Connection from Apostles to their early churches and successors

[INDENT]Hi all!

I want to make an infographic. I have some graphic design skills, as it is the major I’m working on. I think it would be really great to make a graphic that expresses the historical nature of Christianity and the Church, as something that really happened, by connecting Jesus --> the Apostles --> their successors and founded churches. Then, I would probably skip a couple of centuries and show how all of this is linked to the modern church. (E.g., one line of connection would show Jesus connected – to Peter – to the church at Rome – and individuals like Clement of Rome – to other notable Popes – all the way to the current Pope Francis. I would do something similar for the other Apostles.

My goal is to highlight the fact that Christianity today, and particularly Catholicism, has a concrete connection to the very first century. I want to focus on the earliest centuries, trying my best to connect the earliest Christian communities with the disciples and Apostles who founded them, as well as connecting the Apostles to the earliest Church Fathers – and, from them, later Church fathers and notable Christians.

**What I am asking for is
(1) Any recommendations on what should be included but also
(2) Information and resources with regard to:

Which Apostles founded what churches?
What Church fathers and Christians are connected to the original Apostles? **

For example,

do you think it would be more successful to center in on a few Apostles like Peter, Paul, and John, and connect them to the notable church fathers and popes? From them, we already have Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr.

The Apostolic Fathers are the Early Church Fathers who lived in the 1st century and the early part of the 2nd century.

Here is something I quickly put together as a basic idea about what I want to do

I guess I can start with a more specific question:

Which apostles would be the best to start with? If I only included a few Apostles, which ones had the greatest influence on the founding of historic churches and connection to known church fathers?

  • Peter
  • Paul
  • John

Would James be important? Or did the Jerusalem church fizzle out?
What about Andrew and Constantinople?

This is a question that involves lots of research, so don’t be surprised if everyone doesn’t jump up with an answer right away.

You’ve hit the big ones with Peter Paul and John. Paul’s successors in the Bible include Timothy and Titus, and he founded the Church in Greece during his missionary travels as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. One of the Apostolic Fathers who is associated with him is St. Thecla of Iconium, who is notable as the only female Apostolic Father (or Mother I suppose) and one of the earliest witnesses to ecclesiastical monastic life. The Acts of Paul and Thecla, written in about 160 A.D. and one of the earliest “lives of the saints,” mentions that she “led a monastic life” with several other women after being converted by St. Paul and interacting with him for several weeks. (source) She is also known for being an early witness to Purgatory and the possibility of salvation for non-Catholics. (She saw a pagan woman’s daughter in purgatory and told her to pray for her so that she could enter heaven. The pagan woman had not known about Christianity previously so her daughter could fall under invincible ignorance.)

Another Apostolic Father associated with St. Paul is St. Barnabas. He may or may not be the one mentioned throughout Acts, but it is my understanding that he has always been understood as a disciple of St. Paul. The Epistle of Barnabas is counted among the Apostolic Fathers and is an early witness to the Trinity, the Deuterocanonical books (it quotes from Wisdom right beside Isaiah), opposition to abortion and contraception, the possibility of sacred images, the Catholic view of baptism, the sacrament of confession, and worshiping on Sunday.

St. Peter, of course, ordained St. Clement, but there are several others associated with him as well: Hermas, who wrote the Shepherd of Hermas, was aquainted with Rome and mentions the duties of the pope. As a first or early second-century book, it is also noteworthy because it talks about one of Peter’s successors, and doctrines such as the Trinity, creation out of nothing, offering up penances, mortal and venial sins, the Catholic view of baptism, the permanence of marriage, the intercession of saints, the possibility of private revelation, and the Catholic view of angels and demons. St. Linus is another early saint associated with St. Peter. We don’t have any writings by him that I’m aware of, but his acts are described in the Liber Pontificalis, and he knew St. Peter.

St. John of course taught St. Polycarp, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and St. Papias. We have writings by all of them, though Papias is only in fragments. He attests that we must follow Tradition and not only Scripture. He is also a possible early witness that St. James was not the literal son of Mary, since he possibly mentions that he was the son of “Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphæus,” “the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord.” (source)

St. Ignatius is known for being an early witness to the Trinity, the divinity of Jesus, the name “Catholic,” the papacy as coming from Peter in Rome and maintaining leadership after his death, the existence of early religious orders, offering up penances, mortal and venial sin, the Catholic view of Baptism, the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the Mass as a sacrifice, the sacrament of confession, the distinctions between priests, deacons, and bishops, worshiping on Sunday, and the merit of good works.

St. Polycarp, meanwhile, attests to holy days, the name “Catholic,” the Deuterocanonical books (he quotes from Tobit right next to Isaiah and 1 Peter), the resurrection of the Body, and the Catholic view of the Antichrist.

The only work of the Apostolic Fathers associated with St. James to my knowledge is the Protoevangelium of St. James, supposedly written in 120 A.D. Of course, both of the Apostles named St. James were dead by then, but there is evidence that someone in St. James’ tradition wrote the book and was possibly one of his disciples – hence why his name appears in the title.

So that’s it for the Apostolic Fathers who we can trace to specific Apostles. Other Apostolic Fathers include the anonymous author of the Didache, Mathetes the author of the letter to Diognetus, and the anonymous author of Second Clement. It is worth noting that that work is sometimes associated with Pope St. Soter. He reigned about 100 years after most of the Apostles died, but it is barely possible that he had once heard the apostle John as a child, if he began his papacy when he was already in his late 70s (that scenario seems very unlikely). Second Clement is supposedly written by someone who really knew the Apostles, and Pope Soter’s connection to it, if there is one, may only mean that he had an older gentleman in his community who was an Apostolic Father, and he had him ghost-write the letter.

Regarding the author of the Didache and Mathetes, we do not know which Apostles they knew. But there is evidence that they did know some of them.

The Apostle St. Thomas went to India. The earliest Christian I know who is also associated with India is St. Clement of Aexandria, who traveled to India in the mid or late 100s to meet the Catholics there. When he returned to Alexandria he was influential in the early formation of a Catholic school known as the Catechetical School of Alexandria. He may have met some people in India who knew the Apostle.

I hope this helps. I wish I knew more so I could help more.

The Church in Jerusalem did not fizzle out. It went through a period of persecution, but important saints from Jerusalem made a big impact on Church History. The Apostles, I think, ruled the Church from Jerusalem before the headquarters moved to Rome, and the Council of Jerusalem was a blueprint for the later Ecumenical Councils: its decisions were sent out to all the other churches for observance by everyone in Acts 16:4.

After the Apostles, I have already mentioned the impact of the Protoevangelium of James which appears to have come from the Jerusalem Christians, but Jerusalem’s influence certainly continued after that as well. St. Justin Martyr was from Palestine and I think his bishop would have likely been the bishop of Jerusalem until St. Justin decided to move to Rome. Tatian the Syrian was also influential in the Jerusalem Church before he became a heretic. One of the influential things he did was compose the Diatessaron, which served as the basic text of the Gospels for the Church in Jerusalem for many years.

There is evidence that St. Hegesippus, who lived in the late 100s, was from the Jerusalem area, and he was very influential as well. He wrote a now-lost five volume history of the Church which Eusebius of Caesarea relied upon in composing his own History of the Church. The surviving fragments of his books reveal Apostolic Succession, and he is an early witness that the Jerusalem Church was subject to Rome: that is where he traveled to make a list of the successors of Peter. (It is also possible that it contains early information about the Assumption. There is evidence that Eusebius of Caesarea knew about the Assumption, and the tradition seems to have originated from the Jerusalem Church. But at least one source that Eusebius had from that Church was the history by Hegesippus, and if that book, written in the late 100s, really filled five volumes with historical information about Christianity, I would imagine something about the fate of the Blessed Virgin would be included. Alas, it is currently lost! Here’s hoping it is someday rediscovered in a dusty monastery shelf somewhere, or in a set of papyri written over for other purposes. So many other ancient Catholic works have been rediscovered in the past and more recently, may this be one of them, O Lord!)

St. Archelaus of Mesopotamia in the late 277s was near the territory of the Bishop of Jerusalem and, since he was himself a bishop, I would guess he was probably a suffragen. He is best known for having a public disputation with Manes, the founder of Manichaeism.

The Jerusalem Church was still alive and kicking when Constantine converted to Catholicism. His mother St. Helen went to that church in order to find the location of several pilgrimage sites and holy relics, including the true Cross. The bishop of Jerusalem attended the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. and St. Cyril of Jerusalem was an influential Church leader not long after that. He developed a catechetical program that is an inspiration for our modern RCIA classes. St Juvenal of Jerusalem was the bishop who testified about the tradition of Mary’s Assumption in front of the empress St. Pulcheria at the fourth ecumenical council.

Indeed, we owe the Jerusalem Church much in Catholic history. I hope some of this information is useful to you in creating your infographic.

Yes! All of that information is excellent.

If anyone else would like to share there recommendations, that would be great. :slight_smile:

Jerusalem, along with the Temple, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Any Christians remaining in Jerusalem would have been killed along with everyone else. So in that sense subsequent Christianity isn’t in continuity with the Jerusalem church. James remained in Jerusalem as the overseer of the church there. However, the apostles left Jerusalem to spread the faith elsewhere, Peter to Antioch and Rome. Hence the headquarters of the Church came to be in Rome and not Jerusalem.

It is said that remnants of the Jerusalem church escaped across the Jordan beforehand, due to prophecy. However, it does not seem that they had any influence on later spread and development of Christianity.

You should start with St. Peter baptizing 3,000 people. This was the first Penecost in the Catholic Church. From there move on to when St. Peter ordained St. Clement and St. Linus as bishops.

You should start with St. Peter baptizing 3,000 people. This was the first Penecost in the Catholic Church. From there move on to when St. Peter ordained St. Clement and St. Linus as bishops.

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