||Below are writings
of the early Church Fathers of the Eastern part of the Catholic Church --
all of whom supported the primacy of the Petrine
St. Cyril of
Jerusalem, Patriarch (363)
Our Lord Jesus
Christ then became a man, but by the many He was not known. But wishing to
teach that which was not known, having assembled the disciples, He asked,
'Whom do men say that the Son of man is?' ...And all being silent (for it
was beyond man to learn) Peter, the Foremost of the Apostles, the Chief Herald
of the Church, not using the language of his own finding, nor persuaded by
human reasoning, but having his mind enlightened by the Father, says to Him,
'Thou art the Christ,' not simply that, but 'the Son of the living God.'
(Cyril, Catech. xi. n. 3)
For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven. (Cyril, Catechetical
Lectures A.D. 350).
Peter, the chief and foremost leader of the Apostles, before a little maid
thrice denied the Lord, but moved to penitence, he wept bitterly. (Cyril,
Catech ii. n. 15)
In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles
and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic
in the name of Christ. (Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27)
Patriarch of Jerusalem (c. 638)
Teaching us all
orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected
halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables
and characters, I accept all his (the pope's) letters and teachings as proceeding
from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and
embrace them with all my soul ... I recognize the latter as definitions of
Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught
teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church. (Sophronius,
Mansi, xi. 461)
Transverse quickly all the world from one end to the other until you come
to the Apostolic See (Rome), where are the foundations of the orthodox doctrine.
Make clearly known to the most holy personages of that throne the questions
agitated among us. Cease not to pray and to beg them until their apostolic
and Divine wisdom shall have pronounced the victorious judgement and destroyed
from the foundation ...the new heresy. (Sophronius, [quoted by Bishop Stephen
of Dora to Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council], Mansi, 893)
of Dora in Palestine (645)
And for this cause,
sometimes we ask for water to our head and to our eyes a fountain of tears,
sometimes the wings of a dove, according to holy David, that we might fly
away and announce these things to the Chair (the Chair of Peter at Rome)
which rules and presides over all, I mean to yours, the head and highest,
for the healing of the whole wound. For this it has been accustomed to do
from old and from the beginning with power by its canonical or apostolic
authority, because the truly great Peter, head of the Apostles, was clearly
thought worthy not only to be trusted with the keys of heaven, alone apart
from the rest, to open it worthily to believers, or to close it justly to
those who disbelieve the Gospel of grace, but because he was also commissioned
to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for 'Peter,' saith He, 'lovest
thou Me? Feed My sheep.' And again, because he had in a manner peculiar and
special, a faith in the Lord stronger than all and unchangeable, to be converted
and to confirm his fellows and spiritual brethren when tossed about, as having
been adorned by God Himself incarnate for us with power and sacerdotal authority
.....And Sophronius of blessed memory, who was Patriarch of the holy city
of Christ our God, and under whom I was bishop, conferring not with flesh
and blood, but caring only for the things of Christ with respect to your
Holiness, hastened to send my nothingness without delay about this matter
alone to this Apostolic see, where are the foundations of holy doctrine.
St. John Chrysostom,
Patriarch of Constantinople (c. 387)
Peter himself the
Head or Crown of the Apostles, the First in the Church, the Friend of Christ,
who received a revelation, not from man, but from the Father, as the Lord
bears witness to him, saying, 'Blessed art thou, This very Peter and when
I name Peter I name that unbroken Rock, that firm Foundation, the Great Apostle,
First of the disciples, the First called, and the First who obeyed he was
guilty ...even denying the Lord." (Chrysostom, T. ii. Hom)
Peter, the Leader of the choir of Apostles, the Mouth of the disciples, the
Pillar of the Church, the Buttress of the faith, the Foundation of the
confession, the Fisherman of the universe. (Chrysostom, T. iii Hom).
Peter, that Leader of the choir, that Mouth of the rest of the Apostles,
that Head of the brotherhood, that one set over the entire universe, that
Foundation of the Church. (Chrys. In illud hoc Scitote)
(Peter), the foundation of the Church, the Coryphaeus of the choir of the
Apostles, the vehement lover of Christ ...he who ran throughout the whole
world, who fished the whole world; this holy Coryphaeus of the blessed choir;
the ardent disciple, who was entrusted with the keys of heaven, who received
the spiritual revelation. Peter, the mouth of all Apostles, the head of that
company, the ruler of the whole world. (De Eleemos, iii. 4; Hom. de decem
mille tal. 3)
In those days Peter rose up in the midst of the disciples (Acts 15), both
as being ardent, and as intrusted by Christ with the flock ...he first acts
with authority in the matter, as having all put into his hands ; for to him
Christ said, 'And thou, being converted, confirm thy brethren. (Chrysostom,
Hom. iii Act Apost. tom. ix.)
He passed over his fall, and appointed him first of the Apostles; wherefore
He said: ' 'Simon, Simon,' etc. (in Ps. cxxix. 2). God allowed him to fall,
because He meant to make him ruler over the whole world, that, remembering
his own fall, he might forgive those who should slip in the future. And that
what I have said is no guess, listen to Christ Himself saying: 'Simon, Simon,
etc.' (Chrys, Hom. quod frequenter conveniendum sit 5, cf. Hom 73 in Joan
And why, then, passing by the others, does He converse with Peter on these
things? (John 21:15). He was the chosen one of the Apostles, and the mouth
of the disciples, and the leader of the choir. On this account, Paul also
went up on a time to see him rather than the others (Galatians 1:18). And
withal, to show him that he must thenceforward have confidence, as the denial
was done away with, He puts into his hands the presidency over the brethren.
And He brings not forward the denial, nor reproches him with what had past,
but says, 'If you love me, preside over the brethren ...and the third time
He gives him the same injunction, showing what a price He sets the presidency
over His own sheep. And if one should say, 'How then did James receive the
throne of Jerusalem?,' this I would answer that He appointed this man (Peter)
teacher, not of that throne, but of the whole world. (Chrysostom, In Joan.
Hom. 1xxxviii. n. 1, tom. viii)
Patriarch of Constantinople (434):
A disciple of St. John Chrysostom
Peter, the coryphaeus
of the disciples, and the one set over (or chief of) the Apostles. Art not
thou he that didst say, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'?
Thou Bar-Jonas (son of the dove) hast thou seen so many miracles, and art
thou still but Simon (a hearer)? He appointed thee the key-bearer of Heaven,
and has though not yet layed aside thy fisherman's clothing? (Proclus, Or.
viii In Dom. Transfig. t. ix. Galland)
Monk (c. 430)
That great man,
the disciple of disciples, that master among masters, who wielding the government
of the Roman Church possessed the principle authority in faith and in priesthood.
Tell us, therefore, we beg of you, Peter, prince of Apostles, tell us how
the Churches must believe in God (Cassian, Contra Nestorium, III, 12, CSEL,
vol. 17, p. 276).
St. Nilus of
A disciple of St. John Chrysostom
Peter, Head of
the choir of Apostles. (Nilus, Lib. ii Epistl.)
Peter, who was foremost in the choir of Apostles and always ruled amongst
them. (Nilus, Tract. ad. Magnam.)
Patriarch of Constantinople (466-516)
when desired by the Emperor Anastasius to condemn the Council of Chalcedon,
that 'such a step without an Ecumenical Synod presided over by the Pope of
Rome is impossible.' (Macedonius, Patr. Graec. 108: 360a (Theophan. Chronogr.
pp. 234-346 seq.)
Writing to the
Yielding honor to the Apostolic See and to Your Holiness, and honoring your
Holiness, as one ought to honor a father, we have hastened to subject all
the priests of the whole Eastern district, and to unite them to the See of
your Holiness, for we do not allow of any point, however manifest and
indisputable it be, which relates to the state of the Churches, not being
brought to the cognizance of your Holiness, since you are the Head of all
the holy Churches. (Justinian Epist. ad. Pap. Joan. ii. Cod. Justin. lib.
I. tit. 1).
Let your Apostleship show that you have worthily succeeded to the Apostle
Peter, since the Lord will work through you, as Surpreme Pastor, the salvation
of all. (Coll. Avell. Ep. 196, July 9th, 520, Justinian to Pope Hormisdas).
the Confessor (c. 650)
A celebrated theologian and a native of Constantinople
of the earth, and everyone in every part of it who purely and rightly confess
the Lord, look directly towards the Most Holy Roman Church and her confession
and faith, as to a sun of unfailing light awaiting from her the brilliant
radiance of the sacred dogmas of our Fathers, according to that which the
inspired and holy Councils have stainlessly and piously decreed. For, from
the descent of the Incarnate Word amongst us, all the churches in every part
of the world have held the greatest Church alone to be their base and foundation,
seeing that, according to the promise of Christ Our Savior, the gates of
hell will never prevail against her, that she has the keys of the orthodox
confession and right faith in Him, that she opens the true and exclusive
religion to such men as approach with piety, and she shuts up and locks every
heretical mouth which speaks against the Most High. (Maximus, Opuscula theologica
et polemica, Migne, Patr. Graec. vol. 90)
How much more in the case of the clergy and Church of the Romans, which from
old until now presides over all the churches which are under the sun? Having
surely received this canonically, as well as from councils and the apostles,
as from the princes of the latter (Peter and Paul), and being numbered in
their company, she is subject to no writings or issues in synodical documents,
on account of the eminence of her pontificate .....even as in all these things
all are equally subject to her (the Church of Rome) according to sacerodotal
law. And so when, without fear, but with all holy and becoming confidence,
those ministers (the popes) are of the truly firm and immovable rock, that
is of the most great and Apostolic Church of Rome. (Maximus, in J.B. Mansi,
ed. Amplissima Collectio Conciliorum, vol. 10)
If the Roman See recognizes Pyrrhus to be not only a reprobate but a heretic,
it is certainly plain that everyone who anathematizes those who have rejected
Pyrrhus also anathematizes the See of Rome, that is, he anathematizes the
Catholic Church. I need hardly add that he excommunicates himself also, if
indeed he is in communion with the Roman See and the Catholic Church of God
...Let him hasten before all things to satisfy the Roman See, for if it is
satisfied, all will agree in calling him pious and orthodox. For he only
speaks in vain who thinks he ought to pursuade or entrap persons like myself,
and does not satisfy and implore the blessed Pope of the most holy Catholic
Church of the Romans, that is, the Apostolic See, which is from the incarnate
of the Son of God Himself, and also all the holy synods, accodring to the
holy canons and definitions has received universal and surpreme dominion,
authority, and power of binding and loosing over all the holy churches of
God throughout the whole world. (Maximus, Letter to Peter, in Mansi x, 692).
John VI, Patriarch
of Constantinople (715)
The Pope of Rome,
the head of the Christian priesthood, whom in Peter, the Lord commanded to
confirm his brethren. (John VI, Epist. ad Constantin. Pap. ad. Combefis,
Auctuar. Bibl. P.P. Graec.tom. ii. p. 211, seq.)
Patriarch of Constantinople (758-828)
Without whom (the
Romans presiding in the seventh Council) a doctrine brought forward in the
Church could not, even though confirmed by canonical decrees and by
ecclesiastical usuage, ever obtain full approval or currency. For it is they
(the Popes of Rome) who have had assigned to them the rule in sacred things,
and who have received into their hands the dignity of headship among the
Apostles. (Nicephorus, Niceph. Cpl. pro. s. imag. c 25 [Mai N. Bibl. pp.
the Studite of Constantinople (759-826)
Writing to Pope
Since to great Peter Christ our Lord gave the office of Chief Shepherd after
entrusting him with the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, to Peter or his successor
must of necessity every novelty in the Catholic Church be referred. [Therefore],
save us, oh most divine Head of Heads, Chief Shepherd of the Church of Heaven.
(Theodore, Bk. I. Ep. 23)
Writing to Pope Paschal:
Hear, O Apostolic Head, divinely-appointed Shepherd of Christ's sheep, keybearer
of the Kingdom of Heaven, Rock of the Faith upon whom the Catholic Church
is built. For Peter art thou, who adornest and governest the Chair of Peter.
Hither, then, from the West, imitator of Christ, arise and repel not for
ever (Ps. xliii. 23). To thee spake Christ our Lord: 'And thou being one
day converted, shalt strengthen thy brethren.' Behold the hour and the place.
Help us, thou that art set by God for this. Stretch forth thy hand so far
as thou canst. Thou hast strength with God, through being the first of all.
(Letter of St. Theodore and four other Abbots to Pope Paschal, Bk. ii Ep.
12, Patr. Graec. 99, 1152-3)
Writing to Emperor Michael:
Order that the declaration from old Rome be received, as was the custom by
Tradition of our Fathers from of old and from the beginning. For this, O
Emperor, is the highests of the Churches of God, in which first Peter held
the Chair, to whom the Lord said: Thou art Peter ...and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it. (Theodore, Bk. II. Ep. 86)
I witness now before God and men, they have torn themselves away from the
Body of Christ, from the Surpreme See (Rome), in which Christ placed the
keys of the Faith, against which the gates of hell (I mean the mouth of heretics)
have not prevailed, and never will until the Consummation, according to the
promise of Him Who cannot lie. Let the blessed and Apostolic Paschal (Pope
St. Paschal I) rejoice therefore, for he has fulfilled the work of Peter.
(Theodore Bk. II. Ep. 63).
In truth we have seen that a manifest successor of the prince of the Apostles
presides over the Roman Church. We truly believe that Christ has not deserted
the Church here (Constantinople), for assistance from you has been our one
and only aid from of old and from the beginning by the providence of God
in the critical times. You are, indeed the untroubled and pure fount of orthodoxy
from the beginning, you the calm harbor of the whole Church, far removed
from the waves of heresy, you the God-chosen city of refuge. (Letter of St.
Theodor and Four Abbots to Pope Paschal).
Let him (Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople) assemble a synod of those
with whom he has been at variance, if it is impossible that representatives
of the other Patriarchs should be present, a thing which might certainly
be if the Emperor should wish the Western Patriarch (the Roman Pope) to be
present, to whom is given authority over an ecumenical synod; but let him
make peace and union by sending his synodical letters to the prelate of the
First See. (Theodore the Studite, Patr. Graec. 99, 1420)
St. Peter, Bishop
of Alexandria (306-311)
Head of the catechetical school in Alexandria, he became bishop around
A.D. 300, reigning for about eleven years, and dying a martyr's death.
Peter, set above
the Apostles. (Peter of Alexandria, Canon. ix, Galland, iv. p. 98)
of Egypt (330)
Peter, the Prince
of the Apostles (Anthony, Epist. xvii. Galland, iv p. 687)
Rome is called
the Apostolic throne. (Athanasius, Hist. Arian, ad Monach. n. 35)
The Chief, Peter. (Athan, In Ps. xv. 8, tom. iii. p. 106, Migne)
of Egypt (371)
The Chief, Peter.
(Macarius, De Patientia, n. 3, p. 180)
Moses was succeeded by Peter, who had committed to his hands the new Church
of Christ, and the true priesthood. (Macarius, Hom. xxvi. n. 23, p. 101)
St. Cyril of
Alexandria (c. 424)
He suffers him
no longer to be called Simon, exercising authority and rule over him already
having become His own. By a title suitable to the thing, He changed his name
into Peter, from the word 'petra' (rock); for on him He was afterwards to
found His Church. (Cyril, T. iv. Comm. in Joan., p. 131)
He (Christ) promises to found the Church, assigning immovableness to it,
as He is the Lord of strength, and over this He sets Peter as shepherd. (Cyril,
Comm. on Matt., ad loc.)
Therefore, when the Lord had hinted at the disciple's denial in the words
that He used, 'I have prayed for thee that thy faith not fail,' He at once
introduced a word of consolation, and said (to Peter): 'And do thou, when
once thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.' That is, 'Be thou a support
and a teacher of those who through faith come to me.' Again, marvel also
at the insight of that saying and at the completeness of the Divine gentleness
of spirit. For so that He should not reduce the disciple to despair at the
thought that after his denial he would have to be debarred from the glorious
distinction of being an Apostle, He fills him with good hope, that he will
attain the good things promised. ...O loving kindness! The sin was not yet
committed, and He already extends His pardon and sets him (Peter) again in
his Apostolic office. (Cyril Comm. on Luke's Gospel)
For the wonderous Peter, overcome by uncontrollable fear, denied the Lord
three times. Christ heals the error done, and demands in various ways the
threefold confession ... For although all the holy disciples fled, ...still
Peter's fault in the threefold denial was in addition, special and peculiar
to himself. Therefore, by the threefold confession of blessed Peter, the
fault of the triple denial was done away. Further, by the Lord's saying,
Feed my lambs, we must understand a renewal as it were of the Apostleship
already given to him, washing away the intervening disgrace of his fall,
and the littleness of human infirmity. (Cyril, Comm. on John's Gospel).
They (the Apostles) strove to learn through one, that preeminent one, Peter.
(Cyril, Ib. 1. ix. p. 736).
And even blessed Peter, though set over the holy disciples, says 'Lord, be
it far from Thee, this shall be done to Thee. (Cyril, Ibid. 924).
If Peter himself, that prince of the holy disciples, was, upon an occassion,
scandalized, so as suddenly to exclaim, 'Lord, be it far from Thee,' what
wonder that the tender mind of woman should be carried away? (Cyril, Ibid,
That the Spirit is God we shall also learn hence. That the prince of the
Apostles, to whom 'flesh and blood,' as the Savior says, 'did not reveal'
the Divine mystery, says to Ananias, 'Why hath Satan tempted thy heart, (Cyril,
T. v. Par. 1. Thesaur. p. 340)
Besides all these, let there come forward that leader of the holy disciples,
Peter, who, when the Lord, on a certain occassion, asked him, 'Whom do men
say that the Son of man is?' instantly cried out, 'Thou art the Christ, the
Son of the living God.' (Cyril, T. v. P.2, Hom. viii. De Fest. Pasch. p.
'If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me.' When the Coryphaeus
(Peter) had heard these words, he began to change. (Cyril, Ib. Hom.)
This bold man (Julian), besides all this, cavils at Peter, the chosen one
of the holy Apostles. (Cyril, T. vi.l. ix. Contr. Julian. p. 325).
Born in Syria,
he became the abbot of the Mother of God monastery at Antioch. In 579, he
was made Patriarch of Alexandria; and became an associate of St. Gregory
the Great while visiting Constantinople. Much of their subsequent correspondence
is still extant.
Neither to John,
nor to any other of the disciples, did our Savior say, 'I will give to thee
the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven,' but only to Peter. (Eulogius, Lib. ii.
Cont. Novatian. ap. Photium, Biblioth, cod. 280)
of Cyrus in Syria (450)
A native of
Antioch, Theodoret ruled under the Antiochean Patriarch.
The great foundation
of the Church was shaken, and confirmed by the Divine grace. And the Lord
commanded him to apply that same care to the brethren. 'And thou,' He says,
'converted, confirm thy brethren.' (Theodoret, Tom. iv. Haeret. Fab. lib.
'For as I,' He says, 'did not despise thee when tossed, so be thou a support
to thy brethren in trouble, and the help by which thou was saved do thou
thyself impart to others, and exhort them not while they are tottering, but
raise them up in their peril. For this reason I suffer thee also to slip,
but do not permit thee to fall, thus through thee gaining steadfastness for
those who are tossed.' So this great pillar supported the tossing and sinking
world, and permitted it not to fall entirely and gave it back stability,
having been ordered to feed God's sheep. (Theodoret, Oratio de Caritate in
J. P. Minge, ed., Partrologiae Curses Completus: Series Graeca).
I therefore beseech your holiness to persuade the most holy and blessed bishop
(Pope Leo) to use his Apostolic power, and to order me to hasten to your
Council. For that most holy throne (Rome) has the sovereignty over the churches
throughout the universe on many grounds. (Theodoret, Tom. iv. Epist. cxvi.
Renato, p. 1197).
If Paul, the herald of the truth, the trumpet of the Holy Spirit, hastened
to the great Peter, to convey from him the solution to those in Antioch,
who were at issue about living under the law, how much more do we, poor and
humble, run to the Apostolic Throne (Rome) to receive from you (Pope Leo)
healing for wounds of the the Churches. For it pertains to you to have primacy
in all things; for your throne is adorned with many prerogatives. (Theodoret
Ibid, Epistle Leoni)
Archbishop of Salamis (385)
Holy men are therefore
called the temple of God, because the Holy Spirit dwells in them; as that
Chief of the Apostles testifies, he that was found to be blessed by the Lord,
because the Father had revealed unto him. To him then did the Father reveal
His true Son; and the same (Peter) furthermore reveals the Holy Spirit. This
was befitting in the First of the Apostles, that firm Rock upon which the
Church of God is built, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The gates of hell are heretics and heresiarchs. For in every way was the
faith confirmed in him who received the keys of heaven; who looses on earth
and binds in heaven. For in him are found all subtle questions of faith.
He was aided by the Father so as to be (or lay) the Foundation of the security
(firmness) of the faith. He (Peter) heard from the same God, 'feed my lambs';
to him He entrusted the flock; he leads the way admirably in the power of
his own Master. (Epiphanius, T. ii. in Anchor).
Metropolitain of Cyprus (649)
Writing to Pope
O Holy Head, Christ our God hath destined thy Apostolic See to be an immovable
foundation and a pillar of the Faith. For thou art, as the Divine Word truly
saith, Peter, and on thee as a foundation-stone have the pillars of the Church
been fixed. (Sergius Ep. ad Theod. lecta in Sess. ii. Concil. Lat. anno 649)