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Church Fathers

The Didache (The Teaching of the Apostles)
1st century AD. Included in some early bibles. Still included in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit.

But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.

Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.

Letter of St. Clement to the Corinthians
~96 AD. Pope St. Clement, 4th pope, ordained by St. Peter. Included in some early bibles.

The Church of God which sojourns at Rome, to the Church of God sojourning at Corinth, to those who are called and sanctified by the will of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you, and peace, from Almighty God through Jesus Christ, be multiplied.

May God, who sees all things, and who is the Ruler of all spirits and the Lord of all flesh -- who chose our Lord Jesus Christ and us through Him to be a peculiar people -- grant to every soul that calls upon His glorious and holy Name, faith, fear, peace, patience, long-suffering, self-control, purity, and sobriety, to the well-pleasing of His Name, through our High Priest and Protector, Jesus Christ, by whom be to Him glory, and majesty, and power, and honor, both now and for evermore. Amen.

Letter of St. Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans
~107 AD. St. Ignatius, disciple of St. John, appointed by St. Peter as 3rd bishop of Antioch, martyred in the Coliseum.

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that ye should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils.

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

Shepherd of Hermas
90-145 AD. Hermas, brother of Pope St. Pius I. Included in some early bibles.

First of all, believe that there is one God who created and finished all things, and made all things out of nothing. He alone is able to contain the whole, but Himself cannot be contained. Have faith therefore in Him, and fear Him; and fearing Him, exercise self-control. Keep these commands, and you will cast away from you all wickedness, and put on the strength of righteousness, and live to God, if you keep this commandment.

St. Justin Martyr's First Apology
153-155 AD. Explains Christianity to the Roman emperor.

And this food is called among us Eukaristia [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.

And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen.

Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things.

Martyrdom of Polycarp
155 AD. St. Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, disciple of St. John, friend of St. Ignatius, martyred in the Coliseum.

Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, "Swear, and I will set you at liberty, reproach Christ;" Polycarp declared, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?"

And when the proconsul yet again pressed him, and said, "Swear by the fortune of Caesar," he answered, "Since you are vainly urgent that, as you say, I should swear by the fortune of Caesar, and pretend not to know who and what I am, hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian. And if you wish to learn what the doctrines of Christianity are, appoint me a day, and you shall hear them."

St. Irenaeus' Against Heresies
~180 AD. St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, disciple of St. Polycarp. Writing against the Gnostic heresy.

When we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles and which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth.

Wherefore it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church -- those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But it is also incumbent to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, looking upon them either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth.

First Council of Nicea
325 AD. We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father. By whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended into heaven. And thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. But those who say there was a time when he was not and he was not before he was made and he was made out of nothing, or he is of another substance or essence, or the Son of God is created or changeable or alterable, they are condemned by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lecture 18
347-348 AD. St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem.

It is called Catholic then because it extends over all the world, from one end of the earth to the other; and because it teaches universally and completely one and all the doctrines which ought to come to men's knowledge, concerning things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly; and because it brings into subjection to godliness the whole race of mankind, governors and governed, learned and unlearned; and because it universally treats and heals the whole class of sins, which are committed by soul or body, and possesses in itself every form of virtue which is named, both in deeds and words, and in every kind of spiritual gifts.

But since the word Ecclesia is applied to different things, and since one might properly and truly say that there is a Church of evil doers, I mean the meetings of the heretics, the Marcionists and Manichees, and the rest, for this cause the Faith has securely delivered to you now the Article, "And in one Holy Catholic Church;" that you may avoid their wretched meetings, and ever abide with the Holy Church Catholic in which you were regenerated. And if ever you are sojourning in cities, inquire not simply where the Lord's House is (for the other sects of the profane also attempt to call their own dens houses of the Lord), nor merely where the Church is, but where is the Catholic Church. For this is the peculiar name of this Holy Church, the mother of us all, which is the spouse of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.

And while the kings of particular nations have bounds set to their authority, the Holy Church Catholic alone extends her power without limit over the whole world; for God, as it is written, has made her border peace.

Protoevangelium of James
~145 AD. Apocryphal but elements of the story are found in other writings including the Islamic Qur’an.

And, behold, an angel of the Lord stood by, saying: Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer, and you shalt conceive and shall bring forth and your seed shall be spoken of in all the world. And Anna said: As the Lord my God lives, if I beget either male or female, I will bring it as a gift to the Lord my God; and it shall minister to Him in holy things all the days of its life. And, behold, two angels came, saying to her: Behold, Joachim your husband is coming with his flocks. For an angel of the Lord went down to him, saying: Joachim, Joachim, the Lord God has heard your prayer. Go down hence; for, behold, your wife Anna shall conceive.

And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said to the midwife: What have I brought forth? And she said: A girl. And said Anna: My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave the breast to the child, and called her name Mary.

And the priest said to Joseph, you have been chosen by lot to take into your keeping the virgin of the Lord. But Joseph refused, saying: I have children, and I am an old man, and she is a young girl. I am afraid lest I become a laughing-stock to the sons of Israel. And the priest said to Joseph: Fear the Lord your God, and remember what the Lord did to Dathan, and Abiram, and Korah; how the earth opened, and they were swallowed up on account of their contradiction. And now fear, O Joseph, lest the same things happen in your house. And Joseph was afraid, and took her into his keeping. And Joseph said to Mary: Behold, I have received you from the temple of the Lord and now I leave you in my house, and go away to build my buildings, and I shall come to you. The Lord will protect you.