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Obligation

A term derived from the Roman civil law , defined in the "Institutes" of Justinian as a "legal bond which by a legal necessity binds us to do something according to the laws of our State" (III, 13). It was a relation by which two persons were bound together ( obligati ) by a bond which the law recognized and enforced. Originally both parties were considered to be under the obligation to each other; subsequently the term was restricted to one of the parties, who was said to be under an obligation to do something in favour of another, and consequently that other had a correlative right to enforce the fulfilment of the obligation. The transference of the term from the sphere of law to that of ethics was easy and natural. In ethics it acquired a wider meaning and was used as a synonym for duty. It thus became the centre of some of the fundamental problems of ethics. The question of the source of moral obligation is perhaps the chief of these problems, and it is certainly not one of the easiest or least important. We all acknowledge that we are in general under an obligation not to commit murder, but when we ask for the ground of the obligation, we get almost as many different answers as there are systems of ethics.

The prevailing Catholic doctrine may be explained in the following terms. By moral obligation we understand some sort of necessity, imposed on the will, of doing what is good and avoiding what is evil. The necessity, of which there is question here, is not the physical coercion exercised on man by an external and stronger physical force. If two strong men seize me by the arms and drag me whither I would not go, I act under necessity or compulsion, but this is not the necessity of moral obligation. The will, which is the seat of moral obligation, is incapable of being physically coerced in that manner. It cannot be forced to will what it does not will. It is indeed possible to conceive that the will is necessitated to action by the antecedent conditions. The doctrine of those who deny free will is easily intelligible although we deny that it is true. The will is indeed necessitated by its own nature to tend towards the good in general; we cannot wish for what is evil unless it presents itself to us under the appearance of good. We also necessarily wish for happiness, and if we found ourselves in presence of some object which fully satisfied all our desires and contained in itself nothing to repel us, we should be necessitated to love it. But in this life there is no such object which can fully satisfy all our desires and thus make us completely happy. Health, friends, fame, wealth, pleasures, singly or all combined, are incapable of filling the void in our hearts. Though in their measure desirable, all earthly goods are limited, and man's capacity for good is unlimited. All earthly goods are defective; we recognize their defects and the evil which the pursuit or possession of them entails. Considered with their defects, they repel as well as attract us; our wills therefore are not necessitated by them. In the presence of any earthly good our wills are free, at least after the first involuntary tendency to what attracts them; they are not necessitated to full and deliberate action.

The necessity, then, which constitutes the essence of moral obligation must be of the kind which an end that must be attained lays upon us of adopting the necessary means towards obtaining that end. If I am bound to cross the ocean and I am unable to fly, I must go on board ship. That is the only means at my disposal for attaining the end which I am bound to obtain. Moral obligation is a necessity of this kind. It is the necessity that I am under, of employing the necessary means towards the obtaining of an end which is also necessary. The necessity, then, which moral obligation lays upon us is the necessity, not of the determinism of nature, nor of the physical coercion of an external and stronger force, but it is of the same general character as the necessity that we are under of employing the necessary means in order to attain an end which must be obtained. There is, however, a special quality in the necessity of moral obligation which is peculiar to itself. We all appreciate this when we say that children are "obliged" to obey their parents, that they "ought" to obey them, that it is their " duty " to do so. We do not simply mean by those assertions that obedience to parents is a necessary means towards their own education, and for securing the peace, harmony, and affection, which should reign in the home. We do not simply mean that the happiness of parents and children depends upon such obedience. Although society at large is much concerned that children should be trained in respect and deference towards lawful authority, yet even the demands of society do not explain what we mean when we affirm that children are obliged to obey their parents. There is a peremptoriness, a sacredness, a universality about the obligation of duty, which can only be explained by calling to mind what man is, what is his origin, and what is his destiny. Man is a creature, made by God his Creator, with Whom he is destined to live for all eternity. That is the end of man's life and of his every action, imposed on him by his Maker, who in making man ordered every fibre of his nature to the end for which he was made. That doctrine explains the peremptoriness, the sacredness, the universality of moral obligation, made known to us, as it is, by the dictates of conscience. The doctrine has seldom been put in clearer or more beautiful language than by Cardinal Newman in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (p. 55):

The Supreme Being is of a certain character, which, expressed in human language, we call ethical. He has the attributes of justice, truth, wisdom, sanctity. benevolence and mercy, as eternal characteristics in His Nature, the very Law of His being, identical with Himself; and next, when He became Creator, He implanted this Law, which is Himself, in the intelligence of all His rational creatures. The divine Law then is the rule of ethical truth, the standard of right and wrong, a sovereign, irreversible, absolute authority in the presence of men and Angels. "The eternal law," says St. Augustine, "is the Divine Reason or Will of God, commanding the observance, forbidding the disturbance, of the natural order of things." "The natural law," says St. Thomas, "is an impression of the Divine Light in us, a participation of the eternal law in the rational creature." This law, as apprehended in the minds of individual men, is called "conscience"; and though it may suffer refraction in passing into the intellectual medium of each, it is not thereby so affected as to lose its character of being the Divine Law, but still has as such, the prerogative of commanding obedience. "The Divine Law," says Cardinal Gousset, "is the supreme rule of actions; our thoughts, desires, words, acts, all that man is, is subject to the domain of the law of God ; and this law is the rule of our conduct by means of our conscience." Hence it is never lawful to go against our conscience ; as the Fourth Lateran Council says, "Quidquid fit contra conscientiam, aedificat ad gehennam." . . . The rule and measure of duty is not utility, nor expedience, nor the happiness of the greatest number, nor State convenience, nor fitness, order, and the pulchrum. Conscience is not a long-sighted selfishness, nor a desire to be consistent with oneself; but it is a messenger from Him who both in nature and in grace, speaks to us behind a veil, and teaches and rules us by His representatives. Conscience is the aborigrinal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.

An injustice would be done to the foregoing doctrine if it were classed with Mysticism. innate ideas. and Intuitionism. On the contrary, it is in the strictest sense rational. It asserts that we can know God our Creator and Lord, that we can know ourselves and the bonds that bind us to God and to our fellow men. We can know the actions which it is right and becoming that such a being as man should perform. We can and do know that God, Whom as our Creator and Lord we are bound to obey, commands us to do what is right and forbids us to do what is wrong. That is the eternal law, the Divine reason or the Divine will, which is the source of all moral obligation. Moral precepts are the commands of God, but they are also the behests of right reason, inasmuch as they are merely the rules of right conduct by which a being such as man is should be guided.

An objection is sometimes urged against the method of analysing moral obligation which we have followed. It is said that moral obligation cannot be explained as a moral necessity of adopting the necessary means to the end of moral action, for it may be asked what is the moral obligation of the end itself. The Utilitarians, for example, maintained that the end of human action should be the greatest happiness of the greatest number. But a man may well ask, why he should be bound to direct his actions towards securing the greatest happiness of the greatest number. It is plain what answer should be given to such a question on the principles laid down above. God is our Creator and Lord, and as such and because He is good, He has every right to our obedience and service. We need not go beyond the preceptive will of God in our analysis ; it is obligatory upon us from the very nature of God and our relation to Him. The rules of morality are then moral laws imposing on us an obligation derived from the will of God, our Creator. That obligation is the moral necessity that we are under of conforming our actions to the demands of our rational nature and to the end for which we exist. If we do what is not conformable to our rational nature and to our end, we violate the moral law and do wrong. The effect on ourselves of such an action is twofold according to Catholic theology. A bad action does not merely subject us to a penalty assigned to wrongdoing, the sanction of the moral law. Besides this reatus poenoe , there is also the reatus culpa in every moral transgression. The sinner has committed an offence against God, something which displeases Him, and which puts an end to the friendship which should exist between the Creator and creature. This state of enmity is accompanied, in the supernatural order to which we have been raised, by the privation of God's grace, and of the rights and privileges annexed to it. This is by far the most important of the effects produced on the soul by sin, the liability to punishment is merely a secondary consequence of it. This shows how far from the truth we should be if we attempted to explain moral obligations by mere liability to punishment which wrongdoing entails in this world or in the next.

The sense of moral obligation is an attribute of man's rational nature, and so we find it wherever we find man. However, in the early history of ethical speculation the notion is not prominent. Before philosophers began to inquire into the meaning and origin of moral obligation, they busied themselves about what is the good, and what the end of human activity. This was the question which occupied the philosophers of ancient Greece. What is the highest good for man ? In what does man's happiness consist? Is it pleasure, or virtue practised for its own sake or for the gratification and self-esteem that it brings to the virtuous man ? With the exception of the Stoics, the Greek philosophers did not much discuss the question of duty and moral obligation. They thought that, of course, when a man knew where his highest good lay, he could not but pursue it. Vice was really ignorance, and all that was necessary to subdue it was a training in philosophy. But the first principle of the Stoics was: "life according to nature ". That was the "becoming", the "proper" thing, whether it brought pleasure or pain, which the Stoic philosopher indeed reckoned of no importance and affected to despise. This philosophy appealed powerfully to the native sternness of the Roman character, and it was considerably influenced and developed by the ideas of Roman jurisprudence. Thus the treatise of Panaetius, a Stoic of the second century before Christ, "On the Things That Are Becoming", was paraphrased by Cicero in the next century, and became his well-known treatise "On Duties." Cicero remarks, and the remark is significant, that Panaetius had not given a definition of what duty is. According to Cicero it has reference to the end of good actions, and is expressed in precepts to which the conduct of life can be conformed in all its particulars (De officiis, I, iii). The working out of the doctrine concerning the law of nature is due to a large extent to the Roman lawyers, and Costa Rosetti, a recent Austrian writer on ethics, could find no words more suited to sum up the common Catholic teaching on the point than a passage from Cicero's "De republica" (III, xxii). We cannot do better than give a translation of the passage here, as it will show clearly how fully the doctrine of a law of nature imposing a moral obligation on man had been developed before it was adopted by the Fathers (Lactantius, Divine Institutes , VI, 8 ):

Right reason is a true law, agreeing with nature, infused into all men, unchanging,eternal, which summons to duty by its commands, deters from wrong by forbidding it, and which nevertheless neither commands and forbids the good in vain, nor prevails with the bad by commanding and forbidding them. It is not permitted to abrogate this law, nor is it allowed to derogate from it in anything, nor is it possible to abrogate it wholly. We can neither be released from this law by popular vote, nor should another be sought for to gloss and interpret it. It is not one thing at Rome, another at Athens ; one thing now, and another afterwards; but one. eternal and immutable law will govern all men for ever, and there will be one, the common master and ruler of all, God. He it was that proposed and carried this law, and whoever does not yield obedience to it will revolt against himself and byoffering an affront to the nature ofman he will thereby suffer the greatest penalties, even if he avoids other supposedsanctions.

The Stoic indeed understood this doctrine in a pantheistic sense. His god was the universal reason of the world, of which a particle was bestowed on man at his birth. It only needed the Christian doctrine of a personal God, the Creator and Lord of all things, Who in many ways manifests His law to man, but more especially through and in the voice of conscience, to turn it into the Catholic doctrine of moral obligation which has been analysed above. In the teaching of Christ, right conduct is summed up in the observance of the commandments. Those commandments constitute the law of God, which He came not to destroy but to fulfil. He required their observance under the most terrible sanctions. St. Paul, of course, only preached the doctrine of his Master. The legalism which he rejected was the ceremonial and the merely outward observance of the Pharisees, not the internal and the external observance of the moral law. Although the Gentile had not the moral law written on tablets of stone, yet he had it written on the fleshy tablets of his heart, and his conscience bore witness to it, as did that of the Jew ( Romans 2:14 ). This is the doctrine still taught in the Catholic Church. It derives straight from Christ and His Apostles, though it is often expressed in the language of Stoicism, interpreted according to the exigences of Christian doctrine. Since the Reformation it has been the fashion with many to reject it as legalism in favour of what is called Christian liberty. Christian liberty, however, interpreted by private judgment, developed into various systems of so-called independent morality.

Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) is justly regarded as one of the chief pioneers of modern thought. According to Hobbes, man in the state of nature seeks nothing but his own selfish pleasure, but such individualism naturally leads to an internecine war in which every man's hand is against his neighbour. In pure self-interest and for self-preservation men entered into a compact by which they agreed to surrender part of their natural freedom to an absolute ruler in order to preserve the rest. The State determines what is just and unjust, right and wrong; and the strong arm of the law provides the ultimate sanction for right conduct. The same fundamental principles form the groundwork of the empirical philosophy of Locke and a long train of followers down to the present day. Some of these followers indeed denied that all the motives that influence man's conduct are selfish; they insist on the existence of symphatetic and social feelings in men, but whether selfish or social, all are rooted in a sensist philosophy. The lineal descent of these views may be traced from Hobbes and Locke, through Hume, Paley, Bentham, the two Mills, and Bain, to H. Spencer and the Evolutionists of our own day. This sensist philosophy, of course, has had its opponents. Cudworth and the Cambridge Platonists strove to defend the essential and eternal distinction of good and evil by reviving Platonism. Butler insisted on the claims of conscience, while the Scotch school, Price, Reid, and Dugald Stewart, postulated a moral sense analogous to the sense of beauty, which infallibly indicates the right course of conduct. In Germany Kant formulated his ethical system to counteract the scepticism of Hume. Moral obligation, according to him, is derived from the categorical imperative of the autonomous reason. Kant's philosophy, through Fichte and Schelling, gave birth to the pantheism of Hegel. A small but influential school of English Hegelians, represented by such men as T. H. Green, Bradley, Wallace, Bosanquet, and others, regard conscience as the voice of man's true self, and man's true self as ideally one with God. English philosophic thought is thus divided into the schools of Materialism and Pantheism, much as Epicureanism and Stoicism divided the ancient world. Pragmatism, a product of American thought, may without injustice be compared to the scepticism of the Athenian Academy. Each and all of these systems contain grave errors about the nature of man and about his position in the world, and so it is no wonder that they fail to account for moral obligation. (See DETERMINISM; DUALISM; DUTY; ETHICS; FATALISM; FREE WILL; HEDONISM; KANT, PHILOSOPHY OF; LAW; PANTHEISM; POSITIVISM.)

PROFESSIONAL OBLIGATIONS

The office of a judge, inasmuch as he is appointed by public authority to administer justice according to the laws demands in the first place competent knowledge of the laws which are to be administered. Not less important in a judge is a lofty sense of justice and an upright character which cannot be deflected from the path of duty by either fear or favour. The judge, too, must employ at least ordinary diligence in the conduct of the cases that come before him, so that as far as possible a just sentence may be arrived at. He must not transgress the limits of his authority, and he must observe the rules of procedure laid down for his guidance. These obligations of a judge follow from the nature of his office, and he binds himself implicitly to fulfil them when he accepts that office. Judges also usually take an oath by which they expressly bind themselves to administer justice uprightly, without fear or favour. Selling justice for bribes is rightly regarded as a heinous offence in a judge, and besides being liable to severe punishment, it involves the obligation of making restitution, as there is no just title to retain the price of justice. Natural equity requires that all should be presumed to be innocent who have not been proved to be guilty of crime, and so a judge must give those who are accused the benefit of the doubt, when the crime imputed to them cannot be clearly proved. In civil actions he is bound to give sentence according to the merits of the case, and so in default of certainty of right, he must decide in favour of the party who has the better claim. What has been said of judges is applicable in due measure to magistrates, referees, arbitrators, and jurymen, all of whom are invested with some of the functions of a judge.

Advocates and lawyers are persons skilled in the law who for payment undertake the legal business of clients. They are obliged to have the knowledge and skill which are required for the due discharge of their office, and which they implicitly profess to have when they offer their services to the public. They must also employ at least ordinary diligence and care in the conduct of the business entrusted to them. They must keep faith with their clients and use only just means to obtain the objects which they desire. As they act for and in the name of their clients, they must not undertake a cause which is clearly unjust, otherwise they will be guilty of co-operating in injustice, and will be bound to make restitution for all the unjust damage which they cause to others. However, previous certainty of the justice of a cause is not necessary in order that a lawyer may rightly undertake it; it will be sufficient if the justice of the cause to be undertaken is at least probable, for then it may be hoped that the truth will be made clear in the course of the trial. As soon as an attorney is satisfied that his client has no case, he should inform him of the fact, and should not proceed further with the case. An attorney may always undertake the defence of a criminal, whether he be guilty or not, for even if his defence of a real culprit is successful, no great harm will usually be done by a guilty man escaping the punishment which he deserves. To justify a criminal accusation of another there must be morally certain evidence of his guilt, as otherwise there will be danger of doing serious and unjust harm to the reputation of one's neighbour.

From the Decree of the Holy Office, 19 December, 1860, in answer to the Bishop of Southwark, it is clear that in England an attorney may undertake a case where there is question of judicial separation between husband and wife. Even in an action for divorce in a civil court he may defend the action against the plaintiff. If the marriage has already been pronounced null and void by competent ecclesiastical authority a Catholic attorney may impugn its validity in the civil courts. Moreover, for just reason, as, for example, to obtain a variation in the marriage settlement, or to prevent the necessity of having to maintain a bastard child, a Catholic lawyer may petition for a divorce in the civil court, not with the intention of enabling his client to marry again while his spouse is still living but with a view to obtaining the civil effects of divorce in the civil tribunal. This opinion at any rate is defended as probable by many good theologians. The reason is because marriage is neither contracted nor dissolved before the civil authority ; in the formalities prescribed for marriage by civil law there is only question of the civil authority taking cognizance of who are married, and of the civil effects which now therefrom.

In canon law excommunicated and infamous persons, accomplices, and others are debarred from prosecuting criminals, but as a general rule any one who has full use of his senses may prosecute according to American and English law. Nobody should undertake a prosecution when greater evil than good would follow from it, or when there is not moral certainty as to the guilt of the accused. However, it may be done for the sake of the public good, and there may be an obligation to do it, as when one's office compels one to undertake the task, or the defence of the innocent or the public good requires it, or a precept of obedience commands it. Thus by ecclesiastical law heretics and priests guilty of solicitation in the sacred tribunal are to be denounced to the ordinary.

The defendant in a criminal trial is not himself subjected to examination, according to English law, unless he offers himself voluntarily to give evidence, and then he may be examined like a witness. In canon law the accused is examined. and the question arises whether he is bound to tell the truth against himself. He is bound to tell the truth if he is interrogated according to law ; canon law prescribes that when there is semiplena probatio of the crime and this is made clear to the defendant he should be interrogated.

The defendant may in self-defence make known the secret crime of a witness against him, if it really conduces to his defence; but, of course, he may never impute false crimes to anybody. A criminal may not defend himself against lawful arrest, for that would be to resist lawful authority, but he is not compelled to deliver himself up to justice, and it is not a sin to escape from justice if he can do so without violence. The law prescribes that he shall be kept in durance, not that he shall voluntarily remain in custody. A criminal lawfully condemned to death is not obliged to save his life by escape or other means if he can do so; he should submit to the execution of the sentence passed upon him, and may do so meritoriously.

Charity or obedience may impose an obligation to give evidence in a court of justice. If serious harm can be prevented by offering one's self as a witness, there will as a rule be an obligation to do so, and obedience imposes the obligation when one is summoned by lawful authority. A witness is bound by his oath and by the obedience due to lawful authority to tell the truth in answer to the questions lawfully put to him. He is not bound to incriminate himself, nor, of course, may the seal of confession ever be broken.

The canon law laid it down that the testimony of two witnesses of unsuspected character was necessary and sufficient evidence of any fact alleged in a court of justice. The testimony of a solitary witness was not usually sufficient or admissible evidence of a crime, and in keeping with this the theologians decided that a solitary witness should not declare what he knew of a crime, inasmuch as he was not lawfully interrogated. English law, however, with most modern systems, admits the testimony of one witness, if credible, as sufficient evidence of a fact, and so as a rule there will be an obligation on such a one of answering according to his knowledge when questioned lawfully in a court of justice.

A doctor who holds himself out as ready to undertake the care of the sick must have competent knowledge of his profession and must exercise his office at least with ordinary care and diligence; otherwise he will sin against justice and charity in exposing himself to the risk of seriously injuring his neighbour. Unless he is bound. by some special agreement he is not ordinarily obliged to undertake any particular case for there are usually others who are willing and able to give the necessary assistance to the sick. Even in time of pestilence he will not commit sin if he leave the neighbourhood, unless he is bound to remain by some special contract.

He should not make exorbitant charges for his services, nor multiply visits uselessly and thus increase his fees, nor call in other doctors without necessity. On the other hand, even at serious inconvenience, he should visit a patient whose case he has undertaken when called as far as is reasonable, and he should be ready to call in other doctors for consultation when necessary or when he is asked to do so. He is sometimes bound by the general law of charity to give his assistance gratis to the poor.

He may not neglect safer remedies in order to try those which are less safe, but there is nothing to prevent him from prescribing what will probably do good if it is certain that it will not do harm. In a desperate case, with the consent of the sick person and of his relations, he may make use of what will probably do good though it may also probably do harm, provided that there is nothing better to be done in the circumstances. It is altogether wrong to make experiments with doubtful remedies or operations on living human beings ; fiat experimentum tn corpore vili.

When the patient is in danger of death, the doctor is bound out of charity to warn him or those who attend on him, that he may make all necessary preparations for death. (See ABORTION; ANAESTHESIA; CRANIOTOMY; HYPNOTISM.)

Teachers hold the place of parents with regard to those committed to their charge for the purpose of instruction. They are bound in justice to exercise due care and diligence in the discharge of their office. They must have the knowledge and skill which that office demands.

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Born 5 September, 1802, at Shrewsbury ; died 30 Jan., 1880, at Islington, the youngest son of ...

Oates's Plot

A term conventionally used to designate a "Popish Plot" which, during the reign of Charles II of ...

Oaths

I. NOTION AND DIVISIONS An oath is an invocation to God to witness the truth of a statement. ...

Oaths, English Post-Reformation

The English Reformation having been imposed by the Crown, it was natural that submission to the ...

Oaxaca

(Or ANTEQUERA). Situated in the southern part of the Republic of Mexico, bounded on the north ...

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Ob 13

Obazine, Monastery of

Located in the Diocese of Tulle ; founded by St. Stephen of Obazine about 1134. After his ...

Obba

Titular see in Byzacena, northern Africa of unknown history, although mentioned by Polybius ...

Obedience

Obedience (Lat. obêdire, "to hearken to", hence "to obey") is the complying with a command ...

Obedience, Religious

Religious obedience is that general submission which religious vow to God, and voluntarily ...

Obedientiaries

A name commonly used in medieval times for the lesser officials of a monastery who were ...

Oblate Sisters of Providence

A congregation of negro nuns founded at Baltimore, Maryland, by the Rev. Jacques Hector ...

Oblates of Mary Immaculate

I. NAME AND ORIGIN The first members of this society, founded in 1816, were known as ...

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales

A congregation of priests founded originally by Saint Francis de Sales at the request of Saint ...

Oblati, Oblatæ, Oblates

Oblati (Oblatæ, Oblates) is a word used to describe any persons, not professed monks or ...

Obligation

A term derived from the Roman civil law , defined in the "Institutes" of Justinian as a "legal ...

Obregonians

(Or Poor Infirmarians) A small congregation of men, who professed the Rule of the Third Order ...

Obreption

( Latin ob and repere , "to creep over"). A canonical term applied to a species of fraud ...

Observatory, Vatican

The Vatican Observatory now bears the official title, "Specola Astronomica Vaticana". To ...

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Oc 10

Occam, William of

Fourteenth-century Scholastic philosopher and controversial writer, born at or near the village ...

Occasionalism

Occasionalism (Latin occasio ) is the metaphysical theory which maintains that finite things ...

Occasions of Sin

Occasions of Sin are external circumstances--whether of things or persons --which either ...

Occleve, Thomas

(Or Hoccleve) Little is known of his life beyond what is mentioned in his poems. He was b. ...

Occult Art, Occultism

Under this general term are included various practices to which special articles of the ...

Occurrence

(IN LITURGY) I. DEFINITION Occurrence is the coinciding or occurring of two liturgical offices ...

Oceania, Vicariate Apostolic of Central

The whole of Oceania had at first been entrusted by the Propaganda to the Society of the Sacred ...

Ockham, William of

Fourteenth-century Scholastic philosopher and controversial writer, born at or near the village ...

Octavarium Romanum

The Octavarium Romanum is a liturgical book which may be considered as an appendix to the Roman ...

Octave

I. ORIGIN It is the number seven, not eight, that plays the principal rôle in Jewish ...

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Od 12

Odense, Ancient See of Odense

(OTHINIA, OTHONIENSIS.) The diocese included the islands of Fünen, Langeland, Taasinge, ...

Odescalchi, Carlo

Cardinal, prince, archbishop, and Jesuit, b. at Rome, 5 March, 1786; d. at Modena, 17 August, ...

Odilia, Saint

Patroness of Alsace, born at the end of the seventh century; died about 720. According to a ...

Odilo, Saint

Fifth Abbot of Cluny (q.v.), v.c. 962; d. 31 December, 1048. He was descended from the nobility ...

Odin, John Mary

Lazarist missionary, first Bishop of Galveston and second Archbishop of New Orleans, b. 25 ...

Odington, Walter

An English Benedictine, also known as WALTER OF EVESHAM, by some writers confounded with WALTER ...

Odo of Cambrai, Blessed

Bishop and confessor, also called ODOARDUS; born at Orléans, 1050; died at Anchin, 19 ...

Odo of Canterbury

Abbot of Battle, d. 1200, known as Odo Cantianus or of Kent. A monk of Christ Church, he ...

Odo of Cheriton

Preacher and fabulist, d. 1247. He visited Paris, and it was probably there that he gained the ...

Odo of Glanfeuil

(Saint-Maur-sur-Loire) Abbot, ninth-century hagiographer. He entered Glanfeuil not later than ...

Odo, Saint

Second Abbot of Cluny, born 878 or 879, probably near Le Mans ; died 18 November, 942. He ...

Odo, Saint

(Oda) Archbishop of Canterbury, d. 2 June, 959 (not in 958; recent researches showing that he ...

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Oe 2

Oertel, John James Maximilian

Journalist, born at Ansbach, Bavaria, 27 April, 1811; died at Jamaica, New York, 21 August, 1882. ...

Oettingen

(ALTÖTTING, OETINGA) Oettingen, during the Carlovingian period a royal palace near the ...

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Of 5

Offa

Offa, King of Mercia, died 29 July, 796. He was one of the leading figures of Saxon history, as ...

Offerings

(OBLATIONS) I. THE WORD OBLATION The word oblation , from the supine of the Latin verb ...

Offertory

(Offertorium.) The rite by which the bread and wine are presented (offered) to God before ...

Office of the Dead

I. COMPOSITION OF THE OFFICE This office, as it now exists in the Roman Liturgy, is composed of ...

Office, Divine

("Liturgy of the Hours" I. THE EXPRESSION "DIVINE OFFICE" This expression signifies ...

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Og 4

Ogdensburg, Diocese of

(Ogdensburgdensis). Comprises the northern towns of Herkimer and Hamilton counties, with the ...

Oggione, Marco D'

Milanese painter, b. at Oggionno near Milan about 1470; d. probably in Milan, 1549. This ...

Ogilvie, John, Venerable

Eldest son of Walter Ogilvie, of Drum, near Keith, Scotland, b. 1580; d. 10 March, 1615. Educated ...

Ogliastra

DIOCESE OF OGLIASTRA (OLEASTRENSIS) Diocese in the Province of Cagliari, Sardinia. It was ...

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Oh 2

Ohio

The seventeenth state of the American Union, admitted on 19 Feb., 1803. It is bounded on the north ...

Ohler, Aloys Karl

Educationist, born at Mainz, 2 January, 1817; died there, 24 August, 1889. He attended the ...

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Oi 3

Oil of Saints

(Manna Oil of Saints). An oily substance, which is said to have flowed, or still flows, from ...

Oils, Holy

(OLEA SACRA). Liturgical Benediction Oil is a product of great utility the symbolic ...

Ointment in Scripture

That the use of oily, fragrant materials to anoint the body is a custom going back to remote ...

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Oj 1

Ojeda, Alonso de

Explorer; b. at Cuenca, Spain, about 1466; d. on the island of Santo Domingo , about 1508. He ...

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Ok 2

Okeghem, Jean d'

Also called Okekem, Okenghem, Okegnan, Ockenheim. Contrapuntist, founder and head of the second ...

Oklahoma

I. GEOGRAPHY Oklahoma, the forty-sixth state to be admitted to the Union, is bounded on the north ...

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Ol 28

Oláh, Nicolaus

(OLAHUS) Archbishop of Gran and Primate of Hungary, a distinguished prelate, born 10 ...

Olaf Haraldson, Saint

Martyr and King of Norway (1015-30), b. 995; d. 29 July, 1030. He was a son of King Harald ...

Olba

A titular see in Isauria, suffragan of Seleucia. It was a city of Cetis in Cilicia Aspera, ...

Old Catholics

The sect organised in German-speaking countries to combat the dogma of Papal Infallibility. ...

Old Chapter, The

The origin of the body, fomerly known as the Old Chapter, dates from 1623, when after a period of ...

Old Hall (St. Edmund's College)

Located near Ware, Hertfordshire, England ; founded in 1793 after the fall of the English ...

Old Testament

I. NAME The word "testament", Hebrew berîth , Greek diatheke , primarily signifies the ...

Old Testament, Canon of the

Overview The word canon as applied to the Scriptures has long had a special and consecrated ...

Oldcorne, Ven. Edward

Martyr, b. 1561; d. 1606. His father was a Protestant, and his mother a Catholic. He was ...

Oldenburg

A grand duchy, one of the twenty-six federated states of the German Empire. It consists of three ...

Oldham, Hugh

Bishop of Exeter, b. in Lancashire, either at Crumpsell or Oldham; d. 25 June, 1519. Having ...

Oldoini, Augustino

Historian and bibliographer, b. 6 Jan., 1612; d. at Perugia, 23 March, 1683. He came from La ...

Olenus

A titular see and suffragan of Patras, in Achaia Quarta, one of the twelve primitive cities of ...

Olesnicki, Zbigniew

(Sbigneus) A Polish cardinal and statesman, b. in Poland, 1389; d. at Sandomir, 1 April, ...

Olier, Jean-Jacques

Founder of the seminary and Society of St-Sulpice, b. at Paris, 20 Sept., 1608; d. there, 2 ...

Olinda

Diocese in the north-east of Brazil, suffragan of San Salvador de Bahia. Erected into a vicariate ...

Oliva

A suppressed Cistercian abbey near Danzig in Pomerania, founded with the assistance of the ...

Oliva, Gian Paolo

Born at Genoa, 4 October, 1600; died at Rome, at Sant' Andrea Quirinale, 26 November, 1681. In ...

Olivaint, Pierre

Pierre Olivaint was born in Paris, 22 Feb., 1816. His father, a man of repute but an unbeliever, ...

Oliver, George

Born at Newington in Surrey in 1781; died at Exeter in 1861. After studying for some years at ...

Olivet, Mount

(Latin, Mons Olivertus .) Occurring also in the English Bibles as the Mount of Olives ( ...

Olivetans

A branch of the white monks of the Benedictine Order, founded in 1319. It owed its origin to ...

Olivi, Pierre Jean

(PETRUS JOHANNIS) A Spiritual Franciscan and theological author, born at Sérignan, ...

Olivier de la Marche

Chronicler and poet, b. 1426, at the Chateau de la Marche, in Franche-Comté; d. at ...

Ollé-Laprune, Léon

French Catholic philosopher, b. in 1839; d. at Paris, 19 Feb., 1898. Under the influence of the ...

Olmütz

(OLOMUCENSIS) Archdiocese in Moravia. It is probable that Christianity penetrated into ...

Olympias, Saint

Born 360-5; died 25 July, 408, probably at Nicomedia. This pious, charitable, and wealthy ...

Olympus

A titular see of Lycia in Asia Minor. It was one of the chief cities of the "Corpus Lyciacum", ...

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Om 5

Omaha

(OMAHENSIS) The Diocese embraces all that part of the State of Nebraska north of the southern ...

Ombus

Titular see and suffragan of Ptolemais in Thebais Secunda. The city is located by Ptolemy (IV, ...

Omer, Saint

Born of a distinguished family towards the close of the sixth or the beginning of the seventh ...

Omission

(Latin omittere , to lay aside, to pass away). "Omission" is here taken to be the failure to ...

Omnipotence

(Latin omnipotentia , from omnia and potens , able to do all things). Omnipotence is ...

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On 4

Onias

( ’Onías ). Name of several Jewish pontiffs of the third and second centuries ...

Ontario

Ontario, the most populous and wealthy province of Canada, has an area of 140,000,000 acres, ...

Ontologism

(from on, ontos , being, and logos , science) Ontologism is an ideological system which ...

Ontology

( on, ontos , being, and logos , science, the science or philosophy of being). I. ...

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Oo 1

Oostacker, Shrine of

A miraculous shrine of the Blessed Virgin, and place of pilgrimage from Belgium, Holland, and ...

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Op 8

Opening Prayer (in the Mass)

The name now used only for short prayers before the Epistle in the Mass, which occur again at ...

Ophir

Ophir, in the Bible , designates a people and a country. The people, for whom a Semitic ...

Oporto

(Portucalensis) Diocese in Portugal ; comprising 26 civil concelhos of the districts of ...

Oppenordt, Gilles-Marie

(Oppenord) Born in Paris, 1672; died there, 1742; a celebrated rococo artist, known as "the ...

Oppido Mamertina

Diocese ; suffragan of Reggio Calabria, Italy, famous for its prolonged resistance to Roger ...

Optatus, Saint

Bishop of Milevis, in Numidia, in the fourth century. He was a convert, as we gather from St. ...

Optimism

Optimism (Latin optimus , best) may be understood as a metaphysical theory, or as an emotional ...

Option, Right of

In canon law an option is a way of obtaining a benefice or a title, by the choice of the new ...

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Or 60

Oracle

( oraculum; orare , to speak). A Divine communication given at a special place through ...

Oran

(ORANENSIS). Diocese in Algiers, separated from the Archdiocese of Algiers, 26 July, 1866, to ...

Orange Free State

The Orange Free State, one of the four provinces of the Union of South Africa, lies between ...

Orange River

(also the PREFECTURE APOSTOLIC OF GREAT NAMAQUALAND) Located in South Africa. The vicariate was ...

Orange, Councils of

Two councils were held at Orange (Arausio), a town in the present department of Vaucluse in ...

Orans

(Orante) Among the subjects depicted in the art of the Roman catacombs one of those most ...

Orate Fratres

The exhortation (" Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours be acceptable to God the Father ...

Oratorio

As at present understood, an Oratorio is a musical composition for solo voices, chorus, orchestra, ...

Oratory

(Latin oratorium , from orare , to pray ) As a general term, Oratory signifies a place ...

Oratory of Saint Philip Neri, The

Under this head are included the Italian, Spanish, English, and other communities, which follow ...

Oratory, French Congregation of the

Founded in Paris at the beginning of the seventeenth century by Cardinal Pierre de ...

Orbellis, Nicolas d'

Franciscan theologian and philosopher, Scotist ; born about 1400; died at Rome, 1475. He seems ...

Orcagna

(The conventional name in art history of A NDREA DI C IONE , also called A RCAGNUOLO or A ...

Orcistus

Titular see in Galatia Secunda. It is only mentioned in Peutinger's "Table". An inscription of ...

Ordeals

( Iudicium Dei ; Anglo-Saxon, ordâl ; German Urteil ). Ordeals were a means of ...

Ordericus Vitalis

Historian, b. 1075; d. about 1143. He was the son of an English mother and a French priest who ...

Orders, Holy

Order is the appropriate disposition of things equal and unequal, by giving each its proper place ...

Orders, The Military

Including under this term every kind of brotherhood of knights, secular as well as religious, ...

Ordinariate

(From Ordinary ). This term is used in speaking collectively of all the various organs ...

Ordinary

( Latin ordinarius , i. e., judex ) An Ordinary in ecclesiastical language, denotes any ...

Ordines Romani

The word Ordo commonly meant, in the Middle Ages, a ritual book containing directions for ...

Oregon

One of the Pacific Coast States, seventh in size among the states of the Union (1910). It received ...

Oregon City

(OREGONOPOLITAN). Includes that part of the state of Oregon west of the Cascade Mountains, ...

Oremus

Invitation to pray, said before collects and other short prayers and occurring continually in ...

Orense

(AURIENSIS) A suffragan of Compostela, includes nearly all of the civil Province of Orense, ...

Oresme, Nicole

Philosopher, economist, mathematician, and physicist, one of the principal founders of modern ...

Organ

(Greek organon , "an instrument") A musical instrument which consists of one or several sets ...

Organic Articles, The

A name given to a law regulating public worship, comprising 77 articles relative to Catholicism, ...

Oria

(URITANA) Oria, in the Province of Lecce [now the Province of Brindisi -- Ed. ], Apulia, ...

Oriani, Barnaba

Italian Barnabite and astronomer, b. at Carignano, near Milan, 17 July, 1752; d. at Milan, 12 ...

Oriental Study and Research

In the broadest sense of the term, Oriental study comprises the scientific investigation and ...

Orientation of Churches

According to Tertullian the Christians of his time were, by some who concerned themselves with ...

Orientius

Christian Latin poet of the fifth century. He wrote an elegiac poem ( Commonitorium ) of 1036 ...

Oriflamme

In verses 3093-5 of the "Chanson de Roland" (eleventh century) the oriflamme is mentioned as a ...

Origen and Origenism

I. LIFE AND WORK OF ORIGEN A. BIOGRAPHY Origen, most modest of writers, hardly ever alludes to ...

Original Sin

I. Meaning II. Principal Adversaries III. Original Sin in ScriptureIV. Original Sin in ...

Orihuela

DIOCESE OF ORIHUELA (ORIOLENSIS, ORIOLANA). The Diocese of Orihuela comprises all the civil ...

Oriol, Saint Joseph

Priest, "Thaumaturgus of Barcelona", b. at Barcelona, 23 November, 1650; d. there, 23 March, ...

Oristano

Diocese of Oristano (Arborensis) in Sardinia. Oristano was the capital of the giudicatura ...

Orkneys

A group of islands situated between 58° 41' and 59° 24' N. lat. and 2° 22' and 3° ...

Orléans

(AURELIANUM) This Diocese comprises the Department of Loiret, suffragan of Paris since 1622, ...

Orléans, Councils of

Six national councils were held at Orléans in the Merovingian period. I. — At the ...

Orlandini, Niccolò

Born at Florence, 1554; died 1606 at Rome, 17 May. He entered the Jesuit novitiate 7 Nov., ...

Orley, Barent Van

(Bernard) Painter, b. at Brussels, about 1491; d. there 6 January, 1542. He studied under ...

Orme, Philibert de l'

An architect, born about 1512; died 1570. His style, classical and of the more severe Italian ...

Oropus

Titular see, suffragan of Anazarbus in Cilicia Secunda. It never really depended on Anazarbus ...

Orosius, Paulus

Historian and Christian apologist ; b. probably at Bracara, now Braga, in Portugal, between 380 ...

Orphans and Orphanages

The death of one or both parents makes the child of the very poor a ward of the community. The ...

Orsi, Giuseppe Agostino

A cardinal, theologian, and ecclesiastical historian, born at Florence, 9 May, 1692, of an ...

Orsini

One of the most ancient and distinguished families of the Roman nobility, whose members often ...

Orsisius

( Arsisios , Oresiesis-Heru-sa Ast) Egyptian monk of the fourth century; was a disciple ...

Ortelius, Abraham

(OERTEL) A cartographer, geographer, and archeologist, born in Antwerp, 4 April, 1527; died ...

Orthodox Church

The technical name for the body of Christians who use the Byzantine Rite in various languages ...

Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy ( orthodoxeia ) signifies right belief or purity of faith. Right belief is not ...

Orthodoxy, Feast of

(or SUNDAY) The first Sunday of the Great Forty days ( Lent ) in the Byzantine Calendar ...

Orthosias

A titular see of Phœnicia Prima, suffragan of Tyre. The city is mentioned for the first ...

Ortolano Ferrarese

Painter of the Ferrara School, b. in Ferrara, about 1490; d. about 1525. His real name was ...

Orval

(Aurea Vallis, Gueldenthal). Formerly a Cistercian abbey in Belgian Luxemburg, Diocese of ...

Orvieto

DIOCESE OF ORVIETO (URBEVETANA) Diocese in Central Italy. The city stands on a rugged mass of ...

Ory, Matthieu

Inquisitor and theologian, b. at La Caune, 1492; d. at Paris, 1557. Entering the Dominican ...

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Os 22

Osaka

(Osachensis). Osaka ( Oye , great river; saka , cliff), one of the three municipal ...

Osbald

King of Northumbria, d. 799. Symeon of Durham (Historia Regum) tells us that when Ecfwald, a ...

Osbaldeston, Edward, Venerable

English martyr, b. about 1560; hanged, drawn, and quartered at York, 16 November, 1594. Son of ...

Osbern

Hagiographer, sometimes confused with Osbert de Clare alias Osbern de Westminster, b. at ...

Oscott (St. Mary's College)

In 1793, a number of the Catholic nobility and gentry of England formed a committee for the ...

Osee

NAME AND COUNTRY Osee (Hôsheá‘– Salvation ), son of Beeri, was one of ...

Osimo

DIOCESE OF OSIMO (AUXIMANA). Diocese in the Province of Ascoli Piceno, Italy. Osimo was ...

Oslo, Ancient See of

(ASLOIA, ASLOENSIS.) Oslo occupied part of the site of Christiania (founded 1624). After the ...

Osma

(OXOMENSIS) The Diocese borders Burgos and Logroño on the north, Soria and Saragossa ...

Osmund, Saint

Bishop of Salisbury, died 1099; his feast is kept on 4 December. Osmund held an exalted ...

Osnabrück

(OSNABRUGENSIS) This diocese, directly subject to the Holy See, comprises, in the Prussian ...

Ossat, Arnaud d'

French cardinal, diplomat, and writer, b. at Larroque-Magnoac (Gascony), 20 July, 1537; d. at ...

Ossory, Diocese of

(Ossoriensis.) In the Province of Leinster, Ireland, is bounded on the south by the Suir, on ...

Ostensorium

(From ostendere , "to show"). Ostensorium means, in accordance with its etymology, a ...

Ostia and Velletri

SUBURBICARIAN DIOCESE OF OSTIA AND VELLETRI (OSTIENSIS ET VELITERNENSIS). Near Rome, central ...

Ostiensis

Surname of LEO MARSICANUS, Benedictine chronicler, b. about 1045; d. 22 May, 1115, 1116, or ...

Ostracine

Titular see and suffragan of Pelusium in Augustamnica prima. Pliny (Hist. naturalis, V, xiv) ...

Ostraka, Christian

Inscriptions on clay, wood, metal, and other hard materials. Like papyri, they are valuable ...

Ostrogoths

One of the two chief tribes of the Goths, a Germanic people. Their traditions relate that the ...

Oswald, Saint

Archbishop of York, d. on 29 February, 992. Of Danish parentage, Oswald was brought up by his ...

Oswald, Saint

King and martyr ; b., probably, 605; d. 5 Aug., 642; the second of seven brothers, sons of ...

Oswin, Saint

King and martyr, murdered at Gilling, near Richmond, Yorkshire, England, on 20 August, 651, ...

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Ot 16

Otfried of Weissenburg

He is the oldest German poet known by name, author of the "Evangelienbuch", a rhymed version of ...

Othlo

(OTLOH) A Benedictine monk of St. Emmeran's, Ratisbon, born 1013 in the Diocese of ...

Othmar, Saint

(Audomar.) Died 16 Nov., 759, on the island of Werd in the Rhine, near Echnez, Switzerland. ...

Otho, Marcus Salvius

Roman emperor, successor, after Galba, of Nero, b. in Rome, of an ancient Etruscan family ...

Otranto

ARCHDIOCESE OF OTRANTO (HYDRUNTINA). Otranto is a city of the Province of Lecce, Apulia, ...

Ottawa, Archdiocese of

Archdiocese of Ottawa (Ottawiensis). The Archdiocese of Ottawa, in Canada, originally ...

Ottawa, University of

Conducted by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate ; founded in 1848. It was incorporated in 1849 under ...

Otto I, the Great

Roman emperor and German king, b. in 912; d. at Memleben, 7 May, 973; son of Henry I and his ...

Otto II

King of the Germans and Emperor of Rome, son of Otto I and Adelaide, b. 955; d. in Rome, 7 ...

Otto III

German king and Roman emperor, b. 980; d. at Paterno, 24 Jan., 1002. At the age of three he was ...

Otto IV

German king and Roman emperor, b. at Argentau (Dept. of Orne), c. 1182; d. 19 May, 1218; son of ...

Otto of Freising

Bishop and historian, b. between 1111 and 1114, d. at Morimond, Champagne, France, 22 ...

Otto of Passau

All we know of him is in the preface of his work, in which he calls himself a member of the ...

Otto of St. Blasien

Chronicler, b. about the middle of the twelfth century; d. 23 July, 1223, at St. Blasien in the ...

Otto, Saint

Bishop of Bamberg, b. about 1060; d. 30 June, 1139. He belonged to the noble, though not ...

Ottobeuren

(OTTOBURA, MONASTERIUM OTTOBURANUM) Formerly a Benedictine abbey, now a priory, near ...

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Ou 9

Ouen, Saint

(OWEN; DADON, Latin Audaenus ). Archbishop of Rouen, b. at Sancy, near Soissons about ...

Our Father, The

Although the Latin term oratio dominica is of early date, the phrase "Lord's Prayer" does not ...

Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd

The aim of this institute is to provide a shelter for girls and women of dissolute habits, who ...

Our Lady of Good Counsel, Feast of

Records dating from the reign of Paul II (1464-71) relate that the picture of Our Lady, at ...

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

( Or OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP.) The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted ...

Our Lady of Perpetual Succour

( Or OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP.) The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted ...

Our Lady of the Fields, Brothers of

A Canadian congregation founded in 1902 at St-Damien de Buckland in the Diocese of Quebec by ...

Our Lady of the Snow

("Dedicatio Sanctæ Mariæ ad Nives"). A feast celebrated on 5 August to ...

Our Lady, Help of Christians, Feast of

The invocation Auxilium Christianorum (Help of Christians ) originated in the sixteenth ...

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Ov 4

Overbeck, Friedrich

Convert and painter of religious subjects, b. at Lübeck, 3 July, 1789; d. at Rome, 12 ...

Overberg, Bernhard Heinrich

A German ecclesiastic and educator, born 1 May, 1754; died 9 November, 1826. Of poor parents in ...

Overpopulation, Theories of

Down to the end of the eighteenth century, very little attention was given to the relation between ...

Oviedo

(OVETENSIS) This diocese comprises the civil province of the same name (the ancient Kingdom ...

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Ow 2

Owen, Saint

(OWEN; DADON, Latin Audaenus ). Archbishop of Rouen, b. at Sancy, near Soissons about ...

Owen, Saint Nicholas

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

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Ox 6

Oxenford, John

Dramatist, critic, translator, and song-writer, b. in London, 12 Aug., 1812; d. there 21 Feb., ...

Oxenham, Henry Nutcombe

An English controversialist and poet, born at Harrow, 15 Nov., 1829; died at Kensington, 23 ...

Oxford

Oxford, one of the most ancient cities in England, grew up under the shadow of a convent, said to ...

Oxford Movement, The

The Oxford Movement may be looked upon in two distinct lights. "The conception which lay at its ...

Oxford, University of

I. ORIGIN AND HISTORY The most extraordinary myths have at various times prevailed as to the ...

Oxyrynchus

Titular archdiocese of Heptanomos in Egypt. It was the capital of the district of its name, the ...

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Oz 3

Ozanam, Antoine-Frédéric

Great grand-nephew of Jacques Ozanam . Born at Milan, 23 April, 1813; died at Marseilles, 8 ...

Ozanam, Jacques

A French mathematician, born at Bouligneux (Ain), 1640; died in Paris, 3 April, 1717. He came of a ...

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