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Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine - by Pope Benedict XVI

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Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine

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Learn more about the early Church Fathers, also called the Apostolic Fathers, and see how their writing, teaching and preaching formed the Christian faith we profess to this day. They lived in a time of confusion, turmoil and persecution, not unlike our own, and they can teach us valuable lessons to live more faithfully and understand Christ and His Church in our own age. No one today can show us the Way of the Fathers with more skill and effectiveness than Pope Benedict XVI.

Following his best selling book, Jesus of Nazareth, and his talks published in Jesus, the Apostles, and the Early Church, Pope Benedict’s Church Fathers presents these important figures of early Christianity in all their evangelical vitality, spiritual profundity, and uncompromising love of God. Benedict tells the true story of Christianity’s against-all-odds triumph in the face of fierce Roman hostility and persecution. He does this by exploring the lives and the ideas of the early Christian writers, pastors, and martyrs, men so important to the spread of Christianity that history remembers them as “the Fathers of the Church”.

This rich and engrossing survey of the early Church includes those churchmen who immediately succeeded the Apostles, the “Apostolic Fathers”: Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, and Irenaeus of Lyon. Benedict also discusses such great Christian figures as Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian of Carthage, the Cappadocian Fathers, as well as the giants John Chrysostom, Jerome, and Augustine. This book is a wonderful way to get to know the Church Fathers and the tremendous spiritually rich patrimony they have bequeathed to us.

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St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine of Hippo Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 08/28
Tridentine Calendar - 08/28

Patron Of: Theologians, Eyes, Brewers, Printers

Also Known As
    Aurelius Augustinus
    Doctor of Grace

    28 August

    His father was a pagan who converted on his death bed; his mother was Saint Monica, a devout Christian. Trained in Christianity, he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life. Lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 through 30. Fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means the gift of God. Taught rhetoric at Carthage and Milan. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; it taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: "God, give me chastity and continence - but not just now."

    Augustine finally broke with the Manichaeans and was converted by the prayers of his mother and the help of Saint Ambrose of Milan, who baptized him. On the death of his mother he returned to Africa, sold his property, gave the proceeds to the poor, and founded a monastery. Monk. Priest. Preacher. Bishop of Hippo in 396. Founded religious communities. Fought Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism and other heresies. Oversaw his church and his see during the fall of the Roman Empire to the Vandals. Doctor of the Church. His later thinking can also be summed up in a line from his writings:

        Our hearts were made for You, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.

    13 November 354 at Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa (Souk-Ahras, Algeria) as Aurelius Augustinus

    28 August 430 at Hippo


    Bridgeport, Connecticut, diocese of
    Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
    Ida, Philippines, diocese of
    Isleta Indian Pueblo
    Kalamazoo Michigan, diocese of
    Saint Augustine, Florida, city of
    Saint Augustine, Florida, diocese of
    sore eyes
    Superior, Wisconsin, diocese of
    Tucson, Arizona, diocese of
    Valletta, Malta

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Clement I

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 11/23

Patron Of: Mariners, Sailors, Boatmen, Watermen, Stonecutters, Dundee, Scotland, Marble Workers, Velletri, Italy, Sick Children

Also known as
    Clement of Rome

    23 November

    Fourth Pope. Apostolic Father. The Basilica of Saint Clement in Rome, one of the earliest parish churches in the city, is probably built on the site of Clement's home. Author of the "Epistle to the Corinthians". His name occurs in the Canon of the Mass. Origen and Saint Jerome identify him as working with Saint Paul the Apostle.

    Rome, Italy

Papal Ascension

    martyred in 101 during the persecution of Trajan


    Dundee, Scotland
    marble workers
    sick children
    Velletri, Italy

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Cyprian of Carthage

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 09/16

Patron Of: Algeria, North Africa

Also known as
    Thaschus Caecilius Cyprianus

    16 September in Western Church
    31 August in Eastern Church
    26 September in the Anglican Church

    Born to wealthy pagan parents. Taught rhetoric and literature. Adult convert in 246. Ordained in 247. Bishop of Carthage in 249. During the persecution of Decius, beginning in 250, Cyprian lived in hiding, covertly ministering to his flock; his enemies condemned him for being a coward and not standing up for his faith. Writer second only in importance to Tertullian as a Latin Father of the Church. Exiled during the persecutions of Valerian. Friend of Saint Pontius. Involved in the great argument over whether apostates should be readmitted to the Church; Cyprian believed they should, but under stringent conditions. Supported Pope Saint Cornelius against the anti-pope Novatian. In the persecutions of Valerian, he was exiled to Curubis in 257, then brought back Carthage and martyred in 258. His name is in the Communicantes in the Canon of the Mass.

    190 in Carthage, North Africa

    beheaded 14 September 258 in Carthage, North Africa


    North Africa

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Ignatius of Antioch

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 10/17

Patron Of: Against Throat Diseases, Church in Eastern Mediterranean, Church in North Africa

Also known as

    17 October
    formerly 1 February

    Convert from paganism to Christianity. Succeeded Peter as bishop of Antioch, Syria. Served during persecution of Domitian. During the persecution of Trajan, he was ordered taken to Rome to be killed by wild animals. On the way, a journey which took months, he wrote a series of encouraging letters to the churches under his care. First writer to use the term the Catholic Church. Apostolic Father. Martyr. His name occurs in the "Nobis quoque peccatoribus" in the Canon of the Mass. Legend says he was the infant that Jesus took into his arms in Mark 9.

    c.50 in Syria

    thrown to wild animals c.107 at Rome; relics at Saint Peter's, Rome

    against throat diseases
    Church in eastern Mediterranean
    Church in North Africa

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Irenaeus of Lyons

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 06/28

Patron Of: Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama

    28 June (Western Church)
    23 August (Eastern Church)

    Disciple of Saint Polycarp of Smyrna. Priest in 177. Bishop of Lyons. Worked and wrote against Gnosticism, basing his arguments on the works of Saint John, whose Gospel is often cited by Gnostics. Considered the first great Western ecclesiastical writer, he emphasized the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and of Christ's simultaneous human and divine nature. Father of the Church. Martyr.

    c.130 in Asia Minor

    martyred in 202 in Lyons, France
    tomb and relics were destroyed by Calvinists in 1562
    head in Saint John's church, Lyons, France

Name Meaning
    lover of peace; peaceful (greek)


    Mobile, Alabama, archdiocese of

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.


St. Jerome

Feast Day:
Roman Rite Calendar - 09/30

Patron Of: Archeologists, Archivists, Libraries, Librarians

Also Known As
    Eusebius Hieronymus Sophronius
    Man of the Bible
    30 September
    Born to a rich pagan family, he led a misspent youth. Studied in Rome. Lawyer. Converted in theory, and baptised in 365, he began his study of theology, and had a true conversion. Monk. Lived for years as a hermit in the Syrian deserts. Reported to have drawn a thorn from a lion's paw; the animal stayed loyally at his side for years. Priest. Student of Saint Gregory of Nazianzen. Secretary to Pope Damasus I who commissioned him to revise the Latin text of the Bible. The result of his 30 years of work was the Vulgate translation, which is still in use. Friend and teacher of Saint Paula, Saint Marcella, and Saint Eustochium, an association that led to so much gossip, Jerome left Rome to return to the desert solitude. Lived his last 34 years in the Holy Land as a semi-recluse. Wrote translations of Origen, histories, biographies, and much more. Doctor of the Church, Father of the Church. Since his own time, he has been associated in the popular mind with scrolls, writing, cataloging, translating, etc. This led to those who work in such fields taking him as their patron - a man who knew their lives and problems.
    347 at Strido, Dalmatia
    419; relics at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome, Italy

All information used with permission of the Patron Saint Index.

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