Category: Patrology

In this area of our web site, readers will find offerings by and about the Fathers of the Church.

Patrology is the study of the lives and writings of the Fathers of the Church.  Although the opinion is far from uncontested, most theologians put an end to the patristic period with the death of Saint Anselm (+1109). Some, however, extend it a little further and count Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153), a father. This doctor had his own dissenting view and was fond of calling Saint Augustine (430) the last of the Church Fathers. Others cut the period off with the death of Saint John Damascene in 749, who was an eastern father and doctor. Because we are dealing with the “early Church” it would seem logical, and more consistent with the title “father” not to extend the patristic period into the Age of Scholasticism (mid-eleventh to early fifteenth century). Brother Francis used to call Saint Gregory the Great (+604) the last western father and John Damscene, the last eastern father.

Not all the Fathers of the Church are doctors, or even saints.  A Doctor of the Church is a much higher title and it has its own rank in the Roman Missal, along with Martyrs, Confessors, and Virgins. To qualify as a Father of the Church one would have had to have written or given homilies in some abundance as a witness to the Faith of the early Church. The greatest collection of the works of the eastern and western Fathers is that of Father Jacques Paul Migne, whose Patrologia Latina and Graeca, are standard texts in studying Patrology. His Latin Patrology ends with the homilies of Pope Innocent III (+1216) and his Greek Patrology continues up to the time of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453.

The Church of History

Of all the “churches” calling themselves “Christian,” can any one of them irrefutably claim to be the Church founded by Jesus Christ? Does any conform to the clear, precise terms by which this Church of Christ is described in Holy … Continue reading