Catholicism has influenced the lives of Americans in many ways. Catholic schools in America have educated millions of citizens,
Saint Peter's Basilica in Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City. The Catholic Church is centered on the Vatican, a self-governing citystate in Rome. There are 1.1 billion Catholics worldwide served by more than 4.2 million people engaged in pastoral activity.
and Catholic hospitals have cared for millions of patients. Catholic charities have served the poor and sheltered the homeless. With other Christian churches, the Catholic Church has celebrated America's most festive holiday, Christmas. It has also added particular Catholic celebrations: Saint Patrick's Day in Irish neighborhoods; Saint Anthony's Feast in Italian districts; Saint Barbara's Feast in Eastern Catholic parishes with links to the Near East; and Saint Lazarus Saturday, with its processions in Syrian and Lebanese communities on the eve of Palm Sunday. John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic president. In all facets of American life, Catholics have played a large part.
Catholics have also brought a great deal of diversity to American life, place names, and architecture. If you drive around American cities, you might find Roman Catholic churches named after Saint Ludwig (German), Saint Brendan (Irish), Saint Louis (French), Saint Stephen (Hungarian), Saint Theresa of Avila (Spanish), Saint Bartholomew (Armenian), or Saint Charbel (Maronites, especially from Lebanon).
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