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Nature

Etymologically (Latin natura from nasci , to be born, like the corresponding Greek physis from phyein , to bring forth) has reference to the production of things, and hence generally includes in its connotation the ideas of energy and activity. It will be convenient to reduce to two classes the various meanings of the term nature according as it applies to the natures of individual beings or to nature in general.

I. In an individual being, especially if its constitutive elements and its activities are manifold and complex, the term nature is sometimes applied to the collection of distinctive features, original or acquired, by which such an individual is characterized and distinguished from others. Thus it may be said it is the nature of one man to be taller, stronger, more intelligent, or more sociable than another. This meaning, however, is superficial; in philosophical terminology and even in ordinary language, nature refers to something deeper and more fundamental. These features are manifestations of a man's nature; they are not his nature. Nature properly signifies that which is primitive and original, or, according to etymology, that which a thing is at birth, as opposed to that which is acquired or added from external sources. But the line that divides the natural from the artificial cannot be drawn with precision. Inorganic beings never change except under the influence of external agencies, and in the same circumstances, their mode of activity is uniform and constant. Organisms present a greater complexity of structure, power of adaptation, and variety of function. For their development out of a primitive germ they require the co-operation of many external factors, yet they have within themselves the principle of activity by which external substances are elaborated and assimilated. In any being the changes due to necessary causes are called natural, whereas those produced by intentional human activity are called artificial. But it is clear that art supposes nature and is but a special adaptation of natural aptitudes, capacities, or activities for certain esthetic or useful purposes. Stars, rivers, forests, are works of nature; parks, canals, gardens, and machines are works of art. If necessary conditions are realized, where the seed falls a plant will grow naturally. But the seed may be placed purposely amid certain surroundings, the growth of the plant may be hastened, its shape altered, and, in general, the result to be expected from natural activities may be modified. By training the aptitudes of an animal are utilized and its instincts adapted for specific ends. In such cases the final result is more or less natural or artificial according to the mode and amount of human intervention.

In scholastic philosophy, nature, essence, and substance are closely related terms. Both essence and substance imply a static point of view and refer to constituents or mode of existence, while nature implies a dynamic point of view and refers to innate tendencies. Moreover, substance is opposed to accidents, whereas we may speak of the nature and essence not only of substances but also of accidents like colour, sound, intelligence, and of abstract ideals like virtue or duty. But when applied to the same substantial being, the terms substance, essence, and nature in reality stand only for different aspects of the same thing, and the distinction between them is a mental one. Substance connotes the thing as requiring no support, but as being itself the necessary support of accidents ; essence properly denotes the intrinsic constitutive elements by which a thing is what it is and is distinguished from every other; nature denotes the substance or essence considered as the source of activities. "Nature properly speaking is the essence (or substance ) of things which have in themselves as such a principle of activity (Aristotle, "Metaphysics", 1015a, 13). By a process of abstraction the mind arises from individual and concrete natures to those of species and genera.

A few special remarks must be added concerning human nature. This expression may mean something concrete, more or less different in various individuals, or more generally something common to all men, i.e., the abstract human nature by which mankind as a whole is distinguished from other classes of living beings. In both cases it is conceived as including primitive and fundamental characteristics, and as referring to the source of all activities. Hence nature, as the internal principle of action, is opposed in the first place to violence and coercion which are external principles of action and prevent the normal play of human faculties. It is opposed also, but less strictly, to education and culture which at times may be the checking of natural tendencies, at times also their development and perfection. Education, physical and mental, is not a primitive endowment ; it must be acquired and is built upon nature as on its foundation. In this sense habit has been termed a second nature. But although education is due largely to external causes and influences acting on the mind and the organism, from another point of view it is also the unfolding of innate aptitudes, and hence partly natural.

As between nature in general and art, so between human nature and education there is no clear dividing line. Natural is also frequently contrasted with conventional; language, style, gestures, expressions of feelings, etc., are called more or less natural. This opposition becomes more acute in the theories of Hobbes and Rousseau who lay stress on the antithesis between the primitive or natural state of man and the present social condition due to the contract by which men agreed to surrender their rights into the hands of the common authority.

From the theological point of view the distinctions between nature and person and between the natural and the supernatural orders are of primary importance. The former arose from the dogma of the Trinity, i.e., of one Divine Nature in three persons, and chiefly from that of the Incarnation, i.e., of the two Natures, Divine and human, in the one Divine Person in Christ. The Human Nature in Christ is complete and perfect as nature, yet it lacks that which would make it a person, whether this be something negative, as Scotists hold, namely the mere fact that a nature is not assumed by a higher person, or, as Thomists assert, some positive reality distinct from nature and making it incommunicable.

The faculties of man are capable of development and perfection, and, no matter what external influences may be at work, this is but the unfolding of natural capacities. Even artificial productions are governed by the laws of nature, and, in man, natural activities, after they are perfected differ not in kind but only in degree, from those that are less developed. The supernatural order is above the exigencies and capacities of all human nature. It consists of an end to be reached, namely, the intuitive vision of God in heaven -- not the mere discursive and imperfect knowledge which is acquired by the light of reason -- and of the means to attain such an end, namely, a principle which must be added to natural faculties so as to uplift them and make them capable of knowing and reaching this higher destiny. More specifically it includes an enlightenment of the intellect by a positive revelation of God manifesting man's supernatural end and the conditions for obtaining it; it also implies for every individual the indispensable help of Divine grace both actual, by which God illumines and strengthens human faculties, and sanctifying, by which human nature is elevated to a higher mode of activity. Hence theologians oppose the state of pure nature in which God could have placed man, to the supernatural state to which in fact man was raised.

II. Nature is frequently taken for the totality of concrete natures and their laws. But here again a narrower and a broader meaning must be distinguished. Nature refers especially to the world of matter, in time and space, governed by blind and necessary laws and thus excludes the mental world. Works of nature, opposed to works of art, result from physical causes, not from the actual adaptation by human intelligence. This signification is found in such expressions as natural history, natural philosophy, and in general, natural science, which deal only with the constitution, production, properties, and laws of material substances. Sometimes also nature is all-inclusive, embracing mind as well as matter; it is our whole world of experience, internal as well as external. And frequently nature is looked upon as a personified abstraction, as the one cause of whatever takes place in the universe, endowed with qualities, tendencies, efforts, and will, and with aims and purposes which it strives to realize.

The problems to which the philosophical study of nature has given rise are numerous. All however centre around the question of the unity of nature: Can all the beings of the world be reduced to one common principle, and if so what is this principle? The first Greek philosophers, who were almost exclusively philosophers of nature, endeavoured to find some primitive element out of which all things were made; air, water, fire, and earth were in turn or all together supposed to be this common principle. The problem has persisted through all ages and received many answers. Aristotle's primary matter, for instance, is of the same nature in all things, and today ether, or some other substance or energy is advocated by many as the common substratum of all material substances. After static unity, dynamic unity is looked for, that is, all the changes that take place in the universe are referred to the same principle. Dynamism admits forces of various kinds which, however, it tries to reduce to as small a number as possible, if not to only one form of energy manifesting itself in different ways. Mechanism holds that everything is explainable by the sole assumption of movement communicated from one substance to another. Teleological views give to final causes a greater importance, and look upon the ends of various beings as subordinated to the one end which the universe tends to realize.

If nature includes both mental and physical phenomena, what are the relations between these two classes? On this point also the history of philosophy offers many attempts to substitute some form of Monism for the Dualism of mind and matter, by reducing mind to a special function of matter, or matter to a special appearance of mind, or both to a common substratum.

Finally, is nature as a whole self-sufficient, or does it require a transcendent ground as its cause and principle? Is the natura naturans one and the same with the natura naturata ? By some these expressions are used in a pantheistic sense, the same substance underlies all phenomena; by others the natura naturans , as first cause, is held to be really distinct from the natura naturata , as effect. This is the question of the existence and nature of God and of his distinction from the world. Here the question of the possibility of miracles is suggested. If nature alone exists, and if all its changes are absolutely necessary, everything takes place according to a strict determinism. If, on the contrary, God exists as a transcendent, intelligent, and free cause of nature and its laws not only nature in all its details depends ultimately on God's will, but its ordinary course may be suspended by a miraculous intervention of the First Cause. (See ARTS; NATURALISM; SUPERNATURAL; GRACE )

More Volume: N 287

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Nélaton, Auguste

Famous French surgeon; born in Paris, 17 June, 1807, d. there 21 Sept., 1873. He made his ...

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Nève, Felix-Jean-Baptiste-Joseph

Orientalist and philologist, born at Ath, Belgium, 13 June, 1816; died at Louvain, 23 May, ...

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Nîmes

(NEMAUSENSIS) Diocese ; suffragan of Avignon, comprises the civil Department of Gard. By the ...

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Nabo

( Septuagint, Nabau ). A town mentioned in several passages of the Old Testament, v.g., ...

Nabor and Felix, Saints

Martyrs during the persecution of Diocletian (303). The relics of these holy witnesses to the ...

Nabuchodonosor

The Babylonian form of the name is Nabu-kudurri-usur, the second part of which is variously ...

Nacchiante, Giacomo

(Naclantus). Dominican theologian, born at Florence ; died at Chioggia, 6 May, 1569; he ...

Nacolia

(Nacoleia). A titular metropolitan see in Phrygia Salutaris. This town, which took its name ...

Nagasaki

(Nagasakiensis). Nagasaki, capital of the prefecture ( ken ) of the same name, is situated ...

Nagpur

(Nagpurensis) Diocese in India, suffragan to Madras. Formerly the north-western portion of ...

Nahanes

"People of the Setting Sun", a tribe of the great Dene family of American Indians, whose habitat ...

Nahum

One of the Prophets of the Old Testament, the seventh in the traditional list of the twelve ...

Nails, Holy

The question has long been debated whether Christ was crucified with three or with four nails. ...

Naim

(NAIN). The city where Christ raised to life the widow's son ( Luke 7:11-17 ). The Midrash ...

Name of Jesus, Religious Communities of the

(1) Knights of the Name of Jesus, also known as Seraphim, founded in 1334 by the Queens of Norway ...

Name of Mary, Feast of the Holy

We venerate the name of Mary because it belongs to her who is the Mother of God, the holiest of ...

Names of Jesus and Mary, Sisters of the Holy

A religious congregation founded at Longueuil, Quebec, 8 December, 1844, under the patronage of ...

Names, Christian

" Christian names", says the Elizabethan antiquary, Camden, "were imposed for the distinction of ...

Names, Hebrew

To the philosopher a name is an artificial sign consisting in a certain combination of ...

Namur

Diocese of Namur (Namurcensis), constituted by the Bull of 12 May, 1559, from territory ...

Nancy

DIOCESE OF NANCY (NANCEIENISIS ET TULLENSIS). Comprises the Departments of Meurthe and Moselle, ...

Nantes

Diocese of Nantes (Nanceiensis). This diocese, which comprises the entire department of Loire ...

Nanteuil, Robert

French engraver and crayonist, b. Reims, 1623 (1626, or 1630) d. at Paris, 1678. Little is ...

Naples

The capital of a province in Campania, southern Italy, and formerly capital of the Kingdom of the ...

Napoleon I (Bonaparte)

Emperor of the French, second son of Charles Marie Bonaparte and Maria Lætitia Ramolino, b. ...

Napoleon III

(Charles-Louis-Napoléon). Originally known as Louis-Napoléon-Bonaparte, Emperor ...

Napper, Venerable George

(Or Napier). English martyr, born at Holywell manor, Oxford, 1550; executed at Oxford 9 ...

Nardò

(NERITONENSIS) Diocese in southern Italy. Nardò was already an episcopal see, when, ...

Nardi, Jacopo

Italian historian; born at Florence, 1476; died at Venice, 11 March, 1563. His father, Salvestro ...

Narni and Terni

UNITED DIOCESES OF NARNI AND TERNI (NARNIENSIS ET INTERAMNENSIS) Located in Central Italy. ...

Narthex

In early Christian architecture a portion of the church at the west end, separated from the nave ...

Nashville

The Diocese of Nashville comprises the entire territory of the State of Tennessee. From its inland ...

Nasoræans

Sometimes called M ANDÆANS, S ABIANS, or C HRISTIANS OF S T. J OHN. ...

Natal

(Vicariate Apostolic of Natal) The history of the Catholic Church in South Africa goes back ...

Natal Day

Both the form natalis (sc. Dies ) and natalicium were used by the Romans to denote what we ...

Natalis, Alexander

(Or NOEL ALEXANDRE). A French historian and theologian, of the Order of St. Dominic, b. at ...

Natchez

DIOCESE OF NATCHEZ (NATCHESIENSIS) Established 28 July, 1837; comprises the State of ...

Natchitoches

Diocese of Natchitoches Former title of the present Diocese of Alexandria (Alexandrinensis), ...

Nathan

Nathan (God-given), the name of several Israelites mentioned in the Old Testament. (1) Nathan, ...

Nathanael

One of the first disciples of Jesus, to Whom he was brought by his friend Philip ( John ...

Nathinites

Or N ATHINEANS ( hnthynym , the given ones; Septuagint generally o‘i dedoménoi ...

National Union, Catholic Young Men's

This association was organized on 22 February, 1875, at a meeting held in Newark, New Jersey, at ...

Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast of the

The earliest document commemorating this feast comes from the sixth century. St.Romanus, the ...

Natural Law

I. ITS ESSENCE In English this term is frequently employed as equivalent to the laws of nature, ...

Naturalism

Naturalism is not so much a special system as a point of view or tendency common to a number of ...

Nature

Etymologically (Latin natura from nasci , to be born, like the corresponding Greek physis ...

Naturism

Naturism is the term proposed by Réville to designate the worship of nature. It differs ...

Nausea, Frederic

(Latinized from the German Grau .) Bishop of Vienna, born c. 1480 at Waischenfeld ( ...

Navajo Indians

Navajo Indians, numbering about 20,000, constitute the largest group of Indians belonging to the ...

Navarre

The territory formerly known as Navarre now belongs to two nations, Spain and France, according ...

Navarrete, Domingo Fernández

Dominican missionary and archbishop, born c. 1610 at Peñafiel in Old Castile ; died ...

Navarrete, Juan Fernández

Spanish painter, b. at Logrono, 1526 and died at Segovia, 1579 (at Toledo, February, 1579 or 28 ...

Navarrete, Martín Fernández

Spanish navigator and writer, b. at Avalos (Logrono), 8 November, 1765; d. at Madrid, 8 October, ...

Nave

Architecturally the central, open space of a church, west of the choir or chancel, and separated ...

Nazarene

( Nazarenos, Nazarenus ). As a name applied to Christ, the word Nazarene occurs only ...

Nazareth

The town of Galilee where the Blessed Virgin dwelt when the Archangel announced to her the ...

Nazareth, Sisters of Charity of

Founded Dec., 1812, by the Rev. B.J.M. David (see D IOCESE OF L OUISVILLE ). Father David, ...

Nazarite

(Hebrew, " consecrated to God "). The name given by the Hebrews to a person set apart and ...

Nazarius and Celsus, Saints

The only historical information which we possess regarding these two martyrs is the discovery of ...

Nazarius and Companions, Saint

In the Roman Martyrology and that of Bede for 12 June mention is made of four Roman martyrs, ...

Nazarius, John Paul

Dominican theologian, b. in 1556 at Cremonia; d. in 1645 at Bologna. He entered the order at an ...

Nazarius, Saint

Fourteenth abbot of the monastery of Lérins, probably sometime during the reign of the ...

Nazianzus

A titular metropolitan see of Cappadocia Tertia. Nazianzus was a small town the history which is ...

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Neale, Leonard

Second Archbishop of Baltimore, b. near Port Tobacco, Charles County, Maryland, 15 Oct., 1746; ...

Nebo

( Septuagint, Nabau ). A town mentioned in several passages of the Old Testament, v.g., ...

Nebo, Mount

( Septuagint : Nabau ). A mountain of the Abarim range east of Jordan and the Dead Sea, ...

Nebraska

Nebraska, meaning in English, "shallow water", occupies geographically a central location among ...

Necessity

Necessity, in a general way, denotes a strict connection between different beings, or the ...

Neckam, Alexander of

( Or Necham.) English scholar, born in Hertfordshire, 1157; died at Kempsey, Worcestershire, ...

Necrologies

Necrologies, or, as they are more frequently called in France, obituaires , are the registers ...

Necromancy

( nekros , "dead", and manteia , "divination") Necromancy is a special mode of divination ...

Nectarius

( Nechtarios ), Patriarch of Constantinople, (381-397), died 27 Sept, 397, eleventh bishop of ...

Negligence

( Latin nec , not, and legere , to pick out). The condition of not heeding. More ...

Nehemiah, Book of

Also called the second Book of Esdras (Ezra), is reckoned both in the Talmud and in the early ...

Neher, Stephan Jakob

Church historian ; b. at Ebnat, 24 July, 1829; d. at Nordhausen, 7 Oct., 1902. His family were ...

Nemore, Jordanus (Jordanis) de

The name given in manuscripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to a mathematician who ...

Nemrod

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

Neo-Platonism

General survey A system of idealistic, spiritualistic philosophy, tending towards mysticism, ...

Neo-Pythagorean Philosophy

The ethico-religious society founded by Pythagoras, which flourished especially in Magna ...

Neo-Scholasticism

Neo-Scholasticism is the development of the Scholasticism of the Middle Ages during the latter ...

Neocæsarea

A titular see, suffragan of Hierapolis in the Patriarchate of Antioch sometimes called ...

Neocæsarea

A titular see of Pontus Polemoniacus, at first called Cabira, one of the favourite residences ...

Neophyte

Neophyte ( neophytoi , the newly planted, i.e. incorporated with the mystic Body of Christ), a ...

Nephtali

(A.V., N APHTALI ) Sixth son of Jacob and Bala ( Genesis 30:8 ). The name is explained ...

Nepi and Sutri

Nepi and Sutri (Nepsin et Sutrin), united sees of the province of Rome, central Italy, in the ...

Nepveu, Francis

Writer on ascetical subjects, b. at St. Malo, 29 April, 1639; entered the novitiate of the ...

Nereus and Achilleus, Domitilla and Pancratius, Saints

The commemoration of these four Roman saints is made by the Church on 12 May, in common, and ...

Neri, Antonio

Florentine chemist, born in Florence ln the sixteenth century; died 1614, place unknown. We have ...

Neri, Saint Philip Romolo

THE APOSTLE OF ROME. Born at Florence, Italy, 22 July, 1515; died 27 May, 1595. Philip's ...

Nerinckx, Charles

Missionary priest in Kentucky, founder of the Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross, born ...

Nero

Nero, the last Roman emperor (reigned 54-68) of the Julian-Claudian line, was the son of Domitius ...

Nerses I-IV

Armenian patriarchs. Nerses I Surnamed "the Great". Died 373. Born of the royal stock, he ...

Nerses of Lambron

Born 1153 at Lambron, Cilicia; died 1198; son of Oschin II, prince of Lambron and nephew of the ...

Nestorius and Nestorianism

I. THE HERESIARCH Nestorius, who gave his name to the Nestorian heresy, was born at Germanicia, ...

Netherlands, The

( German Niederlande ; French Pays Bas ). The Netherlands, or Low Countries, as organized by ...

Netter, Thomas

Theologian and controversialist, b. at Saffron Waldon, Essex, England, about 1375; d. at Rouen, ...

Neugart, Trudpert

Benedictine historian, born at Villingen, Baden, 23 February, 1742; died at St Paul's ...

Neum

(Latin, neuma, pneuma, or neupma, from Greek pneûma, a nod). A term in medieval ...

Neumann, Johann Balthasar

Born 1687 at Eger; died 1753 at Würzburg, master of the rococo style and one of the ...

Neumayr, Franz

Preacher, writer on theological, controversial and ascetical subjects, and author of many ...

Neusohl

Diocese of Neusohl (Hung. Beszterczebànya; Lat. Neosoliensis), founded in 1776 by Maria ...

Neutra

(Nitria; Nyitha) -- Diocese of Neutra (Nitriensis). Diocese in Western Hungary, a suffragan of ...

Nevada

A Western state of the United States , bounded on the North by Oregon and Idaho, on the East ...

Neve

Titular see of Arabia, suffragan of Bostra. Two of its bishops are known: Petronius, who ...

Nevers

(Nivernum) Diocese ; includes the Department of Nièvre, in France. Suppressed by the ...

Neville

(1) Edmund Neville ( alias Sales), a Jesuit, born at Hopcut, Lancashire, 1605; died in ...

New Abbey

The Abbey of Sweetheart, named New Abbey Pow, or New Abbey, in order to distinguish it, from ...

New Caledonia

VICARIATE APOSTOLIC New Caledonia, one of the largest islands of Oceania, lies about 900 miles ...

New Guinea

The second largest island and one of the least known countries of the world, lies immediately ...

New Hampshire

The most northerly of the thirteen original states of the United States, lying between 70°37' ...

New Jersey

One of the original thirteen states of the American Union. It ratified the Federal Constitution ...

New Mexico

A territory of the United States now (Jan., 1911) awaiting only the completion of its ...

New Norcia

A Benedictine abbey in Western Australia, founded on 1 March, 1846, by a Spanish Benedictine, ...

New Orleans

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS (NOVÆ AURELIÆ). Erected 25 April, 1793, as the Diocese of ...

New Pomerania

New Pomerania, the largest island of the Bismarck Archipelago, is separated from New Guinea by ...

New Testament

I. Name ; II. Description ; III. Origin ; IV. Transmission of the Text ; V. Contents, History, ...

New Testament, Canon of the

The Catholic New Testament, as defined by the Council of Trent, does not differ, as regards the ...

New Year's Day

The word year is etymologically the same as hour (Skeat), and signifies a going, movement ...

New York (Archdiocese)

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW YORK (NEO-EBORACENSIS). See erected 8 April, 1808; made archiepiscopal 19 ...

New York (State)

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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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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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