Their judgment was based more upon blind wishing than upon sound reasoning. For it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they long for, and to thrust aside what they do not fancy. — Thucydides

Ancient Rome—Rise of Christianity

50 to 600 A.D.
Death of Apostles to Gregory the Great

Era Summary       Characters       Timeline       Reading Assignments      

Characters—Rise of Christianity

CharacterDate Short Biography


Saint James the Greaterd. 44 Apostle who preached in Spain before being beheaded by Herod. Patron Saint of Spain.
Saint Peterd. 64 Leader of the Apostles and first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.
Saint Philipd. 80 Apostle who preached in Greece, Syria and Asia Minor. Martyred in Asia Minor by crucifixion.
Saint Paul3–67 Apostle who traveled throughout the Eastern Roman Empire spreading Gospels. Wrote Epistles.
Saint Johnd. 101 Long-living apostle who preached in Asia Minor. Authored the Gospel of John and Revelation.

Church Fathers

Saint Ignatius of Antioch35–107 A follower of the Apostle John, Ignatius was on of the early fathers of the church. Died as a martyr in the arena.
Saint Irenaeus~ 190 Early Christian theologian, bishop in Roman Gaul, recognized as a Father of the Church.
Saint Cyprian of Carthage200–258 Bishop of Carthage who battle heresies and suffered with his flock through persecutions.
Saint Athanasius298–373 Bishop of Alexandria. Opposed the Arian heresy.
Saint Basil330–379 Influential bishop and important church father, particularly revered in the Orthodox churches. Opposed Arianism.
Saint Ambrose340–397 Bishop of Milan. Resisted Arian heresy, advised emperors, advocated for Church interests.
Saint Jerome340–420 Translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate.
Saint Chrysostom347–407 Bishop in Syria and Constantinople. Great orator, and notable ascetic.
Saint Augustine 354–430 Greatest Christian theologian of the Middle Ages. Wrote Confessions and City of God.


Saint Ceciliad. 117 Noblewoman of Rome who was martyred under the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
Saint Dorothea295–311 Martyr Virgin who refused to worship the Roman Gods and was put to death.
Saint Lawrence225–258 Deacon of Rome who was martyred during the persecutions of Valerian by being grilled on a gridiron.
Saint Alband. 304 First martyr of England. Killed for hiding a priest in his home.

Early Saints

Saint Christopherd. 250 Early Christian saint whose name means "bearer". Said to have born the burdens of the Christ child."
Saint Denisd. 250 Saint of the third century who was martyred in Roman Gaul by druid priests for converting Celts to Christianity.
Saint Paul the Hermit228–341 First Christian hermit. Fled to the Theban desert to avoid persecution of Decius.
Saint Helena248–329 Wife of Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine. Influenced her son to become Christian.
Saint Nicholasd. 343 Bishop in fourth century Asia Minor, known for his generosity.
Saint Martin of Tours317–397 Roman soldier who gave up his military career to follow Christ. Bishop of Tours and early monastic personality.
Saint George275–303 Patron saint of England. Soldier who killed a dragon and died a martyr's death.
Saint Germanus380–448 Renowned Bishop from Gaul visited Britain in order to help combat Pelagianism heresy.
Saint Synesiusd. 414 Bishop in Africa near the city of Cyrene, and associate of Hypatia.
Saint Benedict480–547 Established the Benedictine order of monks. Founded the monastic movement in Europe.
Saint Clotildad. 545 Christian wife of Clovis; converted him to Christianity, and built a church.
Saint Simeon521–597 Hermit who lived for many years on the top of a pillar, practicing penance.
Gregory the Great590–640 Increased the power of the papacy by church reforms and effective management.


Arius250–336 Founder of the Arian Heresy, which insisted that the Son was not eternal, but created by the Father.
Ulfilas310–383 Missionary bishop who translate the bible into the Gothic language and converted the Goths to Arian Christianity.

Recommended Reading—Rise of Christianity

Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.

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Book Title
Selected Chapters (# chapters)

Highly Recommended

Notre Dame - Leading Events of Church History: Part 1    entire book
Wolff - Stories of Saints and Martyrs   St. Ignatius of Antioch to St. Gregory the Great (23)
Hodges - Saints and Heroes to the End of the Middle Ages   Athanasius, 296-373 to Gregory the Great, 540-604 (8)
Lang - The Book of Saints and Heroes   The First of the Hermits to The Saint on the Pillar (8)
Church - To the Lions    entire book
Hodges - The Early Church, from Ignatius to Augustine    entire book
Church - Last Days of Jerusalem    entire book

Also Recommended

Harding - The City of the Seven seven   The Christians and the Empire (1)
Cresswell - Roses of Martyrdom   St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr to The Promise of St. Dorothea (6)
Notre Dame - Life of St. Gregory the Great    entire book
Forbes - Life of St. Benedict    entire book
Morrison - The Jews Under Roman Rule    entire book

I: Introductory, II: Intermediate, C: College Prep