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The Early Church Fathers on St. Peter's Presence in Rome.


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures


  1. Lactantius, (A.D. 240-c.330)
    St. Peter of Alexandria, (unknown - A.D. 311)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    Pope St. Damasus I, (A.D. 304-384)
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
Lactantius, (A.D. 240-c.330), was an early Christian author, the goal of his writings was to present Christianity in a form that would be attractive to philosophical pagans.

When Nero was already reigning Peter came to Rome, where, in virtue of the performance of certain miracles which he worked by that power of God which had been given to him, he converted many to righteousness and established a firm and steadfast temple to God. When this fact was reported to Nero, he noticed that not only at Rome but everywhere great multitudes were daily abandoning the worship of idols, and, condemning their old ways, were going over to the new religion. Being that he was a detestable and pernicious tyrant, he sprang to the task of tearing down the heavenly temple and of destroying righteousness. It was he that first persecuted the servants of God. Peter, he fixed to a cross; and Paul, he slew.

The Deaths of the Persecutors 2:5 [inter A.D. 316-320]

St. Peter of Alexandria, (unknown - A.D. 311), Appointed bishop in 300, martyred in 311; he headed the catechetical school at Alexandria. Eusebius calls this great prelate the excellent doctor of the Christian religion, and the chief and divine ornament of bishops; and tells us that he was admirable both for his extraordinary virtue and for his skill in the sciences and profound knowledge of the Holy Scriptures.

Peter, the first chosen of the Apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome.

Canonical Letter, canon 9 [A.D. 306]

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

The Apostle Peter, after he has established the Church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains bishop of that city, preaching the Gospel for twenty-five years.

The Chronicle, Ad An. Dom. 42 [A.D. 303]

"The providence of the universal Ruler led as it were by the hand to Rome, that most powerful and great one of the Apostles, and, on account of his virtue, the mouthpiece (or, leader) of the rest, Peter, against that sad destroyer of the human race (Simon Magus). He, as a noble general (appointed) of God, armed with heavenly weapons, brought the precious merchandise of intellectual light from the east to the dwellers in the west."

H. E. l. ii. c. 14, pp. 63-64.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 12-13

Pope St. Damasus I, (A.D. 304-384), Roman; Pope and personal friend of St. Jerome; he succeeded Liberius in the chair of Rome; he defended with vigor the Catholic faith.

The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf of blessed Peter by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent to Egypt by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious martyrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt before he came to Rome, and where the name Christians was first applied, as to a new people.

The Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]

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.

Thou cannot then deny but thou knowest that, in the city of Rome, on Peter was the first episcopal chair conferred, where of all the Apostles he might sit as the head; whence also was he called Cephas; that in that one chair, unity might be preserved by all; nor the other Apostles, each contend for a distinct chair for himself; and that whoso should set up another chair against the single chair, might at once be a schismatic and a sinner."

"Peter, therefore, first filled that individual chair, which is the first of the marks (of the Church); to him succeeded Linus; to Linus succeeded Clement; to Clement, Anacletus,

[he gives the whole succession] ...

to Liberius, Damasus; to Damasus, Siricius, who is now our colleague, with whom the whole world, by the mutual exchange of circular letters, is concordant with us in one fellowship of communion. You who wish to claim to yourselves the holy Church, tell us the origin of your chair?"

De Schism. Donat. l. ii. n. 2-4.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 2, Page 17-18
The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [circa A.D. 367]

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

[Simon Magus] so deceived the City of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him, and wrote beneath it in the language of the Romans Simoni Deo Sancto, which is translated To the Holy God Simon. While the error was extending itself Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church; and they set the error aright. . . for Peter was there, he that carries about the keys of Heaven.

Catechetical Lectures 6:14 [A.D. 350]

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 for ever pointed out."

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



Some contend that Peter couldn't have been the bishop of Rome because he was never in Rome. This of course runs counter to the testimony of the Early Fathers and Scripture.


In 1 Peter 5:12-13, Peter says:

"I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son."

Babylon was a code word for Rome and is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean the same thing. Examples can be found in Revelation 18:2, 18:10 and 18:21.


The Church's Scriptures that support St. Peter's Presence in Rome:

12 "I write you this briefly through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, exhorting you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Remain firm in it. 13 The chosen one at Babylon sends you greeting, as does Mark, my son."

1 Peter 5:12-13


2 And he cried out with a strong voice, saying: Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen; and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every unclean spirit, and the hold of every unclean and hateful bird.

Revelation 18:2


10 Standing afar off for fear of her torments, saying: Alas! alas! that great city Babylon, that mighty city: for in one hour is thy judgment come.

Revelation 18:10

21 And a mighty angel took up a stone, as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying: With such violence as this shall Babylon, that great city, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.

Revelation 18:21

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