Given by His
Holiness Pope Pius XII
June 29, 1943
Health and Apostolic Benediction.
The doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church,
was first taught us by the Redeemer Himself. Illustrating as it does
the great and inestimable privilege of our intimate union with so
exalted a Head, this doctrine by its sublime dignity invites all those
who are drawn by the Holy Spirit to study it, and gives them, in the
truths of which it proposes to the mind, a strong incentive to the
performance of such good works as are conformable to its teaching. For
this reason, We deem it fitting to speak to you on this subject through
this Encyclical Letter, developing and explaining above all, those
points which concern the Church Militant. To this We are urged not only
by the surpassing grandeur of the subject but also by the circumstances
of the present time.
2. For We intend to speak of the riches stored up in this Church which
Christ purchased with His own Blood,  and whose members glory in a
thorn-crowned Head. The fact that they thus glory is a striking proof
that the greatest joy and exaltation are born only of suffering, and
hence that we should rejoice if we partake of the sufferings of Christ,
that when His glory shall be revealed we may also be glad with
exceeding joy. 
3. From the outset it should be noted that the society established by
the Redeemer of the human race resembles its divine Founder, who was
persecuted, calumniated and tortured by those very men whom He had
undertaken to save. We do not deny, rather from a heart filled with
gratitude to God We admit, that even in our turbulent times there are
many who, though outside the fold of Jesus Christ, look to the Church
as the only haven of salvation; but We are also aware that the Church
of God not only is despised and hated maliciously by those who shut
their eyes to the light of Christian wisdom and miserably return to the
teachings, customs and practices of ancient paganism, but is ignored
and neglected, and even at times looked upon as irksome by many
Christians who are allured by specious error or caught in the meshes of
the world's corruption. In obedience, therefore, Venerable Brethren, to
the voice of Our conscience and in compliance with the wishes of many,
We will set forth before the eyes of all and extol the beauty, the
praises, and the glory of Mother Church to whom, after God, we owe
4. And it is to be hoped that Our instructions and exhortations will
bring forth abundant fruit in the souls of the faithful in the present
circumstances. For We know that if all the sorrows and calamities of
these stormy times, by which countless multitudes are being sorely
tried, are accepted from God's hands with calm submission, they
naturally lift souls above the passing things of earth those of heaven
that abide forever, and arouse a certain secret thirst and intense
desire for spiritual things. Thus, urged by the Holy Spirit, men are
moved, and as it were, impelled to seek the kingdom of God with greater
diligence; for the more they are detached from the vanities of this
world and from inordinate love of temporal things, the more apt they
will be to perceive the light of heavenly mysteries. But the vanity and
emptiness of earthly things are more manifest today than perhaps at any
other period, when Kingdoms and States are crumbling, when enormous
quantities of goods and all kinds of wealth are being sunk in the
depths of the sea, and cities, towns and fertile fields are strewn with
massive ruins and defiled with the blood of brothers.
5. Moreover, We trust that Our exposition of the doctrine of the
Mystical Body of Christ will be acceptable and useful to those also who
are without the fold of the Church, not only because their good will
toward the Church seems to grow from day to day, but also because,
while before their eyes nation rises up against nation, kingdom against
kingdom, and discord is sown everywhere together with the seeds of envy
and hatred, if they turn their gaze to the Church, if they contemplate
her divinely-given unity - by which all men of every race are united to
Christ in the bond of brotherhood - they will be forced to admire this
fellowship in charity, and with the guidance and assistance of divine
grace will long to share in the same union and charity.
6. There is a special reason too, and one most dear to Us, which
recalls this doctrine to Our mind and with it a deep sense of joy.
During the year that has passed since the twenty-fifth anniversary of
Our Episcopal consecration, We have had the great consolation of
witnessing something that has made the image of the Mystical Body of
Jesus Christ stand out most clearly before the whole world. Though a
long and deadly war has pitilessly broken the bond of brotherly union
between nations, We have seen Our children in Christ, in whatever part
of the world they happened to be, one in will and affection, lift up
their hearts to the common Father, who, carrying in his own heart the
cares and anxieties of all, is guiding the barque of the Catholic
Church int he teeth of a raging tempest. This is a testimony to the
wonderful union existing among Christians; but it also proves that, as
Our paternal love embraces all peoples, whatever their nationality and
race, so Catholics the world over, though their countries may have
drawn the sword against each other, look to the Vicar of Jesus Christ
as to the loving Father of them all, who, with absolute impartiality
and incorruptible judgment, rising above the conflicting gales of human
passions, takes upon himself with all his strength the defence of
truth, justice and charity.
7. We have been no less consoled to know that with spontaneous
generosity a fund has been created for the erection of a church in Rome
to be dedicated to our saintly predecessor and patron, Eugene I. At
this temple, to be built by the wish and through the liberality of all
the faithful, will be a lasting memorial of this happy event, so We
desire to offer this Encyclical Letter in testimony of Our gratitude.
It tells of those living stones which rest upon the living cornerstone,
which is Christ, and are built together into a holy temple, far
surpassing any temple built by hands, into a habitation of God in the
8. But the chief reason for Our present exposition of this sublime
doctrine is Our solicitude for the souls entrusted to Us. Much indeed
has been written on this subject; and We know that many today are
turning with greater zest to a study which delights and nourishes
Christian piety. This, it would seem, is chiefly because a revived
interest in the sacred liturgy, the more widely spread custom of
frequent Communion, and the more fervent devotion to the Sacred Heart
of Jesus practiced today, have brought many souls to a deeper
consideration of the unsearchable riches of Christ which are preserved
in the Church. Moreover, recent pronouncements on Catholic Action, by
drawing closer the bonds of union between Christians and between them
and the ecclesiastical hierarchy and especially the Roman Pontiff, have
undoubtedly helped not a little to place this truth in its proper
light. Nevertheless, while We can derive legitimate joy from these
considerations, We must confess that grave errors with regard to this
doctrine are being spread among those outside the true Church, and that
among the faithful, also, inaccurate or thoroughly false ideas are
being disseminated which turn minds aside from the straight path of
9. For while there still survives a false rationalism, which ridicules
anything that transcends and defies the power of human genius, and
which is accompanied by a cognate error, the so-called popular
naturalism, which sees and wills to see in the Church nothing but a
juridical and social union, there is on the other hand a false
mysticism creeping in, which, in its attempt to eliminate the immovable
frontier that separates creatures from their Creator, falsifies the
10. As a result of these conflicting and mutually antagonistic schools
of thought, some through vain fear, look upon so profound a doctrine as
something dangerous, and so they shrink from it as from the beautiful
but forbidden fruit of paradise. But this is not so. Mysteries revealed
by God cannot be harmful to men, nor should they remain as treasures
hidden in a field, useless. They have been given from on high precisely
to help the spiritual progress of those who study them in a spirit of
piety. For, as the Vatican Council teaches, "reason illumined by faith,
if it seeks earnestly, piously and wisely, does attain under God, to a
certain and most helpful knowledge of mysteries, by considering their
analogy with what it knows naturally, and their mutual relations, and
their common relations with man's last end," although, as the same holy
Synod observes, reason, even thus illumined, "is never capable of
understanding those mysteries as it does those truths which forms its
proper object." 
11. After pondering all this long and seriously before God We consider
it part of Our pastoral duty to explain to the entire flock of Christ
through this Encyclical Letter the doctrine of the Mystical Body of
Christ and of the union in this Body of the faithful with the divine
Redeemer; and then, from this consoling doctrine, to draw certain
lessons that will make a deeper study of this mystery bear yet richer
fruits of perfection and holiness. Our purpose is to throw an added ray
of glory on the supreme beauty of the Church; to bring out into fuller
light the exalted supernatural nobility of the faithful who in the Body
of Christ are united with their Head; and finally, to exclude
definitely the many current errors with regard to this matter.
12. When one reflects on the origin of this doctrine, there come to
mind at once the words of the Apostle: "Where sin abounded, grace did
more abound." All know that the father of the whole human race was
constituted by God in so exalted a state that he was to hand on to his
posterity, together with earthly existence, the heavenly life of divine
grace. But after the unhappy fall of Adam, the whole human race,
infected by the hereditary stain, lost their participation in the
divine nature, and we were all "children of wrath." But the
all-merciful God "so loved the world as to give His only-begotten
Son," and the Word of the Eternal Father with the same divine love
assumed human nature from the race of Adam - but as an innocent and
spotless nature - so that He, as the new Adam, might be the source
whence the grace of the Holy Spirit should flow unto all the children
of the first parent. Through the sin of the first man they had been
excluded from adoption as children of God; through the Word incarnate,
made brothers according to the flesh of the only-begotten Son of God,
they receive also the power to become the sons of God. As He hung
upon the Cross, Christ Jesus not only appeased the justice of the
Eternal Father which had been violated, but He also won for us, His
brethren, an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Him of
Himself to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do
so only through a visible Church made up of men, so that through her
all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of Redemption. As
the Word of God willed to make use of our nature, when in excruciating
agony He would redeem mankind, so in the same way throughout the
centuries He makes use of the Church that the work begun might endure.
13. If we would define and describe this true Church of Jesus Christ -
which is the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church  - we
shall find nothing more noble, more sublime, or more divine than the
expression "the Mystical Body of Christ" - an expression which springs
from and is, as it were, the fair flowering of the repeated teaching of
the Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers.
14. That the Church is a body is frequently asserted in the Sacred
Scriptures. "Christ," says the Apostle, "is the Head of the Body of the
Church." If the Church is a body, it must be an unbroken unity,
according to those words of Paul: "Though many we are one body in
Christ." But it is not enough that the Body of the Church should be
an unbroken unity; it must also be something definite and perceptible
to the senses as Our predecessor of happy memory, Leo XIII, in his
Encyclical Satis Cognitum asserts: "the Church is visible because she
is a body. Hence they err in a matter of divine truth, who imagine
the Church to be invisible, intangible, a something merely
"pneumatological" as they say, by which many Christian communities,
though they differ from each other in their profession of faith, are
untied by an invisible bond.
15. But a body calls also for a multiplicity of members, which are
linked together in such a way as to help one another. And as in the
body when one member suffers, all the other members share its pain, and
the healthy members come to the assistance of the ailing, so in the
Church the individual members do not live for themselves alone, but
also help their fellows, and all work in mutual collaboration for the
common comfort and for the more perfect building up of the whole Body.
16. Again, as in nature a body is not formed by any haphazard grouping
of members but must be constituted of organs, that is of members, that
have not the same function and are arranged in due order; so for this
reason above all the Church is called a body, that it is constituted by
the coalescence of structurally untied parts, and that it has a variety
of members reciprocally dependent. It is thus the Apostle describes the
Church when he writes: "As in one body we have many members, but all
the members have not the same office: so we being many are one body in
Christ, and everyone members one of another." 
17. One must not think, however, that this ordered or "organic"
structure of the body of the Church contains only hierarchical elements
and with them is complete; or, as an opposite opinion holds, that it is
composed only of those who enjoy charismatic gifts - though members
gifted with miraculous powers will never be lacking in the Church. That
those who exercise sacred power in this Body are its chief members must
be maintained uncompromisingly. It is through them, by commission of
the Divine Redeemer Himself, that Christ's apostolate as Teacher, King
and Priest is to endure. At the same time, when the Fathers of the
Church sing the praises of this Mystical Body of Christ, with its
ministries, its variety of ranks, its officers, it conditions, its
orders, its duties, they are thinking not only of those who have
received Holy Orders, but of all those too, who, following the
evangelical counsels, pass their lives either actively among men, or
hidden in the silence of the cloister, or who aim at combining the
active and contemplative life according to their Institute; as also of
those who, though living in the world, consecrate themselves
wholeheartedly to spiritual or corporal works of mercy, and of those in
the state of holy matrimony. Indeed, let this be clearly understood,
especially in our days, fathers and mothers of families, those who are
godparents through Baptism, and in particular those members of the
laity who collaborate with the ecclesiastical hierarchy in spreading
the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer occupy an honorable, if often a
lowly, place in the Christian community, and even they under the
impulse of God and with His help, can reach the heights of supreme
holiness, which, Jesus Christ has promised, will never be wanting to
18. Now we see that the human body is given the proper means to provide
for its own life, health and growth, and for that of all its members.
Similarly, the Savior of mankind out of His infinite goodness has
provided in a wonderful way for His Mystical Body, endowing it with the
Sacraments, so that, as though by an uninterrupted series of graces,
its members should be sustained from birth to death, and that generous
provision might be made for the social needs of the Church. Through the
waters of Baptism those who are born into this world dead in sin are
not only born again and made members of the Church, but being stamped
with a spiritual seal they become able and fit to receive the other
Sacraments. By the chrism of Confirmation, the faithful are given added
strength to protect and defend the Church, their Mother, and the faith
she has given them. In the Sacrament of Penance a saving medicine is
offered for the members of the Church who have fallen into sin, not
only to provide for their own health, but to remove from other members
of the Mystical Body all danger of contagion, or rather to afford them
an incentive to virtue, and the example of a virtuous act.
19. Nor is that all; for in the Holy Eucharist the faithful are
nourished and strengthened at the same banquet and by a divine,
ineffable bond are united with each other and with the Divine Head of
the whole Body. Finally, like a devoted mother, the Church is at the
bedside of those who are sick unto death; and if it be not always God's
will that by the holy anointing she restore health to the mortal body,
nevertheless she administers spiritual medicine to the wounded soul and
sends new citizens to heaven - to be her new advocates - who will enjoy
forever the happiness of God.
20. For the social needs of the Church Christ has provided in a
particular way by the institution of two other Sacraments. Through
Matrimony, in which the contracting parties are ministers of grace to
each other, provision is made for the external and duly regulated
increase of Christian society, and, what is of greater importance, for
the correct religious education of the children, without which this
Mystical Body would be in grave danger. Through Holy Orders men are set
aside and consecrated to God, to offer the Sacrifice of the Eucharistic
Victim, to nourish the flock of the faithful with the Bread of Angels
and the food of doctrine, to guide them in the way of God's
commandments and counsels and to strengthen them with all other
21. In this connection it must be borne in mind that, as God at the
beginning of time endowed man's body with most ample power to subject
all creatures to himself, and to increase and multiply and fill the
earth, so at the beginning of the Christian era, He supplied the Church
with the means necessary to overcome the countless dangers and to fill
not only the whole world but the realms of heaven as well.
22. Actually only those are to be included as members of the Church who
have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so
unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or
been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For
in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body,
whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in
the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one
Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And
therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered -
so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican.  It follows
that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in
the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one
23. Nor must one imagine that the Body of the Church, just because it
bears the name of Christ, is made up during the days of its earthly
pilgrimage only of members conspicuous for their holiness, or that it
consists only of those whom God has predestined to eternal happiness.
It is owing to the Savior's infinite mercy that place is allowed in His
Mystical Body here below for those whom, of old, He did not exclude
from the banquet. For not every sin, however grave it may be, is
such as of its own nature to sever a man from the Body of the Church,
as does schism or heresy or apostasy. Men may lose charity and divine
grace through sin, thus becoming incapable of supernatural merit, and
yet not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and
Christian hope, and if, illumined from above, they are spurred on by
the interior promptings of the Holy Spirit to salutary fear and are
moved to prayer and penance for their sins.
24. Let every one then abhor sin, which defiles the mystical members of
our Redeemer; but if anyone unhappily falls and his obstinacy has not
made him unworthy of communion with the faithful, let him be received
with great love, and let eager charity see in him a weak member of
Jesus Christ. For, as the Bishop of Hippo remarks, it is better "to be
cured within the Church's community than to be cut off from its body as
incurable members." "As long as a member still forms part of the
body there is no reason to despair of its cure; once it has been cut
off, it can be neither cured nor healed." 
25. In the course of the present study, Venerable Brethren, we have
thus far seen that the Church is so constituted that it may be likened
to a body. We must now explain clearly and precisely why it is to be
called not merely a body, but the Body of Jesus Christ. This follows
from the fact that our Lord is the Founder, the Head, the Support and
the Savior of this Mystical Body.
26. As We set out briefly to expound in what sense Christ founded His
social Body, the following thought of Our predecessor of happy memory,
Leo XIII, occurs to Us at once: "The Church which, already conceived,
came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross,
first showed Herself before the eyes of men on the great day of
Pentecost." For the Divine Redeemer began the building of the
mystical temple of the Church when by His preaching He made known His
Precepts; He completed it when he hung glorified on the Cross; and He
manifested and proclaimed it when He sent the Holy Ghost as Paraclete
in visible form on His disciples.
27. For while fulfilling His office as preacher He chose Apostles,
sending them as He had been sent by the Father  - namely, as
teachers, rulers, instruments of holiness in the assembly of the
believers; He appointed their Chief and His Vicar on earth; He made
known to them all things and whatsoever He had heard from His Father;
 He also determined that through Baptism  those who should
believe would be incorporated in the Body of the Church; and finally,
when He came to the close of His life, He instituted at the Last Supper
the wonderful Sacrifice and Sacrament of the Eucharist.
28. That He completed His work on the gibbet of the Cross is the
unanimous teaching of the holy Fathers who assert that the Church was
born from the side of our Savior on the Cross like a new Eve, mother of
all the living.  "And it is now," says the great St. Ambrose,
speaking of the pierced side of Christ, "that it is built, it is now
that it is formed, it is now that it is...molded, it is now that it is
created... Now it is that arises a spiritual house, a holy priesthood."
 One who reverently examines this venerable teaching will easily
discover the reasons on which it is based.
29. And first of all, by the death of our Redeemer, the New Testament
took the place of the Old Law which had been abolished; then the Law of
Christ together with its mysteries, enactments, institutions, and
sacred rites was ratified for the whole world in the blood of Jesus
Christ. For, while our Divine Savior was preaching in a restricted area
- He was not sent but to the sheep that were lost of the House of
Israel  - the Law and the Gospel were together in force;  but
on the gibbet of His death Jesus made void the Law with its decrees
 fastened the handwriting of the Old Testament to the Cross, 
establishing the New Testament in His blood shed for the whole human
race. "To such an extent, then," says St. Leo the Great, speaking
of the Cross of our Lord, "was there effected a transfer from the Law
to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the many
sacrifices to one Victim, that, as Our Lord expired, that mystical veil
which shut off the innermost part of the temple and its sacred secret
was rent violently from top to bottom." 
30. On the Cross then the Old Law died, soon to be buried and to be a
bearer of death,  in order to give way to the New Testament of
which Christ had chosen the Apostles as qualified ministers;  and
although He had been constituted the Head of the whole human family in
the womb of the Blessed Virgin, it is by the power of the Cross that
our Savior exercises fully the office itself of Head of His Church.
"For it was through His triumph on the Cross," according to the
teaching of the Angelic and Common Doctor, "that He won power and
dominion over the gentiles"; by that same victory He increased the
immense treasure of graces, which, as He reigns in glory in heaven, He
lavishes continually on His mortal members; it was by His blood shed on
the Cross that God's anger was averted and that all the heavenly gifts,
especially the spiritual graces of the New and Eternal Testament, could
then flow from the fountains of our Savior for the salvation of men, of
the faithful above all; it was on the tree of the Cross, finally, that
He entered into possession of His Church, that is, of all the members
of His Mystical Body; for they would not have been untied to this
Mystical Body through the waters of Baptism except by the salutary
virtue of the Cross, by which they had been already brought under the
complete sway of Christ.
31. But if our Savior, by His death, became, in the full and complete
sense of the word, the Head of the Church, it was likewise through His
blood that the Church was enriched with the fullest communication of
the Holy Spirit, through which, from the time when the Son of Man was
lifted up and glorified on the Cross by His sufferings, she is divinely
illumined. For then, as Augustine notes,  with the rending of the
veil of the temple it happened that the dew of the Paraclete's gifts,
which heretofore had descended only on the fleece, that is on the
people of Israel, fell copiously and abundantly (while the fleece
remained dry and deserted) on the whole earth, that is on the Catholic
Church, which is confined by no boundaries of race or territory. Just
as at the first moment of the Incarnation the Son of the Eternal Father
adorned with the fullness of the Holy Spirit the human nature which was
substantially united to Him, that it might be a fitting instrument of
the Divinity in the sanguinary work of the Redemption, so at the hour
of His precious death He willed that His Church should be enriched with
the abundant gifts of the Paraclete in order that in dispensing the
divine fruits of the Redemption she might be, for the Incarnate Word, a
powerful instrument that would never fail. For both the juridical
mission of the Church, and the power to teach, govern and administer
the Sacraments, derive their supernatural efficacy and force for the
building up of the Body of Christ from the fact that Jesus Christ,
hanging on the Cross, opened up to His Church the fountain of those
divine gifts, which prevent her from ever teaching false doctrine and
enable her to rule them for the salvation of their souls through
divinely enlightened pastors and to bestow on them an abundance of
32. If we consider closely all these mysteries of the Cross, those
words of the Apostle are no longer obscure, in which he teaches the
Ephesians that Christ, by His blood, made the Jews and Gentiles one
"breaking down the middle wall of partition...in his flesh" by which
the two peoples were divided; and that He made the Old Law void "that
He might make the two in Himself into one new man," that is, the
Church, and might reconcile both to God in one Body by the Cross." 
33. The Church which He founded by His Blood, He strengthened on the
Day of Pentecost by a special power, given from heaven. For, having
solemnly installed in his exalted office him whom He had already
nominated as His Vicar, He had ascended into Heaven; and sitting now at
the right hand of the Father He wished to make known and proclaim His
Spouse through the visible coming of the Holy Spirit with the sound of
a mighty wind and tongues of fire. For just as He Himself when He
began to preach was made known by His Eternal Father through the Holy
Spirit descending and remaining on Him in the form of a dove,  so
likewise, as the Apostles were about to enter upon their ministry of
preaching, Christ our Lord sent the Holy Spirit down from Heaven, to
touch them with tongues of fire and to point out, as by the finger of
God, the supernatural mission and office of the Church.
34. That this Mystical Body which is the Church should be called
Christ's is proved in the second place from the fact that He must be
universally acknowledged as its actual Head. "He," as St. Paul says,
"is the Head of the Body, the Church."  He is the Head from whom
the whole body perfectly organized, "groweth and maketh increase unto
the edifying of itself." 
35. You are familiar, Venerable Brethren, with the admirable and
luminous language used by the masters of Scholastic Theology and
chiefly by the Angelic and Common Doctor, when treating this question;
and you know that the reasons advanced by Aquinas are a faithful
reflection of the mind and writings of the Holy Fathers, who moreover
merely repeated and commented on the inspired word of Sacred Scripture.
36. However for the good of all We wish to touch on this point briefly.
And first of all it is clear that the Son of God and of the Blessed
Virgin is to be called the head of the Church by reason of His singular
pre-eminence. For the Head is in the highest place. But who is in a
higher place than Christ God, who as the Word of the Eternal Father
must be acknowledged to be the "firstborn of every creature?" Who
has reached more lofty heights than Christ Man who, though born of the
Immaculate Virgin, is the true and natural Son of God, and in virtue of
His miraculous and glorious resurrection, a resurrection triumphant
over death, has become the "firstborn of the dead?"  Who finally
has been so exalted as He, who as "the one mediator of God and men"
has in a most wonderful manner linked earth to heaven, who, raised on
the Cross as on a throne of mercy, has drawn all things to Himself,
who, as the Son of Man chosen from among thousands, is beloved of God
beyond all men, all angels and all created things? 
37. Because Christ is so exalted, He alone by every right rules and
governs the Church; and herein is yet another reason why He must be
likened to a head. As the head is the "royal citadel" of the body 
- to use the words of Ambrose - and all the members over whom it is
placed for their good  are naturally guided by it as being endowed
with superior powers, so the Divine Redeemer holds the helm of the
universal Christian community and directs its course. And as to govern
human society signifies to lead men to the end proposed by means that
are expedient, just and helpful,  it is easy to see how our Savior,
model and ideal of good Shepherds,  performs all these functions in
a most striking way.
38. While still on earth, He instructed us by precept, counsel and
warning in words that shall never pass away, and will be spirit and
life  to all men of all times. Moreover He conferred a triple power
on His Apostles and their successors, to teach, to govern, to lead men
to holiness, making this power, defined by special ordinances, rights
and obligations, the fundamental law of the whole Church.
39. But our Divine Savior governs and guides the Society which He
founded directly and personally also. For it is He who reigns within
the minds and hearts of men, and bends and subjects their wills to His
good pleasure, even when rebellious. "The heart of the King is in the
hand of the Lord; whithersoever he will, he shall turn it." By this
interior guidance He the "Shepherd and Bishop of our souls," not
only watches over individuals but exercises His providence over the
universal Church, whether by enlightening and giving courage to the
Church's rulers for the loyal and effective performance of their
respective duties, or by singling out form the body of the Church -
especially when times are grave - men and women of conspicuous
holiness, who may point the way for the rest of Christendom to the
perfecting of His Mystical Body. Morever from Heaven Christ never
ceases to look down with especial love on His spotless Spouse so sorely
tried in her earthly exile; and when He sees her in danger, saves her
from the tempestuous sea either Himself or through the ministry of His
angels, or through her whom we invoke as Help of Christians, or
through other heavenly advocates, and in calm and tranquil waters
comforts her with the peace "which surpasseth all understanding." 
40. But we must not think that He rules only in a hidden  or
extraordinary manner. On the contrary, our Redeemer also governs His
Mystical Body in a visible and normal way through His Vicar on earth.
You know, Venerable Brethren, that after He had ruled the "little
flock"  Himself during His mortal pilgrimage, Christ our Lord, when
about to leave this world and return to the Father, entrusted to the
Chief of the Apostles the visible government of the entire community He
had founded. Since He was all wise He could not leave the body of the
Church He had founded as a human society without a visible head. Nor
against this may one argue that the primacy of jurisdiction established
in the Church gives such a Mystical Body two heads. For Peter in view
of his primacy is only Christ's Vicar; so that there is only one chief
Head of this Body, namely Christ, who never ceases Himself to guide the
Church invisibly, though at the same time He rules it visibly, through
him who is His representative on earth. After His glorious Ascension
into Heaven this Church rested not on Him alone, but on Peter, too, its
visible foundation stone. That Christ and His Vicar constitute one only
Head is the solemn teaching of Our predecessor of immortal memory
Boniface VIII in the Apostolic Letter Unam Sanctam;  and his
successors have never ceased to repeat the same.
41. They, therefore, walk in the path of dangerous error who believe
that they can accept Christ as the Head of the Church, while not
adhering loyally to His Vicar on earth. They have taken away the
visible head, broken the visible bonds of unity and left the Mystical
Body of the Redeemer so obscured and so maimed, that those who are
seeking the haven of eternal salvation can neither see it nor find it.
42. What we have thus far said of the Universal Church must be
understood also of the individual Christian communities, whether
Oriental or Latin, which go to makeup the one Catholic Church. For
they, too, are ruled by Jesus Christ through the voice of their
respective Bishops. Consequently, Bishops must be considered as the
more illustrious members of the Universal Church, for they are united
by a very special bond to the divine Head of the whole Body and so are
rightly called "principal parts of the members of the Lord;" 
moreover, as far as his own diocese is concerned, each one as a true
Shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him and rules it in the name of
Christ.  Yet in exercising this office they are not altogether
independent, but are subordinate to the lawful authority of the Roman
Pontiff, although enjoying the ordinary power of jurisdiction which
they receive directly from the same Supreme Pontiff. Therefore, Bishops
should be revered by the faithful as divinely appointed successors of
the Apostles,  and to them, even more than to the highest civil
authorities should be applied the words: "Touch not my anointed one!"
 For Bishops have been anointed with the chrism of the Holy Spirit.
43. That is why We are deeply pained when We hear that not a few of Our
Brother Bishops are being attacked and persecuted not only in their own
persons, but - what is more cruel and heartrending for them - in the
faithful committed to their care, in those who share their apostolic
labors, even in the virgins consecrated to God; and all this, merely
because they are a pattern of the flock from the heart  and guard
with energy and loyalty, as they should the sacred "deposit of
faith" confided to them; merely because they insist on the sacred
laws that have been engraved by God on the souls of men, and after the
example of the Supreme Shepherd defend their flock against ravenous
wolves. Such an offence We consider as committed against Our own person
and We repeat the noble words of Our Predecessor of immortal memory
Gregory the Great: "Our honor is the honor of the Universal Church; Our
honor is the united strength of Our Brethren; and We are truly honored
when honor is given to each and every one." 
44. Because Christ the Head holds such an eminent position, one must
not think that he does not require the help of the Body. What Paul said
of the human organism is to be applied likewise to the Mystical Body:
"The head cannot say to the feet: I have no need of you." It is
manifestly clear that the faithful need the help of the Divine
Redeemer, for He has said: "Without me you can do nothing," and
according to the teaching of the Apostle every advance of this Mystical
Body towards its perfection derives from Christ the Head. Yet this,
also, must be held, marvelous though it may seem: Christ has need of
His members. First, because the person of Jesus Christ is represented
by the Supreme Pontiff, who in turn must call on others to share much
of his solicitude lest he be overwhelmed by the burden of his pastoral
office, and must be helped daily by the prayers of the Church. Moreover
as our Savior does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, He
wills to be helped by the members of His Body in carrying out the work
of redemption. That is not because He is indigent and weak, but rather
because He has so willed it for the greater glory of His spotless
Spouse. Dying on the Cross He left to His Church the immense treasury
of the Redemption, towards which she contributed nothing. But when
those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this work
of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it be
due to her action. This is a deep mystery, and an inexhaustible subject
of meditation, that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and
voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus
Christ offer for this intention and on the cooperation of pastors of
souls and of the faithful, especially of fathers and mothers of
families, a cooperation which they must offer to our Divine Savior as
though they were His associates.
45. To the reasons thus far adduced to show that Christ our Lord should
be called the Head of the Society which is His Body there may be added
three others which are closely related to one another.
46. We begin with the similarity which we see existing between Head and
body, in that they have the same nature; and in this connection it must
be observed that our nature, although inferior to that of the angels,
nevertheless through God's goodness has risen above it: "For Christ,"
as Aquinas says, "is Head of the angels; for even in His humanity He is
superior to angels... Even as man He illumines the angelic intellect
and influences the angelic will. But in respect to similarity of nature
Christ is not Head of the angels, because He did not take hold of the
angels - to quote the Apostle - but of the seed of Abraham." And
Christ not only took our nature; He became one of our flesh and blood
with a frail body that could suffer and die. But "If the Word emptied
himself taking the form of a slave,"  it was that He might make His
brothers according to the flesh partakers of the divine nature, 
through sanctifying grace in this earthly exile, in heaven through the
joys of eternal bliss. For the reason why the only-begotten Son of the
Eternal Father willed to be a son of man was that we might be made
conformed to the image of the Son of God  and be renewed according
to the image of Him who created us.  Let all those, then, who glory
in the name of Christian, look to our Divine Savior as the most exalted
and the most perfect exemplar of all virtues; but let them also, by
careful avoidance of sin and assiduous practice of virtue, bear witness
by their conduct to His teaching and life, so that when the Lord shall
appear they may be like unto Him and see Him as He is. 
47. It is the will of Jesus Christ that the whole body of the Church,
no less than the individual members, should resemble Him. And we see
this realized when, following in the footsteps of her Founder, the
Church teaches, governs, and offers the divine Sacrifice. When she
embraces the evangelical counsels she reflects the Redeemer's poverty,
obedience and virginal purity. Adorned with institutes of many
different kinds as with so many precious jewels, she represents Christ
deep in prayer on the mountain, or preaching to the people, or healing
the sick and wounded and bringing sinners back to the path of virtue -
in a word, doing good to all. What wonder then, if, while on this earth
she, like Christ, suffer persecutions, insults and sorrows.
48. Christ must be acknowledged Head of the Church for this reason too,
that, as supernatural gifts have their fullness and perfection in Him,
it is of this fullness that His Mystical Body receives. It is pointed
out by many of the Fathers, that as the head of our mortal body is the
seat of all the senses, while the other parts of our organism have only
the sense of touch, so all the powers that are found in Christian
society, all the gifts, all the extraordinary graces, attain their
utmost perfection in the Head, Christ. "In Him it hath well pleased the
Father that all fulness should dwell." He is gifted with those
supernatural powers that accompany the hypostatic union, since the Holy
spirit dwells in Him with a fulness of grace than which no greater can
be imagined. To Him has been given "power over all flesh";  "all
the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him" abundantly. The
knowledge which is called "vision" He possesses with such clarity and
comprehensiveness that it surpasses similar celestial knowledge found
in all the saints of heaven. So full of grace and truth is He that of
His inexhaustible fullness we have all received. 
49. These words of the disciple whom Jesus loved lead us to the last
reason why Christ our Lord should be declared in a very particular way
Head of His Mystical Body. As the nerves extend from the head to all
parts of the human body and give them power to feel and to move, in
like manner our Savior communicates strength and power to His Church so
that the things of God are understood more clearly and are more eagerly
desired by the faithful. From Him streams into the body of the Church
all the light with which those who believe are divinely illumined, and
all the grace by which they are made holy as He is holy.
50. Christ enlightens His whole Church, as numberless passages from the
Sacred Scriptures and the holy Fathers prove. "No man hath seen God at
any time: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father he
hath declared him" Coming as a teacher from God  to give
testimony to the truth  He shed such light upon the nascent
apostolic Church that the Prince of the Apostles exclaimed: "Lord, to
whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life";  from
heaven He assisted the evangelists in such a way that as members of
Christ they wrote what they had learned, as it were, at the dictation
of the Head.  And as for us today, who linger on in this earthly
exile, He is still the author of faith as in our heavenly home He will
be its finisher. It is He who imparts the light of faith to
believers; it is He who enriches pastors and teachers and above all His
Vicar on earth with the supernatural gifts of knowledge, understanding
and wisdom, so that they may loyally preserve the treasury of faith,
defend it vigorously, and explain it and confirm it with reverence and
devotion. Finally, it is He who, though unseen, presides at the
Councils of the Church and guides them. 
51. Holiness begins from Christ; and Christ is its cause. For no act
conducive to salvation can be performed unless it proceeds from Him as
from its supernatural source. "Without me," He says, "you can do
nothing." If we grieve and do penance for our sins if, with filial
fear and hope, we turn again to God, it is because He is leading us.
Grace and glory flow from His inexhaustible fulness. Our Savior is
continually pouring out His gifts of counsel, fortitude, fear and
piety, especially on the leading members of His Body, so that the whole
Body may grow ever more and more in holiness and integrity of life.
When the Sacraments of the Church are administered by external rite, it
is He who produces their effect in souls. He nourishes the redeemed
with His own flesh and blood and thus calms the turbulent passions of
the soul; He gives increase of grace and prepares future glory for
souls and bodies. All these treasures of His divine goodness He is said
to bestow on the members of His Mystical Body, not merely because He,
as the Eucharistic Victim on earth and the glorified Victim in heaven,
through His wounds and His prayers pleads our cause before the Eternal
Father, but because He selects, He determines, He distributes every
single grace to every single person "according to the measure of the
giving of Christ." Hence it follows that from our Divine Redeemer
as from a fountainhead "the whole body, being compacted and fitly
joined together, by what every joint supplieth according to the
operation in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body,
into the edifying of itself in charity." 
52. These truths which We have expounded, Venerable Brethren, briefly
and succinctly tracing the manner in which Christ our Lord wills that
His abundant graces should flow from His fulness into the Church, in
order that she should resemble Him as closely as possible, help not a
little to explain the third reason why the social Body of the Church
should be honored by the name of Christ - namely, that our Savior
Himself sustains in a divine manner the society which He founded.
53. As Bellarmine notes with acumen and accuracy, this appellation
of the Body of Christ is not to be explained solely by the fact that
Christ must be called the Head of His Mystical Body, but also by the
fact that He so sustains the Church, and so in a certain sense lives in
the Church, that she is, as it were, another Christ. The Doctor of the
Gentiles, in his letter to the Corinthians, affirms this when, without
further qualification, he calls the Church "Christ,"  following no
doubt the example of his Master who called out to him from on high when
he was attacking the Church: "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"
 Indeed, if we are to believe Gregory of Nyssa, the Church is often
called simply "Christ" by the Apostle; and you are familiar
Venerable Brethren, with that phrase of Augustine: "Christ preaches
54. Nevertheless this most noble title of the Church must not be so
understood as if that ineffable bond by which the Son of God assumed a
definite human nature belongs to the universal Church; but it consists
in this, that our Savior shares prerogatives peculiarly His own with
the Church in such a way that she may portray, in her whole life, both
exterior and interior, a most faithful image of Christ. For in virtue
of the juridical mission by which our Divine Redeemer sent His Apostles
into the world, as He had been sent by the Father,  it is He who
through the Church baptizes, teaches, rules, looses, binds, offers,
55. But in virtue of that higher, interior, and wholly sublime
communication, with which We dealt when We described the manner in
which the Head influences the members, Christ our Lord wills the Church
to live His own supernatural life, and by His divine power permeates
His whole Body and nourishes and sustains each of the members according
to the place which they occupy in the body, in the same way as the vine
nourishes and makes fruitful the branches which are joined to it. 
56. If we examine closely this divine principle of life and power given
by Christ, insofar as it constitutes the very source of every gift and
created grace, we easily perceive that it is nothing else than the Holy
spirit, the Paraclete, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, and
who is called in a special way, the "Spirit of Christ" or the "Spirit
of the Son." For it was by this Breath of grace and truth that the
Son of God anointed His soul in the immaculate womb of the Blessed
Virgin; this Spirit delights to dwell in the beloved soul of our
Redeemer as in His most cherished shrine; this Spirit Christ merited
for us on the Cross by shedding His Own Blood; this Spirit He bestowed
on the Church for the remission of sins, when He breathed on the
Apostles; and while Christ alone received this Spirit without
measure, to the members of the Mystical Body He is imparted only
according to the measure of the giving of Christ from Christ's own
fulness. But after Christ's glorification on the Cross, His Spirit
is communicated to the Church in an abundant outpouring, so that she,
and her individual members, may become daily more and more like to our
Savior. It is the Spirit of Christ that has made us adopted sons of God
 in order that one day "we all beholding the glory of the Lord
with open face may be transformed into the same image from glory to
57. To this Spirit of Christ, also, as to an invisible principle is to
be ascribed the fact that all the parts of the Body are joined one with
the other and with their exalted Head; for He is entire in the Head,
entire in the Body, and entire in each of the members. To the members
He is present and assists them in proportion to their various duties
and offices, and the greater or less degree of spiritual health which
they enjoy. It is He who, through His heavenly grace, is the principle
of every supernatural act in all parts of the Body. It is He who, while
He is personally present and divinely active in all the members,
nevertheless in the inferior members acts also through the ministry of
the higher members. Finally, while by His grace He provides for the
continual growth of the Church, He yet refuses to dwell through
sanctifying grace in those members that are wholly severed from the
Body. This presence and activity of the Spirit of Jesus Christ is
tersely and vigorously described by Our predecessor of immortal memory
Leo XIII in his Encyclical Letter Divinum Illud in these words: "Let it
suffice to say that, as Christ is the Head of the Church, so is the
Holy Spirit her soul."
58. If that vital principle, by which the whole community of Christians
is sustained by its Founder, be considered not now in itself, but in
the created effects which proceed form it, it consists in those
heavenly gifts which our Redeemer, together with His Spirit, bestows on
the Church, and which He and His Spirit, from whom come supernatural
light and holiness, make operative in the Church. The Church, then, no
less than each of her holy members can make this great saying of the
Apostle her own: "And I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me."
59. What We have said concerning the "mystical Head" would indeed
be incomplete if We were not at least briefly to touch on this saying
of the same Apostle: "Christ is the Head of the Church: He is the
savior of his Body." For in these words we have the final reason
why the Body of the Church is given the name of Christ, namely, that
Christ is the Divine Savior of this Body. The Samaritans were right in
proclaiming Him "Savior of the world;" for indeed He most
certainly is to be called the "Savior of all men," even though we must
add with Paul: "especially of the faithful," since, before all
others, He has purchased with His Blood His members who constitute the
Church. But as We have already treated this subject fully and
clearly when speaking of the birth of the Church on the Cross, of
Christ as the source of life and the principle of sanctity, and of
Christ as the support of His Mystical Body, there is no reason why We
should explain it further; but rather let us all, while giving
perpetual thanks to God, meditate on it with a humble and attentive
mind. For that which our Lord began when hanging on the Cross, he
continues unceasingly amid the joys of heaven: "Our Head," says St.
Augustine, "intercedes for us: some members He is receiving, others He
is chastising, others cleansing, others consoling, others creating,
others calling, others recalling, others correcting, others
renewing."But it is for us to cooperate with Christ in this work
of salvation, "from one and through one saved and saviors."
60. And now, Venerable Brethren, We come to that part of Our
explanation in which We desire to make clear why the Body of Christ,
which is the Church, should be called mystical. This name, which is
used by many early writers, has the sanction of numerous Pontifical
documents. There are several reasons why it should be used; for by it
we may distinguish the Body of the Church, which is a Society whose
Head and Ruler is Christ, from His physical Body, which, born of the
Virgin Mother of God, now sits at the right hand of the Father and is
hidden under the Eucharistic veils; and, that which is of greater
importance in view of modern errors, this name enables us to distin
guish it from any other body, whether in the physical or the moral
61. In a natural body the principle of unity unites the parts in such a
manner that each lacks in its own individual subsistence; on the
contrary, in the Mystical Body the mutual union, though intrinsic,
links the members by a bond which leaves to each the complete enjoyment
of his own personality. Moreover, if we examine the relations existing
between the several members and the whole body, in every physical,
living body, all the different members are ultimately destined to the
good of the whole alone; while if we look to its ultimate usefulness,
every moral association of men is in the end directed to the
advancement of all in general and of each single member in particular;
for they are persons. And thus - to return to Our theme - as the Son of
the Eternal Father came down from heaven for the salvation of us all,
He likewise established the body of the Church and enriched it with the
divine Spirit to ensure that immortal souls should attain eternal
happiness according tot he words of the Apostle: "All things are yours;
and you are Christ's; and Christ is God's." For the Church exists
both for the good of the faithful and for the glory of God and of Jesus
Christ whom He sent.
62. But if we compare a mystical body with a moral body, it is to be
noted that the difference between them is not slight; rather it is very
considerable and very important. In the moral body the principle of
union is nothing else than the common end, and the common cooperation
of all under the authority of society for the attainment of that end;
whereas in the Mystical Body of which We are speaking, this
collaboration is supplemented by another internal principle, which
exists effectively in the whole and in each of its parts, and whose
excellence is such that of itself it is vastly superior to whatever
bonds of union may be found in a physical or moral body. As We said
above, this is something not of the natural but of the supernatural
order; rather it is something in itself infinite, uncreated: the Spirit
of God, who, as the Angelic Doctor says, "numerically one and the same,
fills and unifies the whole Church."
63. Hence, this word in its correct signification gives us to
understand that the Church, a perfect society of its kind, is not made
up of merely moral and juridical elements and principles. It is far
superior to all other human societies; it surpasses them as grace
surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all those that
perish. Such human societies, and in the first place civil
Society, are by no means to be despised or belittled; but the Church in
its entirety is not found within this natural order, any more than the
whole man is encompassed within the organism of our mortal body.
Although the juridical principles, on which the Church rests and is
established, derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ
and contribute to the attaining of its supernatural end, nevertheless
that which lifts the Society of Christians far above the whole natural
order is the Spirit of our Redeemer who penetrates and fills every part
of the Church's being and is active within it until the end of time as
the source of every grace and every gift and every miraculous power.
Just as our composite mortal body, although it is a marvelous work of
the Creator, falls far short of the eminent dignity of our soul, so the
social structure of the Christian community, though it proclaims the
wisdom of its divine Architect, still remains something inferior when
compared to the spiritual gifts which give it beauty and life, and to
the divine source whence they flow.
64. From what We have thus far written, and explained, Venerable
Brethren, it is clear, We think, how grievously they err who
arbitrarily claim that the Church is something hidden and invisible, as
they also do who look upon her as a mere human institution possession a
certain disciplinary code and external ritual, but lacking power to
communicate supernatural life. On the contrary, as Christ, Head
and Exemplar of the Church "is not complete, if only His visible human
nature is considered..., or if only His divine, invisible nature...,
but He is one through the union of both and one in both ... so is it
with His Mystical Body" since the Word of God took unto Himself a
human nature liable to sufferings, so that He might consecrate in His
blood the visible Society founded by Him and "lead man back to things
invisible under a visible rule."
65. For this reason We deplore and condemn the pernicious error of
those who dream of an imaginary Church, a kind of society that finds
its origin and growth in charity, to which, somewhat contemptuously,
they oppose another, which they call juridical. But this distinction
which they introduce is false: for they fail to understand that the
reason which led our Divine Redeemer to give to the community of man He
founded the constitution of a Society, perfect of its kind and
containing all the juridical and social elements - namely, that He
might perpetuate on earth the saving work of Redemption, - was
also the reason why He willed it to be enriched with the heavenly gifts
of the Paraclete. The Eternal Father indeed willed it to be the
"kingdom of the Son of his predilection;" but it was to be a real
kingdom in which all believers should make Him the entire offering of
their intellect and will, and humbly and obediently model
themselves on Him, Who for our sake "was made obedient unto
death." There can, then, be no real opposition or conflict between
the invisible mission of the Holy spirit and the juridical commission
of Ruler and Teacher received from Christ, since they mutually
complement and perfect each other - as do the body and soul in man -
and proceed from our one Redeemer who not only said as He breathed on
the Apostles "Receive ye the Holy Spirit," but also clearly
commanded: "As the Father hath sent me, I also send you;" and
again: "He that heareth you, heareth me."
66. And if at times there appears in the Church something that
indicates the weakness of our human nature, it should not be attributed
to her juridical constitution, but rather to that regrettable
inclination to evil found in each individual, which its Divine Founder
permits even at times in the most exalted members of His Mystical Body,
for the purpose of testing the virtue of the Shepherds no less than of
the flocks, and that all may increase the merit of their Christian
faith. For, as We said above, Christ did not wish to exclude sinners
from His Church; hence if some of her members are suffering from
spiritual maladies, that is no reason why we should lessen our love for
the Church, but rather a reason why we should increase our devotion to
her members. Certainly the loving Mother is spotless in the Sacraments
by which she gives birth to and nourishes her children; in the faith
which she has always preserved inviolate; in her sacred laws imposed on
all; in the evangelical counsels which she recommends; in those
heavenly gifts and extraordinary grace through which with inexhaustible
fecundity, she generates hosts of martyrs, virgins and confessors.
But it cannot be laid to her charge if some members fall, weak or
wounded. In their name she prays to God daily: "Forgive us our
trespasses;" and with the brave heart of a mother she applies herself
at once to the work of nursing them back to spiritual health. When,
therefore, we call the Body of Jesus Christ "mystical," the very
meaning of the word conveys a solemn warning. It is a warning that
echoes in these words of St. Leo: "Recognize, O Christian, your
dignity, and being made a sharer of the divine nature go not back to
your former worthlessness along the way of unseemly conduct. Keep in
mind of what Head and of what Body you are a member."
67. Here, Venerable Brethren, We wish to speak in a very special way of
our union with Christ in the Body of the Church, a thing which is, as
Augustine justly remarks, sublime, mysterious and divine; ut for
that very reason it often happens that many misunderstand it and
explain it incorrectly. It is at once evident that this union is very
close. In the Sacred Scriptures it is compared to the chaste union of
man and wife, to the vital union of branch and vine, and to the
cohesion found in our body. Even more, it is represented as being
so close that the Apostle says: "He (Christ) is the Head of the Body of
the Church," and the unbroken tradition of the Fathers from the
earliest times teaches that the Divine Redeemer and the Society which
is His Body form but one mystical person, that is to say to quote
Augustine, the whole Christ. Our Savior Himself in His sacerdotal
prayer did not hesitate to liken this union to that wonderful unity by
which the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son.
68. Our union in and with Christ is first evident from the fact that,
since Christ wills His Christian community to be a Body which is a
perfect Society, its members must be united because they all work
together towards a single end. The nobler the end towards which they
strive, and the more divine the motive which actuates this
collaboration, the higher, no doubt, will be the union. Now the end in
question is supremely exalted; the continual sanctifying of the members
of the Body for the glory of God and of the Lamb that was slain.
The motive is altogether divine: not only the good pleasure of the
Eternal Father, and the most earnest wish of our Savior, but the
interior inspiration and impulse of the Holy Spirit in our minds and
hearts. For if not even the smallest act conducive to salvation can be
performed except in the Holy Spirit, how can countless multitudes of
every people and every race work together harmoniously for the supreme
glory of the Triune God, except in the power of Him, who proceeds from
the Father and the Son in one eternal act of love?
69. Now since its Founder willed this social body of Christ to be
visible, the cooperation of all its members must also be externally
manifest through their profession of the same faith and their sharing
the same sacred rites, through participation in the same Sacrifice, and
the practical observance of the same laws. Above all, it is absolutely
necessary that the Supreme Head, that is, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on
earth, be visible to the eyes of all, since it is He who gives
effective direction to the work which all do in common in a mutually
helpful way towards the attainment of the proposed end. As the Divine
Redeemer sent the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, who in His name 
should govern the Church in an invisible way, so, in the same manner,
He commissioned Peter and his successors to be His personal
representatives on earth and to assume the visible government of the
70. These juridical bonds in themselves far surpass those of any other
human society, however exalted; and yet another principle of union must
be added to them in those three virtues, Christian faith, hope and
charity, which link us so closely to each other and to God.
71. "One Lord, one faith," writes the Apostle: the faith, that is,
by which we hold fast to God, and to Jesus Christ whom He has
sent. The beloved disciple teaches us how closely this faith binds
us to God: "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God
abideth in him, and he in God." This Christian faith binds us no
less closely to each other and to our divine Head. For all we who
believe, "having the same spirit of faith," are illumined by the
same light of Christ, nourished by the same Food of Christ, and live
under the teaching authority of Christ. If the same spirit of faith
breathes in all, we are all living the same life "in the faith of the
Son of God who loved us and delivered himself for us." And once we
have received Christ, our Head, through an ardent faith so that He
dwells within our hearts, as He is the author so He will be the
finisher of our faith.
72. As by faith on this earth we hold fast to God as the Author of
truth, so by Christian hope we long for Him as the fount of
blessedness, "looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of
the great God." It is because of this universal longing for the
heavenly Kingdom that we do not desire a permanent home here below, but
seek for one above, and because of our yearning for the glory on
high that the Apostle of the Gentiles did not hesitate to say: "One
Body and one Spirit, as you are called in one hope of your calling;"
 nay rather that Christ in us is our hope of glory.
73. But if the bonds of faith and hope, which bind us to our Redeemer
in His Mystical Body are weighty and important, those of charity are
certainly no less so. If even in the natural order the love of
friendship is something supremely noble, what shall we say of that
supernatural love, which God infuses in our hearts? "God is charity and
he that abideth in charity abideth in God and God in him." The
effect of this charity - such would seem to be God's law - is to compel
Him to enter into our loving hearts to return love for love, as He
said: "If anyone love me..., my Father will love him and we will come
to him and will make our abode with him." Charity then, more than
any other virtue binds us closely to Christ. How many children of the
Church, on fire with this heavenly flame, have rejoiced to suffer
insults for Him, and to face and overcome the hardest trials, even at
the cost of their lives and the shedding of their blood. For this
reason our Divine Savior earnestly exhorts us in these words: "Abide in
my love." And as charity, if it does not issue effectively in good
works, is something altogether empty and unprofitable, He added
immediately: "If you keep my commandments you shall abide in my love;
as I have also kept my Father's commandments and do abide in His
74. But, corresponding to this love of God and of Christ, there must be
love of the neighbor. How can we claim to love the Divine Redeemer, if
we hate those whom He has redeemed with His precious blood, so that He
might make them members of His Mystical Body? For that reason the
beloved disciple warns us: "If any man say: 'I love God' and hates his
brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he
seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment we
have from God, that he who loveth God loveth his brother also."
Rather it should be said that the more we become "members one of
another" "mutually careful, one for another,"the closer we
shall be united with God and with Christ; as, on the other hand, the
more ardent the love that binds us to God and to our divine Head, the
closer we shall be united to each other in the bonds of charity.
75. Now the only-begotten Son of God embraced us in His infinite
knowledge and undying love even before the world began. And that He
might give a visible and exceedingly beautiful expression to this love,
He assumed our nature in hypostatic union: hence - as Maximus of Turin
with a certain unaffected simplicity remarks - "in Christ our own flesh
loves us." But the knowledge and love of our Divine Redeemer, of
which we were the object from the first moment of His Incarnation,
exceed all that the human intellect can hope to grasp. For hardly was
He conceived in the womb of the Mother of God, when He began to enjoy
the Beatific Vision, and in that vision all the members of His Mystical
Body were continually and unceasingly present to Him, and He embraced
them with His redeeming love. O marvelous condescension of divine love
for us! O inestimable dispensation of boundless charity! In the crib,
on the Cross, in the unending glory of the Father, Christ has all the
members of the Church present before Him and united to Him in a much
clearer and more loving manner than that of a mother who clasps her
child to her breast, or than that with which a man knows and loves
76. From all that We have hitherto said, you will readily understand,
Venerable Brethren, why Paul the Apostle so often writes that Christ is
in us and we in Christ. In proof of which, there is this other more
subtle reason. Christ is in us through His Spirit, whom He gives to us
and through whom He acts within us in such a way that all the divine
activity of the Holy Spirit within our souls must also be attributed to
Christ. "If a man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of
his," says the Apostle, "but if Christ be in you..., the spirit liveth
because of justification."
77. This communication of the Spirit of Christ is the channel through
which all the gifts, powers, and extra-ordinary graces found
superabundantly in the Head as in their source flow into all the
members of the Church, and are perfected daily in them according to the
place they hold in the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Thus the Church
becomes, as it were, the filling out and the complement of the
Redeemer, while Christ in a sense attains through the Church a fulness
in all things. Herein we find the reason why, according to the
opinion of Augustine already referred to, the mystical Head, which is
Christ, and the Church, which here below as another Christ shows forth
His person, constitute one new man, in whom heaven and earth are joined
together in perpetuating the saving work of the Cross: Christ We mean,
the Head and the Body, the whole Christ.
78. For indeed We are not ignorant of the fact that his profound truth
- of our union with the Divine Redeemer and in particular of the
indwelling of the Holy spirit in our souls - is shrouded in darkness by
many a veil that impedes our power to understand and explain it, both
because of the hidden nature of the doctrine itself, and of the
limitations of our human intellect. But We know, too, that from
well-directed and earnest study of this doctrine, and from the clash of
diverse opinions and the discussion thereof, provided that these are
regulated by the love of truth and by due submission to the Church,
much light will be gained, which, in its turn will help to progress in
kindred sacred sciences. Hence, We do not censure those who in various
ways, and with diverse reasonings make every effort to understand and
to clarify the mystery of this our wonderful union with Christ. But let
all agree uncompromisingly on this, if they would not err from truth
and from the orthodox teaching of the Church: to reject every kind of
mystic union by which the faithful of Christ should in any way pass
beyond the sphere of creatures and wrongly enter the divine, were it
only to the extent of appropriating to themselves as their own but one
single attribute of the eternal Godhead. And, moreover, let all hold
this as certain truth, that all these activities are common to the most
Blessed Trinity, insofar as they have God as supreme efficient cause.
79. It must also be borne in mind that there is question here of a
hidden mystery, which during this earthly exile can only be dimly seen
through a veil, and which no human words can express. The Divine
Persons are said to indwell inasmuch as they are present to beings
endowed with intelligence in a way that lies beyond human
comprehension, and in a unique and very intimate manner which
transcends all created nature, these creatures enter into relationship
with Them through knowledge and love. If we would attain, in some
measure, to a clearer perception of this truth, let us not neglect the
method strongly recommended by the Vatican Council  in similar
cases, by which these mysteries are compared one with another and with
the end to which they are directed, so that in the light which this
comparison throws upon them we are able to discern, at least partially,
the hidden things of God.
80. Therefore, Our most learned predecessor Leo XIII of happy memory,
speaking of our union with Christ and with the Divine Paraclete who
dwells within us, and fixing his gaze on that blessed vision through
which this mystical union will attain its confirmation and perfection
in heaven says: "This wonderful union, or indwelling properly
so-called, differs from that by which God embraces and gives joy to the
elect only by reason of our earthly state." In that celestial
vision it will be granted to the eyes of the human mind strengthened by
the light of glory, to contemplate the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit in an utterly ineffable manner, to assist throughout eternity at
the processions of the Divine Persons, and to rejoice with a happiness
like to that with which the holy and undivided Trinity is happy.
81. It seems to Us that something would be lacking to what We have thus
far proposed concerning the close union of the Mystical Body of Jesus
Christ with its Head, were We not to add here a few words on the Holy
Eucharist, by which this union during this mortal life reaches, as it
were, a culmination.
82. By means of the Eucharistic Sacrifice Christ our Lord willed to
give the faithful a striking manifestation of our union among ourselves
and with our divine Head, wonderful as it is and beyond all praise. For
in this Sacrifice the sacred minister acts as the viceregent not only
of our Savior but of the whole Mystical Body and of each one of the
faithful. In this act of Sacrifice through the hands of the priest, by
whose word alone the Immaculate Lamb is present on the altar, the
faithful themselves, united with him in prayer and desire, offer to the
Eternal Father a most acceptable victim of praise and propitiation for
the needs of the whole Church. And as the Divine Redeemer, when dying
on the Cross, offered Himself to the Eternal Father as Head of the
whole human race, so "in this clean oblation" He offers to the
heavenly Father not only Himself as Head of the Church, but in Himself
His mystical members also, since He holds them all, even those who are
weak and ailing, in His most loving Heart.
83. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is itself a striking and wonderful
figure of the unity of the Church, if we consider how in the bread to
be consecrated many grains go to form one whole, and that in it
the very Author of supernatural grace is given to us, so that through
Him we may receive the spirit of charity in which we are bidden to live
now no longer our own life but the life of Christ, and to love the
Redeemer Himself in all the members of His social Body.
84. As then in the sad and anxious times through which we are passing
there are many who cling so firmly to Christ the Lord hidden beneath
the Eucharistic veils that neither tribulation, nor distress, nor
famine, nor nakedness, nor danger, nor persecution, nor the sword can
separate them from His love, surely no doubt can remain that Holy
Communion which once again in God's providence is much more frequented
even from early childhood, may become a source of that fortitude which
not infrequently makes Christians into heroes.
85. If the faithful, Venerable Brethren, in a spirit of sincere piety
understand these things accurately and hold to them steadfastly, they
will the more easily avoid those errors which arise from an
irresponsible investigation of this difficult matter, such as some have
made not without seriously endangering Catholic faith and disturbing
the peace of souls.
86. For there are some who neglect the fact that the Apostle Paul has
used metaphorical language in speaking of this doctrine, and failing to
distinguish as they should the precise and proper meaning of the terms
the physical body, the social body, and the Mystical Body, arrive at a
distorted idea of unity. They make the Divine Redeemer and the members
of the Church coalesce in one physical person, and while they bestow
divine attributes on man, they make Christ our Lord subject to error
and to human inclination to evil. But Catholic faith and the writings
of the holy Fathers reject such false teaching as impious and
sacrilegious; and to the mind of the Apostle of the Gentiles it is
equally abhorrent, for although he brings Christ and His Mystical Body
into a wonderfully intimate union, he nevertheless distinguishes one
from the other as Bridegroom from Bride.
87. No less far from the truth is the dangerous error of those who
endeavor to deduce from the mysterious union of us all with Christ a
certain unhealthy quietism. They would attribute the whole spiritual
life of Christians and their progress in virtue exclusively to the
action of the Divine Spirit, setting aside and neglecting the
collaboration which is due from us. No one, of course, can deny that
the Holy spirit of Jesus Christ is the one source of whatever
supernatural powers enters into the Church and its members. For "The
Lord will give grace and glory" as the Psalmist says. But that men
should persevere constantly in their good works, that they should
advance eagerly in grace and virtue, that they should strive earnestly
to reach the heights of Christian perfection and at the same time to
the best of their power should stimulate others to attain the same
goal, - all this the heavenly Spirit does not will to effect unless
they contribute their daily share of zealous activity. "For divine
favors are conferred not on those who sleep, but on those who watch,"
as St. Ambrose says. For if in our mortal body the members are
strengthened and grow through continued exercise, much more truly can
this be said of the social Body of Jesus Christ in which each
individual member retains his own personal freedom, responsibility, and
principles of conduct. For that reason he who said: "I live, now not I,
but Christ liveth in me" did not at the same time hesitate to
assert: "His (God's) grace in me has not been void, but I have labored
more abundantly than all they: yet not I, but the grace of God with
me." It is perfectly clear, therefore, that in these false
doctrines the mystery which we are considering is not directed to the
spiritual advancement of the faithful but is turned to their deplorable
88. The same result follows from the opinions of those who assert that
little importance should be given to the frequent confession of venial
sins. Far more important, they say, is that general confession which
the Spouse of Christ, surrounded by her children in the Lord, makes
each day by the mouth of the priest as he approaches the altar of God.
As you well know, Venerable Brethren, it is true that venial sins may
be expiated in many ways which are to be highly commended. But to
ensure more rapid progress day by day in the path of virtue, We will
that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced
into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy spirit, should be
earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased,
Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect
and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will
strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is
increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself. Let those, therefore,
among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for
frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the
Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior.
89. There are others who deny any impetratory power to our prayers, or
who endeavor to insinuate into men's minds the idea that prayers
offered to God in private should be considered of little worth, whereas
public prayers which are made in the Name of the Church are those which
really matter, since they proceed from the Mystical Body of Christ.
This opinion is false; for the divine Redeemer is most closely united
not only with His Church, which is His Beloved Spouse, but also with
each and every one of the faithful, and He ardently desires to speak
with them heart to heart, especially after Holy Communion. It is true
that public prayer, inasmuch as it is offered by Mother Church, excels
any other kind of prayer by reason of her dignity as Spouse of Christ;
but no prayer, even the most private, is lacking in dignity or power,
and all prayer is of the greatest help to the Mystical Body in which,
through the Communion of Saints, no good can be done, no virtue
practiced by the individual members, which does not redound also to the
salvation of all. Neither is a man forbidden to ask for himself
particular favors even for this life merely because he is a member of
this Body, provided he is always resigned to the divine will; for the
members retain their own personality and remain subject to their own
individual needs. Moreover, how highly all should esteem mental
prayer is proved not only be ecclesiastical documents, but also by the
custom and practice of the saints.
90. Finally, there are those who assert that our prayers should be
directed not to the person of Jesus Christ, but rather to God, or to
the Eternal Father through Christ, since our Savior as Head of His
Mystical Body is only "Mediator of God and men." But this
certainly is opposed not only to the mind of the Church and to
Christian usage, but to truth. For to speak exactly, Christ is Head of
the universal Church as He exists at once in both of His natures
moreover He Himself has solemnly declared: "If you shall ask me
anything in my name, that I will do." For although prayers are
very often directed to the Eternal Father through the only-begotten
Son, especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice - in which Christ, at once
Priest and Victim, exercises in a special manner the office of Mediator
- nevertheless not infrequently even in this Sacrifice, prayers are
addressed to the Divine Redeemer also; for all Christians must clearly
know and understand that the man Jesus Christ is also the Son of God
and God Himself. And thus, when the Church Militant offers her
adoration and prayers to the Immaculate Lamb, the Sacred Victim, her
voice seems to re-echo the never-ending chorus of the Church
Triumphant: "To him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb
benediction and honor and glory and power forever and ever."
91. Venerable Brethren, in Our exposition of this mystery which
embraces the hidden union of us all with Christ, We have thus far, as
Teacher of the Universal Church, illumined the mind with the light of
truth, and Our pastoral office now requires that We provide an
incentive for the heart to love this Mystical Body with that ardor of
charity which is not confined to thoughts and words, but which issues
in deeds. If those who lived under the Old Law could sing of their
earthly city: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be
forgotten; let my tongue cleave to my jaws if I do not remember thee,
if I make not Jerusalem the beginning of my joy," how much greater
then should be the joy and exultation that should fill our hearts who
dwell in a City built on the holy mountain of living and chosen stones,
"Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone." For nothing
more glorious, nothing nobler, nothing surely more honorable can be
imagined than to belong to the One, Holy Catholic, Apostolic and Roman
Church, in which we become members of One Body as venerable as it is
unique; are guided by one supreme Head; are filled with one divine
Spirit; are nourished during our earthly exile by one doctrine and one
heavenly Bread, until at last we enter into the one, unending
blessedness of heaven.
92. But lest we be deceived by the angel of darkness who transforms
himself into an angel of light, let this be the supreme law of our
love: to love the Spouse of Christ as Christ willed her to be, and as
He purchased her with His blood. Hence, not only should we cherish
exceedingly the Sacraments with which holy Mother Church sustains our
life, the solemn ceremonies which she celebrates for our solace and our
joy, the sacred chant and the liturgical rites by which she lifts our
minds up to heaven, but also the sacramentals and all those exercises
of piety by which she consoles the hearts of the faithful and sweetly
imbues them with the Spirit of Christ. As her children, it is our duty,
not only to make a return to her for her maternal goodness to us, but
also to respect the authority which she has received from Christ in
virtue of which she brings into captivity our understanding unto the
obedience of Christ. Thus we are commanded to obey her laws and
her moral precepts, even if at times they are difficult to our fallen
nature; to bring our rebellious body into subjection through voluntary
mortification; and at times we are warned to abstain even from harmless
pleasures. Nor does it suffice to love this Mystical Body for the glory
of its divine Head and for its heavenly gifts; we must love it with an
effective love as it appears in this our mortal flesh - made up, that
is, of weak human elements, even though at times they are little fitted
to the place which they occupy in this venerable body.
93. In order that such a solid and undivided love may abide and
increase in our souls day by day, we must accustom ourselves to see
Christ Himself in the Church. For it is Christ who lives in His Church,
and through her, teaches, governs, and sanctifies; it is Christ also
who manifests Himself differently in different members of His society.
If the faithful strive to live in a spirit of lively faith, they will
not only pay due honor and reverence to the more exalted members of
this Mystical Body, especially those who according to Christ's mandate
will have to render an account of our souls, but they will take to
their hearts those members who are the object of our Savior's special
love: the weak, We mean, the wounded, and the sick who are in need of
material or spiritual assistance; children whose innocence is so easily
exposed to danger in these days, and whose young hearts can be molded
as wax; and finally the poor, in helping whom we recognize as it were,
through His supreme mercy, the very person of Jesus Christ.
94. For as the Apostle with good reason admonishes us: "Those that seem
the more feeble members of the Body are more necessary; and those that
we think the less honorable members of the Body, we surround with more
abundant honour." Conscious of the obligations of Our high office
We deem it necessary to reiterate this grave statement today, when to
Our profound grief We see at times the deformed, the insane, and those
suffering from hereditary disease deprived of their lives, as though
they were a useless burden to Society; and this procedure is hailed by
some as a manifestation of human progress, and as something that is
entirely in accordance with the common good. Yet who that is possessed
of sound judgment does not recognize that this not only violates the
natural and the divine law  written in the heart of every man, but
that it outrages the noblest instincts of humanity? The blood of these
unfortunate victims who are all the dearer to our Redeemer because they
are deserving of greater pity, "cries to God from the earth."
95. In order to guard against the gradual weakening of that sincere
love which requires us to see our Savior in the Church and in its
members, it is most fitting that we should look to Jesus Himself as a
perfect model of love for the Church.
96. And first of all let us imitate the breadth of His love. For the
Church, the Bride of Christ, is one; and yet so vast is the love of the
divine Spouse that it embraces in His Bride the whole human race
without exception. Our Savior shed His Blood precisely in order that He
might reconcile men to God through the Cross, and might constrain them
to unite in one body, however widely they may differ in nationality and
race. True love of the Church, therefore, requires not only that we
should be mutually solicitous one for another  as members and
sharing in their suffering  but likewise that we should recognize
in other men, although they are not yet joined to us in the body of the
Church, our brothers in Christ according to the flesh, called, together
with us, to the same eternal salvation. It is true, unfortunately,
especially today, that there are are some who extol enmity, hatred and
spite as if they enhanced the dignity and the worth of man. Let us,
however, while we look with sorrow on the disastrous consequences of
this teaching, follow our peaceful King who taught us to love not only
those who are of a different nation or race, but even our
enemies. While Our heart overflows with the sweetness of the
teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles, We extol with him the length,
and the breadth, and the height, and the depth of the charity of
Christ, which neither diversity of race or customs can diminish,
nor trackless wastes of the ocean weaken, nor wars, whether just or
97. In this gravest of hours, Venerable Brethren, when bodies are
racked with pain and souls are oppressed with grief, every individual
must be aroused to this supernatural charity so that, by the combined
efforts of all good men, striving to outdo each other in pity and mercy
- We have in mind especially, those who are engaged in any kind of
relief work - the immense needs of mankind, both spiritual and
corporal, may be alleviated, and the devoted generosity, the
inexhaustible fruitfulness of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, may
shine resplendently throughout the whole world.
98. As the vastness of the charity with which Christ loved His Church
is equalled by its constant activity, we all, with the same assiduous
and zealous charity must love the Mystical Body of Christ. Now from the
moment of His Incarnation, when he laid the first foundations of the
Church, even to His last mortal breath, our Redeemer never ceased for
an instant, though He was the Son of God, to labor unto weariness in
order to establish and strengthen His Church, whether by giving us the
shining example of His holiness, or by preaching, or conversing, or
gathering and instructing disciples. And so We desire that all who
claim the Church as their mother, should seriously consider that not
only the clergy and those who have consecrated themselves to God in the
religious life, but the other members of the Mystical Body of Jesus
Christ as well have, each in his degree, the obligation of working hard
and constantly for the building up and increase of this Body. We wish
this to be borne in mind especially by members of Catholic Action who
assist the Bishops and the priests in their apostolic labours - and to
their praise be it said, they do realize it - and also by those members
of pious associations which work for the same end. There is no one who
does not realize their energetic zeal is of the highest importance and
of the greatest weight especially in the present circumstances.
99. In this connection We cannot pass over in silence the fathers and
mothers of families to whom our Savior has entrusted the youngest
members of His Mystical Body. We plead with them most earnestly, for
the love of Christ and the Church, to take the greatest possible care
of the children confided to them, and to protect them from the snares
of every kind into which they can be lured so easily today.
100. Our Redeemer showed His burning love for the Church especially by
praying for her to His heavenly Father. To recall but a few examples:
everyone knows, Venerable Brethren, that just before the Crucifixion He
prayed repeatedly for Peter, for the other Apostles, for all
who, through the preaching of the holy Gospel would believe in Him.
101. After the example of Christ we too should pray daily to the Lord
of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest. Our united
prayer should rise daily to heaven for all the members of the Mystical
Body of Jesus Christ; first for Bishops who are responsible in a
special way for their respective dioceses; then for priests and
religious, both men and women, who have been called to the service of
God, and who, at home and in the foreign missions, are protecting,
increasing, and advancing the Kingdom of the Divine Redeemer. No member
of this venerated Body must be forgotten in this common prayer; and let
there be a special remembrance of those who are weighed down with the
sorrows and afflictions of this earthly exile, as also for the
suffering souls in Purgatory. Neither must those be neglected who are
being instructed in Christian doctrine, so that they may be able to
receive baptism without delay.
102. Likewise, We must earnestly desire that this united prayer may
embrace in the same ardent charity both those who, not yet enlightened
by the truth of the Gospel, are still outside the fold of the Church,
and those who, on account of regrettable schism, are separated from Us,
who though unworthy, represent the person of Jesus Christ on earth. Let
us then re-echo that divine prayer of our Savior to the heavenly
Father: "That they all may be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in
thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that
thou hast sent me."
103. As you know, Venerable Brethren, from the very beginning of Our
Pontificate, We have committed to the protection and guidance of heaven
those who do not belong to the visible Body of the Catholic Church,
solemnly declaring that after the example of the Good Shepherd We
desire nothing more ardently than that they may have life and have it
more abundantly. Imploring the prayers of the whole Church We wish
to repeat this solemn declaration in this Encyclical Letter in which We
have proclaimed the praises of the "great and glorious Body of
Christ" and from a heart overflowing with love We ask each and
every one of them to correspond to the interior movements of grace, and
to seek to withdraw from that state in which they cannot be sure of
their salvation. For even though by an unconscious desire and
longing they have a certain relationship with the Mystical Body of the
Redeemer, they still remain deprived of those many heavenly gifts and
helps which can only be enjoyed in the Catholic Church. Therefore may
they enter into Catholic unity and, joined with Us in the one, organic
Body of Jesus Christ, may they together with us run on to the one Head
in the Society of glorious love. Persevering in prayer to the
Spirit of love and truth, We wait for them with open and outstretched
arms to come not to a stranger's house, but to their own, their
104. Though We desire this unceasing prayer to rise to God from the
whole Mystical Body in common, that all the straying sheep may hasten
to enter the one fold of Jesus Christ, yet We recognize that this must
be done of their own free will; for no one believes unless he wills to
believe. Hence they are most certainly not genuine Christians
who against their belief are forced to go into a church, to approach
the altar and to receive the Sacraments; for the "faith without which
it is impossible to please God" is an entirely free "submission of
intellect and will." Therefore, whenever it happens, despite the
constant teaching of this Apostolic See, that anyone is compelled
to embrace the Catholic faith against his will, Our sense of duty
demands that We condemn the act. For men must be effectively drawn to
the truth by the Father of light through the spirit of His beloved Son,
because, endowed as they are with free will, they can misuse their
freedom under the impulse of mental agitation and base desires.
Unfortunately many are still wandering far from the Catholic truth,
being unwilling to follow the inspirations of divine grace, because
neither they  nor the faithful pray to God with sufficient fervor
for this intention. Again and again We beg all we ardently love the
Church to follow the example of the Divine Redeemer and to give
themselves constantly to such prayer.
105. And likewise, above all in the present crisis, it seems to Us not
only opportune but necessary that earnest supplications should be
offered for kings, princes, and for all those who govern nations and
are thus in a position to assist the Church by their protecting power,
so that, the conflict ended, "peace, the work of justice" under
the impulse of divine charity may emerge from out this raging tempest
and be restored to wearied man, and that holy Mother Church "may lead a
quiet and peaceable life in all piety and chastity."We must plead
with God to grant that the rulers of nations may love wisdom, so
that the severe judgment of the Holy spirit may never fall on them:
"Because being ministers of His Kingdom you have not judged rightly,
not kept the law of Justice, nor walked according to the will of God;
horribly and speedily will he appear to you; for a most severe judgment
shall be for them that bear rule. For to him that is little, mercy
shall be granted; but the mighty shall be mightily tormented. For God
will not except any man's person, neither will he stand in awe of any
man's greatness; for he made the little and the great, and he hath
equally care of all. But a greater punishment is ready for the more
mighty. To you, therefore, O Kings, these are my words, that you may
learn wisdom and not fall from it."
106. Moreover, Christ proved His love for His spotless Bride not only
at the cost of immense labor and constant prayer, but by His sorrows
and His sufferings which He willingly and lovingly endured for her
sake. "Having loved His own...He loved them unto the end." Indeed
it was only at the price of His Blood that He purchased the
Church. Let us then follow gladly in the bloodstained footsteps of
our King, for this is necessary to ensure our salvation: "For if we
have been planted together in the likeness of His Resurrection."
and "if we be dead with him, we shall live also with Him." Also
our zealous love for the Church demands it, and our brotherly love for
the souls she brings forth to Christ. For although our Savior's cruel
passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of
graces, God's inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces
should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser
abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which
draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed
by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not
only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if
possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve
the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian
charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity
rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this
mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden,
and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if
we humbly accept as from God's hands the burdens and sorrows of this
present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, "we shall fill up those
things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for
His Body, which is the Church."
107. As We write these words there passes before Our eyes, alas, an
almost endless throng of unfortunate beings for whom We shed tears of
sorrow; sick, poor, disabled, widows, orphans, and many not
infrequently languishing even unto death on account of their own
painful trials or those of their families. With the heart of a father
We exhort all those who from whatever cause are plunged in grief and
anguish to lift their eyes trustfully to heaven and to offer their
sorrows to Him who will one day reward them abundantly. Let them all
remember that their sufferings are not in vain, but that they will turn
to their own immense gain and that of the Church, if to this end they
bear them with patience. The daily use of the offering made by the
members of the Apostleship of Prayer will contribute very much to make
this intention more efficacious and We welcome this opportunity of
recommending this Association highly, as one which is most pleasing to
108. There never was a time, Venerable Brethren, when the salvation of
souls did not impose on all the duty of associating their sufferings
with the torments of our Divine Redeemer. But today that duty is more
clear than ever, when a gigantic conflict has set almost the whole
world on fire and leaves in its wake so much death, so much misery, so
much hardship; in the same way today, in a special manner, it is the
duty of all to fly from vice, the attraction of the world, the
unrestrained pleasures of the body, and also from worldly frivolity and
vanity which contribute nothing to the Christian training of the soul
nor to the gaining of Heaven. Rather let those weighty words of Our
immortal predecessor Leo the Great be deeply engraven upon our minds,
that by Baptism we are made flesh of the Crucified: and that
beautiful prayer of St. Ambrose: "Carry me, Christ, on the Cross, which
is salvation to the wanderers, sole rest for the wearied, wherein alone
is life for those who die."
109. Before concluding, We cannot refrain from again and again
exhorting all to love holy Mother Church with a devoted and active
love. If we have really at heart the salvation of the whole human
family, purchased by the precious Blood, we must offer every day to the
Eternal Father our prayers, works and sufferings, for her safety and
for her continued and ever more fruitful increase. And while the skies
are heavy with storm clouds, and exceeding great dangers threaten the
whole of human Society and the Church herself, let us commit ourselves
and all that we have to the Father of Mercies, crying out: "Look down,
we beseech Thee, Lord, on this Thy family, for which our Lord Jesus
Christ did not hesitate to be betrayed into the hands of evil men and
to undergo the torment of the Cross."
110. Venerable Brethren, may the Virgin Mother of God hear the prayers
of Our paternal heart - which are yours also - and obtain for all a
true love of the Church - she whose sinless soul was filled with the
divine spirit of Jesus Christ above all other created souls, who "in
the name of the whole human race" gave her consent "for a spiritual
marriage between the Son of God and human nature." Within her
virginal womb Christ our Lord already bore the exalted title of Head of
the Church; in a marvelous birth she brought Him forth as the source of
all supernatural life, and presented Him newly born, as Prophet, King
and Priest to those who, from among Jews and Gentiles, were the first
to come to adore Him. Furthermore, her only Son, condescending to His
mother's prayer in "Cana of Galilee," performed the miracle by which
"his disciples believed in Him." It was she, the second Eve, who,
free from all sin, original or personal, and always more intimately
united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father for
all the children of Adam, sin-stained by his unhappy fall, and her
mother's rights and her mother's love were included in the holocaust.
Thus she who, according to the flesh, was the mother of our Head,
through the added title of pain and glory became, according to the
Spirit, the mother of all His members. She it was through her powerful
prayers obtained that the spirit of our Divine Redeemer, already given
on the Cross, should be bestowed, accompanied by miraculous gifts, on
the newly founded Church at Pentecost; and finally, bearing with
courage and confidence the tremendous burden of her sorrows and
desolation, she, truly the Queen of Martyrs, more than all the faithful
"filled up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of
Christ...for His Body, which is the Church"; and she continues to
have for the Mystical Body of Christ, born of the pierced Heart of the
Savior, the same motherly care and ardent love with which she
cherished and fed the Infant Jesus in the crib.
111. May she, then, the most holy Mother of all the members of
Christ, to whose Immaculate Heart We have trustfully consecrated
all mankind, and who now reigns in heaven with her Son, her body and
soul refulgent with heavenly glory - may she never cease to beg from
Him that copious streams of grace may flow from its exalted Head into
all the members of the Mystical Body. May she throw about the Church
today, as in times gone by, the mantle of her protection and obtain
from God that now at least the Church and all mankind may enjoy more
112. Confiding in this sublime hope, from an overflowing heart We
impart to you, one and all, Venerable Brethren, and to the flocks
entrusted to your care, as a pledge of heavenly graces and a token of
Our special affection, the Apostolic Benediction.
Given at Rome, at St. Peter's on the twenty-ninth day of June, the
Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in the year 1943, the fifth
of Our Pontificate.
1. Cf. Col. I, 24.
2. Acts, XX, 28.
3. Cf. I Peter, IV, 13.
4. Cf. Eph., II, 21-22; I Peter, II, 5.
5. Sessio III; Const. de fide cath., c. 4.
6. Rom., V, 20.
7. Cf. II Peter, I, 4.
8. Eph., II, 3.
9. John, III, 16.
10. Cf. John, I, 12.
11. Cf. Vat. Council, Const. de Eccl., prol.
12. Cf. ibidem, Const. de fide cath., c. 1.
13. Col., I, 18.
14. Rom., XII, 5.
15. Cf. A.S.S., XXVIII, p. 710.
16. Rom., XII, 4.
17. I Cor., XII, 13.
18. Cf. Eph., IV, 5.
19. Cf. Matth., XVIII, 17.
20. Cf. Matth., IX, 11; Mark, II, 16; Luke, XV, 2.
21. August., Epist., CLVII, 3, 22: Migne, P.L., XXXIII, 686.
22. August., Serm., CXXXVII, 1: Migne, P.L., XXXVIII, 754.
23. Encycl. Divinum Illud: A.S.S., XXIX, p. 649.
24. John, XVII, 18.
25.Cf. Matth., XVI, 18-19.
26. John, XV, 15; XVII, 8 and 14.
27.Cf. John, III, 5.
28. Cf. Gen., III, 20.
29. Ambrose, In Luc, II, 87: Migne, P.L., XV, 1585.
30. Cf. Matth., XV, 24.
31. Cf. St. Thos., I-II, q. 103, a. 3, ad 2.
32. Cf. Eph., II, 15.
33. Cf. Col., II, 14.
34. Cf. Matth., XXVI, 28; I Cor., XI, 25.
35. Leo the Great, Serm., LXVIII, 3: Migne, P.L. LIV, 374.
36. Jerome and Augustine, Epist. CXII, 14 and CXVI, 16: Migne, P.L.,
XXII, 924 and 943; St. Thos., I-II, q. 103, a. 3, ad 2; a. 4; ad 1;
Council of Flor. pro Jacob.: Mansi, XXXI, 1738.
37. Cf. II Cor., III, 6.
38. Cf. St. Thos. III, q. 42, a. 1.
39. Cf. De pecc. orig., XXV, 29: Migne, P.L., XLIV, 400.
40. Cf. Eph., II, 14-16.
41. Cf. Acts, II, 1-4.
42. Cf. Luke, III, 22; Mark, I, 10.
43. Col., I, 18.
44. Cf. Eph., IV, 16; Col., II, 19.
45. Col., I, 15.
46. Col., I, 18; Apoc., I, 5.
47. I Tim., II, 5.
48. Cf. John, XII, 32.
49. Cf. Cyr. Alex., Comm. in Ioh. I, 4: Migne, P.G., LXXIII, 69; St.
Thos., I, q. 20, a. 4, ad 1.
50. Hexaem., VI, 55: Migne, P.L., XIV, 265.
51. Cf. August., De agon. Christi, XX, 22: Migne, P.L., XL, 301.
52. Cf. St. Thos., I, q. 22, a. 1-4.
53. Cf. John, X, 1-18; I Peter, V, 1-5.
54. Cf. John VI, 63.
55. Proverbs, XXI, 1.
56. Cf. I Peter, II, 25.
57. Cf. Acts, VIII, 26; IX, 1-19; X, 1-7; XII, 3- 10.
58. Philipp., IV, 7.
59. Cf. Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum: A.S.S., XXVIII, 725.
60. Luke, XII, 32.
61. Cf. Corp. Iur. Can., Extr. Comm., I, 8, 1.
62. Gregory the Great, Moral., XIV, 35, 43: Migne, P.L., LXXV, 1062.
63. Cf. Vat. Council, Const. de Eccl., Cap. 3.
64. Cf. Cod. Iur. Can., can. 329, 1.
65. I Paral., XVI, 22; Ps., CIV, 15.
66. Cf. I Peter, V, 3.
67. Cf. I Tim., VI, 20.
68. Cf. Ep. ad Eulog., 30: Migne, P.L., LXXVII, 933.
69. I Cor., XII, 21.
70. John, XV, 5.
71. Cf. Eph., IV, 16; Col., II, 19.
72. Comm. in ep.ad Eph ., Cap. 1, lect. 8; Hebr., II, 16-17.
73. Phillipp., II, 7.
74. Cf. II Peter, I, 4.
75. Cf. Rom., VIII, 29.
76. Cf. Col., III, 10.
77. Cf. I John, III, 2.
78. Col., I, 19.
79. Cf. John, XVII, 2.
80. Cf. Col., II, 3.
81. Cf. John, I, 14-16.
82. Cf. John, I, 18.
83. Cf. John, III, 2.
84. Cf. John, XVIII, 37.
85. Cf. John, VI, 68.
86. Cf. August., De cons. evang., I, 35, 54; Migne, P.L., XXXIV, 1070.
87. Cf. Hebr., XII, 2.
88. Cf. Cyr. Alex., Ep, 55 de Symb.; Migne, P.G., LXXVII, 293.
89. Cf. John, XV, 5.
90. Cf. St. Thos., III, q. 64, a.3.
91. Eph., IV, 7.
92. Eph., IV, 16; cf. Col., II, 19.
93. Cf. De Rom. Pont., I, 9; De Concil., II, 19.
94. Cf. I Cor., XII, 12.
95. Cf. Acts, IX, 4; XXII, 7; XXVI, 14.
96. Cf. Greg. Nyss., De vita Moysis: Migne, P.G., XLIV, 385.
97. Cf. Serm.,CCCLIV, 1: Migne, P.L., XXXIX, 1563.
98. Cf. John, XXVII, 18, and XX, 21.
99. Cf. Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae: A.S.S., XXII, 392; Satis
Cognitum: ibidem, XXVIII, 710.
100. Rom, VIII, 9; II Cor. III, 17; Gal. IV, 6.
101. Cf. John, XX, 22.
102. Cf. John, III, 34.
103. Cf. Eph., I, 8; IV, 7.
104. Cf. Rom, VIII, 14-17; Gal., IV, 6-7.
105. Cf. II Cor., III, 18.
106. A.S.S., XXIX, p. 650.
107. Gal., II, 20.
108. Cf. Ambrose, De Elia et ieiun.,10, 36-37, et In Psalm. 118, serm.
20, 2; Migne, P.L., XIV, 710 et XV, 1483.
109. Eph., V, 23.
110. John, IV, 42.
111. Cf. I Tim., IV, 10.
112. Acts, XX, 28.
113. Enarr. in Ps., LXXXV, 5; Migne, P.L., XXXVII, 1085.
114. Clem. Alex., Strom., VII, 2; Migne, P.G. IX, 413.
115. I Cor., III, 23; Pius XI, Divini Redemptoris: A.A.S., 1937, p. 80.
116. De Veritate, q. 29, a. 4, c.
117. Cf. Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae: A.S.S., XXII, p. 392.
118. Cf. Leo XIII, Satis Cognitum: A.S.S., XXVIII, p. 724.
119. Cf. Ibidem, p. 710.
120. Cf. Ibidem, p. 710.
121. Cf. Ibidem, p. 710.
122. St. Thos., De Veritate, q. 29, a. 4, ad 9.
123. Vat. Council, Sess. IV, Const. dogm. de Eccl., prol.
124. Col., I, 13.
125. Vat. Council, Sess. III, Const. de fide Cath., Cap. 3.
126. Philipp., II, 8.
127. John, XX, 22.
128. John, XX, 21.
129. Luke, X, 16.
130. Cf. Vat. Council, Sess. III, Const. de fide Cath., Cap 3.
131. Serm., XXI, 3: Migne, P.L., LIV, 192-193.
132. Cf. August., Contra Faust., 21, 8: Migne, P.L., XLII, 392.
133. Cf. Eph., V, 22-23; John, XV, 1-5; Eph., IV, 16.
134. Col., I, 18.
135. Cf. Enar. in Ps., XVII, 51 and XC, II, 1: Migne, P.L., XXXVI, 154,
and XXXVII, 1159.
136. John, XVII, 21-23.
137. Apoc., V, 12-13.
138. Cf. John, XIV, 16 and 26.
139. Eph., IV, 5.
140. Cf. John, XVII, 3.
141. I John, IV, 15.
142. II Cor., IV, 13.
143. Cf. Gal., II, 20.
144. Cf. Eph., III, 17.
145. Cf. Hebr., XII, 2.
146. Tit., II, 13.
147. Cf. Hebr., XIII, 14.
148. Eph., IV, 4.
149. Cf. Col., I, 27.
150. I John, IV, 16.
151. John, XIV, 28.
152. John, XV, 9-10.
153. I John, IV, 20-21.
154. Rom., XII, 5.
155. I Cor., XII, 25.
156. Serm. XXIX: Migne, P.L., LVII, 594.
157. Cf. St. Thos., Comm. in Ep. and Eph., Cap. II, lect. 5.
158. Rom., VIII, 9-10.
159. Cf. St. Thos., Comm. in Ep. ad Eph., Cap I, lect. 8.
160. Cf. St. Thos., I, q. 43, a.3.
161. Sess. III. Const. de fide Cath., Cap. 4.
162. Cf. Divinum Illud: A.S.S., XXIX, p. 653.
163. Mal., I, 11.
164. Cf. Didache, IX, 4.
165. Cf. Rom., VIII, 35.
166. Cf. Eph., V, 22-23.
167. Ps., LXXXIII, 12.
168. Expos. Evang. sec. Luc., IV, 49; Migne. P.L. XV, 1626.
169. Gal., II, 20.
170. I Cor., XV, 10.
171. Cf. St. Thos., II-II, q. 83, a. 5 et 6.
172. I Tim., II, 5.
173. Cf. St. Thos., De Veritate, q. 29, a. 4, c.
174. John, XIV, 14.
175. Apoc., V, 13.
176. Ps., CXXXVI, 5-6.
177. Eph., II, 20; I Peter, II, 4-5.
178. Cf. II Cor., XI, 14.
179. Cf. II Cor., X, 5.
180. Cf. Hebr., XIII, 17.
181. I Cor., XII, 22-23.
182. Cf. Decree of the Holy Office, 2 Dec. 1940: A.A.S., 1940, p. 553.
183. Cf. Gen., IV, 10.
184. Cf. Rom., XII, 5; I Cor., XII, 25.
185. Cf. I Cor., XII, 26.
186. Cf. Luke, X, 33-37.
187. Cf. Luke, VI, 27-35; Matth.,V, 44-48.
188. Cf. Eph., III, 18.
189. Cf. Luke, XXII, 32.
190. Cf. John, XVII, 9-19.
191. Cf. John, XVII, 20-23.
192. Cf. Matth., IX, 38; Luke, X, 2.
193. John, XVII, 21.
194. Cf. Encyclical Letter, Summi Pontificatus: A.A.S., 1939, p. 419.
195. Iren., Adv. Haer., IV, 33, 7: Migne, P.G., VII, 1076.
196. Cf. Pius IX, Iam Vos Omnes, 13 Sept. 1868: Act. Conc. Vat.,
197. Cf. Gelas. I, Epist., XIV: Migne, P.L. LIX, 89.
198. Cf. August., In Ioann. Ev. tract., XXVI, 2: Migne, P.L. XXX, 1607.
199. Cf. August., Ibidem.
200. Hebr., XI, 6.
201. Vat. Counc. Const. de fide Cath., Cap. 3.
202. Cf. Leo XIII, Immortale Dei: A.S.S., XVIII, pp. 174-175; Cod. Iur.
Can., c. 1351.
203. Cf. August., Ibidem.
204. Is., XXXII,17.
205. Cf. I Tim., II, 2.
206. Cf. Wis., VI, 23.
207. Ibidem, VI, 4-10.
208. John, XIII, 1.
209. Cf. Acts, XX, 28.
210. Rom., VI, 5.
211. II Tim. II, 11.
212. Cf. Col., I, 24.
213. Cf. Serm., LXIII, 6; LXVI, 3: Migne, P.L., LIV, 357 and 366.
214. In Ps., 118, XXII, 30: Migne, P.L., XV, 1521.
215. Office for Holy Week.
216. St. Thos., III, q. 30, a.1, c.
217. John, II, 11.
218. Col., I, 24.
219. Cf. Vesper hymn of Office of the Sacred Heart.
220. Cf. Pius X, Ad Diem Illum: A.A.S., XXXVI, p. 453.