Things You Need to Know About The Meaning of the Word Catholic

Vatican City, A City State Surrounded By Rome, Italy, Is The Headquarters Of The Roman Catholic Church

Toby Kenobe conducted the research for this. You can follow him at Catechism of the Catholic Church Group.

Question: Where did the word originate?

Answer: It comes from the Greek word Katholikos, which was later Latinized into Catholicus.

You can read this articles for an in depth explanation: Meaning of the Term “Catholic” or What the Early Church Believed: The Meaning of “Catholic”.

Question: What is the meaning of the word?

Answer: It means 'Universal', which in itself means, 'of or relating to, or affecting the entire world and all peoples therein'. It means, all encompassing, comprehensibly broad, general, and containing all that is necessary.

In summation, it means all people in all places, having all that is necessary, and for all time.

Question: But is it Biblical?

Answer: Yes it is. It is in Matthew 28:19-20, "Go, therefore,* and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age." — NABRE

That is a statement of Universality, Katholicos, Catholicus, Catholic.

Question: I have heard that the word 'Catholic' did not come into use for hundreds of years after Jesus Christ founded His Church.

Answer: Not true. The first recorded use of the word that I could find, is in St. Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the Smyrneans, paragraph 8, of 107 A.D., "Where the Bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church." Undoubtedly the word was in use before the time of that writing.

Question: Some say the Catholic Church ended with Constantine (285-337), with the "Edict of Milan" which he issued in 313, which allowed the Church to practice openly. Others say that is when the Church began. Who is right?

Answer: Neither is right. The Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ and He guaranteed its perpetuity, Matthew 28:20, and its unfaltering truth, 1Timothy 3:15. Now if either of the arguments in the question were true, than don't you think the Church Fathers would have mentioned it somewhere? Instead, the Church Fathers mention the Catholic Church by Name in hundreds of their writings and spanning many centuries.

Ask the ones who say these things to show you documented proof.

In the Apostles Creed, the word "Catholic" is clearly written within:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Many non-Catholic sects also recite the Apostles Creed during their services. However, several of those who do, have substituted the word "Universal", for "Catholic". Thus they have substituted the meaning of the word for the word itself.

Here is what Church Fathers had to say. In every case the word "Catholic" is used. Notice the dates, as they span over a century before and after Constantine. The JXXXX refers to the paragraph numbers in "The Faith of the Early Fathers", by William A. Jurgens.

Catholic Church...

  1. Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrneans 8:1-2. J65. 106AD
  2. Martyrdom of St. Polycarp 16:2. J77,79,80a,81a, 155AD
  3. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7:17:107:3. J435, 202AD
  4. Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4-6. J555-557, 251AD
  5. Cyprian, Letter to Florentius 66:69:8. J587, 254AD
  6. Lactantius,Divine Institutions 4:30:1. *J637, 304AD
  7. Alexander of Alexandria, Letters 12. J680, 324AD
  8. Athanasius, Letter on Council of Nicea 27. J757, 350AD
  9. Athanasius, Letter to Serapion 1:28. J782, 359AD
  10. Athanasius, Letter to Council of Rimini 5. J785, 361AD
  11. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 18:1. J836-*839, 350AD
  12. Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3. J910u, 382AD
  13. Serapion, The Sacramentary 13:1. J1239a, 350AD
  14. Pacian of Barcelona, Letter to Sympronian 1:4 J1243, 375AD
  15. Jerome, Against the Pelagians book 1-2 417 A.D.
  16. Augustine, Letter to Vincent the Rogatist 93:7:23. J1422, 408A
  17. Augustine, Letter to Vitalis 217:5:16. J1456, 427AD
  18. Augustine, Psalms 88:2:14, 90:2:1. J1478-1479, 418AD
  19. Augustine, Sermons 2, 267:4. *J1492, *J1523, 430AD
  20. Augustine, Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 6:14. J1535, 395AD
  21. Augustine, The True Religion 7:12+. *J1548, *J1562, J1564, 390AD
  22. Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani 4:5. *J1580-1581, 397AD
  23. Augustine, Christian Instruction 2:8:12+. *J1584, J1617, 400AD
  24. Augustine, Baptism 4:21:28+. J1629, J1714, J1860a, J1882, 411AD
  25. Augustine, Against the Pelagians 2:3:5+. *J1892, *J1898, 421AD
  26. Innocent I, Letter to Probus 36. J2017, 417AD
  27. Fulgence of Ruspe, Forgiveness of Sins 1:19:2, J2251-2252, 517AD

The following writings attest to the antiquity of the Catholic Church.

Church Antiquity...

  1. Hermas, The Shepherd Vis 2:4:1. J82
  2. Anonymous 2nd Letter of Clement to Corinthians 14:2. J105
  3. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7:17:107:3. J435
  4. Augustine, Letter to Deogratias 102:15. J1428
  5. Augustine, Psalms 90:2:1. J1479
  6. Augustine, Predestination of Saints 9:18. J1985
  7. Gregory I, Letter to John 5:44:18. J2295 595AD

The following writings support the perpetuity of the Catholic Church.

Church Forever...

  1. Clement, Letter to Corinthians 42:1,64. J20,29a 80AD
  2. Anonymous, 2nd letter of Clement to Rome 14:2. J105
  3. Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4. J555-556
  4. Cyprian, Letter to the Lapsed 33:27:1. J571
  5. Hilary, The Trinity 7:4. J865 Augustine, Psalms 90:2:1. J1479
  6. Augustine, Sermon to Catechumens 6:14. J1535

The following writings tell of the founding of the Catholic Church.

Church Founded...

  1. Clement, Letter to Corinthians 42:1. J20
  2. Hermas, The Shepherd Vis 2:4:1-3:5:1. J82-84 140AD
  3. Anonymous, Letter of Clement 14:2. J105
  4. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:16:6. J217a
  5. Tertullian, Demurrer Against Heretics 9:3. J289
  6. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7:17:107:3. J435 202AD
  7. Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4. J555-556
  8. Cyprian, Letter to the Lapsed 33:27:1. J571
  9. Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity 7:4. J865
  10. Augustine, Homilies on John 9:10. J1814

The following writings attest to the fact that the Catholic Church was seated in Rome.

Church Seated in Rome...

  1. Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, Address. J10a 80AD
  2. Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, J52
  3. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:3. J210-211
  4. Cyprian, Letter to Cornelius 59:55:14. J580
  5. Council of Constantinople, Canon3. J910d
  6. Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3. J910u
  7. Optatus of Melvis, Schism of Donatists 2:2. J1242

The following writings tell of the unity of the Catholic Church.

Church Unity...

  1. Didache 4:3. J1b Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians 3:2. J56
  2. Tertullian, Demurrer Against Heretics 20:4. J292
  3. Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4. J555-556
  4. The following writings attest to the 'Universality' of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church is truly 'Universal' as its name implies.

Church Universal...

  1. Didache, 9:1,10:1. J6,7
  2. Clement, Letter to Corinthians 5:1. J11
  3. Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians 3:2. J38
  4. Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, Address. J77,79,81a
  5. Hermas, The Shepherd Par 9:17:4. J93
  6. Anonymous, Letter to Diogenetus 6:1. J97a
  7. Aristides of Athens, Apology 15. J112
  8. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 110. J144
  9. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:10:1. J191,192,215,257
  10. The Muratorian Fragment. J268
  11. Tertullian, Against the Jews 7:4. J320a
  12. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation Greeks 10:110:1. J405
  13. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 18:23. J838
  14. Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3. J910


  1. Kenobe, T. [@rtpinas999]. (2023, March 29). Catholic Films & Documentaries [Facebook Group]. Retrieved from
  2. Wallpapers13. (2016, June). Vatican city, a city state surrounded by Rome, Italy, is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. Retrieved from

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