Myth #3 Constantine Started the Catholic Church

Constantine started the Catholic Church Many fundamentalists erroneously believe that the pagan Emperor Constantine invented the Catholic Church around 317 A.D. by blending paganism and Christianity.  However, there is no historical basis for this whatsoever.  The reality is that the Catholic Church was started by Jesus and was around long before Constantine was ever thought of.

How do we know?  Well, IF the Constantine started the Catholic Church in 317 A.D., then we should find nothing Catholic before this time because Catholicism supposedly did not exist.  Yet, we find Catholic Churches, beliefs and practices all going back to the first century.  We also find Catholic devotions, the honoring of Mary and the saints, popes, bishops and priests, the celebration of the Catholic Eucharist, the Altar of Sacrifice, and much more all before 317 A.D.

Additionally, anyone can research the writings of the earliest Christians to confirm these facts.  The early Christians claim to be part of the Catholic Church in their writings; they claim that Peter was the rock on whom Christ built his church, that the Eucharist is the true presence of Jesus, that bishops have the authority of the Lord, and much more.

One of the easiest ways to disprove this myth is to look at nearly any encyclopedia under “P” for “pope” or “papacy.” There you will find a list of 264 popes going all the way back to the time of St. Peter, the first pope.  In fact, there were over ‘30 popes’ before Constantine was even born.  So, ‘how’ could he have started the Catholic Church?  Moreover, because of early Roman persecution against the Church, the earliest Christians were forced to worship underground in burial chambers known as the Catacombs.  We know these burial sites were Catholic because they had the celebration of the Eucharist, images of Mary and the Apostles painted on the walls and ceilings, intercessory prayers to the saints, along with popes and bishops who were buried down there, etc.  These catacombs go back to the first centuries, and anyone can see their Catholicity.  The history on this is black and white, and anyone who still holds to the Constantine myth is choosing to be willfully blind and uninformed.

Cyprian: Catholic Bishop of Carthage (251 A.D.):

Cyprian of Carthage (251 A.D.):  The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]). … On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?”

Cyprian of Carthage:  There speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest, and the flock clinging to their shepherd in the Church. You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishops; and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priest of God, believing that they are secretly in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is one and Catholic is not split nor divided, but is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another.

Irenaeus: Catholic Bishop of Lyon (180 A.D.):  But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall… point 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 with 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.

Ignatius: Catholic Bishop of Antioch (110 A.D.)  Let no one do anything of concern to the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is celebrated by the bishop or by one whom he ordains [i.e., a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop appears, let the people be there; just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.

These are only a few.  Many more could be cited…

About Bryan Mercier

Bryan Mercier is a professional Catholic speaker, retreat leader, author, YouTuber, and a Catholic apologist who has been teaching and preaching for almost two decades. He has also been aired on TV and radio in different states, including Relevant Radio, Ave Maria Radio, Sirius XM Satellite, and EWTN. He is the founder of "Catholic Truth," a non-profit dedicated to the New Evangelization and helping Catholics to know, love, and live their faith with purpose and passion each day!
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13 Responses to Myth #3 Constantine Started the Catholic Church

  1. Charles E Smallwood says:

    Jesus was a jew, so you are saying, catholicism started with him, his protesters were jewish, but catholicism started there?

  2. Yes, Catholicism started with Jesus. He was the one who started the Catholic Church. Judaism was only supposed to be around until the Messiah (who was Jesus). Jesus started a universal Church (Catholic means universal), which is for all people, not just Jews. Some Jews persecuted Him, but all the people who believed and accepted Jesus Christ became the first Christians. The word Catholic was used in the early Church to denote true Christians vs the Gnostics and other counterfeit versions that were popping up. The earliest Christians used the word Catholic for that reason.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Jesus did not start the Catholic Church. You are teaching people to follow the Catholic Church. If you read the Bible you will find that the first church was referred to as Christians. The bBible also tells not to eat of the flesh nor drink of the blood. Catholicism is a bunch of pagan religions mixed with Christianity. You will also learn that there is no record of Peter ever going to Rome. You will never learn the truth if you study the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. They don’t want you to know the truth. You shall know the truth and it shall make you free

  4. Thank you for your comment. However, you are mistaken on a few accounts. First, the Catholic Church teaches people to follow Christ, as He is the head of our Church and Lord of all. However, since Jesus started the Catholic Church, we must follow him and do all that He commanded. One of those things is eating his body and blood which you said He never commanded. Yet… He did:
    John 6:51-67 – “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

    And there are other passages too. It’s extremely biblical which is why Christians for 1500 years all believed in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Only after the “Reformation” did that teaching change. And Protestants could not even agree with themselves on this subject and fought over it. Yes, all the earliest Christians unanimously believed in the true presence. The belief that it is just a symbol is new and man-made.

    As for Peter going to Rome, there is a large record of it including the earliest church historian Eusebius. All the earliest Christians attested to this and none ever said or suggested anything different. Here are just a few of them attesting to it. There are more…

    Jerome (396 A.D.): Simon Peter, the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to overthrow Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.

    Pope Damasus I (382 A.D.): …”the most blessed apostle Paul, who contended and was crowned with a glorious death along with Peter in the City of Rome in the time of Caesar Nero, not in a different time as the heretics prattle, … and they equally consecrated the above mentioned holy Roman Church to Christ the Lord.”

    Cyril of Jerusalem (350 A.D.): [Simon Magus] so deceived the City of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him …While the error was extending itself, Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church, and they set the error aright. But Christ opened to them all things which were about to happen, which Peter and Paul preached at Rome; and this preaching being written for the sake of rememberance.

    Eusebius the Historian (263-339 A.D.): Peter… at last having come to Rome, where he was crucified, head downwards, the manner in which he himself thought it fitting to suffer. …After the martydom of Peter and Paul, Linus was the first appointed to the episcopacy of the Church at Rome. Paul, writing from Rome to Timothy, mentions him in the salutations at the end of his epistle (2 Tim. 4:21) Second year of the 200th and 5th Olympiad: the Apostle Peter, after he established the Church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains as bishop of that city, preaching the gospel for 25 years.
    Fourth Year of the two hundred and eleventh Olympiad: Nero is the first, in addition to all his other crimes, to make a persecution agains the Christians, in which Peter and Paul died gloriously at Rome.

    Eusebius the Historian (263-339 A.D.): So brightly shone the light of the true religion on the minds of Peter’s hearers not satisfied with a single hearing or the oral teaching of the divine message, they resorted to appeals of every kind to induce Mark (who’s Gospel we have), as he was a follower of Peter, to leave them in writing a summary of instruction they had received by word of mouth…… Clement quotes the story in Outlines Book IV, and his statement are confirmed by Bishop Papias of hierapolis, who also points out that Mark is mentioned by Peter in his first epistle, which he is said to have composed in Rome itself, as he himself speaks of the city figuratively as Babylon. Peter the great and mighty one among the apostles, who, because of his virtue, was the spokesman for all others, to Rome.

    Tertullian (211 A.D.): In Rome, Nero was the first to stain with blood the rising faith. Peter was girded about by another and made fast to the cross. (200 A.D.): But, if you are near to Italy, you have Rome, whence our authority derives. How happy is that Church, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine along with their blood, where Peter endured a passion like that of our Lord, where Paul was crowned with a death like John’s…

    Clement of Alexandria (200 A.D.): The circumstances which occasioned … the writing of Mark were these: When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome and declared the gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings, should write down what had been proclaimed. … Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter publically preached the gospel in Rome before some of Caesars equites, and adduced many testimonies to Christ, in order that thereby, they might be able to commit to memory what was spoken by Peter, wrote entirely what is called the Gospel of Mark.

    Gaius (A Roman Presbyter, as recorded in Eusebius, 198-217 A.D.): It is therefore recorded, that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and that Peter, likewise, was crucified under Nero. This account of Peter and Paul is substantiated by the fact that their names are preserved in the cemeteries of that place even unto the present day. It is likewise confirmed by Caius, a member of the Roman Church who arose under Zephyrinus, bishop f Rome.

    Iranaeus, bishop of Lyon (180 A.D.): Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundations of the Church. … We shall confound (all those who don’t believe in the true church)…by pointing out the succession of Bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized in Rome by the two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith coming to us from the apostles.

    Dionysius of Corinth (166-174 A.D.): You have by your very admonition; brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth, for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time.

  5. chrysostom says:

    Protestantism is a tangled mess of lies and wild conspiracy theories. They almost seem to revel in their ignorance of history. It’s frustrating and sad to see people parrot the same crap they got from some Chick tract, completely impervious to reason and historical fact. I don’t know how apologists have the patience.

  6. chrysostom says:

    “The bBible also tells not to eat of the flesh nor drink of the blood.”

    Apparently Jesus was a liar.

  7. Thank you for having this discussion where people can answer the truth. The lucipherean Catholic answers in untruths as of it claims history proves Jesus was in favor of a cult that started after His death.

    Irenaeus nor Eusebius proves that catholicism was started by the Apostles. But rather carried on after the death of the Apostles.
    Those such as Clementine suffered for Christ, yes, but catholicism was not a legitimate religion because it was illegal in Rome. Constantine I and Licinius brought peace through the Edict of Milan in which a certain illegal religion was made legal, guess what it was called?

    Roman Catholicism is still pagan, it’s a universal pagan religion.
    Christianity is the name of Christ’s church, and it is only for Christian’s, not Catholics.

  8. Ryan says:

    It would be nice if man would simply submit to Jesus Christ and the scriptures and study with a relationship with Jesus and thus the power of the Holy Spirit that they might seek to simply understand God. Instead men waste their time trying to prove false notions and support their sinful thinking. They don’t want God. They want mirrors of themselves. They want to pat themselves on the back and conform to every whim of man instead of get on their knees with an open mind and heart and submit to the Word without preconceived ideas and notions that have trapped their understanding.

  9. Ryan says:

    Being born again is just that. I’ll share my testimony. I was raised Baptist, so I heard the message of salvation at a young age. I repeated the words the pastor said to say and was dunked in water. They said I was “saved.” Later, my parents moved and joined another Baptist church. They said we had to be rebaptized to be members of that church even though I’d already been baptized. So I was re-baptized. Yet, I still didn’t feel any different. I wasn’t a bad kid, but I had no relationship with God. Church was just a list of dos and don’ts to me. I was bullied in school and abused by a baby sitter when seven years old. I was depressed and it continued into college to the point I was ready to commit suicide. So I walked out to a open grassy field near my house in despair and knelt down and cried out “God [if you exist], either kill me or save me.” Immediately, Jesus Christ came into me. I felt free of my sins, I knew I was a new creation and that all the old nature was dead, I knew God was real and all-loving and all-knowing because He was present in my life, and I knew it was all because of Jesus Christ. I was a new creation at that point. I literally had been so depressed that my facial muscles would not allow me to smile, so my body had to catch up to my joy and how I felt. My parents and friends did not recognize me because of my new life/faith. About a year later, the Lord very specifically showed me my calling as a pastor and even where to go and when to go. I did an internship and studied Pastorial courses with a couple churches during this internship, and I literally started two youth ministries from scratch and led them. I have been a pastor and led many to Christ since, but never have I been paid for it. Pastor is used only in scripture in a list of spiritual gifts. It is a specific calling (“to equip the saints (believers) for works of service) not something man can give with a class or piece of paper or degree. So to be “saved” or “born again” you must have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. Jesus said this. He said, “my sheep hear my voice.” He said, “you will know them by their fruit.” He said, “they will suffer worse things than I suffered.” So, in none of Christ’s teachings, is the word church ever used in context of being born again or saved. Never. The church means every person who has been born again. It is not a building or organization in the same way that the Temple in Jerusalem no longer houses God in the inner courts. When Jesus died, that veil was torn in two and God now dwells in the hearts of all who accept him, not in a church or any other object.

  10. chrysostom says:

    ‘Irenaeus nor Eusebius proves that catholicism was started by the Apostles. But rather carried on after the death of the Apostles’

    So where were the ‘real’ Christians then? We have no record of them. Weird how we have centuries of patristic writings teaching explicitly Catholic doctrines- the real presence, a hierarchical episcopate, the Papacy- but the supposed ancient Protestants are nowhere to be found. Unless one is going to take the conspiracist approach and claim the ‘real’ Christians were hiding somewhere (that again, there is zero historical evidence of).

  11. chrysostom says:

    ‘It would be nice if man would simply submit to Jesus Christ and the scriptures’

    There are an endless multitude of groups claiming to do just that, and coming to contradicting conclusions. That is why you need the one, historical, Church that decided what the Scriptures were to begin with.

  12. Carl Mendez says:

    It is obvious the the church started by Constantine adopted the Roman practice of allowing the peoples the conquered to continue their cultural practices. The now political church allowed the vestal virgins, dark ceremonies, priests flesh eating etc to become part of their lexicon. The history of the rcc since that time has not been stellar. Obedience enforced by fear, excommunication, torture and death.

    The rcc puts very little value on the Word, and considers believers ill equipped to understand it. To correctly understand Matthew 16, you need to understand Greek for the words rock and Peter.

  13. pete says:

    What do you believe is the correct Meaning of the word Catholic?

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