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The Early Church Fathers on whether the Catholic Church was Roman and centered in Rome.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    Pope St. Julius I, (unknown- A.D. 352)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    Council of Nicæa, (A.D. 325)
    Councils of Sardica, (A.D. 347)
    Council of Constantinople, (A.D. 360-754)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

"Moreover, after all this, having had a pseudo-bishop set up for themselves by heretics, they dare to sail, and to carry letters, from schismatic and profane men, to the chair of Peter, and to the principal Church whence the unity of the priesthood took its rise; nor do they consider that the Romans are those (whose faith was praised in the preaching of the Apostle) to whom faithlessness cannot have access."

Ep. lv. ad Cornel, pp. 182-3.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 309-310

St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384), bishop of Milevis, Numidia, in Africa; from Augustine's writings we can assume Optatus was a convert; he is best known for his opposition to the heresy of Donatism.

Having established the primacy of the see of Rome he says:

"But you say that you have a certain share in the city of Rome. This is a branch of your error, shooting forth from falsehood, not from the root of truth. In fact, if Macrobius be asked what chair he fills in that city, can he answer, "Peter's chair?" which I do not know that he even knows by sight, and unto whose memorial, like a schismatic, he has not approached, acting in opposition to the Apostle, who says, "Communicating with the memories of the saints." (Romans 12:13) Lo! there are the memorials of the two Apostles. Say, has he had ingress to them? or has he offered there where it is certain are the memorials of the saints? It remains, therefore, for your colleague, Macrobius, to acknowledge that he sits in the place where once sat Encolpius; and could Encolpius be questioned, he would answer, that he sat where Bonifacius Ballitanus sat before him; and could he be questioned next, he would say, there, where Victor Gabensis sat, he who was sent by your party from Africa, some time back, to a few wanderers. How is this, that your party could not have, in the city of Rome, a bishop that was one of its citizens? How is it that Africans and strangers only are well known to have succeeded each other in that city? Is not the craft apparent? the factiousness, which is the mother of schism? Meanwhile, the cause of Victor's being sent from this country -- I do not say like a stone cast into a spring, for he could not trouble the purity of that Catholic people -- but, because certain Africans chose to fix their residence in that city, and they were known to you to have left this country, they petitioned that some one might be sent to them from this place, to gather them into an assembly. Victor accordingly was sent: there he was a child without a parent ... a pastor without a flock, a bishop with out a people. For the few that, out of forty churches (basilicas) and more, had not a place wherein to meet, were not to be called a flock or a people. Under these circumstances, they fenced round with hurdles a sort of cave outside the city, wherein, at that time, to hold their conventicle, whence they got the name Montenses. Wherefore, as Claudinus is known to have succeeded to Lucianus, Lucianus to Macrobius, Macrobius to Encolpius, Encolpius to Boniface, Boniface to Victor, if Victor had been asked where he sat, he could neither show that any one was there before him, nor point to any chair but the "chair of pestilence". (Psalm 1:1) For pestilence sends its victims, killed by diseases, to Hell, and Hell is known to have its gates, against which gates we read that Peter received the keys of safety, Peter our prince (or, original), to wit, to whom Christ said, "To thee will give the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, and the gates of Hell shall not overcome them."

5. Whence then is it that you strive to usurp unto yourselves the keys of the kingdom of Heaven, you who sacrilegiously fight against the chair of Peter, by your presumption and audacity?

[He pursues the argument at some length, showing further that there is no prescription which can justify a continuance in hereditary schism, and concludes his examination of the first mark of the Church as follows:]

Since then it is manifest, and clearer than the light, that we are in connection with so many countless nations, and that so many provinces are in connection with us, you now see that you, who are but a portion of one country, are by your errors separated from the Church, and in vain claim for yourselves the designation of the Church with its marks, which are rather with us than with you; marks which it is evident are so connected together and indivisible, that it is felt that one cannot be separated from the other. For they are, indeed, reckoned by (distinct) names, but they are united in their body (the Church) by a single act of the understanding, as are the fingers in the hand, which we see are kept distinct by the divisions between them. Whence he that holds one, must needs hold all, as each cannot be separated from the rest. Add to this, that we are in possession, not of one (of these marks), but we have them as properly ours. Of the aforesaid marks, then, the chair is, as we have said, the first, which we have proved is ours through Peter, and this first mark carries with it the angel (or jurisdiction)."

De Schism. Donat. l. ii. n. 4, 6.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 310-312

Pope St. Julius I (unknown- A.D. 352), Roman; successor to Pope St. Mark and Pope from A.D. 337-352, chiefly known by the part he took in the Arian controversy.

This letter, it may be remarked, is addressed to several eastern bishops, the opponents of St. Athanasius, by whom it is adduced entire in his " Defense against the Arians." From the same epistle we learn that Pope Julius (in Rome) had cited the Arian bishops who had written to Rome.

"Oh beloved! the judgments of the Church are no longer in accordance with the gospel, but are (by you, Arians) to the inflicting of exile and of death. For even though any transgression had been committed, as you pretend, by these men, the judgment ought to have been in accordance with the ecclesiastical rule (canon), and not thus. It behooved you to write to all of us, that thus what was just might be decreed by all. For they who suffered were bishops, and the churches that suffered no common ones, over which the Apostles ruled in person.

And why were we not written to concerning the Church, especially of Alexandria? or, are you ignorant that this has been the custom first to write to us, and thus what is just be decreed from this place? If, therefore, any such suspicion fell upon the bishop there, it was befitting to write to this Church. But now they who acquainted us not, but did what they themselves chose, proceed to wish us, though unacquainted with facts, to become supporters of their views. Not thus were Paul's ordinances; not thus have the fathers handed down to us; this is another form, and a new institution. Bear with me cheerfully, I beseech you, for what I write is for the common weal. For what we have received from that blessed Apostle Peter, the same do I make known to you; and these things I would not have written to you, deeming them manifest to you all, had not what has been done confounded us."

Ep. ad Eusebian. n. 21, p. 13, t. v. Galland.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 67-68

St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

"There came unto us a certain Marcellina, who had been led astray by these heretics (the Carpocratians), and she corrupted the faith of many during the days of that Anicetus, bishop of Rome, who succeeded Pius and his predecessors.

For, in Rome, Peter and Paul were the first both Apostles and bishops; then came Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, the contemporary of Peter and Paul, of whom Paul makes mention in his epistle to the Romans (Philippians?) And let no one wonder that, though he was the contemporary of Peter and Paul, for he lived at the same time with them, others received that episcopate from the Apostles. Whether it was that while the Apostles were still living he received the imposition of hands as a bishop (of the episcopate) from Peter, and having declined that office he remained unengaged ... or whether, after the succession of the Apostles, he was appointed by bishop Cletus, we do not clearly know. . . . However the succession of the bishops in Rome was in the following order. Peter and Paul, and Cletus, Clement, Anacletus, Evaristus, Alexander, Xystus, Telesphorus, Hyginus, Pius, Anicetus, the same named by me above as in the list. And let no one wonder that we have gone through each of these matters; for by means of these the manifest (truth) is forever pointed out."

T. 1, adv. Hæres (27) p. 107.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 274-275

St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

"He who had experienced the protection of the heavenly mystery, whilst folded in the linen cloth, to be so powerful, how great did he not think it would be if he received it with in his mouth, and enclosed it within the inmost recesses of his breast? How much more effectual did he not think that, which had aided him so well when hidden within that cloth, would be when infused within him? But he was not so eager as to cease to be cautious. He called the bishop to him, and not accounting any grace true which was not of the true faith, he inquired of him whether he agreed with (or, assembled with) the Catholic bishops, that is, with the Roman Church. And it happened that in that spot, in the midst of the schism of that country, there was a Church. For Lucifer had then separated himself from our communion, and although he had been banished for his faith, and had left heirs of his own faith, yet Satyrus did not think that faith is (to be found) in schism. For although they might retain their faith towards God, yet did they not retain it towards God's Church, whose members, like limbs, they suffered to be divided and lacerated.

For as Christ suffered for the sake of the Church, and the Church is Christ's body, faith does not seem to be shown to Christ by those, by whom His suffering is made void, and His body is separated."

T. ii. l. 1, De Excessu Fratris, n. 4:7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 312-313

Council of Nicaea, (A.D. 325), met for two months and twelve days in Nice, (or Nicsea), in Bithynia. Three hundred and eighteen bishops were present. This council gave us the Nicene Creed as a result of Arius' heretical opinions, defining the true Divinity of the Son of God (homoousios). They also fixed of the date for keeping Easter and passed several canons of ecclesiastical discipline.

"Let the ancient customs be preserved, which are in Egypt and Libya, and Pentapolis, by which the bishop of Alexandria has authority over all those places; seeing that this is also customary to the bishop of Rome."

It is well known that the legates of St. Leo quoted this canon as follows:

"The Church of Rome has always had the primacy, therefore also Egypt has it, so that the bishop of Alexandria has authority over all, seeing that this is also customary to the bishop of Rome."

Concil. Nicaen. can. vi. col. 32, Labb. t. ii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 313

Councils of Sardica, (A.D. 347), was one of the series of councils (or synods) called to adjust the doctrinal and other difficulties of the Arian controversy. The Roman Emperors Constans and Constantius II were called for the council.

In the year 347, this council, which, by some, is considered as an appendix to the council of Nicaea, decreed that:

"If any bishop thinks that he has been in any cause misjudged, and imagines that he has not a bad, but a good cause, in order that the judgment may be renewed, if ft seem good to your love, let us honor the memory of the Apostle Peter, and let those who have judged the cause write to Julius, bishop of Rome, that, by the neighboring bishops of the province, the judgment may be renewed, and he furnish judges."

Can. iii. Can. Sardic. col. 630, t. ii. Labb.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 313-314

Council of Constantinople, (A.D. 360-754), can refer to any one of seven councils held within the patristic age, including three ecumencial councils of the Church held in A.D. 381/383, 553, and 680, the first dealing with the Nicene Creed, the Incarnation of Jesus and defining the Church as "One, holy, Catholic, and apostolical."

"The bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honor after the bishop of Rome, because that Constantinople is new Rome."

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 314

St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

"I have thought that I ought to consult the chair of Peter, and the faith that was commended by the mouth of the Apostle, seeking now the food of my soul from that place where, in other days, I received the robe of Christ. . . . Following no chief (none first) but Christ, I am joined in communion with your Holiness, that is, with the chair of Peter. Upon that rock I know that the Church is built. Whoever eats the lamb out of this house is profane. If any be not in the ark of Noah, he will perish whilst the deluge prevails. . . . Whosoever gathers not with Thee, scatters, that is, whosoever is not of Christ, is of Antichrist."

T. 1, Ep. xv. ad Damas, n. 1, 2, col. 37-8.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 314

For your admonition concerning the canons of the Church, we return you thanks; but meanwhile, know that we have had no earlier custom (or, nothing is dearer to us) than to guard the rights of Christ, and not to move the landmarks of the fathers, and ever to bear in mind the Roman faith, commended by the mouth of an Apostle, and of which faith the church of Alexandria boasts that it is a partaker."

T. 1, Ep. lxiii. ad Theopli. n. 2, col. 351.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 428

"And because I am afraid, yea have by report learnt, that in certain places the venomous plants even yet live and put forth shoots, I think, in the pious affection of my love, that I ought to give you this warning, that you hold fast the faith of holy Innocent, who is both the successor and the son of the afore-named man (Anastasius), and of the apostolic chair; 5 nor, however wise and shrewd you may seem to yourself, receive any strange doctrine."

T. 1, Ep. cxxx. ad Demetri. n. 16, col. 986.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 314

"Would you know, O Paula and Eustochium, in what way the Apostle distinguished each province by its peculiar characteristics? Even to this day do the same imprints both of virtues and of vices remain. Of the Roman people the faith is commended. Where besides, with such zeal and numbers, does such a concourse flow to the churches, or the tombs of the martyrs? Where does the "Amen" so re-echo like the thunder of Heaven, and the deserted temples of the idols shake, as there? Not that the Romans have any other faith than that which all the churches of Christ have, but that in them is greater devotion, and simple readiness to believe."

T. vii. Proaem. ad l. ii. Comm. ad Galat. col. 427.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 314-315



The Church which has the marks of:

      • Unity (One)
      • Visibility (We can tell with our senses, where the faith is.)
      • Indefectibility (That it cannot fail.)
      • Succession from the Apostles (Apostolic)
      • Universality (Catholic), and
      • Sanctity (Holy)

is termed the Roman Catholic Church and are evidently applicable to her.


The Church's Scriptures that support the Roman Catholic Church:


Our Lord speaks to Paul after the Jewish Council

11 The following night the Lord stood by him and said, "Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome."


Acts 23:11

Saluation from the beginning of St. Paul's Letter to the Romans

1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 3 the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; 7 To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


Romans 1:1-7

Thanksgiving and Encouragement

16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me — 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day — and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.


2 Timothy 1:16-18

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