Sepulcher, Holy: see Holy Sepulcher.
orders, holy [Lat. ordo,=rank], in Christianity, the traditional degrees of the clergy, conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Order. The episcopacy, priesthood or presbyterate, and diaconate were in general use in Christian churches in the 2d cent. In the Roman Catholic tradition a development, beginning in the 3d cent. and culminating in the Middle Ages, resulted in a division of major holy orders (episcopacy, priesthood, diaconate, and subdiaconate) and minor orders (acolyte, exorcist, lector, and doorkeeper), with a special rite of introduction into the clerical state called tonsure. From the late Middle Ages, the minor orders and the major orders of subdiaconate and diaconate were largely ceremonial, considered steps to priestly ordination, and were taken by those who intended to be ordained to the priesthood.

A considerable revision of that schema was undertaken under the direction of Pope Paul VI. In 1967 the diaconate was restored as an independent order with its own ministry (e.g., preaching, baptizing, distributing Holy Communion), and married men began to be received into this order. In 1972 tonsure, minor orders, and subdiaconate were abolished, and a rite of admission to candidacy to the diaconate and priesthood took their place. Thus the Roman Catholic Church, like the Church of England, has three orders—bishop, priest, deacon—and, like the Orthodox Eastern churches, it has permanent deacons who serve in local parishes and assist the priests. For various Protestant clerical systems, see ministry.

Traditionally in the West, the episcopacy has the plenitude of priestly power; bishops—archbishops, patriarchs, and the pope are bishops—alone have the power to ordain to major orders. In the Roman Catholic Church the ordination to the priesthood is considered a sacrament, conferring on the recipient the power to celebrate the eucharist and marking the priest with an indelible character. Like the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, ordination is never repeated. The rite entails the laying on of hands and the recitation of the prayer beginning "Receive the Holy Spirit." Priests are required to take an oath of obedience to the bishop or superior and a promise of celibacy (already taken at diaconate by those intending to be priests); they are also bound to recite the divine office, the traditional daily prayer of the priest. The diaconate was instituted in the primitive church for the distribution of alms and other material duties (Acts 6.1-6.)

The main administrative life of the Roman Catholic Church is conducted by bishops and their priests called secular clergy. Priests who are members of religious orders are called regular clergy (see monasticism). Monsignor and cardinal are honorary titles and are not identified with any particular office; they are not considered orders.

See also apostolic succession.

See D. N. Power, Ministers of Christ (1969); P. Bradshaw, The Anglican Ordinal (1971); C. R. Meyer, Man of God (1974).

Innocents, Holy: see Holy Innocents.
Grail, Holy, a feature of medieval legend and literature. It appears variously as a chalice, a cup, or a dish and sometimes as a stone or a caldron into which a bleeding lance drips. It was identified by Christians as the chalice of the Last Supper brought to England by St. Joseph of Arimathea. Miraculous in its powers, it could provide food and healing. However, it would be revealed only to a pure knight, and the Grail Quest appears in different stories. In Arthurian legend the purest knight is variously Parsifal or Galahad. The Grail is one of the most difficult problems of Arthurian legend, introducing as it does features of Christian story, Celtic myth, and ancient fertility cults.

See R. S. Loomis, The Grail (1963); E. Jung and M.-L. von Franz, The Grail Legend (tr. 1971).

Any war fought by divine command or for a primarily religious purpose. The concept is found in the Bible (e.g., the Book of Joshua) and has played a role in many religions. The Crusades are Europe's best-known example. In Islam, the concept is called jihad. Wars in which religion plays a secondary or exacerbating role are not generally called holy wars.

Learn more about holy war with a free trial on Britannica.com.

In Christian doctrine, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God in three persons. The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. It is a doctrine formulated in the early church to interpret the way God revealed himself, first to Israel, then in Jesus as Saviour, and finally as Holy Spirit, preserver of the church. The doctrine of the Trinity developed in the early centuries of the church and was explicitly stated at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

Learn more about Trinity, Holy with a free trial on Britannica.com.

In Christian doctrine, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as one God in three persons. The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible. It is a doctrine formulated in the early church to interpret the way God revealed himself, first to Israel, then in Jesus as Saviour, and finally as Holy Spirit, preserver of the church. The doctrine of the Trinity developed in the early centuries of the church and was explicitly stated at the Council of Nicaea in 325.

Learn more about Trinity, Holy with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Holy Ghost or Paraclete

In Christianity, the third person of the Holy Trinity. Though references to the spirit of Yahweh (God) abound in the Old Testament, Christian teaching about the Holy Spirit is derived mainly from the Gospels. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism, and outpourings of the Spirit are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, in which healing, prophecy, exorcism, and speaking in tongues are associated with its activity. The Holy Spirit also came to the disciples during Pentecost. The definition of the Holy Spirit as a divine person equal in substance to the Father and the Son was made at the Council of Constantinople (AD 381).

Learn more about Holy Spirit with a free trial on Britannica.com.

German Heiliges Römisches Reich

Realm of varying extent in medieval and modern western and central Europe. Traditionally believed to have been established by Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor by Pope Leo III in 800, the empire lasted until the renunciation of the imperial h1 by Francis II in 1806. The reign of the German Otto I (the Great; r. 962–973), who revived the imperial h1 after Carolingian decline, is also sometimes regarded as the beginning of the empire. The name Holy Roman Empire (not adopted until the reign of Frederick I Barbarossa) reflected Charlemagne's claim that his empire was the successor to the Roman Empire and that this temporal power was augmented by his status as God's principal vicar in the temporal realm (parallel to the pope's in the spiritual realm). The empire's core consisted of Germany, Austria, Bohemia, and Moravia. Switzerland, the Netherlands, and northern Italy sometimes formed part of it; France, Poland, Hungary, and Denmark were initially included, and Britain and Spain were nominal components. From the mid-11th century the emperors engaged in a great struggle with the papacy for dominance, and, particularly under the powerful Hohenstaufen dynasty (1138–1208, 1212–54), they fought with the popes over control of Italy. Rudolf I became the first Habsburg emperor in 1273, and from 1438 the Habsburg dynasty held the throne for centuries. Until 1356 the emperor was chosen by the German princes; thereafter he was formally elected by the electors. Outside their personal hereditary domains, emperors shared power with the imperial diet. During the Reformation the German princes largely defected to the Protestant camp, opposing the Catholic emperor. At the end of the Thirty Years' War, the Peace of Westphalia (1648) recognized the individual sovereignty of the empire's states; the empire thereafter became a loose federation of states and the h1 of emperor principally honorific. In the 18th century, issues of imperial succession resulted in the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War. The greatly weakened empire was brought to an end by the victories of Napoleon. Seealso Guelphs and Ghibellines; Investiture Controversy; Concordat of Worms.

Learn more about Holy Roman Empire with a free trial on Britannica.com.

(1576–98) Association of Roman Catholics during the French Wars of Religion. It was first organized under the leadership of the 3rd duke de Guise, to oppose concessions granted to the Protestant Huguenots by Henry III. In 1584, when the Huguenot leader Henry of Navarra (later Henry IV) became heir to the throne, the Holy League set up an alternative candidate, with Spain's assistance. To put an end to the league, which challenged his authority, Henry III had the duke de Guise assassinated (1588), an act that, rather than destroying the League, led to Henry's own assassination in 1589. The league opposed the accession of Henry IV, but its power waned when he became a Roman Catholic in 1593.

Learn more about Holy League with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Arabic Munazsubdotzsubdotamat al-Tahsubdotrīr al-Filastsubdotīniyyah

Umbrella political organization representing the Palestinian people in their drive for a Palestinian state. It was formed in 1964 to centralize the leadership of various groups. After the Six-Day War of 1967, the PLO promoted a distinctively Palestinian agenda. In 1969 Yāsir aynArafāt, leader of Fatah, the PLO's largest faction, became its chairman. From the late 1960s the PLO engaged in guerrilla attacks on Israel from bases in Jordan, from which it was expelled in 1971. PLO headquarters moved to Lebanon. In 1974 aynArafāt advocated limiting PLO activity to direct attacks against Israel, and the Arab community recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of all Palestinians. It was admitted to the Arab League in 1976. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon and expelled PLO forces based there. In 1988 the PLO leadership, then based in Tunis, declared a Palestinian state and the following year elected aynArafāt its president. It also recognized Israel's right to exist, though several militant factions dissented. In 1993 Israel recognized the PLO by signing an agreement with it granting Palestinian self-rule in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The PLO became an integral part of the Palestinian National Authority. Seealso Palestine; Lebanese civil war; Hsubdotamās; intifādsubdotah.

Learn more about Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) with a free trial on Britannica.com.

biblical Canaan

Region, at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. It extends east to the Jordan River, north to the border between Israel and Lebanon, west to the Mediterranean, and south to the Negev desert, reaching the Gulf of Aqaba. The political status and geographic area designated by the term have changed considerably over the course of three millennia. The eastern boundary has been particularly fluid, often understood as lying east of the Jordan and extending at times to the edge of the Arabian Desert. A land of sharp contrasts, Palestine includes the Dead Sea, the lowest natural point of elevation on Earth, and mountain peaks higher than 2,000 ft (610 m) above sea level. In the 20th and 21st centuries it has been the object of conflicting claims by Jewish and Arab national movements. The region is sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Settled since early prehistoric times, mainly by Semitic groups, it was occupied in biblical times by the kingdoms of Israel, Judah, and Judaea. It was subsequently held by virtually every power of the Middle East, including the Assyrians, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, and Ottomans. It was governed by Britain under a League of Nations mandate from the end of World War I (1914–18) until 1948, when the State of Israel was proclaimed. Armies from Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, and Iraq attacked the next day. They were defeated by the Israeli army. See Israel, Jordan, West Bank, and Gaza Strip for the later history of the region.

Learn more about Palestine with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Holy Island

Historic small island 2 mi (3 km) from the English Northumbrian coast. It became a religious centre in 635, when St. Aidan established a monastery and church there. It was abandoned in 875 because of the threat of Danish raids, but the monastery was refounded in 1082 and survived until the dissolution of the monasteries (1536–40) under Henry VIII. The manuscript of the Lindisfarne Gospels (circa 696–698) is one of the finest surviving illuminated manuscripts of the period. Lindisfarne's present-day parish church may occupy the site of St. Aidan's original monastery.

Learn more about Lindisfarne with a free trial on Britannica.com.

or Holy Grail

In Arthurian legend, a sacred cup that was the object of a mystical quest by knights of the Round Table. The grail legend may have been inspired by classical and Celtic stories of magic cauldrons and horns of plenty. It was first given Christian significance as a mysterious, holy object by Chrétien de Troyes in the 12th-century romance Perceval, or the Count of the Holy Grail. The grail was sometimes said to be the same cup used by Jesus at the Last Supper and later by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the blood flowing from the wounds of Jesus on the cross. The most notable figure connected with the grail was Sir Galahad, who, according to Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte Darthur, found the grail and achieved mystical union with God.

Learn more about grail with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Loose organization of most of the European sovereigns, formed in 1815 by Alexander I of Russia, Francis I of Austria, and Frederick William III of Prussia, after the final defeat of Napoleon. Its avowed purpose was to promote the influence of Christian principles in the affairs of nations, but it accomplished little and became a symbol of conservatism and repression in central and eastern Europe. Seealso Congress of Laibach.

Learn more about Holy Alliance with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Holy, Holy, Holy is a Christian hymn written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826). Its lyrics speak specifically on the Trinity as stated in Christian theology. It was written specifically for the use on Trinity Sunday, which occurs eight weeks after Easter The tune used for this hymn, "Nicaea", was named after the Nicaean Council in 325. It was composed by John Bacchus Dykes in 1861 specifically for the lyrics. The composer wrote many tunes to hymns (over 300) and many are still in use today.


Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! all the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy; there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All Thy works shall praise Thy Name, in earth, and sky, and sea;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in Three Persons, blessèd Trinity!


Search another word or see holyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature