Use of the Sacraments in the Early Church


Hey Y'all,

I know that the seven sacraments were instituted by Christ, and that this fact can be found in the Bible, but is there any documentation of the sacraments being used in the early Church?

I know Justin Martyr has an account of the Mass and the Eucharist, but what about the other six? Can anyone point me in the right direction?

Just to clarify, I want this info (especially primart sources) because I'm working on ideas for a paper. I want to show that the early Church is the same as the Church found today. Thanks so much!

God Love You!


The conclusion that there are no more and no less than seven, and what those seven sacraments were, was not clearly agreed upon in the early Church. It took awhile for this to be developed and understood.

I suspect you've figured this out already, but the old Catholic Encyclopedia is a pretty good place to start a search for references from the early days. The Catechism is probably worth checking as well, although it doesn't go into history a great deal.


The first century Didache records three sacraments, baptism, confession and communion ], no others, but that doesn't necessarily preclude that there were others.


I know this is in the bible but I thought it might be helpful just the same

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up, and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him. James 5:14-15:thumbsup:


I think the existence of presbyters/priests and bishops by way of ordination and "laying on of hands" (respectively) is indicative of the existence of Holy Orders. Though one might be able to argue this point. As well as the fact that marriages exist would be indicative that the Sacrament of Matrimony was used.


The Catechism of Perseverance by Mgr. Jean-Joseph Gaume (1802-1879) reports the use of auricular Confession from the first century to the twelfth.

The Catechism of Perseverance, Course Second, Chapter XI:

Q. Will you show that auricular confession dates
back to the apostles ?

A. It has been impiously asserted that confession
does not date further back than the thirteenth century.
But this is an error; we have witnesses for confession
from the thirteenth century up to the apostles. For
the twelfth we have St. Bernard; for the eleventh,
St. Peter Damian; for the tenth, Reginon, Abbot of
the diocess of Treves; for the ninth, the council of
Paris; for the eighth, St. Boniface, Archbishop of
Mayence, for the seventh, St. Gregory the Great; for
the sixth, St. Leo; for the fifth, St. Augustin; for the
fourth, St. Chrysostom; for the third, St. Basil; for
the second, Origen ; for the first, St. Clement, disciple of St. Peter
and among the apostles, we have St John, St. James and
St. Luke; and finally, our Lord Jesus Christ, who has said:
And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou
shalt bind upon earth it shall be bound also in heaven;

and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be
loosed also in heaven.


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