Term employed in an ecclesiastical and an historical signification. In the former use it denotes the ecclesiastical system in which the pope as successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Jesus Christ governs the Catholic Church as its supreme head. In the latter, it signifies the papal power viewed as a political force in history since the beginning of the Christian era. Pagan, barbarian, and Turk invaded Europe in turn, and succumbed to its civilizing influence. Art, science, and literature were preserved and perfected under the protection of the papacy, and from the Reformation to the present day its influence has been felt in every field of endeavor, in spite of opposition and oppression.

MLA Citation

  • “papacy”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 March 2010. Web. 20 June 2021. <>