Holy City Jerusalem; (in Christian tradition) Heaven.
Holy Cross Day the day on which the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross is held, 14 September.
holy day a day consecrated or set apart for religious observance; also called holy day of obligation.
Holy Door the door in the facade of St Peter's, Rome, which is nearest to the Vatican. It is normally sealed with brickwork, except during the Holy Year, when it is opened for the passage of those wishing to gain the Indulgence of the Holy Year.
Holy Family Christ as a child with Mary and Joseph (and often also others such as John the Baptist or St Anne), especially as a subject for a painting.
Holy Father a name for the Pope.
Holy Ghost another term for the Holy Spirit.
The Order of the Holy Ghost was a French order of Knighthood (ordre du Saint-Esprit), instituted by Henry III in 1578.
Holy Innocents' Day a Christian festival commemorating the Massacre of the Innocents, 28 December.
Holy Island another name for Lindisfarne, which from the 7th century until its sack by Vikings was an important religious centre. It is also the name of a small island off the western coast of Anglesey in North Wales.
Holy Land a region on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, in what is now Israel and Palestine, revered by Christians as the place in which Christ lived and taught, by Jews as the land given to the people of Israel, and by Muslims.
Holy League any of various European alliances sponsored by the papacy during the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries. They include the League of 1511–13, formed by Pope Julius II to expel Louis XII of France from Italy, the French Holy League (also called the Catholic League) of 1576 and 1584, a Catholic extremist league formed during the French Wars of Religion, and the Holy (or Catholic) League of 1609, a military alliance of the German Catholic princes.
Holy Name the name of Jesus as an object of formal devotion, especially in the Catholic Church.
holy of holies the inner chamber of the sanctuary in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, separated by a veil from the outer chamber. It was reserved for the presence of God and could be entered only by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.
Holy Office the ecclesiastical court of the Roman Catholic Church established as the final court of appeal in trials of heresy. Formed in 1542 as part of the Inquisition, it was renamed the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1965.
Holy Roman Empire the empire set up in western Europe following the coronation of Charlemagne as emperor in the year 800. It was created by the medieval papacy in an attempt to unite Christendom under one rule. At times the territory of the empire was extensive and included Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and parts of Italy and the Netherlands. The title of emperor, which had largely belonged to German dynasties since Otto I's coronation in 962, was formally abolished in 1806.
Holy Scripture the sacred writings of Christianity contained in the Bible.
Holy See the papacy or the papal court; those associated with the Pope in the government of the Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican.
Holy Sepulchre the place in which the body of Jesus was laid after being taken down from the Cross. Also, the church in Jerusalem erected over the traditional site of this tomb.
Holy Spirit, in Christian belief, the third person of the Trinity; God as spiritually active in the world. In Christian art, the Holy Spirit is often represented as a dove.
holy water water blessed by a priest and used in religious ceremonies.
Holy Week the week before Easter, starting on Palm Sunday.
Holy Writ the Bible; writings or sayings of unchallenged authority.
Holy Year in the Roman Catholic Church, a period of remission from the penal consequences of sin, granted under certain conditions for a year usually at intervals of twenty-five years. It is also locally applied to certain pilgrimages, notably Santiago de Compostela, when the feast day of the patronal saint falls on a Sunday.
See also Fourteen Holy Helpers at fourteen, holier-than-thou, the sin against the Holy Ghost.
ho·ly / ˈhōlē/ • adj. (ho·li·er, ho·li·est) 1. dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred: the Holy Bible the holy month of Ramadan. ∎ (of a person) devoted to the service of God: saints and holy men. ∎ morally and spiritually excellent: I do not lead a holy life.2. inf. used as an intensifier: having a holy good time.3. dated or humorous used in exclamations of surprise or dismay: holy smoke!DERIVATIVES: ho·li·ly / ˈhōləlē/ adv.
Hence holy day OE. hāliġ dæġ; revived in XIX; Holy Ghost OE. se hālga gāst ‘the holy spirit’, hāliġ gāst, hāligāst (often as one word in ME), tr. ecclL. sanctus spiritus (Holy Spirit XIII); holystone piece of sandstone for scouring decks XIX; said to be so named because the work is done kneeling.