Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Dispersion of the Apostles

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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913), Volume 5
Dispersion of the Apostles

by Frederick George Holweck


(Lat. Divisio Apostolorum), a feast in commemoration of the missionary work of the Twelve Apostles. It is celebrated as a double major on 15 July. The first vestige of this feast is found in the sequence composed for it by a certain Godescalc (d. 1098) while a monk of Limburg on the Haardt; he also introduced this feast at Aachen, when provost of the church of Our Lady. The sequence is authentic beyond doubt. It is next mentioned by William Durandus, Bishop of Mende (Rationale Div. Off. 7.15) in the second half of the thirteenth century. Under the title, "Dimissio", "Dispersio", or Divisio Apostolorum" it was universally celebrated during the Middle Ages in Spain and Italy. The object of the feast (so Godescalcus) is to commemorate the departure (dispersion) of the Apostles from Jerusalem for the various parts of the world, some fourteen years after the Ascension of Christ. According to Durandus some of his contemporaries honoured this feast the (apocryphal) division of the relics (bodies) of St. Peter and St. Paul by St. Sylvester. The feast is now kept with solemnity by modern missionary societies, in Germany and Poland, also in some English and French dioceses and in the United States by the ecclesiastical provinces of St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Dubuque, and Santa Fé.

F.G. HOLWECK