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


  • Early Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



  1. St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    Firmilian of Cæsarea, (A.D. 210-272)
    Pope St. Dionysius of Alexandria, (late second century - A.D. 268)
    Lactantius, (A.D. 240-c.330)
    St. Alexander of Alexandria, (c. A.D. 250-325)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Pacian of Barcelona, (A.D. c.310-375)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367),
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431)
St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

The spouse of Christ cannot be defiled; she is uncorrupted and chaste. She knows one home.

    • Does anyone believe that this unity which comes from divine strength, which is closely connected with the divine sacraments, can be broken asunder in the Church and be separated by the divisions of colliding wills?

He who does not hold this unity, does not hold the law of God, does not hold the faith of the Father and the Son, does not hold life and salvation.

On the Unity of the Catholic Church 6 [ A.D. 251]

Peter speaks there, on whom the Church was to be built, teaching and showing in the name of the Church, that although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not hear or obey may depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church, and the Church in the bishop; and if any one be not with the bishop, that he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God's priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of priests who cohere with one another.

Letters 66 [ A.D. 253]

After citing several passages, both from the Old and New Testament, and amongst the rest St. Luke 10:16, He that heareth you, heareth me, he continues:

"As to Novatian, dear brother, concerning whom you have desired me to write you word, what heresy he has introduced, you must know, in the first place, that we ought not to be curious as to what he teaches, since he teaches without (the Church). Whosoever he be, and whatsoever he be, he is no Christian who is not in Christ's Church.

Let him vaunt himself, and preach up his philosophy and his eloquence with proud words, he who has neither held to brotherly love, nor to ecclesiastical unity, has lost also what he before was. Unless, may be, he seem to you to be a bishop, who, when a bishop had been made in the Church by sixteen fellow-bishops, strives, by canvassing, to be made, by renegades, an adulterous and extraneous bishop. And whereas there is, from Christ, one Church divided throughout the whole world into many members; as also one episcopate, diffused throughout an harmonious multitude of many bishops; that man (Novatian), not withstanding God's tradition, notwithstanding the unity of the Catholic Church everywhere compacted and conjoined, strives to make a human church, and sends his new apostles through divers cities, in order to lay certain new foundations of his own institution; and though there have long since been ordained, throughout all the provinces and in each city, bishops, men advanced in age, sound in faith, tried in difficulties, proscribed during the persecution, he dares to create other false bishops over them, as if he would traverse the whole world in the obstinacy of his new attempt, or tear asunder the linked union of the ecclesiastical body by scattering the seeds of his discord; not knowing that schismatics always burn with zeal at the outset, but that what they began unlawfully cannot have increase or extension, but at once falls away with its guilty rivalry.

But he could not hold the episcopate, even though he had been made bishop before Cornelius, since he has fallen away from the body of his co-bishops, and from the unity of the Church; for the Apostle admonishes us mutually to support each other, for fear lest we recede from the unity which God has appointed, and says:

"Supporting one another in charity, careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Ephesians 4:2,3

He, therefore, that neither keeps the "Unity of the Spirit, nor the bond of peace", and separates himself from the bond of the Church, and from the college of presbyters, can neither have the power, nor the honor of a bishop, who chose neither to hold to the unity, nor the peace, of the episcopacy. And then what swelling pride is it, what forgetfulness of humility and meekness, what an act of arrogance that any one should dare, or believe that he can, do what the Lord did not even grant to the Apostles, think that he can separate the tares from the wheat, or separate the chaff from the corn, as if it had been given to him to carry the fan, and to cleanse the thrashing-floor. And whereas the Apostle says:

"In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but of wood and of earth, he would seem to pick out the vessels of gold and of silver, and to despise and cast aside and condemn those of wood and of earth, when only in the day of the Lord will the vessels of wood be burnt with the fire of the divine wrath, and the vessels of clay be broken by Him to whom has been given the rod of iron."

Ep. lii. ad Antonianum, pp. 156, 157.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 32-34

    • There being these numerous, weighty, and many other such examples as precedents, whereby God has condescended to confirm the sacerdotal authority and power, what kind of men do they think they are who, as enemies of the priesthood, and rebels against the Catholic Church, are neither scared by the Lord's forewarning threats, nor by the vengeance of a future judgment?

For neither have heresies sprung up, nor schisms been engendered, from other source than this, that obedience is not paid to the priest of God, nor attention given to this, that there is but one priest at a time in a church, and who for the time is judge in Christ's stead, whom, if the brotherhood would, according to the divine commands, obey:

    • no one would stir anything in opposition to the college of priests;
    • no one would, after the divine sanction, after the suffrage of the people, after the consent of the fellow-bishops, make himself a judge, not now merely of a bishop, but of God;
    • no one would, by a breach of unity, tear in pieces Christ's Church;
    • no one, pleasing himself and swelling with pride, would found a new heresy apart and without (the Church): unless there be a man of so sacrilegious rashness and abandoned a mind, as to think that a priest is made without the judgment of God.

Ep. Iv. ad Cornelium, pp. 177, 178.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 34-35

"Nor, indeed, because a few rash and wicked men abandon the heavenly and saving ways of the Lord, and not doing what is holy, are forsaken by the Holy Spirit, ought we, therefore, to be so unmindful of the divine tradition, as to account the crimes of these enthusiasts of greater weight than the judgments of the priests, or fancy that human efforts avail more to attack, than the divine guardianship to protect.

    • Is then the dignity of the Catholic Church, and the faithful and uncorrupted majesty of the people within her, and the priestly authority, too, and power, to be laid down for this, that men who are set without the Church may tell us they wish to judge a prelate of the Church?
      • heretics (pass judgment) on a Christian?
      • The wounded on the sound!
      • the maimed on the uninjured!
      • the fallen on him that stands firm!
      • the guilty on the judge!
      • the sacrilegious on a priest!"

Ep. Iv. ad Cornelium, pp. 184, 185.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 35

"Since Novatian, whom this man (Marcianus, Bishop of Aries) follows, has been long ago excommunicated, and judged an enemy to the Church, who, when he sent his agents to us in Africa, desiring to be admitted into communion with us, carried back hence from a numerous council of priests, who were then assembled, this sentence, that he had begun to be without, nor could any of us be in communion with him, who, when Cornelius had been, by the judgment of God, and the suffrage of the clergy and people, ordained bishop in the Catholic Church, had attempted to erect a profane altar, to set up an adulterous chair, and to offer sacrilegious sacrifices in opposition to the true priest, and that, therefore, if he wished to repent, and to return to a wholesome feeling, he should do penitence, and return as a suppliant to the Church, — how idle is it, that after Novatian has been repulsed, and cast back, and excommunicated, throughout the whole world, by the priests of God, still to suffer his flatterers now to mock us, and to pass judgment on the majesty and dignity of the Church. . . . .

"For this cause is the numerous body of priests knit together with the glue of mutual concord, and the bond of unity, that if any of our college should attempt to create a heresy, and to rend and lay waste the flock of Christ, the rest may come in aid, and, like useful and merciful shepherds, gather into (one) flock the Lord's sheep " For although we are many shepherds, yet do we feed but one flock; and we ought to gather together and to cherish all the sheep which, with His blood and passion, Christ sought. . . .The Lord declares those men execrable and abominable who please themselves, who, swollen and inflated, arrogantly assume something to themselves. Of which number since Marcianus has begun to be, and, uniting himself to Novatian, stands forth the enemy of mercy and piety, let him not give, but receive sentence; nor so act as if it were he that had judged the college of priests, whereas he himself has been judged by the whole priesthood. The glory and honor of our predecessors, the blessed martyrs Cornelius and Lucius, ought to be guarded; whose memory whilst we honor, much more ought you, by your weight and authority, to honor and guard it, who have been made the vicar and successor of them."

Ep. Ixvii. ad Stephanum,pp. 248-250.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 35-36

Firmilian of Cæsarea, (A.D. 210-272), Cappadocian; bishop, contemporary of Gregory Thaumaturge, ardent admirer of Origen; remembered for the moral support he gave St. Cyprian of Carthage on the issue of baptizing heretics.

"As to what Stephen has asserted, as though the Apostles had forbidden those who came over from heresy to be baptized, and had handed this down to be observed by posterity, you (Cyprian) have answered most fully, that no one is so foolish as to believe that the Apostles have handed this down, seeing even that it is certain that these execrable and detestable heresies took their rise after their time. . . . Further, that they, who are at Rome, do not, in all things, observe what has been handed down from the beginning, and in vain put forward the authority of the Apostles, any one may know even from this, that as regards the celebration of the Easter-day, and many other sacraments of divine concernment, there are amongst them sundry diversities, and that their observance does not exactly correspond with that at Jerusalem; in which respect there are also, in many other provinces, many differences, according to the diversity of place and names; and yet not on that account has there ever been a departure from the peace and unity of the Catholic Church.

This breach Stephen has now dared to make, breaking with you that peace which his predecessors ever maintained with you in mutual love and honor; and besides this, defaming the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, as if they had handed this down; they who, in their epistles, have execrated heretics, and warned us to avoid them. Whence it is apparent that this is a human tradition which upholds heretics, and insists that they have baptism, which appertains to the Church alone."

Inter op. S. Cypriani, Ep. lxxv. p. 303.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 403-404

Pope St. Dionysius of Alexandria, (late second century - A.D. 268), bishop and pope from A.D. 259 to 268, born to a wealth pagan family, spent most of his life reading books and carefully studying the traditions of heretics, wrote many correspondence letters, many are found in the re-written works of Eusebius.

"Some indeed of those before us have utterly repudiated and refuted this book (the Apocalypse), examining it chapter by chapter, and showing it to be both unintelligible and inconsistent (or, unconnected), and that the title is false. For they say that it is not John's; nay, that it is not a revelation, wrapped up as it is in so exceeding and thick a covering of ignorance; and that the composer of the work is not only not any one of the Apostles, but not even any one of the saints at all, or any member of the Church; but that it was Cerinthus, — he who set up the heresy called from him the Cerinthian, — who wished to affix to his system a name that carried with it credit. . . .

But I would not venture to repudiate this book; many of the brethren holding it in esteem. And conceiving this opinion concerning it, that it is above my comprehension, I suppose it to contain in each part a hidden and very admirable meaning. . . . That the writer is called John; and that this is the writing of John, I do not gainsay; and I also admit, that it is the work of some holy and divinely-inspired individual; but I would not readily acknowledge that this is the Apostle, the son of Zebedee, and the brother of James, he from whom are the gospel entitled according to John, and also the Catholic epistle."

Euseb. II. E. l. vii. c. xxv. pp. 352-3.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 327

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.

"As many heresies have sprung up, and as, by the instigation of demons, the people of God has been divided, truth is by us briefly to be defined, and at the same time to be placed in its own proper dwelling place; that so if any one desire to draw the water of life, he may not be carried to broken cisterns that hold no water, but become acquainted with the most bountiful fountain of God, watered by which he may possess perennial life. It behooves us, then, first of all, to know that both Himself and His ambassadors foretold that many sects and heresies would have existence, and sever the concord of the holy body, and warned us to use the utmost prudence and care, for fear lest we might at any time fall into the snares and wiles of that adversary with whom it is God's will that we should wrestle. . . . Some of ours there have been, either less settled in faith, or less learned, or less prudent, who have caused a breach in unity, and disunited the Church. . . . Whilst some there have been, not learned enough in the heavenly writings, who, unable to reply to their opponents, when they objected that it was both impossible and unbecoming that God should be enclosed within a woman's womb . . . have been perverted from the right path, and have corrupted the heavenly writings, so far as to fashion for themselves a new doctrine without any root or firmness: whilst some, enticed away by the predictions of false prophets, who have been, both by Him and by the true prophets, foretold, have fallen away from God's doctrine, and abandoned the true tradition. But all these, entangled in demoniacal wiles which they ought to have foreseen, and to have guarded against, have, by their imprudence, lost the divine name and worship. For whereas they are called:

      • Phrygians or
      • Novatians, or
      • Valentinians, or
      • Marcionites, or
      • Anthropians (Arians), or
      • other such

they ceased to be Christians, who, having lost the name of Christ, assumed human and extraneous titles.

The Catholic Church is therefore the only one that retains the true worship. This is the source of truth; this the dwelling-place of faith; this the temple of God, which whosoever enters not, or from which whosoever departs, he is an alien from the hope of life, and eternal salvation. No one ought to flatter himself by means of obstinate disputation; for life and salvation are at stake, which, if not prudently and sedulously looked to, are lost and utterly destroyed.

But, as every sect of heretics thinks itself above every other Christian, the Catholic Church, it is to be known is the true Church wherein are Confession and penitence, which wholesomely heal the wounds and sins to which the weakness of the flesh is subject.
Thus much, in a few words, have I set down by way of admonition, lest any one desirous of avoiding error become entangled in a greater error, whilst ignorant of the shrine of truth."

Divin. Inst. L. iv. c. 30.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 43-44

St. Alexander of Alexandria, (c.A.D. 250-325), He succeeded to the chair of Alexandria about the year A.D. 312. He was the first to resist the heresy of Arius, whom he condemned, and whose against novelties he wrote numerous letters to the bishops of various churches; only two of these remain.

"These Arians will not condescend to compare any of the ancients with themselves; nor endure that the masters, whom we have used from our childhood, be equaled with them; nay, they do not think that any one of our fellow-ministers throughout the whole world has attained to any measure of wisdom. They alone are the wise, though poor in everything; and declare themselves the discoverers of truths, and that to them alone have been revealed things which have never entered even into the thoughts of anyone else under the sun. Oh, the unhallowed pride and boundless madness, and vain-glory befitting their atrabilious spirit, and the Satanic arrogance, that have hardened into their very souls! Neither the explanation, well-pleasing unto God, of the ancient Scripture, has shamed them, nor the concordant pious doctrine of their fellow-ministers concerning Christ has repressed their audacity against Him, whose unhallowed work not even will the devils endure. ... Of them (Father and Son) we believe as it seems right to the Apostolic Church. . . . (We acknowledge) one and one only Catholic and Apostolic Church, ever indeed incapable of being overthrown, even though the whole world should choose to war against it, and which will conquer every most unhallowed opposition of the heterodox, the Master of the household Himself having made us confident, in that He cried out,

"Have confidence, I have overcome the world."

John 16:33

[Having explained the Apostles Creed, he adds:]

These things we teach, these we proclaim, these are the Apostolic doctrines of the Church, for which too we would die."

Ep. de Arian. Hæres. Labbe, t. ii. pp. 19-21, and Galland, t. iv. pp. 447, 448.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 44-45

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.

"Into Edom will I stretch out my shoe."

Psalms 107:10

"Again, you will not err if you say that the Apostles are the "shoe", or they who minister the Gospel even unto this day. . . . . .He orders His disciples to evangelize all the nations in His name. Thus, then, even unto this present time, the God of the universe prophesies, that He will dwell in His holy place, and will in it, and through it, speak to men. . . . .

      • Who will bring me into the fortified city?
      • Who will lead me into Edom?

And it is very wonderful that God is spoken of as not walking with naked feet, but with "shoes," the word indicating the souls that minister to His will, by means of whom, having completed the vocation of the Gentiles, He established over the whole earth His city, I mean His Catholic Church, and the assembly of God-serving men; of which city it is elsewhere said,

      • Glorious things are said of thee, city of God. Psalms 86:3, and
      • The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful. Psalms 45

This fortified city, therefore, when the prophet desired to behold, he said,

      • "Who will bring me into the fortified city or, into the city fenced round?"

for so Symmachus interprets: for the gates and doors and bolts of the divine powers fence it round, that it may not suffer any devastation. Therefore did the Savior say concerning it, "I will build my Church upon a rock, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it."

In Ps. lix. t. l, pp. 282-284. — Nov. Collect. (Montfaucon) Patr. Graec. Paris. 1707.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 46-47

"He alone, having been born in that city, settled and confirmed The city of God, that is, a system according to God, and a God-fearing institution, throughout the whole universe, by means of His Catholic Church, which is settled in every place and country and city, to which we ought to be persuaded that the saying applies, "Glorious things are said of thee, O city of God"; and, "The stream of the river maketh the city of God joyful", and whatever else of this nature is set down in the divine Scriptures."

Comm. in Ps. lxxxvi. t. i. p. 539 (Montfaucon), Nov. Collect. PP. Gr.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 47

Writing against Marcellus of Ancyra, he says,

"There is, therefore, one God, and one Mediator between God and man, and all creatures; who has not now begun His saving mediation, but who was also (Mediator) before His divine appearance amongst men. . . . And besides the divine writings, the Catholic Church of God, from one end of the earth to the other, sets her seal, out of unwritten tradition, to the testimony of the divine Scriptures."

Dem. Evang. Contra Marcell. I. i. c. i. p. 9.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 249-250

"The false accusations invented by our Pagan enemies quickly disappeared self-refuted; whilst fresh sects sprang up anew upon sects; the first always passing away, and corrupted, in a variety of ways, into other views of many modes and forms. But the splendor, solemnity, sincerity, and liberty of the Catholic and alone true Church, a Church always holding uniformly to the same things, still went on increasing and magnifying."

II. E. 1. iv. c. 7. See also De Laudilus Constantini, cap. 16, p. 768. Demonst. Evang. I. vi. c. 18, pp. 289-294, et passim.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 283-302

"And the works of justice shall be peace, and justice shall obtain quietness, and security for ever."

Isaiah 32:17, 18

In place of that great and proud city that has been destroyed, he prophesies that another city was to be built unto God, the Catholic Church reaching from one end of the earth to the other, and also predicts the devout institution in it."

Comment. in Hes. c. 32, t. ii. p. 484. Nova Collect. Montf.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 288

St. Athanasius of Alexandria, (A.D. 296-372), Egyptian; bishop, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. He was present, as an assistant to St. Alexander of Alexandria, at the council of Nicea who he succeeded in A.D. 326. During more than forty years he was the champion of orthodoxy, and suffered much severe persecution from the Arian party.

"But let us nevertheless, in addition to the above, see the tradition which is from the beginning, and the doctrine and faith of the Catholic Church, which the Lord indeed communicated, but the Apostles proclaimed and the fathers guarded; for on this has the Church been founded, and he who falls away from this, would not be, nor would he even be called, Christian."

Ep. i. ad Serapion. n. 28, t. 1, p. 540, ed. Ben. Patav. 1777.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 48-49

They (the fathers at Nicea) wrote indeed respecting Easter,

"It has seemed good to have a general compliance; but as regards the faith, they wrote,

Thus believes the Catholic Church, . . . "And in confessing what they believed said that their sentiment was not novel, but apostolical, and that what they wrote down was not a discovery of their own, but the same as the Apostles had taught."

De Synodis, n. 5, t. i. p. 575.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 49

It is enough to give this only for answer to these things (asserted by the Arians), and to say,

"These things are not of the Catholic Church, neither did the fathers think thus."

Ep. ad Epictet. n. 3, p. 722, t. 1.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 49

"For this has been the device and cunning purpose (of the Arians), to seek to drive from their chairs, and to hunt down those who in any place are of the orthodox faith, and who hold to that teaching of the Catholic Church which has been handed down to them from their fathers."

Apol. con. Arian (Ex Ep. Syn. Sard.) n. 37, t. i. pp. 122-3.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 407

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"Blessed be the chosen one, who has chosen the Catholic Church, that holy lamb which the devouring wolf has not consumed. . . . Give heed, therefore, to my instructions, as my disciples, and depart not from the Catholic faith, which I also, having received it in my boyhood, have preserved immovable; neither turn aside from it in any doubt. And if any one separates themselves, or turns aside, in opposition to God and His holy Church, may he be forced down, breathing and living, into Hell. . . . And if anyone be lifted up against the Catholic Church, may he be smitten with leprosy, like the foolish Giezi."

T. ii. Gr. Test. S. Ephr. pp 242-243.
The Faith of Catholics,Vol. 1, page 293

St. Pacian of Barcelona, (A.D. c.310-375), bishop of Barcelona, Jerome praises his eloquence, learning, chastity, and holiness of life. He is also remembered from a phrase from one of his letters: "My name is Christian, my surname is Catholic.".

"Many resisted both the Lord Himself and His Apostles, nor could truth obtain belief except where consent sprang from religious conviction. I have accordingly written to you, my lord, not with anything like a persuasion that I can extort conviction from one that does not wish to be convinced, but with the consciousness that I could not deny, to any one that wishes it, an entrance to holy peace; which peace, if it be after your own soul and heart, there ought to be no dispute about the name Catholic.

For if it is through God that our people obtain this name, the title ought not to be questioned, when a divine authority is followed; if through man, it is for you to detect when the name was usurped. Further, if the name be a good one, it cannot be the object of dislike; if bad, it cannot be the subject of envy. I hear that the Novatians are so called after Novatus, or Novatian; still it is the sect which I blame in them, not the name; nor has any one made their mere name an objection against Montanus, or the Phrygians.

But, under the Apostles, you will say, "no one was called a Catholic". Grant this to have been the fact; or suppose it to have been so.

      • When heresies, after the Apostles days, arose, and, under divers names, strove to tear and scatter piecemeal the dove of God, and His queen, did not the apostolic people require a peculiar name whereby to distinguish the unity of the people that had not been corrupted, for fear lest the error of a few might tear limb by limb the unstained virgin of God?
      • Was it not beseeming that the principal head should be designated by a suitable title?

Suppose I entered, this very day, into a populous city, and found there:

        • Marcionites
        • Apollinarists
        • Cataphrygians
        • Novatians, and
        • others of the same sort, all calling themselves Christians.

      • By what name should I be able to recognize the congregation of my own people, were it not from its being called Catholic?

Come, tell me, who bestowed so many names on the other peoples!

        • Why have so many cities, so many nations, each their own description?

The very man who calls in question the name Catholic, will he be ignorant of the cause of his own name, if I shall inquire its origin? Whence was it delivered to me? Assuredly, that which has stood during so many ages was not borrowed from man.

This name "Catholic" sounds not of Marcion, nor of Apelles, nor of Montanus, nor does it take heretics as its authors. . . . . Christian is my name, but Catholic my surname. That names me, this describes me; by this I am approved; by that designated. And if at last we must give an account of the word Catholic, and express it, from the Greek, by a Latin interpretation, "Catholic" is "everywhere one", or, as the more learned think, obedience in all the commandments of God. . . . Therefore he who is a Catholic, the same is obedient to what is right. He who is obedient, the same is a Christian, and thus the Catholic is a Christian. Wherefore our people, when named Catholic, are separated by this appellation from the heretical name.

But if also the word Catholic means "everywhere one", as those first think, David indicates this very thing when he says,

"The queen stood in a gilded clothing, surrounded with variety."

Psalms 44:10

that is, one amidst all. . . . Amidst all she is one, and one over all. If you ask the reason of the name, it is manifest."

Ep. i. n. 2-4; Galland. t. vii. pp. 257-8.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 294-296

"On the name Catholic I answered fully and with calmness. For I said that it mattered to neither, what the other was called. And if you demanded the meaning of the name, I said that, whatever it might be, it was wonderful, whether it was one in all, or one over all, or (an interpretation which I have not mentioned before) the king's son, that is, the Christian people. Certainly too that was no accessory name which endured through so many ages. And indeed I am glad for thee, that although thou may have preferred others, you agree that the name attaches to us.

What, should you deny?

Nature would cry out. But and if you still have doubts, let us hold our peace. We will both be that which we shall be named, witness the antiquity of the name. If, however, you persevere in asking, beware lest that man of might exclaim, "Why do you ask my name, which is Wonderful?" (Judges 13:18) I next added, that we need not consider whence Catholics derived this name, because neither was it wont to be any imputation against the Valentinians, if they were called after Valentinus; nor the Phrygians, if from Phrygia; nor the Novatians, if after Novatian. At this you are grievously excited; start as if stung; and in your anger exclaim,

"Is it ever any objection to that holy man Cyprian, if his people have the name Apostaticum, or Capitolinum, or Syndreum?"

Thou revilest; but see, I am not moved. Have we ever borne any such name! Ask a century, brother, and all its years in succession, whether this name has adhered to us; whether the people of Cyprian have been called anything other than Catholic? For myself, I never heard any of your names. And can a man have a name, and not know it? What mean you then? These are not names, but insults. . . . Could I allow myself to be angry, I too could retort on you with as many names as you will. You call Cyprian a saint, and his people apostate! How can this be? If the first-fruit be holy, so is the lump also; and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (Romans 11:16) Am I an apostate, or was Novatus such? Novatus, I say, who forsook his father, and abandoned the Church. . . .

Do you deny that the Novatians are so called after Novatian?

This will ever cling to them, give them what name you will. Search, if you choose, whole annals, and trust so many ages. You will answer, "Christian". But if I ask the genus of the sect, you will not deny that it is Novatian. And yet it is not the name of your Novatian that I censure, and which, in spite of all my questioning, you hide with so many circumlocutions, and, if I may so speak, in closed bosom. Confess it without deceit. There is no crime in the name. . . . Do you envy me my name, and yet shun your own? See what shame must attach to a cause which shrinks from its own name."

Ep. ii. n. 2, 3, pp. 259-60.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 296-297

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

"We think that we may meet with the approval of all Catholics thus: that it behooves us not to recede from the received creed (Nicaea) which, after being examined by all of us, we have in all its parts approved: and that we shall not recede from the faith, which we have received through the prophets, — the Holy Spirit teaching from God the Father through Christ our Lord, — and in the gospels, and in all the Apostles, as once laid it continues even to this day, through the tradition of the fathers, according to a succession from the Apostles, even to the discussion had at Nicaeca against the heresy which had, at that period, sprung up."

Ex. op. Hist. Fragm. vii. (Defin. Cathol. in Condi. Arim.) n.3, t. ii. p. 684
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 268-269

Explaining St. Matthew 10:2, he says,

"The Lord instructs them not to meddle with the houses and friendships of those who either persecute or know not Christ; and to inquire in every city who is worthy of their dwelling there, — that is, wheresoever the Church is and Christ the indweller, — and not to pass anywhere else, seeing that the house is worthy, and the host righteous. . . . There would be many Jews, whose affection for the law would be so great, that although, through admiration of His works, they had believed on Christ, would still abide in the works of the law; whilst others, impelled by curiosity to spy the liberty which is in Christ, would pretend to have passed over from the law to the gospels; and many, through a perverseness of understanding, be betrayed even into heresy.

And because all men of this kind, deceiving and flattering their hearers, state falsely that with them is Catholic truth, therefore did He give the above admonition, that one that is worthy is to be sought out with whom to dwell; but because, through the deceitfulness of words, the ignorant might fall in with a host of the above description, that house itself which is called worthy, to wit the Church which is called Catholic, is sedulously and carefully to be made use of."

Comment, in Matthew Chapter 10. n. 7, 9, t. 1, pp. 712-13.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 289-290

In truth, Constantius, thy mercy should hear the voice of those who exclaim,

"I am a Catholic, I will not be a heretic; I am a Christian, not an Arian, and better were it for me to suffer death in this world, than to violate the spotless virginity of truth, through the dominant power of any individual."

Ad Constant. August. Lib. 1, n. 2, t. ii. p. 536.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 290

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.
      • Why infringe on such a promise, so as that the broad expanse of kingdom is confined by you into a kind of prison-house?
      • Why strive you to throw obstacles in the way of so great an act of love?
      • Why flight you against the Saviour's merits?

Allow the Son to possess what has been given Him: allow the Father to fulfill His promises.

      • Why put you up boundaries?
      • Why fix limits?

Since, on the part of God the Father, the whole earth was promised to the Saviour, there is not one thing in any part of the earth which seems excepted from being His possession. The whole earth with its inhabitants has been given; the whole earth is to Christ one possession. This is proved by the God who says,

"I will give Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession."

And in the seventy-first psalm thus it is written of the same Saviour,

"He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the rivers unto the ends of the earth."

The Father in giving makes no exception; you give an ounce, and try to take away the whole pound. And you still strive to persuade men, that with you only is the Church; robbing Christ of what He has merited; denying Him what the Father has granted. Oh, the ungrateful and foolish presumption of your party! Christ invites you with the rest of men unto the fellowship of the heavenly kingdom, and exhorts you to be joint-heirs; and you try to defraud Him of the inheritance granted Him by the Father, by giving Him a part of Africa, and refusing Him the whole world bestowed on Him by the Father.

[He continues the same mode of argument, quoting Psalms 49:1, 112:3, 115:1,3, and reasoning from them as from the preceding texts, concludes thus:]

We have therefore proved that it is the Catholic Church which is spread over the whole earth. We have now to commemorate its adornments, and to see where are the five marks, which by you are propounded as six: amongst which (marks) the chair is the first, where unless a bishop sit, the second gift, which is the angel, cannot be."

De Schism. Donat. l. ii. n. 1, 2.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 292-293

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.

"The faith which we rehearse contains in order the following:

"And into one baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, and into one holy Catholic Church"

. . . . Now it is called Catholic, because it is throughout the whole world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally (catholically) and completely all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it subjugates unto godliness (or, to the true religion) the whole race of men, both governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals every sort of sins committed by soul and body, and possesses, in itself, every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and every kind of spiritual gifts, it is rightly called Church, because it calls forth and assembles together all men."

25. Of old the Psalmist sung,

"In the Church bless ye God the Lord, from the fountains of Israel."

Psalms 67

But since the Jews, through their evil designs against the Saviour, have been cast away from grace, the Saviour has built out of the Gentiles a second holy Church, the Church of us Christians, concerning which He said to Peter,

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

Matthew 16:18

Concerning this holy Catholic Church, Paul writes to Timothy,

"That thou mayest know how thou oughtest to be have thyself in the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and ground of the truth."

1 Timothy 3:15

But since the name "church" is used of various things, — as also it is written of the multitude in the theatre of the Ephesians, "And when he had said these things, he dismissed the assembly. (Acts 19:40), and one might properly and truly say that there is "a church of evil doers", — I mean the meetings of the heretics, of the Marcionites and Manichees, and the rest, — therefore has the faith now delivered to thee, by way of safeguard, the article, And into one, holy, Catholic Church, in order that thou mayest flee their foul meetings, and throughout continue to remain in the holy Catholic Church, in which also thou wast regenerated [baptized].

And, if ever thou art sojourning in any city, inquire not simply where the Lord's house is (for the sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where is the church, but, where is the Catholic church? For this is the peculiar name of this holy (Church) and mother of us all, which is indeed the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God."

27. "And while the kings of particular nations have bounds set to their dominion, the holy Catholic Church alone has an illimitable sovereignty over the whole world, for God, as it is written, "hath set her borderpeace". (Psalm 147) But I should need many hours if I wished to speak all things which concern her.

In this holy Catholic Church receiving instruction, and behaving ourselves well, we shall obtain the kingdom of Heaven, and inherit life everlasting."

Catech. xviii. n. 22-28, pp. 294-298.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 290-292

St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

"We therefore acknowledge one Church . . . one baptism, one faith. And let these men cease to be against that holy virgin of Christ, and chaste spouse, to wit, the holy Church our mother; for her children have received from the holy fathers, that is, the holy Apostles, to guard the faith, and to transmit and preach it to their own children. Amongst whom, most honored brethren, you also are those children, and transmit this same doctrine to your children. Teaching by word these things, and things like to them; cease not, faithful and orthodox men, to confirm from the divine writings yourselves and your hearers, instructing, guiding, catechizing; (cease not) to guard that holy faith of the Catholic Church, as the alone and holy virgin of God received it from the holy Apostles of the Lord. And not only should you instruct your children in the Lord — but each one of the catechumens who approaches the holy laver — to believe and you ought also to teach them to say, word by word, as that same mother of us all, teaches to say, "We believe in one God". ...

[followed by the rest of the Creed.]

This is that faith transmitted by the Apostles, and in the Church, in that holy city, by all the holy bishops together, in number, more than three hundred and ten."

T. ii. Ancor. n. 119, 120, pp. 122, 123.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 65-66

"From the midst of these sects, and after them in order of time, there shone forth the saving Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ — His appearance, that is, in the flesh and at the same time the doctrine of the Gospel, and the preaching of the kingdom; which is the alone source of salvation, and the true faith of the Catholic and Apostolic Church; from which all the following, which have but the name of Christ, not the faith, have been cut off and separated.

[He then gives a summary of the heresies listed in his great work, and adds that to the account given of those heresies, he had appended a defensive statement.]

In brief, of the orthodox faith and of truth — which is the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. This is the summary and index of the whole treatise against the eighty heresies, and of the one defensive statement relative to the truth, to wit, the one Catholic Church."

T. ii. Anaceph. pp. 127, 130.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 66-67

"These men dwell in a confined tract, in Phrygia, Cilicia, and Pamphylia. What, then, is the Church, which is extended from one extremity of the earth to the other, cut off; and

"has not their sound gone forth into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world?"

Psalms 18

And was it not said by the Saviour,

"Ye shall be witnesses unto me, even to the uttermost part of the earth?"

T. i. Adv. Hæres. (60), p. 507.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 297-298

"Each (party) had a special designation for its own church. The successors of Peter (of Alexandria), who held the old churches, were called the Catholic Church; whilst the followers of Miletus styled themselves the church of the martyrs."

T. i. Adv. Hæres. (68), p. 719.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Pages 283-302

Having mentioned Origen's asserted errors concerning Christ, and those of the Valentinians, he says:

"The Scripture is in every way true. But there needs wisdom to know God, to believe Him and His words, and what He has vouchsafed unto us. ... For every heresy is a deceiver, not having received the Holy Ghost, according to the tradition of the fathers in the holy Catholic Church of God."

T. ii. Ancor. n. 63, p. 66.
Also The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 342

St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

"My resolution is, to read the ancients, to try everything, to hold fast what is good, and not to recede from the faith of the Catholic Church."

T. i. Ep. ad Minerv. et Alexand. n. xi. col. 810.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 72

"As lightning comes out of the east, and appears even into the west," — (Matthew 24:27) Go ye not out, believe not that the Son of Man is either in the desert of the Gentiles, or in the secret chambers of the heretics; but that from the east even to the west His faith shines in the Catholic churches."

T. vii. L. iv. Comm. in Matt. 196, 197.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 74

St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431), Roman; convert and bishop Of Nola, Born at Bordeaux he was ordained priest in 393, and was appointed bishop of Nola in 409; may have been indirectly responsible for Augustine's Confessions. One who knew St. Paulinus well says he was "meek as Moses, as priestly as Aaron, innocent as Samuel, tender as David, wise as Solomon, apostolic as Peter, loving as John, cautious as Thomas, brilliant as Stephen, fervent as Apollos."

"Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His mouth." (Canticles 1)

This privilege Catholic love alone has a right to claim for itself; she, that is the alone one, and the perfect one to her one bridegroom (Canticles 6:8), takes the kisses of truth from the Word Himself, that she may not be defiled by the venom of heretical deceitfulness, as though by incestuous kisses from a stranger's lips.

Ep. iv. ad Severum, p. 177. T. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, page 85



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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