Salt + Light Media Home
Salt + Light Media Home

Deacon-structing Catholic Basics: History

Deacon Pedro

Monday, August 31, 2020

Detail of illustration depicting a session of the Council of Trent in Tyrolischer Adler, vol. IX by Matthias Burglechner (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
How are you doing with our summer review of Catholic basics? Personally I have been steeped in Scripture. Last week I suddenly got curious about the Book of Judith – I vaguely remembered it but didn’t really know the story – so I read it! How about you? Have you learned anything new?
We started three weeks ago with Scripture, and then two weeks ago, we looked at Liturgy. Last week, we looked at what I call “catechism”, which is, I guess, sort of a catch-all for all those things that don’t fall into any other category. As I explained, I’m trying to answer the questions off the top of my head. That’s the whole point. If I can do it, so can you! We don’t have to be scripture scholars, liturgical experts or have memorized the Baltimore Catechism, but it’s good to know the basics of our Faith [and thanks to our editor, Kristina, who makes sure that I don’t mislead you with wrong information – off the top of my head].
Last week, we spoke about the Works of Mercy. I was able to remember most of the Corporal Works of Mercy but did not try to name the Spiritual Works of Mercy. Do you know them?
Here they are: instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; admonish the sinners; bear patiently those who wrong us; forgive offenses; comfort the afflicted; and pray for the living and the dead.
I promise to memorize them. Will you?
This week, let’s look at history. Some of you may be history buffs and know all about the Reformation or the Inquisition. But most of us are probably not. Here are some basics that I think are good know off the top of your head.


How many popes can you name? Can you at least name the last six popes?
Francis, Benedict XVI, John Paul II, John Paul I, Paul VI, John XXIII
Could you name the first four popes? This one is harder, but we hear the names of the three that followed St. Peter at Mass in Eucharistic Prayer I.
Peter, Linus, Cletus, Clement
(In Eucharistic Prayer I, we also hear the name of Sixtus, but he came two popes after Clement.)
For a bonus: Do you know how many popes there have been?
Are there other popes you can name? How about the three “great” ones?
Gregory the Great; Leo the Great; Nicholas the Great
Do you know why they are considered “great”?


We’ve all heard of the Second Vatican Council. You probably have heard of the Councils of Nicaea or Trent. How many other Church Councils can you name?
Jerusalem, Constantinople, Ephesus, Chalcedon, Lateran, Vatican I, and Vatican II
Do you know which of these councils takes place in the Acts of the Apostles?
The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15)
Which Council defined the Doctrine of the Trinity and also gave us one of the Creeds?
The 1st Council of Nicaea
Which Council happened as a response to the Protestant Reformation?
The Council of Trent
[If you want to know more about Councils and Synods, watch my episode of “Deacon-structing Synods”.]


I’m sure you have some favourite saints and that you know their stories.
Some saints founded religious orders. How many can you name?
St. Ignatius: The Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
St. Dominic: The Order of Preachers (Dominicans)
St. Benedict: The Benedictines
St. Francis: The Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans)
Some saints are considered our Church Fathers. Can you name some of them?
(In no particular order) St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Cyprian, St. Tertullian, St. John Chrysostom, St. Irenaeus, St. Justin Martyr, St. Basil... [Kristina, did I miss any important ones? Kristina's answer: I know St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Gregory the Great because I wrote about them and also about St. John Damascene. Interestingly, however, although Tertullian is a Church Father, he is not a saint.]
Some Saints are named Doctors of the Church. How many can you name?
(Other than the Church Fathers named above, who I also think are named “doctors”):
St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, St. Anselm, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Alphonsus Liguori, St. Francis de Sales, St. Ephrem, St. John of the Cross, St. Robert Bellarmine…
There are also four women Doctors of the Church. I think everyone should know these:
St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Hildegard of Bingen
How many saints can you name that were martyred?
Here are a few off the top of my head:
St. Peter, St. Paul, (well, all the apostles except John), St. Perpetua, St. Felicity, St. Joan of Arc, St. Justin Martyr (obvious), St. Jean de Brebeuf (and all the North American Martyrs), St. Thomas More, St. Edmund Campion, St. Paul Miki (and all the Martyrs of Japan), St. Oscar Romero... [Note from the editor: And don't forget St. Stephen, the first martyr (sometimes called the Protomartyr, which is basically just Greek for "first martyr"). And I know you like St. Lawrence, too, because he was a deacon!]
And of course no matter where you live, I bet you are familiar with the saints from your country or region. For those of you in Canada, how many Canadian saints can you name?
Marguerite Bourgeoys, André of Montreal, Kateri Tekakwitha, Marguerite D’Youville, Marie of the Incarnation, François de Laval....
Of these, who was the only one actually born in Canada?
Marguerite D’Youville, founder of the Grey Nuns. [Note from the editor: So was André Bessette.]
We also have a few Canadian Blesseds. These were all born in Canada:
Blessed Marie-Rose Durocher, founder of the Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary
Blessed Marie-Léonie Paradis, founder of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family
Blessed Dina Bélanger
Blessed Marie-Anne (Esther) Blondin, founder of the Sisters of St. Anne
And, for what it’s worth, here are a few Canadian Venerables whose names you may recognize:
Venerable Délia Tétreault, founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception
Venerable Jeanne Mance, layperson, founder of the "Hôtel-Dieu" of Québec
For our readers across the border: How many American saints (who worked and died in the U.S.) can you name?
St. Marianne Cope, St. Damien de Veuster (of Molokai), St. Katharine Drexel, St. Rose Duchesne, St. John Neumann, St. Elizabeth Seton, St. Junipero Serra, St. Frances Cabrini, Bl. Solanus Casey, Bl. Stanley Rother, Ven. Michael McGivney (to be beatified Oct 31), Ven. Augustus Tolton, Ven. Peter Toussaint, Ven. Henriette DeLille, Ven. Fulton Sheen, Ven. Patrick Peyton...
A few years ago on our Magazine, I created a quiz about 10 saints. who died under the age of 25. How many young saints can you name off the top of your head? Here are a few that died before they were 20 years old:
Sts. Francisco (10) and Jacinta (9) Marto, St. Maria Goretti (11), Bl. Laura Vicuña (12), St. Agnes of Rome (13), St. Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio (14), St. Pedro Calungsod (17), St. Catherine of Alexandria (18), Bl. Chiara Badano (18), St. Joan of Arc (19), St. Teresa of the Andes (19)
I am always amazed at how many saints there are (over 10,000) and how there is always a new one I have not yet heard of. This week, why don’t you look up a saint you hadn’t heard of before?
I can’t leave this history section without adding a question about Marian apparitions. There are hundreds that have allegedly taken place over the centuries, all over the world. However there are only six that are officially approved by the Universal Church. Do you know which ones?
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of La Salette, and Our Lady of Knock
Can you name some other Marian apparitions that are approved by the local bishop?
Our Lady of Akita, Our Lady of Laus, Our Lady of Pontmain, Our Lady of Beauraing, Our Lady of Banneux, Our Lady of Kibeho...
Are there any other Marian apparition sites to which you are devoted?
I think it’s good for us to have a sense of the history of the Church: when the Reformation happened and who the main players were, the main plot line of King Henry VIII’s separation from Rome and the fallout of all that, some highlights of the Inquisition, the trial of Galileo, the Crusades, highlights from some of our more colourful popes... (Just be sure you are learning the real history and not the commonly spread misconceptions about what really happened). It’s also good to know some of our more recent Church history, like what our last popes have written or said and the history of World Youth Days, for example. (This was the question I asked Susan Hookong-Taylor in Episode 15 of In All Things. Out of twelve, she was able to name nine. That’s pretty good! How many could you name?)
I hope that this has been fun. Did you know a lot of the answers? History may not be your thing and we don’t have to be PhDs, but we should know the basics. More importantly, let’s be sure that we are learning the truth about what really happened because there are a lot of false stories out there. If anyone has any good Church history book suggestions, please send them along. I am always looking for a good read. (Right now I am reading The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest, by John Gerard, SJ – excellent read! Highly recommended!)
Come back next week for a quick look at Doctrine. How much of Catholic Doctrine do you know? Do you know the basics? Come back next week and let’s find out!

pedroEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Related Articles:


Get the latest from Salt + Light Media
Stay Connected
Get the latest from Salt + Light Media
Stay Connected
Copyright © 2022 Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
Registered Charity # 88523 6000 RR0001