pa·​pa·​cy | \ˈpā-pə-sē \
plural papacies

Definition of papacy 

1 : the office of pope

2 : a succession or line of popes

3 : the term of a pope's reign

4 capitalized : the system of government of the Roman Catholic Church of which the pope is the supreme head

Examples of papacy in a Sentence

He was selected by the cardinals for the papacy.

Recent Examples on the Web

Sir Thomas More, Wolsey’s successor as Lord Chancellor, remained loyal to the papacy. Allan Massie, WSJ, "‘Thomas Cromwell: A Revolutionary Life’ Review: The King’s Fixer," 2 Nov. 2018 Five years into Pope Francis’s papacy, the summer has been rocked by scandal for the Catholic Church. Vox, "Catholic Church faces ongoing sex abuse crisis," 26 Aug. 2018 Francis has made the Holy Thursday ritual a hallmark of his papacy, part of his insistence that the Catholic Church must go to the margins of society to serve. Fox News, "Pope to perform Holy Thursday foot-wash rite at Rome prison," 20 Mar. 2018 But its unique architecture and relevance to both the papacy (this is where the Pope stayed during the war) makes it worth tacking on to your trip to the Vatican. Laura Itzkowitz, Condé Nast Traveler, "Rome's Art & Architecture: Our Guide," 5 Mar. 2018 Francis, who has used his papacy to champion the causes of peace and justice, has often suggested that Christians can work closely together on humanitarian projects. Washington Post, "Pope, in Geneva, says Christians must work together on peace," 21 June 2018 The choice highlights this papacy's priority in helping those on society's margins. Fox News, "Pope Francis to create 14 new cardinals in June," 20 May 2018 Next is the Anna Wintour Costume Center where the liturgical pieces encompassing more than 15 papacies from the 18th to the early 21st century are housed unto themselves. Cara Kelly, USA TODAY, "10 things to see at the Met’s 'Heavenly Bodies' exhibit, and what to know before you go," 9 May 2018 Senior Vatican officials granted Bolton permission to display over 40 Vatican vestments and accessories spanning 15 papacies. Melania Hidalgo, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About the 2018 Met Gala," 7 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'papacy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of papacy

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for papacy

Middle English papacie, from Medieval Latin papatia, from Late Latin papa pope — more at pope

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for papacy

The first known use of papacy was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of papacy

the papacy : the office or position of the pope

: the time when a particular pope is in power

More from Merriam-Webster on papacy Encyclopedia article about papacy

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