I was questioned today, whether St. Paul would be honored or appalled at the idea of naming a church (or anythin else for that matter) in his honor instead of in honor of Christ Jesus. I was thinking that the first place to start looking for the answer is the origin of this tradition but I can’t come up with anything prior to the 4th century which is far too late to conclude that this practice flows from something that the Apostles would have encouraged. Anyone know of anything from the 1st cenury?
While you’re looking for the answer for that particular question, it might help you to keep in mind that parishes (like many religious orders, apostolates, and private enterprises) are named for saints, not so much to honor the saint, but to put that particular parish, diocese, religious order, apostolates, or private enterprises **under the patronage **of this or that particular saint.
So maybe your question should be: Would a saint be horrified or would he be honored to be asked to pray for the spiritual welfare of a particular parish or apostolate?
If I were a Saint (a huge hypothetical in my particular case:p ) I would be honored to do so!
One of the problems about doing this research is that before the Edict of Toleration, churches were “invisible.” Very little archaeology there to go by.
Well that is about right since there most likely were no churches prior to the 4th century. I believe the first actual public church was named after St. Mary. Not certain though.
II think the oldest in Rome was St. Mary Major, followed shortly by St. John Lateran & St. Peter’s (Not sure what order ). Earlier catacombs carry the names of early martyrs. But the names may have been slapped on at a later date.
What do I know? I’m just blathering here.
That is my recollection. Was it St Mary Major perhaps?
I don’t recall.
I believe it was but don’t hold me to it. St. John Lateran & St. Peter’s were both built by Constantine around the same time. But that’s Rome. Surely there must be some early “saint” churches in the East.
Thanks for the input. I agree that there were likely no large curches prior to Constantine that could be pointed to for this question but it seems likely that in some wrightings one of the fathers would have referred to some holy place as being dedicated to or named in honor of some particuly well loved Martyr. This seems to come up pretty comonly in the Old Testament eg. Jacobs Well, Solomon’s Porch, Kingdoms of Juda and Israel and I suspect there was not a 500 year lapse in this practise.
The Church of St. Clement in Rome is built on a 1st century pagan temple. That church was most likely named after St. Clement in the apostolic age (although there is a question about which St. Clement it was).