One, holy, catholic and apostolic


Creeds express and make clear the most important Christian beliefs, including about the nature of God. The congregation often recites them during acts of worship, usually standing.

There are three main Christian creeds: the Nicene Creed; Apostles' Creed; Athanasian Creed.

The creed that is recited in Mass on a weekly basis will usually be the Nicene Creed. Within the creed, the nature of the Church is made clear in the final verse - I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic. These four characteristics, inseparably linked with each other, indicate essential features of the Church and her mission.CCC 811 (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

The words one, holy, catholic and apostolic are often called the four marks of the Church.

  • One: the Church is one. This means that it is a single, united and global Church which has its basis in Christ Jesus.
  • Holy: the Church is holy, because it is the Body of Christ with Jesus as the head. This does not mean that all members of the Church are sin free. It means that the Church and her sacraments help to make the faithful holy.
  • Catholic: the word catholic literally means ‘universal.’ The role of the Church is to spread the Word of God universally across the world.
  • Apostolic: the origins and beliefs of the Church started out with the apostles at Pentecost.