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The Early Church Fathers on the Catholic Church and the term Catholic.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. John Cassian, (A.D. c.360 - 433)
    Paulus Orosius, (A.D. c.375-c.418)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
    St. Vincent of Lérins, (A.D. c.400-445)
    Capreolus of Carthage, (c. A.D. late 4th century - A.D. 437)
    St. Peter Chrysologus, (A.D. 406 - 450)
    Salonius, (flourished/wrote A.D. c.445)
    Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460)
    Gelasius of Cyzicus, (unknown- A.D. c.492)
St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"Wherefore, seeing that so great is the blindness of the understanding through the filthiness of sins and the love of the flesh, that even these monsters of opinions could waste away the leisure of the learned in disputation; can you, Dioscorus, or can any one gifted with an observant disposition, doubt, that any better plan could have been devised for mankind to follow truth, than that Truth itself . . . should persuade mankind to believe wholesomely, what could not as yet be understood clearly?

To His glory are we subservient, we exhort thee to believe immovably and unchangeably in Him, through whom it has been that not a few, but peoples even, who are unable to judge of these things by reason, believe them by faith. . . . Now they who, though they are not in Catholic unity and communion, pride themselves nevertheless in the name Christian, are obliged to be opposed to believers, and try to lead men as it were by reason, whereas the Lord came with this remedy especially, — to enjoin faith on the nations. But as I have said, these men are obliged to do, because they are sensible that they lie very abject indeed,
if their authority be compared with Catholic authority.

Therefore do they strive, by the name, as it were, and promise of reason, to be superior to the most solid authority of the firmly established Church. For this is, as it were, the regular temerity of all heretics. But that most merciful enjoiner of faith, both by the most glorious assemblages of peoples and nations, and by the chairs themselves of the Apostles, has defended the Church with the citadel of authority. . . . Now that discipline is most proper which receives the infirm into the citadel, that, for them, thus already placed most safely, the battle may be fought with reason the most powerful."

T. ii. Ep. cxviii. Dioscor. (Class. ii.) n. 32, pp. 510, 511.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 77-79

"Thou shalt protect them in Thy tabernacle."

Psalm 30:21

  • What is the tabernacle?

The Church of this time. ... In this tabernacle, therefore, the Church will protect the faithful from the contradiction of tongues. There is a contradiction of many tongues; divers heresies, divers schisms cry aloud; many tongues contradict the true doctrine.

Run to the tabernacle of God, hold fast the Catholic Church, do not withdraw from the rule of truth, and thou shalt be protected from the contradiction of tongues."

T. iv. Enar. in Ps. xxx. n. 8, p. 238.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 79

"In the Catholic Church, not to mention that most sound wisdom, to the knowledge of which a few spiritual men attain in this life, so as to know it in a very small measure indeed, for they are but men, but still to know it without doubtfulness, for not quickness of understanding, but simplicity in believing, that makes the rest of the masses most safe, — not to mention, therefore, this wisdom, which you (Manichees) do not believe to be in the Catholic Church, many other things there are which most justly keep me in her bosom.

The agreement of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his Resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15-17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here.

And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called "Catholic," when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house.

T. viii Contr. Ep. Manichaei, Fundam. n. 5, 6, col. 268-270.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 80-81

These, therefore, so numerous and so powerful ties of the Christian name, ties most dear, justly keep a believing man in the Catholic Church, even though through the slowness of our understanding or the deservings of our lives, truth show not herself as yet in her clearest light. Whereas, amongst you, where are none of these things to invite and keep me, there is only the loud promise of truth, which, if it be indeed shown to be so manifest as not to be able to be called into doubt, is to be preferred before all those things by which I am kept in the Catholic Church; but which, if it be only promised, and not exhibited, no one shall move me from that faith which attaches my mind to the Christian religion by ties so numerous and so powerful.

Wherefore, let us see what Manichaeus would teach me. ... He begins his letter,

"Manichseus, an Apostle of Jesus Christ"

. . . . Now attend, if you please, with all patience, to what I am going to ask. I do not believe that this man is an Apostle of Christ. Do not, I pray you, be angry, and begin to revile. For you know what my determination is, — not to believe, without cause shown, anything advanced by you. I ask, therefore, who is this Manichaeus? You will answer,
"An apostle of Christ." I do not believe it; what next to say or do you will not know; for your promise was the knowledge of the truth, and now you would compel me to believe that of which I have no knowledge. You are perhaps going to read me the Gospel, and will try to establish the character of Manichaeus from that. But suppose you should meet with some one who does not as yet believe the Gospel, what would you do with such an one when he says to you, "I do not believe it?" I, for my part, would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Catholic Church moved me to it.

Those, therefore, to whom I have submitted, when saying to me, "Believe the Gospel",
why should I not submit to them when they say to me, "Do not believe the Manichaeans?" Choose which you will. If you say, "Believe the Catholics", they warn me not to give any credit to you; wherefore, whilst I believe them, I cannot but not believe you. If you say,
"Do not believe the Catholics", it will not be right for you to force me to the faith of Manichaeus by means of the Gospel, inasmuch as I believed that very Gospel itself at the bidding (teaching) of the Catholics. But if you should say, "You have done right in believing the Catholics when they praise the Gospel, but you have not done right in believing them when they blame Manichseus",

Do you think me so foolish, as, without reason assigned, to believe just what you choose, and to disbelieve just what you choose?

Much more justly indeed, and more cautiously do I act, if, after having once (on one point) believed the Catholics, I refuse to pass over to you; unless, not content with bidding me believe, you cause me to obtain some knowledge, and that most manifestly and most plainly. Wherefore if you are going to assign me some reasonable proof, set aside the Gospel. If you keep yourself to the Gospel, I will keep myself to those at whose bidding
I have believed the Gospel; and by their command I will not believe you at all.

Now, if it should happen that you could find in the Gospel something most plain concerning the apostleship of Manichaeus, you will invalidate, in my regard, the authority of the Catholics who bid me not believe you; and, that authority invalidated, it will then be out of my power to believe even the Gospel, inasmuch as through them I had believed it: so that whatever you may adduce thence, will have no force with me. Wherefore, if nothing plain is found in the Gospel concerning the apostleship of Manichaeus, I will believe the Catholics rather than you; whereas, should you read from it something clearly in favor of Manichaeus, I will neither believe them nor you. Not them, because they have deceived me in regard of you; not you, because you produce me that Scripture which I have believed through those who have thus deceived me. But God forbid that I should not believe the Gospel!"

T. viii Contr. Ep. Manichaei, Fundam. n. 5, 6, col. 268-270.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 81-83

Showing the folly of the Manichaeans in rejecting at pleasure such texts, or portions of Scripture, as could not be reconciled with their system, he says, addressing Faustus:

    • "Art thou, then, the standard of truth?
    • Is whatsoever is opposed to thee, false?
    • But what if some other person, confounded with a madness like thine, and with thy obstinacy, come forward and say, "Nay, what sounds favorably to thee is false, and what against thee, is true?"
    • What wilt thou do, unless perhaps thou try to bring forward some other book, wherein everything read by thee may be interpreted in accordance with thy opinion?

Shouldst thou do this, thou wilt hear him impugning not a part, but the whole, and crying out, "It is (all) false."

    • What wilt thou do?
    • Whither turn thyself?
    • What origin, what antiquity, what series of succession wilt thou cite as a witness for the book brought forward by thee?

For even if thou attempt this, yet will it not avail thee anything; and thou seest of what avails, in this matter, the authority of the Catholic Church, — an authority which is confirmed (or firmly settled) by a line of bishops succeeding, even unto the present day, each other, from those most solidly-founded chairs of the Apostles, and by the consent of so many peoples."

T. l. xi. Contr. Fanstum, n. 2, p. 364.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 83-84

"Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.

Psalm 56:6

Consider, I pray you, under what folly the heretics are laboring. They, cut off from union with the Church of Christ, holding a part, and letting go the whole, will not communicate with the whole world, over which the glory of Christ is spread. But we Catholics are in every nation, because we communicate with every land wherein the glory of Christ is spread."

T. iv. Enarr. in Psalm lvi. n. 13 (al 6), col. 764.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 300

"Let people confess to Thee, God, let all people confess to Thee."

Psalm 66

A heretic comes forward, and says:

"I have people in Africa; and another, from some other quarter, says,
"And I have people in Galatia."

Thou hast them in Africa; he has them in Galatia: I seek for a man that has them everywhere. True, because you heard, "Let people confess to Thee, God"; you dared to exult at the words: learn from the verse that follows, that he speaks not of a part, "Let ALL people confess to Thee." Walk in the way with all nations; walk in the way with all peoples; ye children of peace, ye children of the alone Catholic Church; walk in this way, and, as you walk, sing."

T. iv. Enarr. in Psalm lxvi. n. 6 (al. 4), col. 940-41.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 300-301

"When we read the divine books, amidst such a multitude of true meanings, which are extracted from a few words, and (which meanings) are defended by the soundness of Catholic faith, let us by preference choose that which it shall appear certain that he meant whom we read; but if this escape us, that at all events which the context of Scripture prevents not, and which harmonizes with sound faith; but if the context of the Scripture also admits not of being thoroughly handled and sifted, at least that only which sound faith prescribes.

For it is one thing not to distinguish what the writer chiefly meant, and another to err from the rule of piety. If both be avoided, the reader obtains the perfect fruit; but if both cannot be avoided, even though the mind of the writer be doubtful (to us), it is not useless to have extracted a meaning agreeable with the sacred faith."

T. iii. l. i. De Genes, ad Lit. n. 41, col. 222.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 342-343

[Having cited one of the usual evidences of Christianity, he adds:]

"When therefore we see such aid from God, so great progress and fruit, shall we hesitate
to fling ourselves into the bosom of that Church which, even by the confession of mankind, has from the Apostolic See, through successions of bishops, obtained the loftiest pinnacle of authority, the heretics barking around in vain, and condemned partly by the judgment
of the very people, partly by the weight of councils, partly also by the majesty of miracles.
To which Church to refuse to grant pre-eminent authority, is assuredly either the height of impiety, or of headlong arrogance.

    • For, if for the minds of men there is no certain road to wisdom and salvation, save when faith teaches them antecedently to reason, what else is it but to be ungrateful to the divine aid and help, to strive so laboriously to resist the aforenamed authority?
    • And if every art, however low and easy, require a teacher or a master, that it may be acquired; what more replete with rash pride than both to refuse to learn the books of the divine mysteries (sacraments) from their proper (own) interpreters, and to seek to condemn them unknown?

Wherefore, if either my reasoning or my prayer has in any way moved you, and if, as I believe, you have a true solicitude for yourself, I pray you hear me, and place yourself, with pious faith, lively hope, simple love, under the care of good teachers of Catholic Christianity."

T. viii. De Util. Cred. n. 35, 36 (al. xvii. xviii.), col. 129-30.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 343-344

"I would not believe the Gospel, unless the authority of the Catholic Church moved me,"

T. viii. Contr. Ep. Manichaei, Fundam. n. 5, 6, col. 268-270.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 344

"But I, my heart being now healed of that wound, in which a carnal feeling might have been blamed, pour forth to thee, our God, for that thy servant a far different kind of tears, flowing from a spirit shaken by the consideration of the dangers of every soul which dieth in Adam. Although she, having been vivified in Christ, even when not as yet released from the flesh, so lived as that Thy name is praised in her faith and manners, yet dare I not say, that, from the time that Thou regeneratedst her by baptism, no word has issued from her mouth against Thy precept. And it was said by the truth, Thy Son, "Whosoever shall say to his brother, thou fool, shall be guilty of Hell fire."

And woe even to the praiseworthy life of men, if laying aside mercy, Thou examine it. ...
I therefore, O my praise and my life, God of my heart, having laid aside for awhile her good actions, for which I give thanks to Thee with joy, do now beseech Thee for the sins of my mother; hear me through the medicine of our wounds, who hung upon the wood, and who sitting "at Thy right hand maketh intercession to Thee for us." (Romans 8) I know that she dealt mercifully, and from her heart "forgave her debtors their debts." Do also forgive her of her debts if she contracted any during so many years after the water of salvation.

Forgive, O Lord, forgive, I beseech Thee; "enter not into judgment with her." (Psalms 142) Let "mercy exalt herself above judgment." (James 2). . . And, I believe, Thou hast already done what I beg Thee, but "the free-offerings of my mouth accept, O Lord," (Psalms 118) For she (St. Monica), the day of her dissolution being at hand, bestowed not a thought.

[He continues:]

Let none sever her from Thy protection. Let neither the lion nor the dragon interpose himself by force or fraud; for neither will she answer that she owes nothing, lest she be convicted and obtained by the crafty accuser: but she will answer that her debts are forgiven by Him, to whom none may repay that which He, who owed nothing, paid for us. May she then be in peace with the husband, before whom to none, and after whom to none was she married. . . . And inspire, my Lord, my God, inspire Thy servants my brethren,
Thy sons my masters, whom with voice, and heart, and pen I serve, that as many as shall read these words may remember at Thy altar, Monica, Thy servant, with Patricius, her sometime husband, by whose flesh Thou didst introduce me into this life, how, I know not. May they with pious affection remember my parents in this transitory light, and my brethren under Thee our Father in our Catholic Mother, and my fellow-citizens in the eternal Jerusalem, that so, what she made her last request to me, may be granted to her more abundantly through my Confessions than through my prayers, in the prayers of many."

T. i. L. c. n. 34-7, col. 288-90.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 186-187

Having given the passage cited above, as addressed to St. Paulinus of Nola, he adds:

"In the books of Machabees we read that sacrifice was offered for the dead. But even though this were not read at all anywhere in the old Scriptures, the authority of the universal Church, which in this practice is clear, is not small, since in the prayers of the priests, which are poured forth to the Lord God at His altar, the recommendation of the departed has also its appointed place. But whether the place where the body is buried is of any benefit to the soul requires further inquiry.

[After reasoning on this through two or three pages, he thus concludes:]

I do not see of what help this can be to the dead, except for this, that whilst they
(the living) keep in mind the places where the bodies of those whom they love are deposited, they may, by praying, commend them to those same saints, as clients to patrons, to be aided with the Lord. Which indeed they might do, even though they might be unable to bury them in such places. . . .

When the mind therefore recollects where the body of some dear friend is buried, and there presents itself to it a place made venerable by a martyr's name, the affection of one that remembers and that prays commends the beloved soul to that same martyr. When this affection is shown towards the dead by faithful friends, there is no doubt that it benefits those who merited, while they were living in the body, that such things should benefit them after this life. . . . Supplications for the spirits of the departed are not to be omitted;
to make which for all, who have departed in the Christian and Catholic society, the Church has taken upon herself, even though their names are not pronounced, under a general commemoration, that for those who have no parents, children, or any relatives or friends to do these things, they may be done for them by their one holy mother the Church."

T. vi. De Cura pro mortuis, n. 6 (al. iv.), col. 871.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 192

St. John Cassian, (A.D. c.360 - 433), ordained a deacon by St. John Chrysostom and a priest in Marseilles, a Christian theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern Churches for his mystical writings. He is known both as one of the "Scythian monks" and as one of the "Desert Fathers". His opinions on grace being in opposition somewhat to those of St. Augustine and the Church, caused him to be opposed by St. Prosper.

"This faith, that is, the faith of all Catholics, both the bishops of Africa whence he wrote, and the Gallican bishops to whom he wrote, agreed in approving. Nor has there yet been any man living who has repudiated this faith, without being guilty of the crime of unbelief, seeing that it is a profession of unbelief to deny the approved faith. Wherefore, the agreement alone of all would now suffice to refute heresy, because the authority of all is the manifestation of undoubted truth, and a perfect reason has been assigned when none dissent.

Insomuch that the man who should presume to entertain a contrary sentiment, such an one's assertion is at once, and at the very outset, not so much to be refused to be heard, as he is to be condemned for his perversity; because he who impugns the judgment of the whole, brings with him a foregone proof of condemnation against himself; and whosoever would rescind what all have once agreed upon, has no plea to be heard.

For when the truth has once been confirmed by all, whatsoever is advanced in opposition to it, is at once thereby to be acknowledged as false, in that it diverges from that judgment of truth."

L. 1, De Incarn, Dom, t. vii. Bib. Max. SS. PP. p. 71.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 100-101

Paulus Orosius (A.D. c.375-c.418), Spanish; a Christian historian, theologian, student and friend of Augustine of Hippo. He is best known for his "Seven Books of History Against the Pagans". His "History of the World" is valuable, and has been frequently translated.

"The Fathers with one accord, and the Martyrs, who are now at rest, Cyprian, Hilary, and Ambrose, as also they who are still in the flesh, and are the pillars and supports of the Catholic Church, Aurelius, Augustine, Jerome, have already in their highly-approved writings, published much against this wicked heresy (Pelagianism), though without specifying the names of the heretics.

And if Celestius and Pelagius, who seem to be alive, and are dead, should now persevere in these dogmas, then clearly do they openly, as serpents hiss against the Church, a thing most lamentable, and, more lamentable still, they do this in the Church. . . .

My answer to this (viz. Genesis 17:1; Luke 1:6, quoted in support of Pelagianism) was:

We are children of the Catholic Church. Require not of us to presume to be teachers above the teachers, or judges above the judges. The Fathers whom the universal Church throughout the world approves, to whose communion it is a matter of rejoicing with you that we adhere, have decreed that these dogmas are damnable. It becomes us to obey, when they adjudge.

    • Why ask the children what their sentiments are, when you hear what the Fathers decide?"

De Arbitrii Libert, p. 449, t. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 85-86

St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"Thus does it seem good to this man (Nestorius), and to him alone, to think and to speak differently from all other men; though the Catholic Church which Christ has presented to Himself, has not the wrinkles which (disfigure) the man that writes these things.

Rather is she without blemish, and holds the faith concerning Him in every way blameless, and has very correctly made the tradition of faith (the Nicene creed.)"

T. vii. L. ii. Adv. Nestor, p. 30.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 94

Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

"We have had handed down to us, and have been taught, and we hold this Catholic and Apostolic tradition and faith and confession, that one is the hypostasis — this the heretics themselves denominate substance — of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Hist. Eccles. I. ii. c. viii. p. 81; Vales. Cantab. 1720.
(Ex. Ep. Synod. Condi. Sardic.}
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 442

"Great is the Lord, and exceedingly to le praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain."

Psalms 47

"We have already said that the divine Scripture frequently designates as a city, not the buildings, but its internal regulation; he accordingly says that the Lord has been shown to be great, by what He has done for His city, which the sublimity of its dogmas has made conspicuous, even as a city upon a great and lofty hill; for a city, the Lord says, set upon a hill, cannot be hid. He has built, he says, this city, well, beautifully and solidly, to the joy of the whole earth. For, He built it, says the divine Apostle,

"upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner-stone."

Ephesians 2

And the Lord Himself said to blessed Peter, "And upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

Matthew 16

Wherefore that phrase rooting it well is instead of founding it solidly, so as to endure without tottering, and unshaken.

"The Mountain of Sion (on) the sides of the north, the city of the great King". . . . The mountains which repel the northwinds, and keep the city uninjured, one may reasonably say are the prophets and Apostles, and their various doctrines, and, furthermore, the angels who are set over believers.

"For the angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear Him."

Psalm 34

In her houses is God known, when He shall take her in charge. One, indeed, is the Church through out all earth and sea; for which cause, when we pray, we say — "For the holy and alone Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is from one end of the earth to the other." That same city, again, is divided into cities and towns and villages, which the prophetic word denominates houses. As every city has in it many separate houses, and is nevertheless called one city, so are there tens of thousands and countless churches, both on the islands and continents, but they are all perfected together into one Church, united by the concord of the true doctrines. In these churches, he says that the God of all is seen furnishing His own aid. He next foretells the assaults that were to be, and the conversion of her adversaries.

"For behold the kings of the earth assembled themselves, they gathered together. So they saw and wondered."

Psalm 34:6

For they hastened together as though about to make war, but when they beheld the unconquerableness of Her whom they warred against, they were struck with consternation. "For they were troubled", he says, they were moved. (Psalm 34:6, 7) Having contemplated, he says, the solid foundations of the Church, and learnt the unerring truth of the promise, they were seized with fear and trembling, like men who are crossing the waves (backs) of the sea, and are tossed with storms, and expecting utter destruction. Wherefore, having ceased from fighting and assaulting, they proclaim the power of their antagonist, and cry out,

"As we have heard, so have we seen, in the city of the Lord of Hosts, in the city of our God."

For not willing to admit the predictions concerning her, we have, by facts, become witnesses to their truth. "God hath founded her unto eternity." For it is His voice,

"Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

Matthew 16

The prophetic word having thus shown the change of her enemies, next foretells what words they will make use of who have found safety (or salvation). "We have received Thy mercy, God, in the midst of Thy temple." We look for, they say, this Thine aid, O Lord, knowing the unerring truth of Thy promises. For Thou didst say, "I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world. Distribute her houses (verse 14), so as that one may look after this, and an other after that church, and that the husbandman be set over, and take befitting care of each. And this does he order to be done, not for once, or twice, but in every generation. And for this cause he added, "That ye may relate it unto another generation. For this is our God for ever and ever, He shepherds (or feeds, rules) us for evermore." For each generation must needs transmit to the one after it what it received from the preceding, that so the saving Gospel may be transmitted in all generations, and all men may know that He is our Lord and God, and Good Shepherd, and everlasting. For as he said, "Distribute her houses", and committed the feeding to them, he necessarily taught that One is the "Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep", feeding them forever and ever, and feeding not the sheep only, but those also who are called the shepherds of the sheep."

T. i. in Ps. xlvii. pp. 907-913.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 94-97

St. Vincent of Lérins (A.D. c.400-445), in Latin, Vincentius, a monastic presbyter and ecclesiastical writer in the island of Lérins, he was a man learned in the Holy Scriptures, and well instructed in the knowledge of the doctrines of the Church, with a view to overthrow the sects of the heretics. He composed in elegant and clear language a very powerful dissertation, which, concealing his own name, he entitled Peregrinus against Heretics.

"When often inquiring from very many men excelling in holiness and learning, how I might, by some general and undeviating (or ordinary) way, discern the truth of Catholic faith from the falseness of heretical pravity, I have received from almost all something like this answer:

That when I or any of the faithful would hear of deceptions, and wished to avoid the snares of the heretics as they spring up, and remain safe and sound in the sound faith, he ought to fortify with God's assistance, in two ways, his faith.

  1. First, that is, by the authority of the divine Law;
  2. Secondly, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

Here some one perhaps may ask,

Seeing that the Canon of the Scriptures is perfect, and self-sufficient, and more than sufficient, for all things, what need is there that the authority of the Church's understanding (interpretation) be joined unto it?

The reason is, because all men do not take the Sacred Scripture, on account of its very profoundness, in one and the same sense; but this man and that man, in this way, and that way, interprets the sayings thereof; that as many opinions almost as there are men, would seem to be capable of being drawn therefrom.


      • Novatian expounds in one way,
      • in another Photinus
      • in another Sabellius
      • in another Donatus
      • in another Arius, Eunomius, and Macedonius
      • in another Apollinaris and Priscillian,
      • in another Jovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, and in another, in fine, Nestorius.

And for this cause very necessary it is, on account of the many doublings of error so varied, that the line of interpretation, both of prophets and Apostles, be directed according to the rule (standard) of the ecclesiastical and Catholic sense. Again, in the Catholic Church itself, very great care is to be taken that we hold that which hath been believed everywhere, always, and by all men.

For Catholic is truly and properly that, as the very force and nature of the word declares, which comprises all things in general, after a universal manner; and this is thus, in fine, attained, — if we follow universality, antiquity, consent.

      • Now, we shall follow universality thus, if we confess this one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses.
      • antiquity, thus, if we in no wise recede from those senses which it is manifest that our holy elders and Fathers openly maintained.
      • consent, likewise (shall we follow) in the same manner, if, in this antiquity itself, we adhere to the definitions and sentiments of all, or at least of nearly all the priests and doctors together.

      • What then shall a Catholic Christian do, if some small part of the Church cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith?
      • What, indeed, but prefer the healthfulness of the whole body before the pestiferous and corrupt member?
      • What if some novel contagion attempt to taint no longer a small part only, but the whole Church alike?

Then, likewise, shall he see to it that he cleave unto antiquity, which is now utterly incapable of being seduced by any craft of novelty.

      • What if, in antiquity itself, there be discovered some error of two or three men, or of some one city or province even?

Then shall he by all means give heed that he prefer, before the temerity or ignorance of a few, the decrees, if such there be, universally (received) of old, of a general council.

      • What if some such case arise, wherein nothing of this nature can be found?

Then shall he bestow his labor to consult and interrogate the collated sentiments of the ancients, — of those to wit who, though living at different times and places, yet remaining in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, were trustworthy teachers; and whatsoever he shall recognize that not one or two only, but all alike, with one unvarying consent, plainly, frequently, unswervingly held, wrote, taught, that let him understand is to be also believed by him without any doubt.

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 101-104

"On those issues of faith that the fathers believed, we are to believe in this binding manner, that whatsoever either all, or the greater number of them, with one and the same mind or sense, plainly, frequently, and unswervingly, as in a kind of council of teachers agreeing together, have confirmed by receiving, holding, and delivering the faith, let that be held as a thing undoubted, certain, and settled.

But whatsoever sentiment, any, although he be holy and learned, although a bishop, although a confessor and martyr, may have entertained beside all, or even contrary to all, let that be separated from the authority of the common, public, and general sentiment, and placed amongst his own proper, and secret, and private slight opinions; lest, with the utmost peril of eternal salvation, we do, according to the sacrilegious custom of heretics and schismatics, having forsaken the ancient truth of universal doctrine, follow the novelty of some one man.

The holy and Catholic consent of which blessed fathers, lest any one think that he may rashly contemn, the Apostle says, in his first epistle to the Corinthians,

"And God indeed hath set some in the Church, first Apostles, of which himself was one; secondly, prophets, as Agabus, of whom we read in the Acts; thirdly, doctors",

who are now called expounders (tractatores), whom this same Apostle sometimes also nameth prophets, for that by them the mysteries of the prophets are laid open to the people. These men, therefore, disposed of God, throughout times and places, in the Church of God, whosoever despiseth them when they concur in any one sentiment touching the understanding of Catholic doctrine, despises not man, but God; from the truth teaching unity of which men that none dissent, the same Apostle very earnestly entreats, saying,

"But I beseech you, brethren, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you; but be you perfect, in the same mind, and in the same judgment."

1 Corinthians 1:10

Adv. Haecres. n. xxviii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 444-445

    • If the words, the sentiments, the promises of Scripture, are appealed to by the Devil and his disciples, of whom some are false apostles, some false prophets and false teachers, and all without exception heretics, what are Catholics and the sons of Mother Church to do?
    • How are they to distinguish truth from falsehood in the sacred Scriptures?

They must be very careful to pursue that course which, in the beginning of this Commonitory [a book affirming authentic Christianity by Vincent], we said that holy and learned men had commended to us, that is to say, they must interpret the sacred Canon according to the traditions of the Universal Church and in keeping with the rules of Catholic doctrine in which the very Catholic and Apostolic Church it is necessary for them to follow universality, antiquity, consent.

And if at any time a part opposes itself to the whole, novelty to antiquity, the dissent of one or a few who are in error to the consent of all or at all events of the great majority of Catholics, then they must prefer the soundness of the whole to the corruption of a part; in which same whole they must prefer the religion of antiquity to the profaneness of novelty.

And in antiquity itself, in like manner, to the temerity of one or of a very few they must prefer, first of all, the general decrees, if such there be, of a Universal Council, or if there be no such, then, what is next best, they must follow the consentient belief of many and great masters. Which rule having been faithfully, soberly, and scrupulously observed, we shall with little difficulty detect the noxious errors of heretics as they arise.

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 348-349

"As we have said in the past, this always has been, and also is to this day, the custom of Catholics, to approve the true faith in these two ways:

  1. first, by the authority of the divine Scripture (the canon);

  2. secondly, by the tradition of the Catholic Church: not because the canon alone is not sufficient of itself for all things, but because very many interpreting the divine words according to their own pleasure, conceive various opinions and errors; and for this cause it is necessary that the interpretation of the heavenly Scripture be directed according to the one rule of the ecclesiastical sense, in those questions, to wit, especially upon which the foundations of the whole Catholic doctrine do depend."

Adv. Hæres. n. xxix.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 350

Capreolus of Carthage; (c. A.D. late 4th century - A.D. 437), succeeded Aurelius as bishop of Carthage who is known principally as the author of three letters: an Epistula ad Ephesinam synodum addressed to the Council of Ephesus in 431, an Epistula ad Vitalem et Constantium, and an Epistula ad Theodosium Augustum, which reports the death of St. Augustine of Hippo to the emperor Theodosius.

"I, therefore, beseech your holiness (though I have the firmest confidence) that, by the help of God, the Catholic faith will be in all respects firmly established by means of so great a synod (Ephesus) of venerable priests, that, the Holy Spirit working within you, which Spirit, I am confident, will be present in your hearts in all that you do, you shake from you with the force of former authority these novel doctrines, unheard, until now, by ecclesiastical ears, and thus withstand new errors of whatsoever kind they may be; lest the same (errors) which the Church vanquished long ago, and which have sprung up again in these days, and which the authority of the apostolic chair, and the concordant judgment of the priesthood repressed, may, under the pretext of a second examination, seem to recover that voice which was long since quelled.

For, should anything have developed recently, there needs examination, that it may either be approved as rightly spoken, or repudiated as deserving of condemnation; but on matters concerning judgments that have already been passed, if a man calls a teaching into question again, he will simply have seemed to have doubted that faith, which up to now, he had held.

Again, as an example to posterity: that what is now defined relative to Catholic faith may be forever firmly received, those matters which have already been defined by the Fathers, must be preserved inviolate. Since whosoever would declare that what he has defined concerning the right ordering of faith should continue forever, needs his sentiments confirmed, not by his private authority, but also by the judgment of the more ancient (Fathers); so that, in this manner, proving that what he asserts is, both by the decisions of the ancients and of the moderns, the alone truth of the Catholic Church, — a truth descending from the past ages even to the present, or our days, in simple purity and invincible authority, — and that such truth he both utters, and teaches, and holds."

Cyril of Alexandria said,

"Let the epistle that has been read from. . . Capreolus of Carthage, be inserted amongst the memorials of faith, containing, as it does, a clear opinion; for he wishes the ancient doctrines to be confirmed, but novel and absurd inventions to be condemned and cast aside." All the bishops exclaimed, "Such are the declarations of us all."

Ep. ad Condi. Eph. pp. 490, 491, t. ix. Gallandii.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 99-100

Author's note: Capeeolus of Carthage succeeded Aurelius in the see of Carthage, and in A.D. 431 sent his deputies to the council of Ephesus, with a letter, part of which is given in the text. See Gallandius, t. ix.

St. Peter Chrysologus, (A.D. 406 - 450), deacon, bishop of Imola and Ravenna, and Doctor of the Church, his piety and zeal won for him universal admiration, and his oratory merited for him the name Chrysologus, meaning: golden-worded or golden mouth.

"I believe in the Holy Catholic Church. Because the Church is in Christ, and Christ is in the Church: whosoever, therefore, acknowledges the Church, has confessed that he has believed in the Church."

Serm. lxii. De Symbolo,p. 97.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 110

Salonius, (flourished/wrote A.D. c.445), the son of St. Eucherius and the disciple of Salvian. It is doubtful whether he was bishop of Vienne or of Geneva. He was present at the Council of Orange in 444.

"Remove not the ancient landmarks which thy fathers set."

Proverbs 23

By "the ancient land marks" he means the landmarks of truth and of faith which the Catholic doctors have set from the beginning. This, therefore, does he enjoin, that no one understand (receive) the truth of sacred faith and of evangelic doctrine otherwise than as it has been transmitted by the holy fathers; or, this does he enjoin, that no one interpret the words of the holy Scriptures otherwise than in accordance with the meaning of each (sacred) writer. What are those riches of which he says,

"Lift not up thine eyes to riches which thou canst not have, because they shall make to themselves wings, and shall fly towards Heaven ?"

Proverbs 23

Those riches are the hidden things of the Godhead, and the secrets of the heavenly mysteries which thou canst not penetrate, nor art able to understand, because these things are patent to the eagles alone, that is, to the heavenly citizens only are they manifested.

"The Heaven above, and the earth beneath, and the heart of kings is unsearchable."

Proverbs 25

As the height of Heaven and the depth of earth cannot be comprehended by men, so neither is the capacity of our feebleness able to comprehend, or to penetrate the depths of the knowledge and meaning of the prophets and Apostles."

Expl. Myst. in Salom. Prov. p. 406, t. viii. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 118-119

Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460), also known as Arnobius the Younger, Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius.

"He who came down from Heaven to assume our humanity, never left Heaven, as it is written,

"I will fill Heaven and earth"

Jeremiah 23

And He who ascended into Heaven from these (terrestrial) things, never abandoned us. For so Himself promised, saying,

"Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world."

Matthew 28

Conflict. Arnob. et Serapion. p. 230, t. viii. Bibl. Maxim. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 115

"The seed of the servants of Christ . . . possess the doctrines of the Apostles, and they who shall love the name of the Lord shall dwell therein."

Psalms 68

that is, in faith, in doctrine, in the Church, in which our Lord Jesus Christ, with the Father, and the Holy Ghost, reigns now and for ages of ages."

Comm. in Ps. lxviii. lb. p. 274.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 115

Applying Psalm 103 to Christ, he says:

"It was then He made His angels spirits. Angels are called in the Latin tongue "nuncii", messengers, and the Gospel is interpreted a good message. He, therefore, then made His angels, that is, the Apostles, spirits, when He said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit, and preach the Gospel to every creature." And He then made them a burning fire, when the Holy Spirit sat, as fire, on each of them. He then founded the earth on its own firmness, recalling, that is, the earthly minds of the Gentiles, — which, in the building of the tower, had been divided, — unto their own firmness. He strengthens them by that one word, Jesus Christ, and He so founds amongst them His Church upon this rock, as that it shall not be moved forever and ever.

Let philosophers keep to themselves their fruitless inquiries, and with mighty toil declare that they can discover that the earth has a deep beneath it, wherewith it is clothed as with a garment, but let us turn the point of our discourse to this earth which is founded on the firmness of the Church. For the deep encompasses it. For the depth of the riches of wisdom which encompasses it is fathomless, and above its waters shall the mountains stand. Whosoever has their hearts raised on high are mountains, and above them the waters stand. Above them stands the hallowing of Baptism; they stand in the right faith, they are not driven about by every wind of doctrine. . . . This great sea which stretcheth wide its arms, etc., — He would have us know that a great and wide sea, is the whole law of the Old and New Testament.

There are creeping things without number; in the law the Jews; in the law the Samaritans; and in the law the Heretics; and in the law the Catholics; in the law, kings, etc.; in the law, little and great, there the ships go, the alone churches of all the provinces, (churches) which bear their passengers to the kingdom of Heaven, from the cities of earth to the city of Jerusalem, our mother. But he that shall be found without a ship in this great sea, "shall meet with the dragon which has been formed to make sport of them" . . . with those, that is, who repudiate the ships, and deliver themselves up, like animals, to the waves and depths of the law, without a master who is a Catholic, and who derives the tradition of the law from the Apostles.

Wherefore, because that they are without the Church, wandering about amongst creatures little and great, they meet with a dragon, that so makes sport of them, as that they fancy that they are wiser than the Catholics; and, according to their own fancies, they meet with the destruction of eternal death, when they have sunk into the depths. Let us, therefore, sing unto the Lord our God. . . . Sweet may our praise be unto Him, sweetened with Catholic doctrines, bringing with it nothing from the disease of the Jews, nothing from the disease of the heretics."

Com. in Psalm ciii. t. viii. Bib. Max. PP. pp. 294, 295.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 115-117

"Why build, ye Jews? why watch, ye heretics? In vain do ye this, because the Lord neither builds, nor watches with you. But, ye orthodox, who love Christ in incorruptness, fear not; build in security, because the Lord builds with you. "For you are God's husbandry, you are Gods building." (1 Corinthians 3): watch, for the Lord not only watches with you, but awakes you when fallen asleep, saying,

"Watch with me; watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."

Matthew 26

Why will the Lord come? That, in the resurrection, "the inheritance of the Lord" may be manifested; in which (resurrection) all the sons of God receive an inheritance, if so be that they shall have been the children of His womb, that is, if they shall have been baptized in the font of Catholic faith; there is the womb of the Church which bears children unto Him."

In Psalm. cxxvi. p. 314, Ib.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 117

"He that shall be found without a ship in this great sea, "shall meet with the dragon which has been formed to make sport of them." (Psalms 130) with those, that is, who repudiate the ships, and deliver themselves up, like animals, to the waves and depths of the law, without a master who is a Catholic, and who derives the tradition of the law from the Apostles. Wherefore, because they are without the Church.

Comm. in Ps. ciii. p. 295 ; t. viii. Bill. Maxim. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 386

Gelasius of Cyzicus, (unknown- A.D. c.492), son of a priest of Cyzicus, he was an ecclesiastical writer who wrote in the Roman province of Bithynia in Asia Minor about A.D. 475 to prove against the Eutychians, that the Nicene Fathers did not teach Monophysitism.

"This is the apostolic and unspotted faith of the Church, which (faith) delivered from Heaven by the Lord Himself through the Apostles, the Church reverences (as) transmitted from Father to Son, and retains it now and for evermore, the Lord saying to His disciples,

"Going teach all nations." ...

It has seemed good to us all together that the word consubstantial ought to be defined in the Catholic faith, in the same way as our holy fathers, who have lived since the Apostles, have delivered this faith."

Hist. Concil. Nicaen. l. ii. c. xxiii. xxiv. col. 224, t. ii. Labb.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 449



The word Catholic means universal, because Our Blessed Lord came to save all mankind from the fall of Adam and Eve to the last person born up to His Glorious Second Coming.


The Church's Scriptures that support the Catholicity of the Church:

The Mass foretold in the Old Testament:

10 Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you," Says the Lord of hosts, "Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. 11 For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, My name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, And a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations," Says the Lord of hosts.

Malachi 1:10-11

Persecutions Foretold

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come.

Matthew 24:14

Jesus Commissions the Disciples

15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.


Mark 16:15-16

The Ascension of Jesus

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth."


Acts 1:8

Salvation Is for All

17 So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. 18 But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world."


Romans 10:17-18

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