Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

7/28/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

See how many of these historical tidbits surprise you!

There are some things that everybody knows about the Catholic Church, even if you aren't a Christian. For example, most people know that Catholic priests wear roman collars, and remain celibate (with some notable exceptions). Everyone knows who the pope is and that he lives in Vatican City, ensconced in Rome. But there are some surprising things even faithful Catholics don't know. Read these six things Catholics don't know about their church and see how many surprise you. 

Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian friar regarded as the father of modern genetics.

Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian friar regarded as the father of modern genetics.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/28/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Catholic Church, history, facts, law, astronomy,


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - There are some things that everybody knows about the Catholic Church, even if you aren't a Christian. For example, most people know that Roman Catholic priests wear roman collars, and remain celibate. There are notable exceptions; such as former Anglican Ministers becoming Catholic priests after being received into full communion and Eastern Catholic priests who, like the Orthodox Clergy, can be chosen from among both celibate and married men. Everyone knows who the Pope is and that he lives in Vatican City, ensconced in Rome. But there are some surprising things even faithful Catholics don't know. Read these six things Catholics don't know about their church and see how many surprise you.

The Catholic Church once 'killed' the Olympics! With the summer Olympics coming to London, the entire world is atwitter with excitement. Many of those athletes will be Catholic and the Catholic Church in London will be celebrating a special opening mass for the games. But few, outside of church scholars and historians, may know that the Catholic Church once killed the Olympics. It's true!

The downfall of the ancient Olympics games began largely with Emperor Theodosius I, who passed a series of laws banning the degrading and dehumanizing practices of Roman paganism. While he did not specifically ban the games, he did ban many of the rituals associated with the games and their pagan origins. With the attendant rituals banned, including rites of worship to Zeus, to whom the games were dedicated, the games lost much of their perceived "religious" motivation. The last official games were held in 394 AD, although some historians claim the games persisted into the fifth century. 

In any case, the decline and end of the ancient games was a direct result of the influence of the Catholic Church in the political and daily realm of the late Roman Empire and its culture. In an effort to stamp out dehumanizing and degrading practices of paganism and to unify the people under the one true religion, the ancient Olympics had to go. 

Hospitals
Many modern hospitals are named for saints and are closely associated with the Church and religious orders.  However, fewer people understand that the first modern hospitals were industries of the Catholic Church. The Church has always viewed the provision of care to the sick as a part of the continuing admonisition of Jesus to heal the sick and the charge found in the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel to care for Jesus who is revealed in the poor whom He so loves.  

The Catholic Church was the original healthcare provider, establishing the first hospitals for the care of the sick and the poor in ancient Rome after the legalization of Christianity. The homes of early bishops and wealthy Christians were popular places for treatment of the sick. Later, special places were built to house patients as well as pilgrims. Health care was made available to all.

Just who built the first dedicated hospital and when remains under dispute, but by the start of the fifth century they were being referenced by the early Church fathers in their writings. Between the fall of the Roman Empire and the ascendance of Charlemagne, (476 - 800 AD), a period often (incorrectly) referred to as "the dark ages" more than a dozen hospitals were founded across Europe. By the medieval period, numerous religious and military orders sprang up to care for the sick and it was in these institutions that the best care of the age could be found. 

To this day, the Catholic Church is a leading provider of health services around the world, still providing care to young and old alike, regardless of their station or means. This is at the heart of her mission and her service to the common good. It is also at risk in the currently charged environment occasioned by the HHS Mandate.

Innocent until proven guilty
Catholic scholars should know this, but the average layperson does not. Many of the legal concepts that form the basis of law in western society are direct descendants of the efforts of Pope Gregory VII (d 1085) and the influence of great Catholic theologians and philosophers such as the "angelic doctor," St. Thomas Aquinas. Gregory's efforts resulted in a widespread effort to combine philosophy with law. The results were generally very positive and fair. Concepts such as presumption of innocence, equality before the law, and reasonable doubt are all direct products of the Catholic Church. Along with one that isn't so popular today in some circles -- the understanding of corporate personhood. 

Accounting
Accountants should know that they owe much of their discipline to Friar Luca Bartolomeo de Pacioli (1445 - 1517). While accounting has been in use since earliest civilization (and in fact it is widely believed that writing itself was invented to keep records for merchants) Pacioli made significant contributions to the discipline.

Pacioli produced several books on mathematics including several sections on mathematics for merchants. He also described methods of bookkeeping including double entry accounting. His work included the entire accounting cycle and formed the basis of virtually all subsequent accounting practices. He also laid out methods to check the accuracy of one's work and warned that a person should not go to sleep at night until their credits balanced with their debits. 

One reason his methods proved popular, aside from the fact they worked, was that the Catholic Church was a major landowner across Europe. Churches and monasteries held lands that were rented and farmed or otherwise turned to profitable use, and those assets had to be managed. Pacioli's methods became the standard for monks and church officials across Europe and later around the world. 

Science, Astronomy and the "Big Bang" theory
About 35 craters on the moon have been named in honor of mostly Jesuit scientists and mathematicians who distinguished themselves by their work. And the Big Bang theory of creation was conceived and developed by Father Georges Lemaitre, a priest and professor at the Catholic University of Louvain. 

Many secularists, and even some Catholics think the Church is hostile to science. It is a popular misconception. Believers in this error point to the purported persecution of Galileo, among other claims, to portray the church as opposed to scientific knowledge. 

Much of this is detailed in the book by Thomas E. Woods, Jr., How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization

However, insofar as science is used to discern the truth, the Church has no qualms since the Church is an embodiment of Truth. Many may be surprised to know the Catholic Church maintains and operates an observatory and that Catholic researchers around the world continue to contribute to our knowledge of astronomy, cosmology, and physics, while keeping steadfast in their faith. 

In fact, according to Woods, it was Jesuit missionaries that delivered the scientific method to Asia, contributed to the development of pendulum clock, barometers, telescopes, microscopes, and more. 

Jesuit astronomers also made a wide range of astronomical observations, being the first to note colored bands on Jupiter, rings around Saturn, and connecting the moon to the tides. 

The early study of earthquakes was in fact so closely related to the Jesuits, that seismology has been referred to as "the Jesuit science." 


Human rights and the dignity of every person
Okay, this one shouldn't be a surprise at all, but it will be to some, especially non-believers. Until the advent of Christianity, inequality among people was regarded as a fact of life and not as something to be addressed. The teachings of Jesus Christ were radical precisely because they stressed the brotherhood and equality of all men and women before God, because we are all created in His Image. 

And while this should not be interpreted as an invitation to undermine God-given differences and distinctives given to men and women, it does indeed form the first basis for the foundational western understanding of equal rights. In fact, the Church professes the existence of a Natural Law, which can be known by all through the exercise of reason, upon which all truly just human laws must be based.

Out of this vision of the equality and dignity of all human persons grew movements such as women's suffrage, the abolition of slavery, and modern movements aimed at protecting human rights by securing them in the civil law. The Church insists upon the dignity of all people, from the moment of conception until natural death.  This Christian vision of the dignity of the human person has influenced what is considered a very secular document, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And while the UNUDHR is considered an important declaration, it does not fully protect the first and most fundamental of all human rights, the right to life from the moment of conception. Church teaching does recognize this fundamental human right. In fact, the Catholic Church insists that without the recognition of this fundamental human right to life, the entire infrastructure of human rights is placed in jeopardy. 

Without the influence of the Catholic Church, it is easy to imagine a world that is much different, much less enlightened, and much less advanced and truly free than the one we have today. 

 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Living Faith

Priest to lead pilgrims on 104 mile walk to see Pope Francis in Philly - Here's how you too can make a pilgrimage Watch

Image of Pilgrims in Scotland make a Good Friday trek burdened with crosses. Many Catholics around the world still make pilgrimages, even if they are the work of just a day.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An intrepid group of about 20 pilgrims will be making the 104 mile walk from Baltimore to Philadelphia to attend Mass with Pope Francis. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Remember, our Lord walked to all of his appointments," Fr. John J. Lombardi told Catholic ... continue reading


Atheists force portrait of Jesus out of Kansas public school Watch

Image of The portrait of Jesus that has been on display at the school since the 1950s.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Local residents in Chanute, Kansas expressed anger after the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation successfully filed a petition for the removal of a portrait of Jesus Christ, which had been hanging for over 60 years in a Kansas public school.   ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - SECOND STATION - St. Francis patron saint of animals and ecology

Image of Welcome to the virtual shrine to St. Francis.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the second station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. FrancisSaint Francis was born to a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, Italy. Raised in a wealthy home, the young ... continue reading


Philadelphia prison inmates design chair for Pope Francis, and hope he will pray with them - Victims want their voices heard too Watch

Image of An inmate proudly shares the seal made for Pope Francis' seat.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis will meet with prison inmates during his visit to Philadelphia. In anticipation of this arrival, inmates have built him a special chair to use. His visit will bring hope to inmates and their families as he shares the restorative message of Christ with ... continue reading


Pope Francis declares parents tasked with teaching their children how to pray Watch

Image of

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

On Wednesday, Pope Francis continued his weekly catechesis on the family, saying that parents have the responsibility to teach their children to pray. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Delivering his address to pilgrims and visitors, gathered under the hot sun for ... continue reading


Before TWO MILLION pilgrims arrive, Philly vendors plan to cash in with kistch Watch

Image of Enterprising vendors are hoping to earn some toasty profits when Pope Francis arrives in Philadelphia.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The arrival of Pope Francis and some two million pilgrims in Philadelphia next month is expected to bring a windfall to most of the businesses in the city which can remain open during the visit. Businesses will have a single weekend to entice pilgrims to visit their ... continue reading


No school days for working children

Image of

By Tony Magliano

It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or ... continue reading


PRIDE is the sin the devil likes the most Watch

Image of It has been nine years since Fr. Gallego was appointed as exorcist. In an interview conducted by the Spanish daily El Mundo, the priest said that in his experience, pride is the sin the devil likes the most.

By CNA/EWTN News

Is an exorcist afraid? What is the devil's favorite sin? These and other questions were tackled in a recent interview with the Dominican priest, Father Juan Jose Gallego, an exorcist from the Archdiocese of Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain. (CAN/EWTN) - It has ... continue reading


Former President Jimmy Carter stays close to God during difficult times Watch

Image of Jimmy Carter holds on to his faith as he battles cancer.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Former president Jimmy Carter holds on to his faith while undergoing radiation treatment for the spread of brain cancer. MUNTINLUPA CITY, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - In a recent appearance at Maranatha Baptist Church, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter shared the ... continue reading


Do We Really Believe in the Resurrection of the Body and the Life of the World to Come? Watch

Image of Seated at the right hand of the Father, he works unceasingly in the world, to draw men into the Church and through it to join them more closely to himself.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. His salvation is offered extended to all men and women. That salvation is not only about our souls, but about the whole human person. It will only be complete when we are raised from the dead and dwell in the kingdom to come. He ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2015 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know St. Sabina only ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter