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(2,940 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang | Felmy, Karl Christian | Birmelé, André
[German Version] I. History – II. Systematic Theology I. History The term “Mariology,” used to refer to theological interest in the Mother of Jesus Christ (Mary) − and to the systematic subdiscipline of dogmatics that developed out of this interest − first appeared in the title of the work Summa sacrae Mariologiae by Placido Nigido (Palermo 1602, 21623); the variant “Marialogy” was introduced by Vincent Contenson (see below) in 1669. Thereafter, the concept disappeared until the 19th century. The matter itself has, for christological reasons, been t…

Virgin Birth

(1,601 words)

Author(s): Zeller, Dieter | Radl, Walter | Beinert, Wolfgang
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The myths of many peoples speak of conception without a father. For the background of the virgin birth in the New Testament, the only examples of interest to religious studies are famous men whose special dignity or capacity is based on having been begotten by a god – especially rulers. A birth legend of the Egyptian king, for example, legitimates him as the “son of Re” (see II below). When Mesopotamian rulers are called the seed of a god and are born of a goddes…


(7,155 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang | Rappel, Simone | Conzemius, Victor | Collet, Giancarlo
[German Version] I. Concept – II. Distribution and Membership Statistics – III. Church History – IV. Missions in Catholicism I. Concept “Catholicism” is generally understood as encompassing the historically conditioned and therefore contingent configurations that have emerged when the basic dogmatic, ethical, and constitutional elements of Roman Catholic Christianity have taken root in concrete societies. More specifically, this can mean (a) theologically the realization in space and time of the Roman Catholic organizational structure, based t…

Ex cathedra

(151 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
[German Version] (lit. “from the chair [of St. Peter]”) has been, since Vatican I (DH 3074), the technical term in (Roman Catholic) dogmatics for decisions of the papal teaching office (Papacy), which the pope makes, by virtue of his character as the bearer of the office and ministry of Peter, that is, as the supreme teacher of the whole church (Teaching office of the ¶ church), with the express intention of issuing binding judgments (Infallibility) on questions of faith and of the practice of the Christian life…

Petrine Office

(475 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
[German Version] The expression Petrine office is a shorthand reference to the theory, primarily advocated by Roman Catholic theology, that according to Christ’s will the apostle Peter was to exercise leadership in the universal church even after his death (Papacy, Primacy, Papal). The New Testament basis for this theory is the special ecclesiological role accorded Peter in the earliest years of the church. He was the first of Jesus’ disciples to be called (Mark 1:16f. parr.; but contrast John 1:40) …

Immaculate Conception

(501 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
[German Version] is the concise term for the belief of the Roman Catholic Church that Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ was, from the very beginning of her life (passive conception by her parents), preserved from original sin (as the “loss of holiness and righteousness” [ DH 1511f.]), or, in positive terms, that she was granted an innate holiness through the electing love of God that chose her to become the mother of the Messiah. The churches of the Reformation rejected this belief as incompatible with Scripture, likewise the Orthodox church…

Mary, Appearances of

(645 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
[German Version] Appearances of Mary can be described as perceptions in which one or more persons (visionaries, mostly female) have a vision or audition in which they experience the presence of Mary, mother ¶ of Jesus, alone or in the company of other supernatural figures (esp. her child). Accounts run through all the centuries of church history; all of them derive from the Roman Catholic world. There are none from Protestantism; there are scattered Orthodox accounts of speaking icons of Mary. Since the 19th century (106 instanc…

Consensus theologorum

(74 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
[German Version] In theological epistemology, consensus theologorum as a criterion of truth refers to the consensus of experts regarding the substance and/or formulation of a doctrine of the faith, based on appropriate interpretation of Scripture, ecclesiastical tradition ( consensus patrum ), and the belief of Christians ( consensus fidelium) under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Wolfgang Beinert Bibliography P. Scharr, Consensus fidelium, 1992 D. Wiederkehr, ed., Der Glaubenssinn des Gottesvolkes, 1994.


(805 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
1. Form “Rosary” (from Lat. rosarium, “rose garden”) refers to a meditation on the Christian mysteries of salvation from a Marian standpoint (Mary, Devotion to). The name, which derives from the flowers used to adorn statues of Mary, traces back to a Spanish legend (1270) according to which Mary prefers an Ave Maria to flowers. The rosary now takes the form of an introduction (sign of the cross, reciting of the Apostles’ Creed, Gloria Patri, the Lord’s Prayer, three Ave Marias) and sets of five “mysteries” (each preceded by the Lord’s Prayer and fo…


(1,062 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
In religion relics (Gk. leipsana, Lat. reliquiae) are artifacts that are related to deceased saints and that are venerated as a result. First we have bodily parts, then objects they touched, such as portions of silk or cloth (brandea) or mantles (palliola), then things connected with their graves ( eulogia, hagiasmata, e.g., dust from the grave). We find veneration of relics in Egyptian and Greek religion, as well as in Buddhism and Islam. 1. Christian History In the Christian world the development and understanding of relics was closely linked to the veneration of sa…

Saints, Veneration of

(3,845 words)

Author(s): Beinert, Wolfgang
1. Religious Roots A basic human experience is that of viewing certain persons as holy, as manifestations of the divine. This factor has played a determinative role in the development of religion (Sacred and Profane). The transcendent (Immanence and Transcendence) is experienced as the wholly other, that which comes to us directly, awakening a feeling of fear and dread (mysterium tremendum), the sacred being something apart (tabu), but also of something miraculous and attractive (mysterium fascinosum) that kindles awe (mana). The basis of such experience is the deity, whic…