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Fathers of the Church: Latin Fathers of the Nicene Era (25 vols.)
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Overview

The Latin Fathers of the Nicene Era collection provides a thorough look at the Western Roman Empire during the fourth and fifth centuries, centered around the core Christian writings of the Nicene era. Featuring Jerome, Ambrose, Hilary of Poitiers, Leo the Great, Peter Chrysologus, and more, this collection gives modern translations to the ancient Latin writings that steered the ancient Catholic Church—many of which still guide the Church today. Whether you’re looking to begin studying the Early Church or seeking to expand your library, the Fathers of the Church Series is the most thorough publication available.

In Logos, these works become the backbone of any study on the early church. Links to the patristic writings of the Early Church Fathers will bring you right to the source—to the very quote—allowing you to see instant context. Footnotes appear on mouseover, as well as references to Scripture and extra-biblical material in your library, and you can perform near-instant searches across these volumes, searching for references to keywords or Scripture passages.

About the Series

The rich Christian heritage of East and West comes alive in the volumes of The Fathers of the Church, a series widely praised for its brilliant scholarship and unparalleled historical, literary, and theological significance. The series consists of more than 120 published volumes, with two new volumes published each year.

Interested in writings from the Nicene era? Get the entire Fathers of the Church series—127 volumes total—at an enormous discount!

Key Features

  • Among the earliest Western Christian writings translated from Latin to English
  • The foundational writings of Ambrose, Jerome, and Peter Chrysologus

Individual Titles

Theological and Dogmatic Works

  • Author: Saint Ambrose
  • Translator: Roy J. Deferrari
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1963
  • Pages: 366

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

St. Ambrose was an archbishop of Milan and one of the most influential figures of the fourth century. He is one of the original four Doctors of the Church and Latin theologians. His writings had a direct influence on St. Augustine, and his intense ecclesiastical awareness expanded and reinforced the Church’s sacerdotal ministry and the high standards of Christian ethics. He furthered fourth-century Mariology, Christology, and soteriology, and allegedly ended Arianism in his diocese, Milan. These volumes of his collected and translated writings bring the intensity of his ancient rhetoric back to the present, allowing us an unusually full glimpse at the early church.

Hexameron, Paradise, Cain and Abel

  • Author: Saint Ambrose
  • Translator: John J. Savage
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1961
  • Pages: 468

St. Ambrose was an archbishop of Milan and one of the most influential figures of the fourth century. He is one of the original four Doctors of the Church and Latin theologians. His writings had a direct influence on St. Augustine, and his intense ecclesiastical awareness expanded and reinforced the Church’s sacerdotal ministry and the high standards of Christian ethics. He furthered fourth-century Mariology, Christology, and soteriology, and allegedly ended Arianism in his diocese, Milan. These volumes of his collected and translated writings bring the intensity of his ancient rhetoric back to the present, allowing us an unusually full glimpse at the early church.

Seven Exegetical Works

  • Author: Saint Ambrose
  • Translator: Michael P. McHugh
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1970
  • Pages: 494

St. Ambrose was an archbishop of Milan and one of the most influential figures of the fourth century. He is one of the four original Doctors of the Church and Latin theologians. His writings had a direct influence on St. Augustine, and his intense ecclesiastical awareness expanded and reinforced the Church’s sacerdotal ministry and the high standards of Christian ethics. He furthered fourth-century Mariology, Christology, and soteriology, and allegedly ended Arianism in his diocese, Milan. These volumes of his collected and translated writings bring the intensity of his ancient rhetoric back to the present, allowing us an unusually full glimpse at the early church.

Letters, 1–91

  • Author: Saint Ambrose
  • Translator: Mary Melchior Beyenka
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1954
  • Pages: 534

St. Ambrose was an archbishop of Milan and one of the most influential figures of the fourth century. He is one of the original four Doctors of the Church and Latin theologians. His writings had a direct influence on St. Augustine, and his intense ecclesiastical awareness expanded and reinforced the Church’s sacerdotal ministry and the high standards of Christian ethics. He furthered fourth-century Mariology, Christology, and soteriology, and allegedly ended Arianism in his diocese, Milan. These volumes of his collected and translated writings bring the intensity of his ancient rhetoric back to the present, allowing us an unusually full glimpse at the early church.

Homilies, vol. 1 (1–59 on the Psalms)

  • Author: Saint Jerome
  • Translator: Marie Ligouri Ewald
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1965
  • Pages: 450

This volume contains 59 homilies preached by St. Jerome on selected Psalms. Jerome’s knowledge of the “three Sacred Languages,” Latin, Greek and Hebrew, his acquaintance with the exegetical methods of Antioch and Alexandria, his use of Origen’s Hexapla and his work on the Psalter are impressive credentials for the quality of these works.

As far as can be determined now these homilies were intended primarily for the instruction and edification of the monastic community that Jerome had established in Bethlehem where he spent the closing years of his life. They were recorded by scribes in the audience, and consequently the text may at times reflect the inadequacies of the listener.

Whether all the homilies that appear here are extemporaneous products of Jerome’s vast erudition and eloquence is a question that still awaits a satisfactory answer. Some scholars believe that an affirmative answer is correct, others citing the evidence of Homily 69 on Psalm 91, think that the content of some homilies is too deeply theological to be an impromptu composition. In any event, some patristic scholars have been bold enough to declare Jerome the most learned Latin Father of the Church.

Homilies, vol. 2 (Homilies 60–96)

  • Author: Saint Jerome
  • Translator: Marie Ligouri Ewald
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1966
  • Pages: 305

This volume of the Homilies of Saint Jerome contains fifteen homilies on Saint Mark’s Gospel, Homilies 75–84. In general, as in volume 1, Morin’s text has been followed as reproduced in the Corpus Christianorum, series latina 78.

The editors of the Corpus have added two homilies, one delivered on the Feast of the Epiphany from the Gospel of our Lord’s baptism and on Psalm 28, edited by B. Capelle; the other on the First Sunday of Lent, edited by I. Fraipont. In the present volume, they are Homilies 89 and 90.

Dom Germain Morin, as noted in the Introduction of Volume 1 of this translation, discovered fourteen homilies, providing a second series on the Psalms, in four Italian Codices dating from the tenth and fifteenth centuries. He examined with great care their probable identity with, or relationship to, the lost homilies of Saint Jerome catalogues in De viris illustribus “on the Psalms, from the tenth to the sixteenth, seven homilies.” There is more work to be done and many problems to be resolved, however, before this identification can be established with certitude. This chief obstacle is that of chronology. The De viris illustibus was written in all probability in 392–393, whereas the homilies appear to have been written in 402, the date determined by the study of Dom Morin. Other scholars, as U. Moricca, A. Penna, G. Grützmacher, give 394 and 413 as the earliest and latest dates, respectively, for all the homilies.

There is question also whether the Septuagint or the Hebrew Psalter was in the hands of Jerome when he wrote or preached the homilies on Psalms 10 and 15. They seem, in fact, to have been written rather than delivered, for he speaks of readers rather than hearers. They differ from the regular series of sermons in their greater erudition, more sophisticated language, many Greek expressions, and variations from the Hexapla. The closing doxology so characteristic of the other sermons is missing in them. They are much longer, and Jerome speaks of certain details as if he had already explained them. On the whole, they give evidence, too, of greater care in preparation.

Dogmatic and Polemical Works

  • Author: Saint Jerome
  • Translator: John N. Hritzu
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1965
  • Pages: 422

St. Jerome’s reputation rests primarily on his achievements as a translator and as a scriptural exegete. The important service that he rendered to the Church in his doctrinal works is often overlooked or minimized by those who look for originality and independence of thought. St. Jerome was not a theologian in the strict sense of the word. He was no original thinker, and he never abandoned himself to personal meditation of dogma as St. Augustine did. Although he kept strictly to what he found in tradition, the importance of his doctrinal authority is not thereby lessened.

After spending twelve years of his early life at his native Stridon, he was sent to Rome in the year 359 to finish his literary studies. For the next eight years, from 359 to 367, St. Jerome studied very diligently grammar, the humanities, rhetoric, and dialectics. He also took a passionate interest in the Greek and Latin classics, in the philosophers and poets, and especially in the satirists and comic poets. These studies, it seems, tended not to soften, but to exaggerate the temperament of St. Jerome who was by nature irascible and impulsive, and sensitive to criticism and contradiction. The reading in the satirists and the comic poets developed in him a taste for caricature and a penchant for making damaging allusions. Moreover, the trials before the Roman tribunes, which he attended eagerly, and wherein the advocates indulged in mutual personal invective, further developed in him the art and science of polemics which he was to employ so effectively and skillfully in the controversies which were to engage his attention seriously.

St. Jerome stressed the fact that the Church must always be regarded as the supreme rule and decisive standard of the Christian faith; and that that Church gives the true sense of the Scriptures, and is representative of tradition. It was owing to this firm conviction on the part of St. Jerome that the years of his later life were consumed in endless conflicts with the enemies of the Church. St. Jerome never spared heretics, but always saw it that the enemies of the Church were his own enemies. His encounter with the Sabellians was St. Jerome's first quarrel with an enemy of the Church. He gave notice early in his life that he would be a staunch protector of the doctrinal authority of the Church, and that he stood ready to attack any and all heresies that raised their heads against the Catholic faith.

On Illustrious Men

  • Author: Saint Jerome
  • Translator: Thomas P. Halton
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 2000
  • Pages: 150

Often cited as a source of biographical information on ancient Christian authors, On Illustrious Men provides St. Jerome’s personal evaluations of his forebears and contemporaries, as well as catalogs of patristic writings known to him. Heterodox writers and certain respected non-Christians (Seneca, Josephus, and Philo) are included in this parade of luminaries, which begins with the apostles and concludes with St. Jerome himself and a list of his own works prior to 393, the year in which On Illustrious Men was composed.

St. Jerome produced this work in his monastery at Bethlehem, to which he had retreated after his precipitous exit from Roman ecclesiastical politics. He had, however, maintained correspondences with several of his former associates, such as Dexter (the son of Pacian, bishop of Barcelona), to whom he addressed the work. Relying heavily on Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History, St. Jerome attempts to demonstrate the erudition and nobility of character which render Christianity immune to the criticisms of its cultured despisers.

Since this work can be regarded as the patrology textbook of its day, its translator, Thomas P. Halton, has continued St. Jerome’s mission by compiling bibliographical data on recent editions, translations, and studies of ancient writings mentioned in On Illustrious Men. Extensive footnote material and appendices furnish a wealth of information useful for patristic research. In addition, an index to all of the Fathers of the Church volumes published to date, listed by individual authors, appears in this, the hundredth volume of the series.

Commentary on Matthew

  • Author: Saint Jerome
  • Translator: Thomas P. Scheck
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Pages: 363

St. Jerome (347–420) has been considered the pre-eminent scriptural commentator among the Latin Church Fathers. His Commentary on Matthew, written in 398 and profoundly influential in the West, appears here for the first time in English translation. Jerome covers the entire text of Matthew’s gospel by means of brief explanatory comments that clarify the text literally and historically. Although he himself resided in Palestine for forty years, Jerome often relies on Origen and Josephus for local information and traditions. His stated aim is to offer a streamlined and concise exegesis that avoids excessive spiritual interpretation.

Jerome depends on the works of a series of antecedent commentators, both Greek and Latin, the most important of whom is Origen, yet he avoids the extremes in Origen’s allegorical interpretations. His polemic against theological opponents is a prominent thrust of his exegetical comments. The Arians, the Gnostics, and the Helvidians are among his most important targets. Against Arius, Jerome stresses that the Son did not lack omniscience. Against Marcion and Mani, Jerome holds that Jesus was a real human being, with flesh and bones, and that men become sons of God by their own free choice, not by the nature with which they are born. Against Helvidius, Jerome defends the perpetual virginity of Mary.

In this commentary, Jerome calls attention to the activity of the Trinity as a principal unifying theme of the Gospel of Matthew. He also stresses that exertions are necessary for the Christian to attain eternal salvation; that free will is a reality; that human beings cooperate with divine grace; and that it is possible to obtain merit during the earthly life.

Commentary on Galatians

  • Author: Saint Jerome
  • Translator: Andrew Cain
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 2010
  • Pages: 308

Prior to the middle of the fourth century, the exegesis of St. Paul had been monopolized by Greek and Syriac commentators. Then, in the space of half a century (c. 360–409), there appeared no less than 52 commentaries by six different Latin authors. This sudden flurry of literary activity has been dubbed the western “Renaissance of Paul.” Jerome’s commentaries on four Pauline epistles (Galatians, Ephesians, Titus, Philemon), which he composed in 386 shortly after establishing himself in Bethlehem, occupy a central place in this relatively short but prolific segment of the history of Pauline exegesis in Latin.

Jerome was the greatest biblical scholar of the ancient Latin church, and his Commentary on Galatians is one of the crowning achievements of his illustrious career. It far outclasses the five other contemporary Latin commentaries on Galatians in its breadth of classical and patristic erudition, Hebrew and Greek textual criticism of the Bible, and expository thoroughness. It is unique also because it is the only one of the Latin commentaries to make the Greek exegetical tradition its main point of reference. Jerome’s Commentary in fact preserves, in one form or another, a treasure-trove of otherwise lost Greek exegesis, particularly Origen’s Commentary on Galatians, from which he worked very closely when composing his own work.

Jerome’s Commentary on Galatians is presented here in English translation in its entirety. The introduction and notes situate the Commentary in its historical, exegetical, and theological contexts and also provide extensive coverage of ancient and modern scholarly debates about the interpretation of Paul’s epistle.

Selected Sermons; Homilies

  • Authors: Peter Chrysologus and Valerian
  • Translator: George E. Ganss
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1953
  • Pages: 454

This volume contains roughly a third of St. Peter Chrysologus’ authentic sermons, now available to an English-speaking audience. The sermons offer readers a glimpse into the daily life, religious debates, political milieu, and Christian belief and practice in the second quarter of fifth-century Ravenna.

Chrysologus preached and served as bishop at a time when the seat of the western Roman Empire was located in Ravenna. His career as bishop bridged the closing years of Augustine’s episcopate in North Africa and the early years of Pope Leo the Great’s pontificate in Rome. His sermons attest to his relations with the ruler of the state, the Empress Galla Placidia, as well as his familiarity with some of the significant theological controversies of the day. His chief importance, however, was not as an outstanding theologian, but as a shepherd who ruled his flock and preached well to its members. Loyally orthodox, he urged them to practice Christian virtues. He was concerned with their moral rectitude and spiritual growth, their understanding of the basic tenets of the Christian faith, their reverence and love for God, and their immersion in the Scriptures.

Chrysologus’s sermons are relatively brief in length, at least according to patristic standards, and he combines colloquial speech with a highly rhetorical flourish. The imagery that he employs indicates how attuned he was to the experiences of his congregation, how enamored he was of the beauty of the countryside or seashore, and how thoroughly imbued he was with the letter and the spirit of the Scriptures.

Selected Sermons, vol. 2

  • Author: Peter Chrysologus
  • Translator: William B. Palardy
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: 326

In 1953, the Fathers of the Church series published selected sermons of St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 406-450), Archbishop of Ravenna and Doctor of the Church, thereby making thirty percent of his authentic sermons available to an English-speaking audience. With the publication of this volume all of Chrysologus’s authentic sermons up to number 72 are now available in English. The sermons offer readers a glimpse into the daily life, religious debates, political milieu, and Christian belief and practice in the second quarter of fifth-century Ravenna.

Chrysologus preached and served as bishop at a time when the seat of the western Roman Empire was located in Ravenna. His career as bishop bridged the closing years of Augustine’s episcopate in North Africa and the early years of Pope Leo the Great’s pontificate in Rome. His sermons attest to his relations with the ruler of the state, the Empress Galla Placidia, as well as his familiarity with some of the significant theological controversies of the day. His chief importance, however, was not as an outstanding theologian, but as a shepherd who ruled his flock and preached well to its members. Loyally orthodox, he urged them to practice Christian virtues. He was concerned with their moral rectitude and spiritual growth, their understanding of the basic tenets of the Christian faith, their reverence and love for God, and their immersion in the Scriptures.

Chrysologus’s sermons are relatively brief in length, at least according to patristic standards, and he combines colloquial speech with a highly rhetorical flourish. The imagery that he employs indicates how attuned he was to the experiences of his congregation, how enamored he was of the beauty of the countryside or seashore, and how thoroughly imbued he was with the letter and the spirit of the Scriptures.

Selected Sermons, vol. 3

  • Author: Peter Chrysologus
  • Translator: William B. Palardy
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 390

This volume is the third in the Fathers of the Church series to make available selected sermons of St. Peter Chrysologus (ca. 406–450), Archbishop of Ravenna and Doctor of the Church.

A gifted homilist, Chrysologus manifested great reverence for the Scriptures as divine communication and made them accessible to his congregation. Making use of imagery drawn from Ravenna’s natural surroundings as well as from some of the professions occupied by members of his flock, Chrysologus explained orthodox doctrine and promoted spiritual development. The Gospels occupy the foreground in most of his sermons, yet Chrysologus allows the reader a glimpse of the daily life, religious debates, political milieu, and Christian belief and practice in mid-fifth-century Ravenna.

In this volume are several expositions of St. Paul’s letters and some sermons delivered on the feast days of saints and at the consecrations of new bishops. Most of the selections, however, are homilies on texts from the four Gospels that Chrysologus interpreted throughout the year. Of particular note is his preaching on specific liturgical seasons—the end of Lent, Easter, Pentecost, the period immediately prior to Christmas, and the Christmas and Epiphany cycle.

The Trinity

  • Author: Hilary of Poitiers
  • Translator: Stephen McKenna
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1954
  • Pages: 574

Named Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius IX, St. Hilary was a gifted orator, a zealous Christian philosopher, and a defender of orthodoxy. He often did theological battle with the Anomoeans and the Semi-Arians, and traveled across Europe to bring the local bishops out of the hold of Arianism. Here, twelve books on the Trinity by St. Hilary are compiled, bringing his throughts together on the deity, sonship, and interrelationship of God.

Commentary on Matthew

  • Author: Hilary of Poitiers
  • Translator: D. H. Williams
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 324

When the writing of Latin biblical commentaries was still in its infancy, a young bishop from Poitiers, in Gaul, penned a passage-by-passage exposition on the Gospel of Matthew. It is the first of its kind to have survived almost completely intact. Published now for the first time in English translation, Hilary’s commentary offers a close look at Latin theology and exegesis before the Nicene Creed was considered the sole standard of orthodoxy.

Likely the earliest of Hilary’s writings, this commentary has none of the polemic against the “Arians” that figured so prominently in most of his later works. Nonetheless, there exists in this text an oft-stated concern with those who interpreted the Incarnation as grounds for construing Christ as only a man rather than professing Christ as God and man.

Other noteworthy features of the commentary include Hilary’s interest in the relation between Law and Gospel and his articulation of a Pauline-based view of justification by faith. In his view, the importance of the Law before the Gospel was indisputable and necessary. For Jews, it was considered the way of redemption. With the advent of Christ, it became an eschatological guide directing all future believers into the grace that comes by faith. Hilary’s emphasis on God’s righteousness conferred on a helpless race represents a far more pronounced application of Paul’s thought than in any previous Latin writer.

Theological Treatises on the Trinity

  • Author: Marius Victorinus
  • Translator: Mary T. Clark
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1981
  • Pages: 384

Marius Victorinus, a contemporary of St. Ambrose and one who had considerable influence on St. Augustine—he has been styled “an Augustine before Augustine”—is an important fourth-century Neoplatonist. Before his conversion to Christianity Marius Victorinus wrote commentaries on works of Cicero and translated Aristotle’s tracts on logic and some Neoplatonic books into Latin.

After his conversion, probably AD 354, he turned his vast learning to the composition of theological treatises in refutation of Arianism and the errors of Ursacius and Valens expressed in the Creed of Sirminum (357) as well as those of Basil of Ancyra and of the Homoeans in the credos of Sirmium and Rimini in 359.

The Theological Treatises on the Trinity contain the following: two letters, one from Candidus the Arian to the Rhetor Marius Victrorinus and the addressee’s reply. Both documents are quite probably literary devices helping to bring into sharp focus the matters under discussion. These are followed by four books Against Arius, a short treatise demonstrating the necessity of accepting the term homoousios (of the same substance), and three Hymns, mostly in strophic structure, addressed to the Trinity and explaining the names and functions of the divine Persons in salvation history. In the Treatises, Marius Victorinus adopts, in addition to the then traditional arguments, Neoplatonic concepts—adapted probably from Porphyry—to present a systematic explanation of the Trinity. Posthumous influences of the Treatises are discernible in works of Alcuin.

The present translation is made from the latest critical text and has profited greatly from the vast erudition of Pierre Henry and Paul Hadot.

The Writings of Salvian, the Presbyter

  • Author: Salvian
  • Translator: Jeremiah F. O’Sullivan
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1947
  • Pages: 396

These insightful writings of Salvan contain his letters, The Governance of God, and The Four Books of Timothy to the Church. Each of these reflect his dissatisfaction with public policy and law, his thoughts on theology and polity, and his relationships with friends and family in the context of Christian vocations.

Letters

  • Author: Pope Leo the Great
  • Translator: Edmund Hunt
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1957
  • Pages: 312

As the vestiges of the Roman political machine began to collapse in the fifth century AD, the towering figure of Pope St. Leo the Great came into relief amid the rubble. Sustained by an immutable doctrine transcending institutions and cultures, the Church alone emerged from the chaos. Eventually, the Roman heritage became assimilated into Christianity and ceased to have a life of its own. It would be practically impossible to understand this monumental transition from Roman world to Christendom without taking into account the pivotal role played by Leo—and not the emperor—who went out to confront Attila and Hun. It was Leo who once averted and on another occasion mitigated the ravages of barbarian incursions.

As significant as his contribution was to history, Leo had an even greater impact on theology. When partisans of the monophysite heresy had through various machinations predetermined the outcome of a council held at Ephesus in 450, Leo immediately denounced it as a latrocinium (robbery) rather than a concilium (council). A year later—with cries of “Peter has spoken through Leo!”—the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, a pillar of Catholic Christianity, adopted in its resounding condemnation of monophysitism the very language formulated by Leo. Pope Leo also developed the most explicit and detailed affirmations known up to that time of the prerogatives enjoyed by successors if St. Peter. Many theological principles find their clearest, and certainly their most eloquent, expression in his sermons.

Leo spoke with all the refinement of a Roman orator, without the pagan trappings, and thus epitomized a Christian appropriation of the classical heritage. In the midst of it all, however, Pope St. Leo thought of himself simply as the humble servant of those entrusted to his care.

Sermons

  • Author: Pope Leo the Great
  • Translator: Jane Patricia Freeland
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1996
  • Pages: 448

As the vestiges of the Roman political machine began to collapse in the fifth century AD, the towering figure of Pope St. Leo the Great came into relief amid the rubble. Sustained by an immutable doctrine transcending institutions and cultures, the Church alone emerged from the chaos. Eventually, the Roman heritage became assimilated into Christianity and ceased to have a life of its own. It would be practically impossible to understand this monumental transition from Roman world to Christendom without taking into account the pivotal role played by Leo—and not the emperor—who went out to confront Attila and Hun. It was Leo who once averted and on another occasion mitigated the ravages of barbarian incursions.

As significant as his contribution was to history, Leo had an even greater impact on theology. When partisans of the monophysite heresy had through various machinations predetermined the outcome of a council held at Ephesus in 450, Leo immediately denounced it as a latrocinium (robbery) rather than a concilium (council). A year later—with cries of “Peter has spoken through Leo!”—the ecumenical Council of Chalcedon, a pillar of Catholic Christianity, adopted in its resounding condemnation of monophysitism the very language formulated by Leo. Pope Leo also developed the most explicit and detailed affirmations known up to that time of the prerogatives enjoyed by successors if St. Peter. Many theological principles find their clearest, and certainly their most eloquent, expression in his sermons.

Leo spoke with all the refinement of a Roman orator, without the pagan trappings, and thus epitomized a Christian appropriation of the classical heritage. In the midst of it all, however, Pope St. Leo thought of himself simply as the humble servant of those entrusted to his care. This volume presents the first English translation of the complete Sermons.

Writings; Commonitories; Grace and Free Will

  • Authors: Saint Nicetas, Sulpicius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, and Prosper of Aquitane
  • Translator: Gerald G. Walsh
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1949
  • Pages: 443

For centuries, the writings of St. Nicetas, bishop of Remesiana were mistakenly attributed to others who share similar names with him. Now, for the first time, the writings of St. Nicetas have been gathered together in the same volume and made available in English, allowing readers to inspect closely his ecclesiastical writings and poetry. Throughout his writings, there are clues that point to his contribution to the Catholic Church as a whole—such as the similarities in his poems to the Te Deum, and his writings on early catechetical instruction.

This volume also contains the letters, Dialogues, and the Life of Saint Martin, Bishop and Confessor by Sulpicius Severus; The Commonitories of Vincent of Lerins; and the Grace and Free Will of St. Tiro Prosper of Aquitaine.

Poems, vol. 1

  • Author: Prudentius
  • Translator: M. Clement Eagan
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1962
  • Pages: 311

Prudentius, often acclaimed as the greatest Latin Christian poet, was born probably in Calahorra, Spain, the son of highly cultured Roman citizens and fervent Christians. His death occurred after 405. The metric structure of his poems clearly shows the great influence of Horace although echoes of other Latin poets are likewise detected.

The Book of Hymns for Every Day (Liber Cathemerinon) is a collection of hymns for use at times of prayer that were once customary in the early Church: at cock-crow, morning hymn, hymns before and after repast, hymn at time of lamp lighting, hymn before sleep. Hymns to be used for special feasts and occasions conclude the work.

The Book of the Martyrs’ Crowns (Liber Peristephanon) is a work that comprises fourteen hymns in honor of various martyrs. Six hymns honor the Spanish martyrs: Emeterius, Chelidonius, Eulalia, the Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa, Vincent, Fructuosus and companions. Five hymns sing the praises of Roman martyrs: Lawrence, Cassian, Hippolytus, Peter and Paul, Agnes. Three more hymns honoring the memory of Quirinus, Romanus and Cyprian conclude this work. The accounts of the martyrdom of Sts. Emetrius, Chelidonius, Lawrence, Eulalia, Cassian, Romanus, Hippolytus, the Eighteen Martyrs of Saragossa are the earliest extant.

Poems, vol. 2

  • Author: Prudentius
  • Translator: M. Clement Eagan
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1965
  • Pages: 234

It cannot be said that poetry, in a literary sense, truly prospered in Christian surroundings. However, the greatest of the Latin Christian poets was the present author, who was born in any one of the three cities: Tarragona, Saragossa, and Calahorra. Modern scholarship favors Calahorra.

Any estimate of Prudentius must include a recognition of certain defects in his works, notably the length and prolixity of his hymns, the crude realism in his descriptions of the torments of the martyrs, the long declamatory speeches, the unreality of his allegory, and his excessive use of alliteration and assonance. Though his writings as a whole cannot be ranked among those of the great poetry in many instances. Prudentius has a technical skill surpassing that of the other Christian Latin poets. He is the creator of the Christian ode and the Christian allegory. He has something of the epic power of Virgil and the lyric beauty and variety of Horace.

Prudentius has still greater claims to greatness, however, in the Christian thought and inspiration of his poetry. A recent critic has declared with truth that Prudentius is “first a Catholic and only in the second place a poet.” His faith is that of the Nicene Creed.

In his poetry, Prudentius celebrates the triumph of Christianity over paganism. He saw the Church emerging from its three-hundred-year struggle against the forces if idolatry and heresy, triumphant through its saving doctrine and the blood of its martyrs. He saw the magnificent basilicas, both in Spain and in Rome, rising in the place of the pagan temples. As an historian of Christian thought and culture at the end of the fourth century, Prudentius cannot be overestimated.

Iberian Fathers, vol. 3: Pacian of Barcelona, Orosius of Braga

  • Authors: Pacian of Barcelona and Orosius of Braga
  • Translator: Craig L. Hanson
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1999
  • Pages: 192

In recent years historians and theologians have focused considerable attention on the church of late antiquity. The Constantinian revolution of the early fourth century produced changes that would affect profoundly and permanently the fabric of traditional Greco-Roman society and early Christian spiritual life. This volume—the third of the works of the Iberian Fathers in the Fathers of the Church series—brings together writings from Pacian of Barcelona and Orosius of Braga, two notable Iberian authors and orthodox partisans of the turbulent late fourth and early fifth centuries.

Pacian, bishop of Barcelona, was renowned in his own day for both his active ministry and his literary talents. Admired by St. Jerome as an author “of restrained eloquence,” Pacian produced several works, ranging from his correspondence with the Novatianist Sympronian to his thoughtful treatises on penance and baptism. Orosius, priest of Braga, was once considered noteworthy principally for his authorship of the universalist Seven Books of History against the Pagans and his student/mentor relationships with St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Jerome. But, in addition, in the two treatises translated here he furnishes mush insight into the contemporary heretical movements in Spain and the course of Peligian controversy.

Included in this volume are Pacian’s three letters to the Novatianist Sympronian, his tract on repentance and the rite of penance (On Penitents), and his sermon concerning baptism (On Baptism). Orosius’s works included the Inquiry or Memorandum to Augustine on the Error of the Priscilliantists and Origenists and the apologetic Book in Defense against the Pelagians. Extensive notes and helpful introductions offer readers further guidance and detail.

Early Christian Biographies

  • Author: Pontius
  • Translator: Roy J. Deferrari
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1952
  • Pages: 421

Most readers are quite likely to have some basic information about St. Cyprian (d. 258), St. Ambrose (ca. 339–397) and St. Augustine (354–430). Fewer readers are likely to be equally informed about St. Anthony (251?–356), St. Paul the Hermit (d. ca. 340), St. Hilarion (ca. 291–371) and St. Epiphanius (438/439–496/497). Perhaps hardly any reader is acquainted with the holy monk Malchus, presumably a contemporary of St. Jerome (ca. 342–420) and son of a tenant farmer near Nisbis.

Most of the saints’ lives presented here, though the volume is entitled Early Christian Biographies, belong in reality to quite another category, hagiography. The primary requisite of this genre is to serve a religious purpose: edification. Herein hagiography differs considerably from a modern critical biography which demands historically verifiable events and accounts. Nevertheless the account of Malchus, as it is presented in this volume, is unique. St. Jerome writes: “Drawn by curiosity I approached the man and inquired with eager interest if there were any truth in what I had heard. He related the following story” (p. 288). If we may take St. Jerome at his word, the Life of Malchus could well be an autobiography. In any event, many generations have come to look upon these accounts as classics.

The Seven Books of History Against the Pagans

  • Author: Paulus Orosius
  • Translator: Roy J. Deferrari
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Publication Date: 1964
  • Pages: 435

Orosius wrote the first Christian Universal History, “Historiarum adversus paganos libri septem.” It has been thought to be a supplement to the “City of God,” “Civitate Dei,” especially the third book, in which St. Augustine attempts to prove that the Roman Empire suffered as many disasters before as after Christianity was received. It was a common argument among the pagans that the abandonment of the worship of their deities had led to the general break-up of the Roman Empire and all its attendant evils. St. Augustine was annoyed by the persistence of this argument and hoped that a history of all the known people of antiquity, with the fundamental idea in mind that God determines the destinies of nations, would put an end to that pagan thinking.

St. Augustine called upon his young friend Orosius to do this work. Added interest is attached to Orosius’ History by reason of his think link with St. Augustine. The great St. Augustine, in his declining years, requested the youthful and far less gifted Orosius to perform a most important task.

From the point of view of the modern historian and his scientific method, Orosius’ work does not rate very high. The work completed in 418 shows sign of haste. In addition to Holy Scripture and the chronicle of Eusebius revised by St. Jerome, Orosius used Livy, Eutropius, Caesar, Suetonius, Florus, and Justin as sources. All the calamities suffered by the various peoples are described often with annoying monotony. Yet the work is valuable as history, containing as it does contemporary information on the period after 278 AD. It was used widely during the Middle Ages, and the existence today of nearly 200 manuscript copies is evidence of its past popularity.

Product Details

  • Title: Latin Fathers of the Nicene Era
  • Series: Fathers of the Church
  • Publisher: Catholic University of America Press
  • Volumes: 25
  • Pages: 9,504