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1. a group of persons gathered for worship, prayer, etc., esp in a church or chapel
2. the group of persons habitually attending a given church, chapel, etc.
3. RC Church
a. a society of persons who follow a common rule of life but who are bound only by simple vows
b. an administrative subdivision of the papal curia
c. an administrative committee of bishops for arranging the business of a general council
4. Chiefly Brit an assembly of senior members of a university
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in Catholicism. (1) A religious organization linked directly with monastic orders, consisting of priests and laymen. Some monastic orders have a large number of congregations—for example, the Benedictine order in the 1960’s with 20 male and 16 female congregations. Each congregation has its own regulations, which are approved by the pope or bishops. The members of a congregation do not take solemn vows, as do the members of monastic orders, but rather simple vows, for a specific period of time or for life. The goals of a congregation are nominally purely religious or religious and philanthropic; in fact, however, the congregations are involved in the political plans of the Catholic Church. Congregations first appeared around 1600 and became widespread in the 19th century.

The most important congregations of the late 1960’s were the Congregation of the Holy Ghost (founded in 1703, with headquarters in Paris; 5,150 members), the Redemptorists (founded in 1732, with headquarters in Naples; more than 9,000 members), the Oblates of the Immaculate Virgin Mary (founded in 1816, with its center in Aix-en-Provence; 7,900 members), the Marists (founded in 1817, with its center in Bordeaux; about 3,500 members), and the Salesians (founded in 1859, with its center in Turin; 22,600 members).

(2) A union of several monasteries under a single leadership.

(3) An establishment forming part of the Roman papal curia.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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