154 – Saint Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and disciple of the Apostle John, meets with Pope Saint Anicetus I in Rome
They discuss the controversy over observance of the feast of Pascha (Easter). The Eastern Church follows John’s custom of celebrating the feast on the 14th day of the Jewish month of Nisan, regardless of the particular day of the week. The Western Church follows Peter’s custom of celebrating the feast always on a Sunday. Anicetus and Polycarp concelebrate Mass (cf. Irenaeus, c. 190 A.D., Letter to Victor of Rome; Eusebius, History 5:24:16-17).
156 – Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp
Revealing the early Church’s veneration of relics, the Christians in Smyrna, witnessing their Bishop’s martyrdom, wrote, “And so later on we took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and deposited them in a suitable place. There gathering together, as we are able, with joy and gladness, the Lord will permit us to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom in commemoration of those who have already fought in the contest, and for the training and preparation of those who will do so in the future” (The Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, c. 156 A.D., 18:2-3).
170 – Muratorian Fragment, written in Rome, gives information on the New Testament and other early Christian writings
177 – Martyrdom of Saint Blandina and her companions in Lyons
181 – First Recorded Use of the Term “Trinity”: Saint Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch
He also speaks of baptismal rebirth and Confirmation (To Autolycus).
185 – Saint Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons and disciple of Polycarp, composes Against Heresies
He writes of the Holy Trinity, Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Mary as the New Eve, and authority of the Church of Rome—listing the Popes from Peter down to his day:
3:3:2 (Authority of the Church of Rome) “Since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the Churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, … assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all Churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic tradition. …
3:3:3 “The blessed Apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the Church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the [Second] Epistle to Timothy (4:21). To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. He had seen the blessed Apostles and was acquainted with them. It might be said that he still heard the echoes of the preaching of the Apostles, and had their traditions before his eyes. And not only he, for there were many still remaining who had been instructed by the Apostles.
“In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the Church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith. … To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded; and Alexander succeeded Evaristus. Then, sixth after the Apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telesphorus, who also was gloriously martyred. Then Hyginus; after him, Pius; and after him, Anicetus. Soter succeeded Anicetus, and now, in the twelfth place after the Apostles, the lot of the episcopate has fallen to Eleutherus. In this order, and by the teaching of the Apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us. …
3:22:4 (Mary as the New Eve) “Consequently, then, Mary the Virgin is found to be obedient, saying: “Behold, O Lord, your handmaid; be it done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Eve, however, was disobedient; and when yet a virgin, she did not obey. Just as she, who was then still a virgin although she had Adam for a husband,—for in Paradise they were both naked but were not ashamed (Gen. 2:25); for, having been created only a short time, they had no understanding of the procreation of children and it was necessary that they first come to maturity before beginning to multiply,—having become disobedient, was made the cause of death for herself and for the whole human race; so also Mary, betrothed to a man but nevertheless still a virgin, being obedient, was made the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race. … Thus, the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. What the virgin Eve had bound in unbelief, the Virgin Mary loosed through faith. …
4:17:5 (Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist) “He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is My Body’ (Matt. 26:26). The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His Blood. …
4:20:1 (Holy Trinity) “It was not angels, therefore, who made us nor who formed us, neither did angels have the power to make an image of God. It was not some power existing far from the Father of the universe, nor was it anyone else, other than the Word of the Lord. God had no need of others to make what He had already determined of Himself to make, as if He had not His own hands. For with Him always are the Word and the Wisdom, the Son and the Spirit, through whom and in whom He made all things freely and spontaneously; and to whom He spoke, saying: ‘Let us make man in our image and likeness’ (Gen. 1:26).”
190 – The Quartodeciman Dispute
Pope Saint Victor I declares the universal observance of the feast of Pascha (Easter) on Sunday. The Bishops of Asia Minor (the Quartodecimans) oppose the ruling and Victor threatens them with excommunication. Irenaeus and others petition the Pope to reconsider, preventing the censure.
200 – Fresco in Catacomb of Saint Callistus in Rome depicts Christ the Good Shepherd
200 – Inscription at site of the Annunciation in Nazareth reads “Hail, Mary”
203 – Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua, Felicitas, and companions
Perpetua, the earliest known female Christian author, records vision of purgatory:
“After a few days, while we were all praying, suddenly in the middle of the prayer I spoke, and uttered the name of Dinocrates; and I was astonished that he had never come into mind till then; and I grieved, thinking of what had befallen him. And I saw at once that I was entitled, and ought, to make request for him. And I began to pray much for him, and make lamentation to the Lord. At once on this very night this was shown to me. I saw Dinocrates coming forth from a dark place, where there were many other dark places, very hot and thirsty, his countenance pale and squalid; and the wound which he had when he died was in his face still. This Dinocrates had been my brother according to the flesh, seven years old, who had died miserably of a gangrene in the face, so that his death moved all to loathing. For him then I had prayed; and there was a great gulf between me and him, so that neither of us could approach the other. There was besides in the very place where Dinocrates was a font full of water, the rim of which was above the head of the child; and Dinocrates stood on tiptoe to drink. I grieved that the font should have water in it and that nevertheless he could not drink because of the height of the rim. And I woke and recognized that my brother was in trouble. But I trusted that I could relieve his trouble, and I prayed for him every day until we were transferred to the garrison prison, for we were to fight with the beasts at the garrison games on the Cæsar Geta’s birthday. And I prayed for him day and night with lamentations and tears that he might be given me.
“During the daytime, while we stayed in the stocks, this was shown to me. I saw that same place which I had seen before, and Dinocrates clean in body, well clothed and refreshed; and where there had been a wound, I saw a scar; and the font which I had seen before had its rim lowered to the child’s waist; and there poured water from it unceasingly; and on the rim a golden bowl full of water. And Dinocrates came forward and began to drink from it, and the bowl failed not. And when he had drunk enough of the water, he came forward, being glad to play as children will. And I awoke. Then I knew that he had been released from punishment” (Martyrdom of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas 2:3-4).
211 – Tertullian becomes a heretic
215 – Saint Hippolytus of Rome describes priestly ordination and Infant Baptism (Apostolic Tradition); calls Mary “spotless God-bearer” (Discourse on the End of the World)
“Baptize first the children; and if they can speak for themselves, let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them” (Apostolic Tradition 21).
243 – Mary appears to Saint Gregory Thaumaturgos
250 – First Recorded Prayer to Mary: Sub Tuum Praesidium
254 – Origen dies
258 – Martyrdom of Pope Saint Sixtus II and companions during Mass in the Catacomb of Saint Callistus in Rome
258 – Martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, deacon of Pope Sixtus and treasure of the Church of Rome
258 – Martyrdom of Saint Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage