BibleBeltCatholics | Sharing quotes and writings of the Early Church Fathers with our separated Christian brethren in the South!
Home 1st-2nd Century 3rd-4th Century 5th-8th Century The Catechism Today About this site

The Catholic Church and
the term Catholic
Peter and the Papacy
Mother?of?God Apost. Succession
Immaclate?Conception Peter in Rome
The Sacraments
Other Church Teaching
The Word of God
Heaven, Purgatory and Hell

<<  The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on Apostolic Succession.


  • The Catechism Today
  • All the Church Fathers
  • From the Scriptures



The Transmission Of Divine Revelation


74 God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth": (1 Timothy 2:4) that is, of Christ Jesus. (cf. John 14:6) Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:

God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.


(Vatican II, Dei Verbum 7; cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20; 3:16-4:6)

I. The Apostolic Tradition


75 "Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 7; cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15)


In the apostolic preaching. . .


76 In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:


  1. orally "by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit"; (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 7)

  2. in writing "by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing". (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 7)

. . . continued in apostolic succession


77 "In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 7 § 2; St. Irenæus, Adv. Hæres. 3,3,1:PG 7/1,848; Harvey,2,9) Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 8 § 1)

The sacred mystery of the Church's unity.

815 What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity "binds everything together in perfect harmony." (Colossians 3:14) But the unity of the pilgrim Church is also assured by visible bonds of communion:

    • profession of one faith received from the Apostles;
    • common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments;
    • Apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God's family.

      (cf. Vatican II, Unitatis Redintegratio 2; Lumen Gentium 14; Code of Canon Law, can. 205)

In Brief


96 What Christ entrusted to the apostles, they in turn handed on by their preaching and writing, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to all generations, until Christ returns in glory.

97 "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture make up a single sacred deposit of the Word of God" (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 10) in which, as in a mirror, the pilgrim Church contemplates God, the source of all her riches.

98 "The Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes". (Vatican II, Dei Verbum 8 § 1)


869 The Church is apostolic. She is built on a lasting foundation: "the twelve apostles of the Lamb". (Revelation 21:14) She is indestructible. (cf. Matthew 16:18) She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.




  1. St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107)
    Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60-97),
    St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258)
    Firmilian of Cæsarea, (A.D. 210-272)
    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)
    Council of Ancyra, (held in A.D. 315)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    Lucifer of Cagliagi, (unknown-371)
    St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389)
    St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Philastrius of Brescia, (unknown-A.D. c.397)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    St. Gaudentius of Brescia, (unknown - A.D. 410)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432)
    Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461
    Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458)
    St. Vincent of Lérins, (A.D. c.400-445)
    Council of Chalcedon, (held in A.D. 451)
    Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460)
St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107), Syrian; ecclesiastical writer, bishop, martyr. A disciple of St. John, the Apostle; he was bishop of Antioch, in which see he succeeded St. Peter, or, as others think, Evodius. He is supposed to have governed that church for about forty years. He suffered martyrdom at Rome in the year 107.

You must all follow the bishop as Jesus Christ follows the Father, and the presbytery as you would the Apostles. Reverence the deacons as you would the command of God.

Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop, or by one whom he appoints. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

Letter to the Smyrnaeans 8:1 [A.D. 110]

Pope St. Clement I of Rome, (A.D. 60-97), Roman; Pope from A.D. 88-97; martyr. That St. Clement was honored by the friendship of the great Apostle, St. Peter, is not doubted. There are good reasons to believe that he was designated by that Apostle as his successor in the see of Rome. The authenticity and genuineness of St. Clement's First Epistle to the Corinthians are acknowledged. We learn from Eusebius and from other writers, that it was publicly read in many churches. This second epistle is the oldest extant Christian homily we have attributed to him, (A.D. 150).

Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been mentioned, and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die, other approved men should succeed to their ministry.

Letter to the Corinthians 44:1 [A.D. 95]

St. Irenæus of Lyons, (A.D. 125-202), Asia Minor; bishop, missionary, theologian, defender of orthodoxy. Though by birth a Greek, he was Bishop of Lyons in the second century. He tells us that, in his early youth, he learned the rudiments of religion from St. Polycarp, the disciple of St. John the Apostle. He wrote several works, of which only a few fragments are now known, with the exception of his Treatise against Heretics which we have in five books.

It is possible, then, for everyone in every Church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the Apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the Apostles, and their successors to our own times: men who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about. For if the Apostles had known hidden mysteries which they taught to the elite secretly and apart from the rest, they would have handed them down especially to those very ones to whom they were committing the self-same Churches. For surely they wished all those and their successors to be perfect and without reproach, to whom they handed on their authority.

Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]

It is necessary to obey those who are the presbyters in the Church, those who, as we have shown, have succession from the Apostles; those who have received, with the succession of the episcopate, the sure charism of truth according to the good pleasure of the Father. But the rest, who have no part in the primitive succession and assemble wheresoever they will, must be held in suspicion.

Against Heresies 4:26:2

St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

After the death of the tyrant, the [Apostle John] came back again to Ephesus from the Island of Patmos; and, upon being invited, he went even to the neighboring cities of the pagans, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, and there to ordain to the clerical estate such as were designated by the Spirit.

Who is the Rich Man that is Saved? 42:2 [A.D. 200]

Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

Moreover, if there be any [heresies] bold enough to plant themselves in the midst of the Apostolic age, so that they might seem to have been handed down by the Apostles because they were from the time of the Apostles, we can say to them: let them show the origin of their Churches, let them unroll the order of their bishops, running down in succession from the beginning, so that their first bishop shall have for author and predecessor some one of the Apostles or of the Apostolic men who continued steadfast with the Apostles. For this is the way in which the Apostolic Churches transmit their lists:

  1. — like the Church of the Smyrnaeans, which records that Polycarp was placed there by John;
    — like the Church of the Romans where Clement was ordained by Peter.

In just this same way, the other Churches display those whom they have as sprouts from the Apostolic seed, having been established in the episcopate by the Apostles. Let the heretics invent something like it.

    • After their blasphemies, what could be unlawful for them?

But even if they should contrive it, they will accomplish nothing; for their doctrine itself, when compared with that of the Apostles, will show by its own diversity and contrariety that it has for its author neither an Apostle nor an apostolic man. The Apostles would not have differed among themselves in teaching, nor would an apostolic man have taught contrary to the Apostles, unless those who were taught by the Apostles then preached otherwise.

Therefore, they will be challenged to meet this test even by those Churches which are of much later date - for they are being established daily - and whose founder is not from among the Apostles nor from among the apostolic men; for those which agree in the same faith are reckoned as apostolic on account of the blood ties in their doctrine. Then let all heresies prove how they regard themselves as apostolic, when they are challenged by our Churches to meet either test. But in fact, they are not apostolic, nor can they prove themselves to be what they are not. Neither are they received in peace and communion by the Churches which are in any way apostolic, since on account of their diverse belief they are in no way apostolic.

The Prescription Against Heretics 32:1 [A.D. 200]

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

"There being many who fancy that they think the things of Christ, and some of these think differently from those who have gone before, let there be preserved the ecclesiastical teaching which has been delivered by the order of succession from the Apostles, and which remains even to the present in the churches: that alone is to be believed to be truth which in nothing differs from the ecclesiastical and apostolical tradition."

T. 1, De Princip. 1. 1, n. 2,p. 47.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 262-263

"We are not to abandon the first and the ecclesiastical tradition, nor to believe otherwise than according as the churches of God have by succession transmitted to us."

T. iii. Comm. in Matthew (Tr. 29) n. 46, p. 864.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 263

St. Cyprian of Carthage, (A.D. 200-258), North African; bishop; biblical scholar, martyr.

"Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, when settling the honor of a bishop, and the nature of his Church."

Ep. xxvii. Lapsis.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 263

"This is, and ought to be our special study, to seek to secure, as far as in us lies, the unity delivered by the Lord, and through the Apostles to us their successors, and, as far as we are able, to gather into the Church the straying and wandering sheep which the perverse, factiousness, and heretical efforts of certain persons have separated from the mother."

Ep. xlii. ad Cornelium, p. 128.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 263

"Deacons ought to bear in mind that the Apostles, that is bishops and prelates, the Lord chose; but that the Apostles, after the Lord's Ascension into Heaven, appointed to themselves deacons, as ministers to their episcopacy and to the Church.

And if we may attempt anything against God, who makes bishops, deacons too may against us, who make them deacons. . . . These, to please themselves, to contemn with swelling pride him who is set over them, are the beginnings of heretics, and these the rise and essays of evil-minded schismatics.

In this way do men withdraw from the Church, in this way is a profane altar set up without; in this way do men rebel against the peace of Christ, and against the ordinance and unity of God."

Ep. lxv. ad Rogatianum,p. 243.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 263

Neither do I boast of these things, but produce them with sorrow, since you set yourself up as the judge of God and of Christ, who says to the Apostles, and thereby to all prelates, who succeed to the Apostles by vicarious ordination: "He that heareth you, heareth me." etc. (St. Luke 10:16)

For, hence have schisms and heresies taken their rise, when the bishop, who is one and presides over a church, is by the proud presumption of individuals contemned, and the man honored by God as worthy, is by men judged unworthy."

Ep, lxix. ad Fl. Papianum,p. 263.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 263

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.

But what is his error, and how great his blindness, who says that the remission of sins can be given in the synagogues of the heretics, and who does not remain on the foundation of the one Church which was founded upon the rock by Christ can be learned from this, which Christ said to Peter alone: "Whatever things you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed in Heaven;" and by this, again in the Gospel, when Christ breathed upon the Apostles alone, saying to them; "Receive the Holy Spirit: if you forgive any man his sins, they shall be forgiven; and if you retain any mans sins, they shall be retained." Therefore, the power of forgiving sins was given to the Apostles and to the Churches which these men, sent by Christ, established; and to the bishops who succeeded them by being ordained in their place.

Letter to Cyprian 75:16 [A.D. 255-256].

"The power of remitting sins was given to the Apostles, and to the churches which they, sent forth by Christ, founded, and to the bishops who, by vicarious ordination, have succeeded to them. But the enemies of the one Catholic Church, in which we are; and they who are against us, who have succeeded to the Apostles, claiming to themselves against us unlawful priesthoods, and setting up profane altars, what else are they but Core, Dathan, and Abiron, guilty of the same sacrilege, and are destined to the same punishment as they who agree with them, as even their partners and supporters perish by the same death."

Inter Ep. S. Cypriani, Ep. Ixxv. p. 307.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 264-265

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..

"Having undertaken to commit to writing the successions from the holy Apostles, together with the series of events which have happened from our Saviour to our days, as also the many and great events which ecclesiastical history has recorded, and to name those who especially in the most celebrated churches have laudably acted and ruled. . . . . . I shall begin from the incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

[Eusebius then enumerates the succession of the Apostles from the beginning to the present day, noticing throughout his history the apostolical succession in the sees of the principal churches.]

Eccles. Hist. Lib. 1, c. 1, pp. 1, 2.
See Lib. ii. c. 24; Lib. iii. c. 2, 3, and passim.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 265-266

"And I will establish his seed for evermore, and his throne as the days of Heaven."
(Psalm 88:30)

What are we to understand by the seed of Christ, but the churches established by Him throughout the whole universe, and they who amongst all nations have been regenerated unto Him? But His throne is that which has been constituted in His Church, throughout the whole universe, by means of the prelates who are by succession from Him. A throne which He says endures as the days of Heaven. Not like to the regal throne of the Jews, which, having endured for a while, passed away; but the throne here foretold, by means of the above-named prelates of the Church, endures and is preserved, even as the days of Heaven. And if it should ever happen that the people, and the sons of him who is prophesied of, I mean his successors, should act sinfully, He says that they should indeed suffer a reverse through persecutions, but that never should they be cast from their thrones, nor be deprived of the mercy of God. . . . And as it was needful not to think that such promises are announced in simple and bare words, he resumes, and repeats the declaration, sealing with an oath what had been said, in confirmation of the promises. Therefore, says He, "Once have I sworn by my holiness; I will not lie unto David, his seed endures for ever, and his throne as the sun before me, and as the moon perfect for ever, and a faithful witness in Heaven." (verse 36, 38). God cannot lie, even though He make a promise without an oath. But as it was needful that, speaking to men, He should accommodate Himself to human ways, even as men swear and appeal to God as a witness to give credit to their own words, so, also, He says that He has sworn, and will not be false to His oath, that, as the divine Apostle says, "By two immutable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have the strongest comfort." (Hebrews 6:16) But what does this oath contain? His seed, He says, endures for ever. This first: and this, the first promise, is concerning the seed, of which He had already said, "I will establish his seed for evermore. He pointed out the succession of Christ. But the second promise is concerning the afore-named throne. Therefore does He say, "And his throne as the sun before me, and as the moon perfect for ever." He says, then, that the seed, that is, the disseminated word of Christ, or His people, and the Church, shall never be corrupted, nor fail: and that the throne would endure for evermore, or, according to Symmachus, as the moon remain firm for ever. Thus also shall be the ecclesiastical throne of Christ. Does the preceding phrase, "once have I sworn by my holy one, and what is subjoined, his seed endureth for ever", prophesy that the seed of His holy one shall be victorious for ever ... so as that the seed of the holy one of God, to wit of the only-begotten of God, is the doctrine which He sowed upon earth, He himself being the sower of it, according to that parable, spoken by Him, in which He says: The sower went out to sow his seed, and the rest (Luke 8:5)? . . . The event by facts confirming the truth of the word. For we see with our own eyes, the horn of David, that is the seed, and the succession of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, yea, also the heavenly seed of the evangelic doctrine of the holy one of God, His only-begotten word, that was cast upon the earth, enduring through ages; and, indeed, we also be hold His throne established in the Church throughout the whole universe, in all nations, cities, villages, and places, filling the universal world." Ps. 87. T. 1, Nov. Collect. (Montfaucon) pp. 572-574, 576.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 266-267

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.

"In what concerns the faith, they (the fathers at the council of Nicea) wrote not, "It has seemed good", but, "Thus believes the Catholic Church", and at once confessed how they believed, thereby to show that their sentiment was not novel, but apostolical, and that what they wrote down, is 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 269

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.

"And he set up two pillars in the porch of the temple." (1 Kings 7:21) The two pillars signify the two worlds, the visible and the invisible: both support that dwelling-place of all nations, the Church of Christ, the spirits, to wit, that are sent to minister, and the prophets and Apostles, and their successors, constituted, by divine appointment, unto the government of the Church."

T. i. .p. 2, Comm. in 1 (3) Regn. p. 459.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 270

"Let us praise Him who preserves their traditions; Him who ordered the ark to be built; who constructed the temple of the Jews: and He who effected all these things, established the holy Church. Now He who ordains the propagation of life, and the succession of all events; He it is who was the author of that perfectly-ordered succession of prophets and of Apostles, and He will preserve it from age to age evermore."

T. ii. Syr. Serm. xxiv. adv. Hæres. pp. 494-5.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 271-272

Council of Ancyra, (held in A.D. 315), early Christian Synod.

The synodical epistle of this council, which was held in A.D. 358, stated:

"We, therefore, beseech you, most honored lords, and fellow-ministers, praying you that your delight be in the faith transmitted by the fathers, and that you would signify that you think harmoniously with what we have believed; that so they who presume to introduce this ungodliness, being fully certified that, having received the faith as an inheritance, from the times of the Apostles, through the fathers who have been in the period intermediate between those and our days, we guard it; and either filled with shame, they will be corrected, or persevering in their error, they will be proscribed from the Church."

Epis. Synod, op. Baluz. Nov. Collect. Concil, p. 37.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 269

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.

"For there are from that one Church of the Apostles . . . many churches and many tents, but in those many there is the same resting-place of God."

Comm. in Ps. cxxxi. n. 14, p. 509.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 268

"We think that we may meet with the approval of all Catholics thus: that it behooves us not to recede from the received creed (at Nicea) 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 Nicea against the heresy which had, at that period, sprung up."

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

Lucifer of Cagliagi, (unknown-371), Italian; bishop of Cagliari, distinguished himself as a strenuous opponent of the Arians. He died about the year 371. His works, which consist almost solely of a few pieces addressed to the Emperor Constantius, are given by Gallandius in his sixth volume and from the Tillius edition. He is venerated as a Saint in Sardinia.

"Cease, Constantius, to persecute the house of God. . . . Proclaim thyself a Christian; execrate with us the mob of Arians brought together by the devil's trickery; believe as we believe, we, who are, by succession from the blessed Apostles, bishops; confess as we and they have confessed, the only Son of God, and thus shalt thou obtain forgiveness for thy numerous crimes."

Pro S. Athan. l. i. n. 33 (op. Galland, t. vi. p. 169).
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 269-270

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389), Cappadocian; archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

"Thus, and for these reasons, with the suffrage of all the people, not after the wicked fashion that lately has prevailed, not by bloodshed and tyranny, but both in an apostolic and spiritual manner, he (St. Athanasius) is elevated to the throne of Mark, the successor no less of his piety than of the government of his see; for in the latter he is one of many that have succeeded him, whilst in the former he is his immediate successor, and this is in truth a derived succession. For here is oneness of faith and oneness of throne."

T. 1, Oral. xxi. in S. Athanas. p. 377.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 272-273

St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379), Cappadocian; bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 369, theologian, monk. Studied in Palestine, Constantinople, and Athens. Many of the subsequent years of his life were spent in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. His character and works have gained for him the surname of "the great".

"As long as we are branches abiding in the vine, bringing forth befitting fruits to Christ, we have God for the husbandman. But if we separate from that life-giving root, the faith in Christ, being dried up, we are cast out and burnt; and the edifice of our doctrine, if our lives be not what they should, is overthrown. For, if we abide not on the foundation of the Apostles, (thus) building up what is commendable, we rush headlong down as not having a foundation, and great is our destruction."

T. 1, P. ii. Comment in Esai. c. 1, n. 19, p. 554.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 273

St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

"Not without cause in the midst of the many narrow seas of this world, does the Church of the Lord rest immovable, as being built upon the apostolic rock, and continue with an unshaken foundation against the assaults of the raging ocean. It is washed, but not moved, by the waves; and though the elements of the world are often dashed and repelled with loud uproar, yet has it a most secure harbor of safety wherein to receive the distressed."

T. ii. Ep. ii. Constantio, n. 1, p. 755.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 276

St. Philastrius of Brescia, (unknown-A.D. c.397), bishop of Brescia and one of the bishops present at a synod held in Aquileia in 381. St. Augustine mentions having seen him. He died in the year 387 but before his death composed a catalogue of heresies (Diversarum Hereseon Liber) around the year A.D. 384.

"There is also a heresy called the apocryphal, or the secret, which receives only the prophets and the Apostles, and not the canonical writings, to wit the law and the prophets, both the Old and the New Testament. . . . It has been ordained by the Apostles and their successors, that nothing be read in the Catholic Church, except the law, and the prophets, and the gospels..

De Hæres, n. 60, Galland. t. vii. p. 494.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 276

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

"Hence too they all confer one name upon the Church, not their own, but that of their Lord Jesus Christ, beginning at Antioch, to be called Christians, which is the alone Catholic Church, having naught else but Christ's (name), which is the Church of Christians; not the Church of Christs, but of Christians; He being one, and they, from that one, being called Christians. Besides this Church, and her preachers, all others are not of the same character, being known by means of the name added to them of Manichseans, and Simonians, and Valentinians, and Ebionites, of which class thou too, Marcion, art one; and they who have been led astray by thee are called by thy name, who hast preached thyself, and not Christ."

Adv. Hæres. (42) pp. 366-7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 275-276

St. Gaudentius of Brescia, (unknown - A.D. 410), Italian; became bishop around A.D. 387, theologian and author of many letters and sermons, held in high esteem by the people of Brescia.

"Jesus therefore summoned His ministers, the Apostles, to wit, and their successors who are in every church, and says to them: "Fill these waterpots with water", that is, Baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

Hom. ix. In illud nuptice factce sunt, p. 957, t. v. Bill. Max. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 277

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.

"Whosoever thou art that raised the subject of new dogmas, I beseech thee spare the ears of Romans; spare that faith which was commended by an Apostle's voice. Why, at the expiration of four hundred years, to you attempt to teach us what we before knew not? Why bring forward what Peter and Paul would not make known? Until this day the Christian world was without this doctrine (or, the world was Christian without this doctrine). I will retain as an old man that faith wherein I was as a boy regenerated."

T. 1, Ep. Ixxxiv. ad Pammach. et Ocean, n. 9, col. 526-7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 276-27

"I will lay before you a brief and plain sentiment of my mind; we are to abide in that Church, which, founded by the Apostles, endures even unto this day. Whenever you hear those who are said to be Christ's, named, not after the Lord Jesus Christ, but after some one else, as for example, Marcionites, Valentinians, men of the mountain, or of the plain, know that it is not Christ's Church, but the synagogue of antichrist. For from this very fact they were instituted at a later period, they are evidence of what the Apostles foretold were they would be. (Galatians 1:8) Nor let them feel satisfied with themselves, if they seem to themselves to affirm what they say from portions of the Scriptures, since even the devil spoke some things out of the Scriptures; and the Scriptures do not consist in being read, but in being understood."

T. ii. adv. Luciferi. n. 27, col. 202.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 277

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 following was occasioned by a letter to Generosus from a Donatist, who pretended to have been warned in a vision by an angel to induce Generosus to become a Donatist:

"He has written to you that an angel has commanded him to recommend to you the order of Christianity of your city, whereas you hold the Christianity, not of your city only, nor of Africa and the Africans only, but of the whole universe, the Christianity which was announced and is announced to all nations. So that it is to them a small thing, that they are not ashamed to have been cut off, and that they do not help themselves by returning to the root when it is in their power, unless they try to cut off others also with themselves, and to prepare them like dry wood for the fire. . . Now if there should have stood by your side the angel which this man, with cunning vanity in our opinion, feigns to have stood by him for your sake, and should have said those very same things to you which this man declares that he recommends to you by the command of that angel, it would behoove you to be mindful of that sentence of the Apostle, who says, "Though we, or an angel from Heaven, should preach a Gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema." For it was evangelized to you by the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, that His Gospel shall be preached to all nations, and then shall the end be. For it was evangelized to you by the prophetic and apostolic letters, that to Abraham were the promises made, and to his seed, which is Christ, since God said to him, "In thy seed shall all nations be blessed." If an angel from Heaven should say to you who hold these promises, "Leave the Christianity of the universe, and hold to that of the party of Donatus, the details of which are explained to thee in a letter of the bishop of thy city", he ought to be anathema, because he would attempt to cut thee off from the whole and to push thee down into a party, and to alienate thee from the promises of God. For if the order of bishops succeeding to each other is to be considered, how much more securely, and really beneficially, do we reckon from Peter himself, to whom, bearing a figure of the Church, the Lord says, "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not overcome it." For to Peter succeeded Linus; to Linus, Clement

[he gives the whole succession];

to Damasus, Siricius; to Siricius, Anastasius. In this order of succession no Donatist bishop appears."

T. ii. Ep. liii. Generoso (Class 2), pp. 179-80.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 278-279

"In the Catholic Church . . . the agreement of peoples and of nations keeps me; an authority begun with miracles, nourished with hope, increased with charity, strengthened by antiquity, keeps me: the succession of priests from the very chair of the Apostle Peter to whom the Lord, after His Resurrection, committed His sheep to be fed down even to the present bishop, keeps me."

T. viii. contr. Ep. Fund. Manichaei, col. 269.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 279

Petilianus (the Donatist) said:

"If you claim for yourselves a chair, you assuredly have that which the prophet David, the writer of the Psalms, proclaimed to be the chair of pestilence (Psalm 1); for with you is it justly left, seeing that holy men cannot occupy it.

Augustine replied:

And you see not that these are not proofs of any sort, but idle revilings. This is that of which I spoke a little earlier; you utter the words of the law, but against whom you utter them you care not; as the devil uttered the words of the law, but knew not Him to whom he was addressing them. He wished to cast down our head who was about to ascend on high; but you wish to reduce to a small fragment the body of that same head, which (body) is diffused throughout the whole earth. . . . Nay, if all throughout the whole world were such as you most idly slander them, what has the chair of the Roman Church, in which Peter sat, and in which Anastasius now sits, done to thee; or (the chair) of the church of Jerusalem, in which James sat, and in which John now sits, by which (chairs, or bishops) we are knit together in Catholic unity, and from which you have with guilty frenzy separated. Why call you an apostolic chair, "a chair of pestilence"? If on account of men who, you think, speak the law and do it not, did our Lord Jesus Christ, on account of the Pharisees, of whom He says, "For they say and do not", utter any insult against the chair wherein they sat? Did He not commend that chair of Moses, and, guarding the honor of their chair, blame them? For He says, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses� seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." (St. Matthew 23) If these were your sentiments, you would not, on account of the men whom you defame, blaspheme against an apostolic chair with which you communicate not."

T. ix. 1. ii. contr. Litt. Peteli. n. 118, col. 410-11.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 279-280

Pope St. Celestine I, (unknown - A.D. 432), deacon and pope, a Roman in the region of Campania; pope from A.D. 422 to 432, he lived for a while at Milan while actively condemning the Nestorians and Pelagians. He was a zealous defender of orthodoxy..

He thus writes to the council assembled at Ephesus in the matter of Nestorius:

"It is for us with united effort to preserve the things that have been committed unto us, and which have prevailed unto this time by means of the apostolical succession."

Ep. xviii. ad Synod. Ephes. n. 2, p. 325; Galland, t. ix.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 280

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.

"The Catholic faith, which, the Spirit of God has instructed us through the holy fathers, and what we, from the blessed Apostles have learned and taught, will be preserved from error."

Ep. lxxxix. ad Marcion.
See also Ep. xc and xciv..
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 281

Theodoret of Cyrus or Cyrrhus, (A.D. 393-458), Greek; an influential author, theologian, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus, Syria (A.D. 423-457). He played a pivotal role in many early Byzantine church controversies that led to various ecumenical acts and schisms. His friendship for Nestorius embroiled him, for a time, with his great contemporary, St. Cyril of Alexandria.

"We may see each of these predictions verified by the event. For, in the midst of such dangers, both the Apostles illuminated the world, and they who have succeeded them have guarded the faith which they received from them. And the depositaries of the martyrs bodies, which shine as stars in every part of earth and sea, testify to this, and proclaim the truth of the divine predictions. For He not only predicted dangers unto them, but victory also, for "Upon this rock", He said, "I will build my Church,"

T. v. Curat. Graec. Afect. Disp. xi. pp. 1008-9.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 280-281

St. Vincent of Lérins (A.D. c.400-445), in Latin, Vincentius, a monastic presbyter and ecclesiastical writer in the island of Lérins, he was a man learned in the Holy Scriptures, and well instructed in the knowledge of the doctrines of the Church, with a view to overthrow the sects of the heretics. He composed in elegant and clear language a very powerful dissertation, which, concealing his own name, he entitled Peregrinus against Heretics.

"A custom that has ever prevailed in the Church, is that the more religious a man was, the more promptly did he withstand novel inventions. Such examples are everywhere plentiful. But not to be wordy, we will select some one, and this in preference from the apostolic see, that all men may see more plainly than the sun's light, with what force, what zeal, what endeavor, the blessed succession of the blessed Apostles ever defended the integrity of religion once received."

Adv. Hæres. n. vi.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 281

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.

The following is from the synodal epistle of the fourth ecumenical council, addressed to Pope Leo:

"Our mouth is filled with gladness, and our tongue with praise." (Psalm 125) The grace (of God) has fitted this prophecy as proper to us, by whom the rectitude of true religion has been confirmed. For what sublimer cause for gladness than faith? What more full of joy unto exultation (the dance), than the Lord's knowledge, which the Saviour Himself delivered to us from above unto salvation, saying, "Go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matthew 28); which thou (Leo), who hast been appointed as the voice of blessed Peter unto all men, hast preserved as a golden chain brought down to us by the ordinance of Him who imposed it."

Ep. Synod. Leoni, p. 834; Labbe, t. iv.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 281-282

Arnobius Junior, (flourished in the 5th century, A.D. c.460), also known as Arnobius the Younger, Christian priest or bishop in Gaul, author of a mystical and allegorical commentary on the Psalms, first published by Erasmus in 1522, and by him attributed to the elder Arnobius.

"The Lord in His just judgment will cut off their neck." (Psalm 128) Let their lot be shared by the Pharisees, and all heretics, who hate Sion, that is, who hate the Church of Christ. Let them be as grass upon the tops of houses, which withers before it be plucked up. . . . He that shall reap their words shall not fill his hand out of them, nor they that gather their sheaves, shall they fill their bosoms. For of all the holy ones that shall pass by, from the Apostles even until now, whether they who now live, or who have passed by, not one has blessed them in the name of the Lord. And he who has not received a blessing from the blessed Apostle Peter, or from the Apostles or their successors, and in this state has taught the people whom he has deceived, such a one incurs a curse, because he has usurped a blessing a curse by which, before he is plucked up, that is, before he dies, he withers away, that is, while he seems to live in the body, he is already withered in the spirit; from such we being separate, guarding most perfectly the Catholic faith, find life everlasting."

Comm. in Ps. cxxviii. pp. 314-15; t. viii. Bibl. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 282

"And now even to this day do the sons of the Apostles sit upon their chairs, having also themselves the power of binding and of loosing. But this has been granted unto them, because the Lord would not have the synagogue of error, but chose holy Sion, the Church, to wit, of the right faith, which He, in His foreknowledge, chose for His dwelling-place, wherein is God's rest for ever,"

In Ps. cxxxi. p. 316.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 1, Page 282



Some trying to understand Catholic Christianity, won't deny that Jesus blessed Peter with special graces (Matthew 16:17-19), but don't see anywhere, in the Scriptures specifically, where that blessing was passed on from Peter to his successors and, for that matter, from any of the eleven Apostles, to their successors.


The Early Fathers believed that authentic teaching and authority came through Apostolic Succession. Christ conferred authority on the apostles who in turn conferred it upon their successors. We see examples of this in Scripture when the apostle Paul ordains Timothy and Titus. (See 2 Timothy 1:1-2, 6 below.)


The Church's Scriptures that support Apostolic Succession of the Church:

Jesus commissioning His Apostles

18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Matthew 28:18-20

Jesus appears to his Apostles and first Disciples after His Glorious Resurrection.

21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."


John 20:21

The First Converts to the Catholic Faith

42 And they devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread (the Eucharist) and the prayers.

Acts 2:42

Matthias Chosen to replace Judas

20 For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take. 21 Wherefore of these men who have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus came in and went out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, until the day wherein he was taken up from us, one of these must be made a witness with us of his resurrection. 23 And they appointed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And praying, they said: Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 To take the place of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas hath by transgression fallen, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave them lots, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

Acts 1:20-26

The Council's Letter to Gentile Believers

22 Then it pleased the apostles and ancients, with the whole church, to choose men of their own company, and to send to Antioch, with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas, who was surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren. 23 Writing by their hands: The apostles and ancients, brethren, to the brethren of the Gentiles that are at Antioch, and in Syria and Cilicia, greeting. 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that some going out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls; to whom we gave no commandment: 25 It hath seemed good to us, being assembled together, to choose out men, and to send them unto you, with our well beloved Barnabas and Paul: 26 Men that have given their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who themselves also will, by word of mouth, tell you the same things.

Acts 15:22-27

Paul Speaks to the Ephesian Elders

28 Take heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath placed you bishops, to rule the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Acts 20:28

Salvation is for All.

15 And how shall they preach unless they be sent, as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, of them that bring glad tidings of good things!

Romans 10:15

Unity in the Body of Christ

11 And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and other some evangelists, and other some pastors and doctors, 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ; 14 That henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive

Ephesians 4:11-14

Salutation, Thanksgiving and Encouragement

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, according to the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus. 2 To Timothy my dearly beloved son, grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from Christ Jesus our Lord. . . . 6 For which cause I admonish thee, that thou stir up the grace of God which is in thee, by the imposition of my hands.

2 Timothy 1:1-2, 6

A Good Soldier of Christ Jesus

2 And the things which thou hast heard of me by many witnesses, the same commend to faithful men, who shall be fit to teach others also.

2 Timothy 2:2

Titus in Crete

5 For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed thee:

Titus 1:5

Jesus, Our Great High Priest

4 Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was.

Hebrews 5:4

Service Well-Pleasing to God

7 Remember your prelates who have spoken the word of God to you; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation . . . . . 17 Obey your prelates, and be subject to them. For they watch as being to render an account of your souls; that they may do this with joy, and not with grief. For this is not expedient for you.

Hebrews 13:7, 17

Please report any and all typos or grammatical errors.
Suggestions for this web page and the web site can be sent to Mike Humphrey
Untitled Document