Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

Catholic Dictionary

Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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A papal document treating of matters related to the general welfare of the Church, sent by the Pope to the bishops. Used especially in modern times to express the mind of the Pope to the people. Although of themselves not infallible documents, encyclicals may (and generally do) contain pronouncements on faith and morals that are de facto infallible because they express the ordinary teaching of the Church. In any case, the faithful are to give the papal encyclicals their interior assent and external respect as statements of the Vicar of Christ. (Etym. Latin encyclicus; Greek enkyklios, circular, general.)

An encyclical epistle is like an encyclical letter but addressed to part of the Church, that is, to the bishops and faithful of a particular area. Its contents may be doctrinal, moral, or disciplinary matters of universal significance, but may also commemorate some historical event or treat of conditions in a certain country or locality.

The following list gives the titles and subject matter of encyclical letters and epistles from written by the first three popes to publish encyclicals. Many more have been written by subsequent popes.


1878: INSCRUTABILI DEI CONSILIO (crisis in society), April 21.

1879: AETERNI PATRIS (Scholastic philosophy, especially of Thomas Aquinas), August 4.

1880: ARCANUM (Christian marriage), February 10.

1881: DIUTURNUM (origin of civil authority), June 29.

1882: ETSI NOS (conditions in Italy), February 15.

AUSPICATO CONCESSUM (Third Order of St. Francis), September 17.

CUM MULTA (situation in Spain), December 8.

1883: SUPREMI APOSTOLATUS OFFICIO (the Rosary), September 1.

1884: NOBILISSIMA GALLORUM GENS (religious problems in France), February 8.

HUMANUM GENUS (Freemasonry), April 20.

SUPERIORE ANNO (recitation of the Rosary), August 30.

1885: IMMORTALE DEI (the Christian Constitution of States), November 1.

QUOD AUCTORITATE (proclamation of extraordinary Jubiliee Year), December 22.

1886: QUOD MULTUM (liberty of the Church in Hungary), August 22.

PERGRATA NOBIS (needs of the Church in Portugal), September 14.

1888: LIBERTAS (human liberty), June 20.

PATERNA CARITAS (recalling the dissenting Armenians), July 25.

QUAM AERUMNOSA (Italian immigrants in America), December 10.

1889: QUAMQUAM PLURIES (patronage of St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary), August 15.

1890: SAPIENTIAE CHRISTIANAE (chief duties of Christian citizens), January 10.

AB APOSTOLI (to the Clergy and people of Italy), October 15.

1891: RERUM NOVARUM (condition of the working classes), May 15.

OCTOBRI MENSE (the Rosary), September 22.

1892: AU MILIEU DES SOLLICITUDES (Church and State in France), February 16.

MAGNAE DEI MATRIS (the Rosary), September 8.

1893: AD EXTREMAS (seminaries in the East Indies), June 24.

CONSTANTI HUNGARORUM (conditions of the Church in Hungary), September 2.

LAETITIAE SANCTAE (the Rosary), September 8.

PROVIDENTISSIMUS DEUS (study of Holy Scripture), November 18.

1894: CARITATIS (conditions in Poland), March 19.

IUCUNDA SEMPER EXPECTATIONE (the Rosary), September 8.

CHRISTI NOMEN (Society for the Propagation of the Faith), December 24.

1895: ADIUTRICEM (the Rosary), September 5.

1896: SATIS COGNITUM (Church unity), June 29.

FIDENTUM PIUMQUE ANIMUM (the Rosary), September 20.

1897: DIVINUM ILLUD MUNUS (the Holy Spirit, doctrine and devotion), May 9.

MILITANTIS ECCLESIAE (third centenary of the death of St.

Peter Canisius), August 1.

AUGUSTISSIMAE VIRGINIS (The Rosary), September 12.

AFFARI VOS (the Manitoba school question), December 8.

1898: CARITATIS STUDIUM (the magisterium of the Church in Scotland), July 25.

SPESSE VOLTE (Catholic Action in Italy), August 5.

1899: ANNUM SACRUM (Consecration of Mankind to the Sacred Heart), May 25.

DEPUIS LE JOUR (ecclesiastical education in France), September 8.

1900: TAMETSI FUTURA PROSPICIENTIBUS (Jesus Christ, Our Redeemer), November 1.

1901: GRAVES DE COMMUNI RE (Christian democracy), January 18.

1902: MIRAE CARITATIS (the Most Holy Eucharist), May 28.

FIN DAL PRINCIPIO (education of the clergy in Italy), December 8.


1903: E. SUPREMI (Restoration of All Things in Christ), October 4.

1904: AD DIEM ILLUM LAETISSIMUM (jubilee of the Immaculate Conception), February 2.

IUCUNDA SANE (thirteenth centenary of the death of St. Gregory the Great), March 12.

1905: ACERBO NIMIS (teaching of Christian doctrine), April 15.

II FERMO PROPOSITO (Catholic Action in Italy), June 11.

1906: VEHEMENTER NOS (French separation law), February 11.

TRIBUS CIRCITER (condemnation of the Mariavites), April 5.

PIENI L'ANIMO (clergy in Italy), July 28.

GRAVISSIMO OFFICIO MUNERE (Forbidding Associations Cultuelles), August 10.

1907: UNE FOIS ENCORE (separation of Church and State in France), January 6.

PASCENDI DOMINICI GREGIS (modernism), September 8.

1909: COMMUNIUM RERUM (eighth centenary of the death of St. Anselm), April 21.

1910: EDITAE SAEPE (third centenary of the death of St. Charles Borromeo), May 26.

1911: IAMDUDUM (separation law in Portugal), May 24.

1912: LACRIMABILI STATU (Indians of South America), June 7.

SINGULARI QUADAM (labor organizations in Germany), September 24.


1914: AD BEATISSIMI APOSTOLORUM (appeal for peace), November 1.

1917: HUMANI GENERIS REDIMPTIONEM (preaching), June 15.

1918: QUOD IAM DIU (Peace Congress, Paris), December 1.

1919: IN HAC TANTA (twelfth centenary of St. Boniface), May 14.

PATERNO IAM DIU (Christian charity of the children of Central Europe), November 12.

1920: PACEM, DEI MUNUS PULCHERRIMUM (peace and Christian reconciliation), May 23.

SPIRITUS PARACLITUS (Holy Scripture), September 15.

PRINCIPI APOSTOLORUM PETRO (St. Ephrem the Syrian declared Doctor), October 5.

ANNUS IAM PLENUS (child war victims), December 1.

1921: SACRA PROPEDIEM (seventh centenary of the Third Order of St. Francis), January 6.

IN PRAECLARA SUMMORUM (sixth centenary of Dante's death), April 30.

FAUSTO APPETENTE DIE (seventh centenary of the death of St. Dominic), June 29.