Help with Peter as he first Pope

I have a Protestant friend who understands Jesus building the Church on Peter but he needs the usual proof that he was in Rome and that he was the first Bishop of Rome.

I mentioned the early church fathers but couldn’t think if there was writing somewhere, something that would help, he does seem interested, he isn’t lie he normal Catholic hating type.


There are several Catholic Answers tracts dedicated to this topic, with quotes from the Early Fathers and historical and Biblical evidence. Have a look here (and don’t forget page 2):

Here is one…from St. Optatus:

Later in the work he shows that St. Peter, the Head of the Apostles, was the first to occupy the Episcopal Cathedra in Rome, and that the purpose of this Cathedra was to preserve unity among all Christians, including even the other Apostles. He writes:

You cannot then deny that you do know that upon Peter first in the City of Rome was bestowed the Episcopal Cathedra, on which sat Peter, the Head of all the Apostles … that, in this one Cathedra, unity should be preserved by all [in qua unica Cathedra unitas ab omnibus servaretur], lest the other Apostles might claim each for himself separate Cathedras, so that he who should set up a second Cathedra against the unique Cathedra would already be a schismatic and a sinner. Well then, on the one Cathedra, which is the first of the Endowments, Peter was the first to sit.25

Nelka #1
I have a Protestant friend who understands Jesus building the Church on Peter but he needs the usual proof that he was in Rome and that he was the first Bishop of Rome.

St. Peter ends his first Epistle with the words, “The Church which is in Babylon salutes you, and so doth my son, Mark.” All reputable scholars admit that the first Christians called pagan Rome Babylon on account of its vices. St. Peter, therefore, was writing from Rome.

It is simple history that St. Peter went to Rome about the year 43 A.D., went back to Jerusalem after a few years for a short time, and then returned to Rome until his death, save for very short absences. He died about the year 67, during the reign of Nero. Papias wrote, about 140 A.D., “Peter came and first by his salutary preaching of the Gospel and by his keys opened in the city of Rome the gates of the heavenly kingdom.” Lanciani, the eminent archaeologist, wrote, “The presence of St. Peter in Rome is a fact demonstrated beyond a shadow of doubt by purely monumental evidence. [See “The Pope” in Vol 1]
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Peter’s tomb has been found. It was found under the altar of St. Peters Basilica in Rome in 1965. The tomb is plainly marked with his name and there are human remains within it. Anyone who visits St. Peters can see the tomb for himself.

Tertullian, “The demurrer against the heretics”, chapter XXXII,1,
“…like the church of the Romans where Clement was ordained by Peter.”

Eusebius, “History of the Church”, 2,14,6, 300 A.D., J651dd
“In the same reign of Claudius, the all-good and gracious providence which watches over all things guided Peter, the great and mighty one among the Apostles, who, because of his virtue, was the spokesman for all the others, to Rome."

Holy Scripture tells us that the Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54) ordered all Jews to leave Rome (Acts 18:2). Peter was a Jew, but the Church was an underground Church in hiding at the time. The Church was forced to practice the faith in an underground situation in order to avoid persecution. The Romans had a policy of hunting down and persecuting all of the Apostles.

Eusebius wrote in “The Chronicle” (Ad An Dom 42), that Peter, after establishing the Church in Antioch, went to Rome where he remained as Bishop of Rome for 25 years. We know from other early writings that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome in 67 A.D… That date, minus 25 years would put him in Rome in the year 42, during the reign of Claudius.

Who has the authority to ordain priests? Only Bishops do. Clement was ordained by the Bishop of Rome, Peter.

I think that our earliest source might be Irenaeus, Against Heresies (c.AD 180), 3.2, “the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul”. After that, we have Tertullian, then Eusebius, etc.

It’s not “proof” as such, but history almost never gets proof: instead, we work on the basis of the best explanation of the available data.

Just a couple of additions.

We can add St Irenaeus as well. He was one man away from the apostle John. He puts Peter in Rome as well. Adversus haereses “all must agree with Rome on account of it’s preeminent authority” because of Peter & Paul in Rome [Bk 3, [URL=“”]Chapter 3, v 2-3]

Re: Babylon & Peter & Peter writing from “Babylon” yes it’s a code name

How do we know it’s a code name one asks?

]Babylon is in Iraq. There is ZERO evidence Peter ever went to Iraq.
]When Peter wrote his epistle in the 1st century, the real Babylon in Iraq, had been destroyed and in ruins 100’s of years before Peter was even born.
]Then there is [size=2]Jeremias (Jeremiah) 51:37, Babylon
will be a heap of ruins, …a place where no one lives
.* [/size]if Saddam Hussein hadn’t been killed, he had plans to restore Babylon and the hanging gardens of Babylon.
*]Babylon in Peter’s day was therefore a metaphore among Catholics, a code name, for Rome to disguise where Peter was. Roman persecution of the Catholic Church was merciless. That’s why Ignatius who was bishop of Antioch from ~69 a,d, to ~107 a.d. when writing to the Church of Rome, on his way to the colliseum to be thrown to the lions, doesn’t mention anybodys names in his letter for their protection. But we know Ignatius letter got to the bishop of Rome because Ignatius taught " do nothing without the bishop."


Here is a list of more arguments from the Bible, history, and archeology showing that Peter founded the Church in Rome.

And here is a quote going back to AD 178 by Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, stating that Peter along with St. Paul founded the Church in Rome.

And here is more on the book The Bones of St. Peter
by John Evangelist Walsh, © 1982, 2011. This shows the proof that Peter was buried underneath what is now the High Altar of St. Peter’s Basilica


For those interested. This book can be found on the internet, but there has been a problem with some sicko hacking into that website and placing a virus there. I do not know for sure the status of that web site, but my web site about the book at Defending the Bride is clean. The book was a best seller and should be available at the library.


Peter, Mark and Rufus in Rome

First, St. Peter says in 1 Peter 5:13:

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark.

“Babylon” was an early Christian reference for “Rome,” so Sts. Peter and Mark are sending their greetings from Rome.

Second, this is also the testimony of the Church Fathers, who testify that Mark is Peter’s disciple and interpreter in Rome. St. Irenaeus, writing c. 180 A.D., says:

Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter.

Eusebius says the same thing, as does St. Jerome:

Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter wrote a short gospel at the request of the brethren at Rome embodying what he had heard Peter tell. When Peter had heard this, he approved it and published it to the churches to be read by his authority as Clemens in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes and Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, record. Peter also mentions this Mark in his first epistle, figuratively indicating Rome under the name of Babylon “She who is in Babylon elect together with you salutes you and so does Mark my son.” So, taking the gospel which he himself composed, he went to Egypt and first preaching Christ at Alexandria he formed a church so admirable in doctrine and continence of living that he constrained all followers of Christ to his example.

This makes Mark’s Gospel all the more powerful: he’s declaring that Jesus, not Caesar, is the true Son of God from the heart of the Roman Empire.

That first point is pretty well known, but this next one is not (at least, as far as I know): Rufus, the son of Simon of Cyrene, was a Christian living in Rome. So was Simon’s wife. We know this from a seemingly throwaway line in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 16:13),

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.

This explains why Mark would choose to mention that Simon of Cyrene was the father of Rufus and Alexander (cf Mk 15:21): those wouldn’t have been random names to his original readers, but actual people that they knew. This detail is significant for several reasons.

First, it’s another indication of the historicity of the Gospel: anyone doubting the veracity of Mark’s account could go ask Rufus and Alexander.

Second, it shows the harmony of the New Testament accounts: by comparing multiple sources (Mark and Paul), a more coherent picture emerges.

Finally, it points to something momentous and beautiful: that Simon of Cyrene’s encounter with the Cross brought about his conversion, and the conversion of his whole family.

Thanks Randy for the great article.

Some Biblical scholars such as Dom Bernard Orchard, O.S.B., have pointed to this as one of the many pieces of internal evidence that Mark’s Gospel was originally an oral Gospel. A good case is made that it was Peter’s preaching as he was going through Matthew and Luke’s Gospels. Peter’s preaching at this time was recorded by St. Mark. St. Peter interrupts the solemn and sorrowful account of the Passion of Jesus to relate this personal yet seemingly at the moment inconsequential detail. But if Alexander and Rufus were present in the audience then this detail at this moment takes on a deeper meaning.

See picture below of St. Peter preaching as St. Mark records his Gospel below.

Mark’s assistants supply him with black ink and blank scrolls at either side.


Thank you for that link. It will come in useful.This is a subject that crops up from time to time on an Anglican website where I sometimes engage with Protestants of all kinds. The OP on this thread makes a good point: the Primacy (“Upon this rock …”) is one subject and Peter’s ministry in Rome is a different one, often best handled as a separate question.


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