Today in Catholic History – Universalis Ecclesiae

On 29 September 1850, Pope Pius IX re-established the Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Britain with the bull Universalis Ecclesiae.

Ever since the death of the last Roman Catholic bishop during the reign of Elizabeth I, the Catholic hierarchy had gone underground and been replaced by Apostolic Vicars. With Universalis Ecclesiae, thirteen dioceses were established under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Westminister.

The new bishops in England did not occupy the traditional dioceses which had been taken over by the Anglican church but rather new dioceses were created. So, there was no Archbishop of Canterbury but rather the Archbishop of Westminster. However, the Archbishop of Westminster was seen as the successor of the Archbishop of Canterbury. In Scotland, where the established church did not have an episcopate, the earlier dioceses were re-established.

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