisive ...

    Nicopolis

    (NICOPOLITANA) Diocese in Bulgaria. The city of Nicopolis (Thrace or Moesia), situated at the ...

    Nicopolis

    A titular see and metropolis in ancient Epirus. Augustus founded the city (B.C. 31) on a ...

    Nicosia

    A city of the Province of Catania, in Sicily situated at a height of about 2800 feet above the ...

    Nicosia

    Titular archdiocese in the Province of Cyprus. It is now agreed (Oberhummer' "Aus Cypern" in ...

    Nicotera and Tropea

    (NICOTERENSIS ET TROPEIENSIS) Suffragan diocese of Reggio di Calabria. Nicotera, the ancient ...

    Nider, John

    Theologian, b. 1380 in Swabia; d. 13 August, 1438, at Colmar. He entered the Order of Preachers ...

    Nieremberg y Otin, Juan Eusebio

    Noted theologian and polygraphist, b. of German parents at Madrid, 1595; d. there, 1658. ...

    Niessenberger, Hans

    An architect of the latter part of the Middle Ages, whose name is mentioned with comparative ...

    Niger, Peter George

    (NIGRI, German SCHWARTZ) Dominican theologian, preacher and controversialist, b. 1434 at ...

    Nigeria

    A colony of British East Africa extending from the Gulf of Guinea to Lake Chad (from 4° 30' ...

    Nihilism

    The term was first used by Turgeniev in his novel, "Fathers and Sons" (in "Russkij Vestnik", Feb., ...

    Nihus, Barthold

    Convert and controversialist, b. at Holtorf in Hanover, 7 February, 1590 (according to other ...

    Nikolaus von Dinkelsbühl

    Theologian, b. c. 1360, at Dinkelsbühl; d. 17 March, 1433, at Mariazell in Styria. He ...

    Nikon

    Patriarch of Moscow (1652-1658; d. 1681). He was of peasant origin, born in the district of ...

    Nilles, Nikolaus

    Born 21 June, 1828, of a wealthy peasant family of Rippweiler, Luxemburg ; died 31 January, ...

    Nilopolis

    A titular see and a suffragan of Oxyrynchos, in Egypt. According to Ptolemy (IV, v, 26) the ...

    Nilus the Younger

    Of Rossano, in Calabria; born in 910, died 27 December, 1005. For a time he was married (or ...

    Nilus, Saint

    ( Neilos ) Nilus the elder, of Sinai (died c. 430), was one of the many disciples and ...

    Nimbus

    (Latin, related to Nebula, nephele , properly vapour, cloud), in art and archaeology signifies ...

    Nimrod

    Also N IMROD ( nmrd of uncertain signification, Septuagint Nebród ). The name of ...

    Ninian, Saint

    (NINIAS, NINUS, DINAN, RINGAN, RINGEN) Bishop and confessor ; date of birth unknown; died ...

    Nirschl, Joseph

    Theologian and writer, b. at Durchfurth, Lower Bavaria, 24 February, 1823; d. at ...

    Nisibis

    A titular Archdiocese of Mesopotamia, situated on the Mygdonius at the foot of Mt. Masius. It is ...

    Nithard

    Frankish historian, son of Angilbert and Bertha, daughter of Charlemagne ; died about 843 or ...

    × Close

    No 65

    Noah

    [Hebrew Nôah , "rest"; Greek Noah ; Latin Noah ]. The ninth patriarch of the ...

    Noah's Ark

    The Hebrew name to designate Noah's Ark, the one which occurs again in the history of Moses' ...

    Noailles, Louis-Antoine de

    Cardinal and bishop, b. at the Château of Teyssiére in Auvergne, France, 27 May, ...

    Nobili, Robert de'

    Born at Montepulciano, Tuscany, September, 1577; died at Mylapore, India, in 1656. He entered the ...

    Noble, Daniel

    Physician, b. 14 Jan., 1810; d. at Manchester, 12 Jan, 1885. He was the son of Mary Dewhurst and ...

    Nocera

    DIOCESE OF NOCERA (NUCERINENSIS) Diocese in Perugia, Umbria, Italy, near the sources of the ...

    Nocera dei Pagani

    (NUCERIN PAGANORUM; dei Pagani ="of the Pagans") Diocese in Salermo, Italy, at the foot of ...

    Nocturns

    ( Nocturni or Nocturna ). A very old term applied to night Offices. Tertullian speaks of ...

    Nogaret, Guillaume de

    Born about the middle of the thirteenth century at St. Felix-en-Lauragais; died 1314; he was one ...

    Nola

    (NOLANA) Diocese ; suffragan of Naples. The city of Nola in the Italian Province of Caserta, ...

    Nola, Giovanni Marliano da

    Sculptor and architect, b., it is said, of a leather merchant named Giuseppe, at Nola, near ...

    Nolasco, Saint Peter

    Born at Mas-des-Saintes-Puelles, near Castelnaudary, France, in 1189 (or 1182); died at ...

    Nollet, Jean-Antoine

    Physicist, b. at Pimpré, Oise, France, 19 November, 1700; d. at Paris, 25 April, 1770. His ...

    Nominalism, Realism, Conceptualism

    These terms are used to designate the theories that have been proposed as solutions of one of the ...

    Nomination

    The various methods of designating persons for ecclesiastical benefices or offices have been ...

    Nomocanon

    (From the Greek nomos , law, and kanon , a rule) A collection of ecclesiastical law, the ...

    Non Expedit

    ("It is not expedient"). Words with which the Holy See enjoined upon Italian Catholics the ...

    Non-Jurors

    The name given to the Anglican Churchmen who in 1689 refused to take the oath of allegiance to ...

    Nonantola

    A former Benedictine monastery and prelature nullius , six miles north-east of Modena ...

    Nonconformists

    A name which, in its most general acceptation, denotes those refusing to conform with the ...

    None

    This subject will be treated under the following heads: I. Origin of None; II. None from the ...

    Nonnotte, Claude-Adrien

    Controversialist; b. in Besançon, 29 July, 1711; d. there, 3 September, 1793. At nineteen ...

    Nonnus

    Nonnus, of Panopolis in Upper Egypt (c. 400), the reputed author of two poems in hexameters; ...

    Norbert, Saint

    Born at Kanten on the left bank of the Rhine, near Wesel, c. 1080; died at Magdeburg, 6 June, ...

    Norbertines

    (C ANONICI R EGULARES P RÆMONSTRATENSES ). Founded in 1120 by St. Norbert at ...

    Norcia

    (NORSIN). A diocese and city in Perugia, Italy, often mentioned in Roman history. In the ...

    Norfolk, Catholic Dukes of

    (Since the Reformation) Under this title are accounts only of the prominent Catholic Dukes of ...

    Noris, Henry

    Cardinal, b. at Verona, 29 August, 1631, of English ancestry; d. at Rome, 23 Feb., 1704. He ...

    Normandy

    An ancient French province, from which five "departments" were formed in 1790: ...

    Norris, Sylvester

    ( Alias SMITH, NEWTON). Controversial writer and English missionary priest ; b. 1570 or ...

    Norsemen

    The Scandinavians who, in the ninth and tenth centuries, first ravaged the coasts of Western ...

    North Carolina

    One of the original thirteen States of the United States, is situated between 33° 53' and ...

    North Dakota

    One of the United States of America , originally included in the Louisiana Purchase. Little was ...

    Northampton

    (NORTANTONIENSIS) Diocese in England, comprises the Counties of Northampton, Bedford, ...

    Northcote, James Spencer

    Born at Feniton Court, Devonshire, 26 May, 1821; d. at Stoke-upon-Trent, Staffordshire, 3 March, ...

    Northern Territory

    (Prefecture Apostolic) The Northern Territory, formerly Alexander Land, is that part of ...

    Northmen

    The Scandinavians who, in the ninth and tenth centuries, first ravaged the coasts of Western ...

    Norton, Christopher

    Martyr ; executed at Tyburn, 27 May, 1570. His father was Richard Norton of Norton Conyers, ...

    Norway

    Norway, comprising the smaller division of the Scandinavian peninsula, is bounded on the east by ...

    Norwich, Ancient Diocese of

    (NORDOVICUM; NORVICUM). Though this see took its present name only in the eleventh century, ...

    Notaries

    ( Latin notarius ). Persons appointed by competent authority to draw up official or authentic ...

    Notburga

    Jean-Baptiste Belgian statesman, b. 3 July, 1805, at Messancy, Luxemburg ; d. at Berlin, 16 ...

    Notburga, Saint

    Patroness of servants and peasants, b. c. 1265 at Rattenberg on the Inn; d. c. 16 September, 1313. ...

    Nothomb, Jean-Baptiste

    Jean-Baptiste Belgian statesman, b. 3 July, 1805, at Messancy, Luxemburg ; d. at Berlin, 16 ...

    Notitia Dignitatum

    (Register of Offices). The official handbook of the civil and military officials in the later ...

    Notitia Provinciarum et Civitatum Africae

    (List of the Provinces and Cities of Africa). A list of the bishops and their sees in the ...

    Notitiae Episcopatuum

    The name given to official documents that furnish for Eastern countries the list and hierarchical ...

    Notker

    Among the various monks of St. Gall who bore this name, the following are the most important: ...

    Noto

    (NETEN). Noto, the ancient Netum and after the Saracen conquest the capital of one of the ...

    Notoriety, Notorious

    ( Latin Notorietas, notorium , from notus , known). Notoriety is the quality or the ...

    Notre Dame de Montreal, Congregation of

    Marguerite Bourgeoys, the foundress, was born at Troyes, France, 17 April, 1620. She was the ...

    Notre Dame, School Sisters of

    A religious community devoted to education. In the United Sates they have conducted parish ...

    Notre Dame, Sisters of (of Cleveland, Ohio)

    A branch of the congregation founded by Blessed Julie Billiart. In 1850, Father Elting of ...

    Notre Dame, University of

    (Full name is the University of Notre Dame du Lac ). Notre Dame is located in Northern ...

    Notre-Dame de Namur, Institute of

    Founded in 1803 at Amiens, France, by Bl. Julie Billiart (b. 1751 d. 1816) and ...

    Notre-Dame de Sion, Congregation of

    Religious institute of women, founded at Paris in May 1843, by Marie-Théodore and ...

    Nottingham

    (NOTTINGHAMIEN) One of the original twelve English dioceses created at the time of the ...

    Nourrisson, Jean-Felix

    Philosopher, b. at Thiers, Department of Puy-de-Dôme, 18 July, 1825; d. at Paris, 13 June, ...

    Nova Scotia

    I. GEOGRAPHY Nova Scotia is one of the maritime provinces of Canada. It forms part of what was ...

    Novara

    (NOVARIENSIS). A diocese and the capital of the province of Novara, Piedmont, Italy, noted ...

    Novatianism

    Novatian was a schismatic of the third century, and founder of the sect of the Novatians; he ...

    Novatus, Saint

    St. Novatus, who is mentioned on 20 June with his brother, the martyr Timotheus, was the son of ...

    Novello, Blessed Agostino

    (Matteo Di Termini), born in the first half of the thirteenth century, at Termini, a village of ...

    Novena

    (From novem , nine.) A nine days' private or public devotion in the Catholic Church to ...

    Novice

    I. DEFINITION AND REQUIREMENTS The word novice , which among the Romans meant a newly acquired ...

    × Close

    Nu 19

    Nubia

    Located in North-eastern Africa, extending from Sennar south to beyond Khartoum and including the ...

    Nueva Cáceres

    (NOVA CACERES) Diocese created in 1595 by Clement VIII ; it is one of the four suffragan ...

    Nueva Pamplona

    (NEO-PAMPILONENSIS). Diocese in Colombia, South America, founded in 1549 and a see erected by ...

    Nueva Segovia

    (NOVAE SEGOBIAE) Diocese in the Philippines, so called from Segovia, a town in Spain. The town ...

    Nugent, Francis

    Priest of the Franciscan Capuchin Order, founder of the Irish and the Rhenish Provinces of said ...

    Nugent, James

    Philanthropist, temperance advocate and social reformer b. 3 March, 1822 at Liverpool ; d. 27 ...

    Numbers, Use of, in the Church

    No attentive reader of the Old Testament can fail to notice that a certain sacredness seems to ...

    Numismatics

    (From the Greek nomisma , "legal currency") Numismatics is the science of coins and of ...

    Nun of Kent

    Born probably in 1506; executed at Tyburn, 20 April, 1534; called the "Nun of Kent." The career of ...

    Nunc Dimittis

    (The Canticle of Simeon). Found in St. Luke's Gospel (2:29-32) , is the last in historical ...

    Nuncio

    An ordinary and permanent representative of the pope, vested with both political and ...

    Nunez, Pedro

    (Pedro Nonius). Mathematician and astronomer, b. at Alcacer-do-Sol, 1492; d. at Coimbra, ...

    Nuns

    I. ORIGIN AND HISTORY The institution of nuns and sisters, who devote themselves in various ...

    Nuptial Mass

    "Missa pro sponso et sponsa", the last among the votive Masses in the Missal. It is composed of ...

    Nuremberg

    (NÜRNBERG) The second largest city in Bavaria, situated in a plain on both sides of the ...

    Nusco

    (N USCANA ) Diocese in the province of Avellino, Italy, suffragan of Salerno ; dates from ...

    Nussbaum, Johannn Nepomuk von

    German surgeon, b. at Munich 2 Sept., 1829; d. there 31 Oct., 1890. He made his studies in the ...

    Nutter, Robert, Ven.

    English martyr ; b. at Burnley, Lancashire, c. 1550; executed at Lancaster, 26 July, 1600. He ...

    Nuyens, Wilhelmus

    Historian, b. 18 August, 1823, at Avenhorn in Holland ; d. 10 December, 1894, at Westwoud near ...

    × Close

    Ny 4

    Nyassa

    Vicariate Apostolic in Central Africa, bounded north by the Anglo-German frontier, east by Lake ...

    Nympha, Tryphon, and Respicius

    Martyrs whose feast is observed in the Latin Church on 10 November. Tryphon is said to have ...

    Nyssa

    Vicariate Apostolic in Central Africa, bounded north by the Anglo-German frontier, east by Lake ...

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