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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



    Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    Bacchiarius, (early fifth century)
    Paulinus the Deacon, (unknown-c.425)
    Pope St. Boniface I, (unknown-A.D. 422)
    Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461)
    St. Peter Chrysologus, (A.D. 406 - 450)
    Council of Chalcedon, (held in A.D. 451)
    Council of Rome, (held in A.D. 482)
    Victor Vitensis, (c.430-490)
Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417) was pope from (A.D. 401 to 417), he lost no opportunity in maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman See as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes.

"Though, dearest brother, agreeably to the worth and honor of the priesthood, where with you are eminently distinguished, you are acquainted with all the maxims of life and doctrine contained in the ecclesiastical law, neither is there anything which you have not gathered from your sacred reading, . . . yet, seeing that you have earnestly requested to be made acquainted with the pattern, and authority of the Roman Church, I have, from my profound respect for your wish, sent you digested regulations of life, and the approved of customs, whereby the people who compose the churches of your country may perceive, by what things and rules, the life of Christians, each according to his own profession, ought to be restrained; and also what discipline is observed in the Church of the city of Rome.

It will be for your friendliness diligently to make them known throughout the neighboring people, and to communicate to our fellow-priests who preside over their respective churches in those countries, this book of rules, as an instructor and a monitor, that they may both be acquainted with our customs, and, by sedulous teaching, form, in accordance with the faith, the manners of those who flock unto them. Let us, therefore, begin, with the help of the holy Apostle Peter, through whom both the apostleship and the episcopate took their rise in Christ."

Ep. ii. ad Victric. n. 1, 2, Galland. t. viii.p. 546.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 315-316

"An exceeding anxiety has often kept me in fear about the dissensions and schism of the churches in Spain, which report loudly declares are daily spreading and advancing with more rapid strides: the needful time has now come wherein it is not possible any longer to defer the much-required correction, and wherein a suitable remedy must be provided.

For our brother, Hilary my fellow-bishop, and Elpidius, presbyter, partly moved by the love of unity, partly influenced, as they ought to be, by the ruinous evils under which your province labors, have journeyed to the apostolic see; and, in the very bosom of faith, have, with sorrow and lamentation, described how peace has been violated within your province."

Ep. iii. ad Victric. n. 1, p. 551.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 316

"If the priests of the Lord but desired to guard entire the ecclesiastical constitutions transmitted by the blessed Apostles, there would be no diversity, no variety in ordinations and consecrations. But, while each one is of opinion that, not what has been transmitted, but what seems good to himself, is to be held, thence, in different places, or churches, there are seen different (customs) held or observed: and thus scandal is given to the people, who, being ignorant that the ancient traditions have been corrupted by human presumption, either think that the churches do not agree together, or that this contrariety was introduced by the Apostles, or by apostolic men. For who knows not, or notices not, that what was delivered to the Roman Church by Peter, the prince of the Apostles, and is to this day guarded, ought to be observed by all men, and that nothing ought to be superinduced, or introduced which has not (that) authority, or which may seem to derive its precedent elsewhere, clear especially, as it is, that no one has founded churches through out the whole of Italy, the Gauls, Spain, Africa, and Sicily, and the interjacent islands, except those whom the venerable Apostle Peter, or his successors, appointed priests? Let them read whether in those provinces any other of the Apostles is found, or is recorded, to have taught. But if they read of no other, for they never can find any other, they ought to follow what is observed by the Roman Church from which there is no doubt that they derived their origin, lest whilst they court strange assertions, they be seen to set aside the source (head) of their institutions. It is well known that your friendliness has often been at Rome, been present with us in church, and cognizant of the customs which prevailed both in consecrating the mysteries, and in the other secret (offices). We should assuredly consider this sufficient for the information, or the reformation, of your church, should it be that your predecessors have in any respect not held with, or held differently from, us, had you not thought that we were to be consulted on certain matters. On these we send you replies, not as thinking you in any respect ignorant, but that you may regulate your people with greater authority; or, should any have gone aside from the institutions of the Roman Church, that you may either yourself admonish them, or not delay to point them out to us, that we may know who they are who either introduce novelties, or who think that the custom of any other church, but that of Rome, is to be followed."

Ep. xxv. ad Decentium, n. 1-3, Galland, t. viii.p. 586.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 434-435

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.

"The Novatians, Arians, Patripassionists ... do not, as you remark, communicate with us. But wherever they are, there is the Catholic Church, as it is in Africa, where also you (Donatists) are; but not where soever the Catholic Church is, are either you or any other of the various heresies. Whence it is apparent, which is the tree that in its abounding fruitfulness stretches out its branches over the whole earth, and which are the broken branches that have no life from the root, and are lying and withering each on its own ground."

T. ix. l. iv. Contr. Crescen. n. 75, col. 794-5.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 316-317

"The Christian religion is to be held by us, and the communion of that Church, which is Catholic, and is called Catholic, not only by its own members, but also by all its adversaries. For in spite of themselves, even the very heretics, and disciples of schisms, when speaking not with their fellows, but with strangers, call the Catholic Church nothing else but the Catholic Church. For they cannot be understood, unless they distinguish her by that name by which she is designated by the whole world."

T. i. De Vera Relig. n. 12 (al. 7), col. 1214.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 317

"He could afford not to heed the conspiring multitude of his enemies, whereas he saw himself united by letters of communion both with the Roman Church, in which the primacy (principality) of the apostolic chair has always prevailed and with the rest of the world whence also the gospel came to Africa itself, where he would be ready to plead his cause if his adversaries should attempt to alienate those churches from him."

T. ii. Ep. xliii. Glorio et caeteris, n. 7, col. 136.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 317

Bacchiarius, (early fifth century), a learned monk who flourished in A.D. 420 and whose writings are given by Gallandius, t. ix.

"If, for one man's fault, the population of a whole province is to be anathematized, then will be condemned also that most blessed disciple (of Peter's), Rome to wit, out of which there have sprung up not one, but two or three, or even more heresies, and yet not one of them has been able either to have possession, or to move the chair of Peter, that is, the seat (or see) of faith."

De Fide, n. 2; Galland. t. ix. p. 183.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 318

St. Paulinus the Deacon, (also known as Paulinus of Milan), (unknown-c.425), was the notary of Ambrose of Milan, and his biographer. In Carthage in 411 he had opposed Caelestius, a Pelagian. The formal proceedings were described by Augustine in On Original Sin. Paulinus set up six theses defining Pelagian views as heresy. His work is the only life of Ambrose based on a contemporary account, "Life of St. Ambrose" and was written at the request of Augustine of Hippo; it is dated to 422.

"I appeal to the justice of your holiness, my Lord Zozimus, venerable pope. The true faith is never troubled, and this especially in the Apostolic Church, wherein the teachers of a corrupt faith are as easily detected as they are truly punished . . . that they may have in them that true faith which the Apostles taught, and which is held by the Roman Church, and by all the teachers of the Catholic faith."

Libell. Adv. Caeles. Zozim. Oblatus. n. 1; Galland. t. ix. p. 32.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 318

Pope St. Boniface I, (unknown-A.D. 422), pope from 418 to 422, he was a contemporary of Saint Augustine of Hippo, who dedicated to him some of his works.

"It is certain that this Church (of Rome) is to the churches spread over the whole world as the head is to its own members; from which Church whoso has cut himself off, has become an alien to Christianity, from the time that he began not to be in this fellowship."

Ep. xiv. Epis. Thess. t. ix. Galland. p. 57.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 318

Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461), also known as Leo the Great, bishop of Rome (A.D. 440 to 461); an Italian aristocrat, remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was foundational to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

"You, therefore, beloved of God, and commended by an apostolic testimony, to whom the Apostle Paul, the doctor of the Gentiles, says, "Because your faith is spoken of in the whole world", (Romans 1) preserve amongst you that which you know that so great a preacher thought concerning you. Let none amongst you become a stranger to this praise; that so, those whom, during so many ages, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, no heresy has violated, neither may the defilements of the Eutychian impiety be able to stain."

Serm. xcvi. Tr. i. Contr. Hæres. Eutych. c. iii. p. 374.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 319

"It behooves your friendliness to see clearly, with all your soul, over the government of what Church the Lord has willed you to preside, and to be mindful of that doctrine which the most blessed Peter, the chief of all the Apostles, established throughout the whole world indeed by a uniform teaching, but by a special instruction in the cities of Antioch and of Rome. ... It behooves you, therefore, to be with the utmost vigilance careful, lest heretical pravity may claim anything unto itself; since it becomes you, by your sacerdotal authority, to resist such, and frequently, by your reports concerning the progress of the churches, to inform us of what is doing. For it is proper that you be a partner with the apostolic chair in this solicitude; and to produce confidence in acting, be conscious of the privileges of the third see, which do not suffer to be lessened in anything by the ambition of any individual; for so great is my reverence for the Nicaean canons, that I neither have permitted, nor will I permit, the things settled by the holy fathers to be violated by any innovation. For although the merits of prelates may sometimes be different, yet do the rights of the chairs continue; against which, although rivals may create some trouble, yet can they not lessen their dignity. Wherefore, when soever your friendliness shall think that something ought to be done in support of the privileges of the church of Antioch, let it be explained to me by a letter from you, that we may be able to reply positively and befittingly."

T. i. Ep. cxix. ad Max. Antioch. c. 3, p. 121.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 319-320

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.

"We exhort you, honored brother, (Eutyches), that in all things you obediently attend to those things which have been written by the most blessed Pope, (Leo), of the city of Rome, because blessed Peter, who lives and presides in his own see, gives, to those who seek, true faith. For we, in our solicitude for truth and faith, cannot, without the consent of the bishop of the Roman Church, hear causes of faith."

Proleg. Observ. Ed. Baochin. Op. S. Petr. Chrys. p. xvi.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 89-90

Council of Chalcedon, (held in A.D. 451) was convened to oppose the errors of Eutyches, who was archimandrite of a monastery at Constantinople. In avoiding the errors of Nestorius, he fell into an opposite extreme, and taught that in Christ the human nature was so absorbed by the divine, that in Christ there was really but one nature, and that the nature of God.

When this council, held in 451, had closed during the celebration of which Pope Leo had, by his delegates, and in many previous transactions, maintained a conspicuous part, and upheld the jurisdiction of the Roman see -- the eastern prelates there assembled addressed an epistle to him, wherein, after extolling him as "the interpreter of Peter," who had "nourished them by his writings," and declaring that he, by his legates, "had presided over them, as a head over the members," and that to him "the guardianship of the vineyard had been entrusted by the Lord;" they add,

"We signify (to you) that we have also decreed certain other things for the sake of the good ordering of affairs, and for the stability of the ecclesiastical laws, being persuaded that your holiness also, when informed thereof, would both receive and confirm the same. . . . We have confirmed the canon promulgated by the hundred and fifty fathers who assembled at Constantinople ... that after your most blessed and apostolic (throne), that of Constantinople should have the primacy. Being persuaded that, as the apostolic ray shines (rules) with you, you will often extend it to this city of Constantinople, having care (of it) as usual, through your bestowing (without envy) the participation of your own good things upon those who are related to you. The things, therefore, which we have decreed, for the removal of all confusion, and for the confirmation of the good ordering of the Church, vouchsafe, most holy and most blessed father, to embrace them, as both your own and beloved by you, and tending unto decorum. For they who filled the place of your holiness, the most holy bishops, Paschasinus and Lucentius, and the most reverend priest, Boniface, tried to resist exceedingly these things thus arranged, wishing without doubt that this good thing also should be originated by your forethought, that as the happy establishment of the faith, so also of this good order, should be accounted yours. For we, both reverencing the most religious and most Christian sovereigns who were pleased with this, and the illustrious senate, and the whole royal city, so to speak, thought it befitting that the confirmation of the honor of this city should proceed from the ecumenical synod. . . . We therefore call upon you to honor also with your sanction our judgment; even as we have brought our harmonious agreement unto the head in (all) good things, so also let the head fulfil what is befitting for the children. For thus also will the religious sovereigns be reverenced who have confirmed the decision of your holiness as a law; and the throne of Constantinople will make you a return, as it has ever fully exhibited all zeal towards the things disposed by you in the cause of true religion, and has zealously united itself with you in oneness of sentiment."

Ep. Synod. Leoni, col. 836-8; T. iv. Labb. Concil.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 320-321

Council of Rome (held in A.D. 482) where bishops assembled to finally affirm and canonize the canon of both the Old and New Testament Scripture; Pope St. Damasus I presiding.

In an epistle from the fourth council of Rome, held in A.D. 494, we have the following:

"We have also thought that it ought to be noticed, that although the Catholic churches, spread over the world, be the one bridal chamber as it were of Christ, yet has the Roman Church been, by certain synodal constitutions, raised above the rest of the churches; yea, also, by the evangelical voice of the Lord our Savior did it obtain the primacy. "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church." (Matthew 16) There has been also added the dwelling there of the most blessed Apostle Paul, the vessel of election; who, not at a different time, as heretics mutter, but at the same time, and on one and the same day, was crowned, together with Peter, by a glorious death in the city of Rome, suffering under Nero; and together did they consecrate the above-named Roman Church to Christ the Lord, and by their precious and venerable triumph have raised it above all other churches in the whole world. The first see, therefore, of the Apostle Peter, is the Roman Church, which has "no spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Ephesians 5:27)

Labb. t. ii. col. 1013.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 321-322

Victor Vitensis, (c.430-490), also known as Victor of Vite, an African bishop of the province of Byzacena (called Vitensis from his See of Vita); he wrote "The history of persecution of the African province, and Hunirici Geiserici times of the kings of the Vandals". This is mainly a contemporary narrative of the cruelties practised against the orthodox Christians of Northern Africa by the Arian Vandals.

"If the king wish to know our faith, which is the one, true faith, let him send to his friends, and I too will write to my brethren, that my fellow-bishops may come -- men who may be able, with me, to demonstrate to you our common faith; and especially the Roman Church, which is the head of all the churches. . . . If he wish to know the true faith, let him write to his friends that they may direct our Catholic bishops, and I will write to my fellow bishops, because the cause of the whole Catholic Church is one."

De Persec. Afric. l. iii. p. 682; t. viii. Bibl. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 322



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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