Category Archives: Early Church History

#480 – A History of the Catholic Church -The Gelasian Doctrine

Pope Gelasius I enunciates the proper relationship between the Pope of Rome and the Emperor and the proper relationship between the Pope of Rome and the Metropolitan Bishop of Constantinople. Unfortunately for Gelasius, the Emperor and Bishop of Constantinople have a different understanding.

After the death of Gelasius, Pope Anastasius II strives to ease tensions with the East, to disastrous results.

Links:
The Christ between St. Peter and the Emperor

Letter of Gelasius to Emperor Anastasius I enunciating two powers doctrine

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#480 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Gelasian Doctrine

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#478 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Movement Toward Claustration

In North Africa, Fulgentius of Ruspe defends the Nicenes against the return of Arian Persecution. In Gaul, Caesarius of Arles writes the first Western rule for Monastic Women. In Italy, Theodoric seeks to keep the peace between the Arians and the Nicenes. Plus, the Athanasian and Apostles’ Creeds.

Links:
Page from from the Arian Bible – the Codex Argentus

Map of Europe in 500

Map of Church in Gaul in 506

Selections from Caesarius’ Rule for Virgins/Nuns

Athanasian Creed

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#478 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Movement Toward Claustration

#336 – A History of the Catholic Church – In This Sign

archofconstantine

In the East, Galerius dies and the Meletian Schism comes to Alexandria. In the West, Constantine become the Master of Rome.

Links:
Depiction of Constantine’s victory at Battle of the Milvian Bridge by Luk Constantyna

Image of Chi-Rho according to Eusebius, the image seen by Constantine

Image of Staurogram – according to Lactantius, the image seen by Constantine

Bill Leadbetter, “Constantine and the Bishops: The Roman Church in the Early Fourth Century”, The Journal of Religious History, Vol. 26, No. 1, February 2002

R. Williams, “Arius and the Meletian Schism”, The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1, April 1986, pp. 35-52.

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#336 – A History of the Catholic Church – In This Sign

#335 – A History of the Catholic Church – Tetrarchs and Traditors

trierbasilica

The Imperial Tetrarchy runs into problems with the rise of Constantine and Maxentius, each of whom will look to the Christians to support them against rivals. However, the Church has its own problems as both Rome and Carthage struggle to deal with the effects of the Persecutions and the Donatists come on to the scene.

Links:

Image: reproduction of Constantine’s basilica at Trier.

Coin of Constantine with Sol Invictus

Map of provinces of Roman Empire. In North Africa, you can see province of Proconsularis Africa that supported Caecelian and provinces of Numidia that supported Majorinus.

Maps of territory held by the different Tetrarchs

T. D. Barnes, “The Beginnings of Donatism”, The Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, April 1975, pp. 13-22.

Alan Dearn, “The Abitinian Martys and the Outbreak of the Donatist Schism”, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 55, No. 1, January 2004, pp. 1-18.

Peter Iver Kaufman, “Donatism Revisited: Moderates and Militants in Late Antique North Africa”, Journal of Late Antiquity, Vol. 2, No. 1, Spring 2009, pp. 131-142.

Robert Wisniewski, “Lucilla and the Bone: Remarks on an Early Testimony to the Cult of Relics”, Journal of Late Antiquity, 4.1, Spring 20011, pp. 157-161.

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#335 – A History of the Catholic Church – Tetrarchs and Traditors

#334 – A History of the Catholic Church – Martyrs and Apostates

imageofchristbetweenpeterandpaul

The Great Persecution also effected the Western half of the Roman Empire. While the territory of Constantius Chlorus was only mildly affected, the Christians of Italy and North Africa faced a more difficult situation. Some Christians chose death over submission to the Imperial authorities. Other Christians will abandon their faith in order to preserve their lives. One of those might have been the bishop of Rome Marcellinus. However, as serious as the persecutions were, they won’t keep bishops from meeting at the important Council of Elvira and laying down important future laws for the Church.

Links:

Image: 4th century icon of Christ between Peter and Paul. At the bottom of the icon are images of various Roman martyrs.

Canons of the Council of Elvira

Maureen A. Tilley, Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996.

Robert Grigg, Aniconic Worship and the Apologetic Tradition: A Note on Canon 36 of the Council of Elvira, Church History, vol 45, no. 4, December 1976, 428-433

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#334 – A History of the Catholic Church – Martyrs and Apostates

#333 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Impious On Earth

martyrsofnicomedia

The Great Persecution begins in the Roman Empire as the Imperial Government throws its weight against the Christians. This week: the initial persecution in the Eastern Half of the Empire.

Links:

Image: Icon of the 20,000 Martyrs of Nicomedia

Chronological list of saints in the 4th century

List of Christians martyred under Diocletian

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#333 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Impious on Earth

#332 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Illuminator And The Emperor

gregorytheilluminator

Continuing our history of the conversion of Armenia, we look at the religious and political reasons that motivate that country’s shift from paganism to Christianity. We begin our movement into the Great Persecution with a look at Diocletian’s desire to promote devotion to the Roman gods and his persecution of the Manicheans.

Links:

Image: Image of Gregory the Illuminator

See last episode for links on Armenia

Map of the spread of Christianity by 300 AD

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#332 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Illuminator And The Emperor

#331 -A History of the Catholic Church – Marked With The Seal

saintmaurice

In the years prior to the outbreak of the Great Persecution, the martyrdoms of the Theban Legion and Saint Maurice, Saint Maximilian, and Saint Marcellus demonstrated that it was difficult for the Christian soldiers to serve both Christ and the Emperor. In this episode, we also begin our look at how Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity.

Links:

Image: Saint Maurice by Matthias Grünewald

Donald F. O’Reilly, The Theban Legion of St. Maurice, Vigiliae Christianae, 32, 1978, 195-207

The Passion of St. Maximilian of Tebessa

David Woods – The Origin of the Cult of St. Maximilian of Tebessa

The Passion of St. Marcellus of Tingis

Agathangelos – History of St. Gregory and the Conversion of Armenia

Saint Gregory the Illuminator

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#331 – A History of the Catholic Church – Marked With The Seal

#330 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Thundering Legion

thunderinglegion

The ascension of Diocletian as Emperor brought with it significant changes in the political structure of the Roman Empire – changes that would affect the nature and structure of the Church as well. Christians will wrestle over whether service in the Roman Army is acceptable.

Links:

Image: Image of the Thundering Legion from the Column of Marcus Aurelius by Cristiano64

Eusebius on the Thundering Legion

John Helgeland, “Christians and the Roman Army A.D. 173-337”, Church History, Vol. 43, No. 2, June 1974, pp. 149-163

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#330 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Thundering Legion

#329 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Manifestation Of Our Lord

solinvictus

The History of Religions and the Chronology Theory attempt to explain why Christians in the Roman Empire began to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th and whether there is a relationship between the celebration of the birth of Christ and the pagan celebration of the birth of Sol Invictus. The origins of Christmas and Epiphany are somewhat murky, but do shed light on the life of early Christians.

Links:

Image: Image of the Adoration of the Magi from 4th century sarcophagus

History of Religions Theory presented by Joseph F. Kelly in “The Birth of Christmas”

The Calculation Theory presented by Andrew McGowan in “How December 25 Became Christmas”.

Pope Benedict presents his support of the Calculation Theory in “The Spirit of the Liturgy” pp. 107-109.

Kurt Simmons in The Origins of Christmas and the Date of Christ’s Birth argues against both the History of Religions and Calculation theories – instead asserting that Biblical and historical evidence show likelihood of 25th of December date for Christ’s birth.

Susan K. Roll, “Towards the Origins of Christmas”, 1995.

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#329 – A History of the Catholic Church – The Manifestation of our Lord