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Catholicism - Jesus and Some Key Catholics

This GCSE RE quiz on Catholicism will test your knowledge of Jesus and some key Catholics. At any one time there will of course be many ‘key Catholics’ active, from the current Pope downwards; but looking back over virtually two millennia of the Church, plenty of past as well as present figures stand out. The Church itself recognises its own inspirational people by beatifying them, i.e. making them Saints, for which there is an established procedure; they fetch up, effectively, ranked alongside the Disciples and Apostles (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul et al.).

It was St Teresa of Avila, who lived in the interesting times of the Reformation (the Protestant schism from Catholicism), who made the famous observation that ‘Christ hath no body now on earth but ours: no hands (etc.)’, i.e. that since Jesus’ resurrection, God’s only active agency ~ through the power of the Holy Spirit ~ is the collective and individual deeds of believers.

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Such people, however humble, would profess to be touched and sustained by God’s grace; the label ‘saint’ essentially means ‘one who is sacred, holy or set apart’ within the wicked and wayward world. Their lives and work can be a blessing to other beings such as the sick and marginalised, or even animals (cf. St Francis of Assisi), and the rest of us can recognise and draw inspiration from their piety, dedication, patience, generosity etc.

This quiz will invite you to look at a variety of historical and more recent Saints, identified and honoured by the Church for having conducted their earthly lives in sacrificial accordance with the principle of ‘What would Jesus do?’ and usually in a sense of particular and close harmony with Himself through prayer and study. In accordance with our framework, these seem best to fit the definition of ‘some key Catholics’!

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  1. Starting out, indeed, from this 'key' image, which Saint ~ the very first Apostle, who spoke up on the day of Pentecost ~ effectively became the first Pope, and is the patron of the Vatican Church (having been given 'the keys of the kingdom', as Jesus told him when he confessed His Messiahship)?
    The relevant conversation is recorded in Matthew's Gospel, Chapter 16. Peter had been a fisherman (and by Jesus' commission, a 'fisher of souls') and there are various references to this in the papal iconography; but St Peter's Square (so-called from its function as an urban assembly space) is in fact in the shape of a keyhole, as any aerial image will show
  2. The Church includes a number of monastic orders, i.e. monastery and nunnery institutions where keen believers take vows and live in fellowship and service to each other and the wider world, through prayer, scholarship and active charitable works or any combination of such devotions. One of the most major among these orders are the Benedictines (after St Benedict). How far back does the order's foundation date?
    St Benedict (his name means 'well-spoken [of]', i.e. 'blessed') wrote the 'Rule' by which all followers now live, and it was from one of the 12 houses he founded in Italy that St Augustine came to evangelise the British Isles towards the end of the 6th century
  3. Another broadly comparable order are the Franciscans, named for St Francis of Assisi who began preaching (un-licensed) in 1209. With which of the following causes or entities is he NOT associated as a Patron?
    Despite the name, there is no particular link with France (other than that in his earlier life, he had inherited a keen taste for all things French, probably from his mother who was herself born in Provence); his patronage of animals is quite widely recognised, he is co-patron of his own native land (not that 'Italy' as such existed as a united geopolitical entity in his day) and of course, San Francisco in California is named for him in turn
  4. Let's backtrack a little and consider 'canonisation': the formal mechanism by which an inspirational Catholic believer might in due course become a Saint. As of the papal decree of 1983, which of these outlines is correct?
    You may wish to research (carefully) further stages and criteria for this progression, and, for instance, the technical difference between a martyr (one who is put to death for their faith) and a confessor (one who lives and dies by that faith, without actually being killed on specific account of it). There also need to have been at least a couple of miracles accomplished through the potential Saint's posthumous intercession. At time of writing, Mother Teresa of Calcutta/Kolkata has recently been officially endorsed as a Saint (Vatican: Sunday 4 September 2016)
  5. There is, of course, meanwhile, an actual Society of Jesus ~ a male order more often known as the Jesuits ~ founded in Paris in 1534 (at that time when the Reformation was convulsing European thought, worship and observance) ... by whom?
    The current Pope, Francis (at time of writing: 2016), despite taking his regnal name after Francis of Assisi, is in fact the first Pope from a Jesuit background. Jesuits have a reputation for being conservative and perhaps sometimes even uncompromising in the exercise of their faith ('principled', as they might themselves prefer to put it), and some people might have feared that Pope Francis would be reluctant to be seen to be moving with the times in terms of defining the Catholic stance on such perennial topics as poverty, justice and sexuality issues; but such people may well have been pleasantly surprised, not least that this Pope has consciously eschewed as much as he can of the pomp, pageantry and pampering that have traditionally gone with this most important and influential role
  6. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata), not without humility and reluctance, was an iconic figure in that city and worldwide in the later 20th century on account of her work with the poor and destitute; she was declared a Saint by Pope Francis in 2016. In 1950 she had founded the Missionaries of Charity which now include not far short of 5,000 'sisters' across some 2/3 of the nations of the world; according to Wikipedia her citizenship status was changed some half-a-dozen times over the course of her 87 years, but what was her ethnicity by birth and early upbringing?
    Such a person was perhaps bound to raise controversy, but her dedication and achievements were patently remarkable and made untold difference to vast numbers of lives. As of 4 September 2016 (just under 19 years since her death) she is now officially a Saint
  7. At a ceremony on 10 October 1982, Pope John Paul II (himself later canonised by his successor) formally declared Maximilian Kolbe to be 'the Patron Saint of our Difficult Century': Kolbe had been a Franciscan friar and active in resistance against the Nazis. How and where did he die?
    His life (and death) story is sobering yet inspirational against a background of turbulent times
  8. The name of St John Vianney (1786-1859) is commemorated on churches and other institutions worldwide: he exercised his ministry in other turbulent times ... principally in which country?
    The French Revolution happened while he was barely a toddler; as a young man he saw service in the Napoleonic Wars, and later in life he would have seen some of the impacts of the Industrial Revolution, such as the coming of railways and the invention of photography. His particular ministry was at Ars-s-Formans in eastern France, where he devoted his energies to bringing people back into regular peacetime life and religious observance after years of upheaval. By all accounts he put in marathon hours in the confessional
  9. Hildegard of Bingen ~ Benedictine abbess, scholar, composer-musician, and regarded by the Germans as the founder of methodical natural history ~ died in 1179 at the age of 81 and was beatified in 1326. For various (mostly arcane) reasons she was not canonised until as recently as ... ?
    A most interesting individual, and again worthy of your careful further research ... whether you are a musician, scientist, religious person, or any or none of these things!
  10. Who is the patron saint of all Catholic educational establishments?
    Thomas (1225-74) has long been regarded as the master exponent of true traditional Catholic doctrine. There is an intriguing story that when he was up for canonisation 50 years after his death, the 'devil's advocate' challenged as to whether any miracles could be ascribed to him; and the answer came, on Thomas' behalf, that each article in his 'Summa' was a miracle in itself. Accordingly he was canonised. There are also reasonably well-attested stories of his having power to levitate, and that at the time of his death he was (raptly, no doubt, and somehow very suitably) engaged in drafting a commentary on the Song of Songs ~ a Biblical love-allegory (by Solomon) on the relationship between God and His chosen people

Author: Ian Miles

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