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Catholic Dictionary




The diocese of the Pope, also called the See of Peter, the Apostolic See, the Holy See, and the Eternal City. According to ancient tradition, St. Peter first came to Rome in A.D. 42; St. Paul arrived about A.D. 60. Both were martyred here under Nero, most probably in 64. The history of the city from that time to the present can be divided into several periods: 1. the age of persecution, to the Edict of Milan in 313; 2. freedom recognized by the empire and the building of the first churches, to the fall, in 476, of the Roman Empire in the West; 3. growing power of political rulers, in conflict with the papacy, to the coronation in 800 of Charlemagne as emperor by Pope Leo III; 4. consolidation of the Papal States, irreparably damaged by the Avignon residence of the popes, 1309-77; 5. after the Western Schism to the Reformation; 6. from the Reformation to the loss of the Papal State in 1870, until the Lateran Treaty in 1929; and 7. since the settling of the Roman Question to the present, when the Communist presence in Italy and Rome poses new challenges to the spiritual autonomy of the Holy See.