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Theology: Researching Catholic Church Topics

Basic search tips and strategies for theology students

Catholic Resources in Dugan Library

Suggested Catholic Subject Headings

Searching the catalog and databases for Catholic subjects using keywords can be effective.  If you want to narrow down the search and really focus on items that are subject specific, using subject heading searches can help.

Subject headings sometimes seem logical and sometimes they don't.  One advantage of identifying the language used for a subject heading is discovering the term that is used to describe something across all the different library resources.  Relying on keywords can leave your results open to a little interpretation or guesswork.

Here are some different examples of subject headings that might change what results you get when searching.

General topics:

  • Catholic Church
  • Catholicism
  • Catholics
  • Papal documents
  • Bulls, Papal
  • Encyclicals, Papal
  • Bishops OR Catholic Church, Bishops
  • Cardinal protectors
  • Parishes
  • Apostolic succession
  • Lord's supper (not Eucharist or Holy communion)
  • Liturgics OR Catholic Church, Liturgy
  • Initiation rites, Religious aspects, Catholic Church
  • Precious blood, devotion to
  • Social justice
  • Monasticism and religious orders
  • Monasticism and religious orders for women OR Nuns


  • Vatican City
  • Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano
  • Rome (Italy)
  • Tiberias, Lake (Israel) (use for Lake Galilee)
  • Jerusalem


  • God (Christianity)
  • Jesus Christ
  • Holy Spirit
  • Mary, Blessed Virgin, Saint
  • Fatima, Our Lady of
  • Peter, the Apostle, Saint
  • Francis, of Assisi, Saint, 1182-1226
  • Francis Pope, 1936-
  • Newman, John Henry, 1801-1890
  • De Mattias, Maria, 1805-1866
  • Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood (use for ASC)


  • Bible. Apocrypha
  • Bible. Baruch
  • Bible. Old Testament
  • Bible. Amos
  • Bible. New Testament
  • Bible. Romans