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The Fathers of the Church

Saints Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine and  Pope Gregory I

The Fathers of the Church are influential writers and teachers of the Church whose scholarly theological works were used as a precedent for centuries to come. Though they are not necessarily canonized by the Church, many of them are honored as saints in the Catholic Church, as well as some other Christian groups.

Characteristics of a Father of the Church
1. Orthodox doctrine and learning;
2. Holiness of life;
3. A certain antiquity.

The Criteria by which we judge whether a writer is a "Father" or not are:
1. Citation by a General Council, or
2. in Public Acts of popes addressed to the Church or concerning Faith;
3. Encomium (praise of a person) in the Roman Martyrology as "sanctitate et doctrina insignis";
4. Public Reading in Churches in early centuries;
5. Citations, with praise, as an authority as to the Faith by some of the more celebrated Fathers.

For the Catholic Church, the Patristic period was closed with the death of John of Damascus, a Doctor of the Church, in 749. However, Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that the Patristic period is ongoing.


1 Apostolic Fathers

    • 1.1 Saint Clement of Rome
    • 1.2 Saint Ignatius of Antioch
    • 1.3 Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

  • 2 Greek Fathers

    • 2.1 Saint Irenaeus of Lyons
    • 2.2 Saint Clement of Alexandria
    • 2.3 Origen of Alexandria
    • 2.4 Saint Athanasius of Alexandria
    • 2.5 Saint Cyril of Alexandria
    • 2.6 Saint John Chrysostom
    • 2.7 Cappadocian Fathers

  • 3 Latin Fathers

    • 3.1 Tertullian
    • 3.2 Saint Cyprian of Carthage
    • 3.3 Saint Ambrose of Milan
    • 3.4 Saint Jerome of Stridonium
    • 3.5 Saint Augustine of Hippo
    • 3.6 Saint Gregory the Great

  • Source: Catholic Encyclopedia

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