Category Archives: Early Church History

#291 – A History of the Catholic Church – Followers of the Way


The Followers of the Way were united in their faith in the Risen Christ and the importance of Baptism and the Eucharist, but that won’t mean that the new leadership won’t have some problems.


Photo of the room of the Last Supper/the Cenacle by Marco Plasio

Wikipedia article on the Cenacle

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podcasticon#291 – A History of the Catholic Church – Followers of the Way

#283 – Te Deum

The Te Deum is one of the oldest and most important hymns of the Catholic Church. It has pride of place at the most important celebrations of the Church. Many composers have written their own versions of the hymn, including one composer whose Te Deum cost him his life.

The Te Deum in Latin and English
Te Deum in Latin chant
Part of Lully’s Te Deum
The Te Matrem Dei laudamus te can be found in Latin and English
The Enthronement of Metropolitan William Skurla

Blackburn, Bonnie J. “‘Te Matrem Dei Laudamus:’ A Study in the Musical Veneration of Mary.” The Musical Quarterly 53, no. 1 (January 1, 1967): 53–76.
Julian, John. “Te Deum”. A Dictionary of Hymnology, Setting Forth the Origin and History of Christian Hymns of All Ages and Nations. New York: Dover Publications, 1957: 1119-1134.
Springer, Carl P.E. “Nicetas and the Authorship of the Te Deum”. Studia Patristica 33. (Leuven: Peeters Press, 1997): 325-331.

Image: Saint Ambrose baptizes Saint Augustine by Benozzo Gozzoli

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podcasticon#283 – Te Deum”

#267 – Sub Tuum Praesidium

The Sub Tuum Praesidium is the oldest prayer dedicated to the Mother of God we have. It is a prayer that continues to inspire the hearts of Christians today, just as it did over 1,750 years ago.

Extensive article on the Sub Tuum Praesidium
Another article on the Sub Tuum Praesidium can be found here
An article on the Rylands Parchment can be found here

Various versions of the Sub Tuum Praesidium in Greek [begins at 2:13], Latin, Russian [Bortnianskii], another Russian version, a version by Mozart

Johnson, Maxwell E. “Sub Tuum Praesidium: The Theotokos in Christian Life and Worship before Ephesus”. In The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer: Christology, Trinity, Liturgical Theology. Eds. Bryan D. Spinks and Martin Jean. Liturgical Press, 2008. 243-267.
Mathewes-Green, Frederica. The Lost Gospel of Mary: The Mother of Jesus in Three Ancient Texts. Paraclete Press, 2007.

Image – the Rylands Parchment

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podcasticon#267 – Sub Tuum Praesidium

#264 – Alexamenos Worships God

The graffito blasfemo graphically represents the type of persecution that Christians faced in the Roman Empire. Scandalous at the time it was made, it now stands as a powerful testimony to the Christian faith.

Article on the Alexamenos graffito
An interesting and informative talk on the image of the crucifixion in art

Green, Bernard. Christianity in Ancient Rome: The First Three Centuries. New York: T & T Clark, 2010
Lampe, Peter. From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003
Sheckler, Allyson Everingham. “The Crucifixion Conundrum and the Santa Sabina Doors”. Harvard Theological Review 103, no. 1 (2010): 67-88

A clearer image of the Alexamenos graffito and the Staurogram

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podcasticon#264 – Alexamenos Worships God

#257 – Church and Empire

The incarnation of Christ greatly influenced our understanding of history. In turn, the development of history has greatly influenced our understanding of God’s activity in the world. Perhaps the clearest example of this was the relationship of Christianity and the Roman Empire.

Catholic audio lectures for the iPhone and Android

Breisach, Ernst. Historiography: Ancient Medieval, and Modern. 2007.
Chestnut, Glenn F. The First Christian Histories: Eusebius, Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Evagrius. 1986.
Daly, Christopher T., ed. Augustine and History. 2007.

Photo “Stories of life and passion of Christ” by Gaudenzio Ferrari

CNMC – Catholic New Media Celebration

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podcasticon#257 – Church and Empire

Today in Catholic History – The death of Boethius

On 23 October 524, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius,commonly called Boethius, was executed by Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great.

Boethius is famous for his contributions to philosophy and theology, especially for his work The Consolation of Philosophy which stressed that despite the sufferings of this world that there was a higher power which guided all things for good. Boethius’ translations of Aristotle were the only known works of Aristotle known in Western Europe until the 12th century. His other works proved to be instrumental in passing the knowledge of Ancient Greece and Rome to future generations. His theological works defended orthodox Christianity against Arianism and Nestorianism.

Ostrogoth king Theodoric accused Boethius of plotting with Byzantine Emperor Justin I against him and ordered him executed.

Boethius is considered a saint and martyr in the Catholic Church because he defended orthodox Christianity against the Arianism of Theodoric and this was believed to have been the reason for Boethius’ death.

“Boethius, the symbol of an immense number of people unjustly imprisoned in all ages and on all latitudes, is in fact an objective entrance way that gives access to contemplation of the mysterious Crucified One of Golgotha.” – Benedict XVI

Today in Catholic History – The Martyrdom of St. Theodoret of Antioch

On 22 October 362, St. Theodoret of Antioch was martyred under the reign of Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate.

Theodoret had refused to turn over the treasury of one of the Antiochean churches to the Roman authorities and was arrested. When Theodoret was brought before the Roman governor of Syria also named Julian, Theodoret condemned the apostasy of the governor who had abandoned Christianity and returned to paganism. Theodoret was tortured and later condemned to be killed by beheading.

There is a Christian tradition that Theodoret prophesied the death of Emperor Julian in battle against the Sassanid Empire.

Today in Catholic History – The Second Council of Nicaea

On 24 September 787, 350 clergy met in Nicea at what would become the Second Council of Nicea and the Seventh Ecumenical Council.

The main objective of the council was to address the schism between East and West over Iconoclasm heresy. In 754, the Council of Hieria had condemned the veneration of icons but the council was not recognized by the Pope or any of the Eastern Patriarchs. As a result of the advocacy of Iconoclasm by Byzantine Emperors Leo VI and Constantine V, Rome had broken with Constantinople.

However after the death of Constantine V, Byzantine Empress Irene, and Patriarch of Constantinople Tarasius sought both to reunite Rome and Constantinople and to restore the veneration of icons. Pointing to support from the scriptures and the Church Fathers, the Second Council of Nicea proclaimed that it was fitting and praiseworthy to venerate icons as the honor given to an icon was truly offered to the saint, angel, or Christ represented by the icon.

#245 – Praise God At All Times

From the earliest days of the Catholic Church, hymns sung in worship expressed the faith of Christians. Two of the earliest hymns the Phos Hilaron and the Oxyrhynchus Hymn show clearly the obligation that Christians had to offer praise to God and to express their thanksgiving in song.

Youtube video of the Phos Hilaron in Greek
Youtube video of the Oxyrhynchus Hymn
Photo of the Oxyrhychus Hymn fragment

Photo by J. Samuel Burner

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podcasticon#245 – Praise God At All Times

Today in Catholic History – The Council of Agde

On 10 September 506, twenty four bishops, eight priests and two deacons met in council at the Basilica of St. Andrew at Agde in Languedoc under the leadership of St. Caesarius of Arles. In its 47 canons we can see the beginnings of the system of benefices [land given in return for service]. Other canons stress that freed slaves must be given sufficient land on which to live, altars must be consecrated with chrism and a priestly blessing, hymns were to be sung every day morning and evening in cathedrals, the faithful were to attend Mass and abstain from all work on the Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist and that the clergy were to remain unmarried.

The Matins and Vespers prayers required by the canons of Agde show an important step in the development of the modern Liturgy of the Hours.

Thus, while the Council of Agde was a local council, it’s decisions would be influential upon the entire Catholic Church.


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