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History: 2nd Century


This century gave birth to more Gnostic heresies and bloody Roman persecutions. It is in this century that the Catholic Church received its name, Catholic, meaning Universal.


Martyrdom of Pope St. Clement I. He was banished to Crimea where he successfully preached the Gospel. According to legend, he was killed by being drowned with an anchor tied around his neck. St. Evaristus becomes Pope. He died a Martyr for the Faith.


St. Alexander I becomes Pope. He was a Roman. He is attributed with transparent anachronism, the insertion of the narrative of the institution of the Last Supper into the Mass and introduction of the practice of blessing houses with water mixed with salt.


Third Roman persecution, under Trajan. This persecution was one ofthe most severe. St. Ignatuis of Antioch who was the first to use the name Catholic Church and St. Simeon of Jerusalem were among the casualties. Many Christians, now called Catholic Christians, were exposed to wild beasts, burned at the stake, or crucified.


Martyrdom of St. Simeon, Bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His father was Cleophas.

St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, suffers Martyrdom at Rome by the command of the evil Emperor, Trajan. On his way to the Coliseum from Antioch, he wrote seven Epistles to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallians, Romans, Philadelphians, Smymeans, and to St. Polycarp; he to was a student of St. John the Apostle. In his letter to the Smyrneans, he gives us the name Catholic. He said: "Whenever the Bishop appears let the people be there, just as Jesus Christ is, there will be the Catholic Church." St. Ignatius, who had been ordained a priest by St. Peter at the age of seventeen, fell victim to the cruel games played by the Romans in the Coliseum. His flesh was devoured by the lions who ground his bones into dust.


Martyrdom of Pope St. Alexander I. He was beheaded on the Via Nomentana leading North-East out of Rome.

St. Sixtus I becomes Pope. His name was actually spelled Xystus. He was a Roman, the son of one Pastor.


The Basilides Heresy begins. Basilides was the earliest of the Alexandrian Gnostics. He was a native of Alexandria, Egypt and nourished under the Emperors Hadrian and Antonius Plus. He had a son named Isidore, who followed in his footsteps. Basilides invented prophets for himself named Barcabbas and Barcoph and claimed to have received verbal instructions from St. Matthias the Apostle chosen to take Judas' place and to be a disciple of Glaucias, a disciple of St. Peter.

St. Irenaeus, in his Contra Haereses said Basilides taught that Nous (Mind) was the first to be born from the Unborn Father; from Nous was born Logos (Reason); from Logos, Phronesis (Prudence); from Phronesis, Sophia (Wisdom) and Dynamis (Strength); and from Phronesis and Dynamis the Virtues, Principalities, and the Archangels. By these angelic hosts the highest heaven was made, by their descendants the second heaven, and by the descendants again of these the third, and so on till they reached the number 365. Hence the year has as many days as there are heavens. The angels, who hold the last or visible heaven, brought about all things that are in the world and shared amongst themselves the earth and the nations upon it. The highest of these angels is the one who is thought to be the God of the Jews. And as he wished to make the other nations subject to that which was especially his own, the other angelic principalities withstood him to the utmost. Hence the aversion of all other peoples for this race. The Unborn and Nameless Father seeing their miserable plight, sent his first born, Nous (Christ) to deliver those who should believe in him from the power of the angelic agencies who had built the world. And to men Christ seemed to be a man and to have performed miracles. It was not, however, Christ who suffered, but rather Simon of Cyrene, who was constrained to carry the cross for him, and mistakenly crucified in Christ's stead. Simon having received Jesus' form, Jesus assumed Simon's and thus stood by and laughed at his Father. Through the Gnosis (Knowledge) of Christ the souls of men are saved, but their bodies perish.

St. Hippolytus sets forth the doctrine as follows: "There was a time when nothing existed, neither matter nor form, nor accident; neither the simple nor the compound, neither the unknowable nor the invisible, neither man nor angel nor god nor any ofthose things, which are called by names or perceived by the mind or the senses. The Not-Being God, without perception, purpose, aim, passion, and without desire had the will to create the world."


St. Telesphorus becomes Pope. He is the only Second Century Pope whose Martyrdom is reliably attested by St. Irenaeus.


St. Papias, Bishop of Asia Minor wrote his Five Books of the Explanations of the Lord. St. Papias, like Saint Ignatius and Polycarp, was also a student of St. John the Apostle. St. Papias is considered an Apostolic Father ofthe Church.


Death of St. Cyriacus or Judas Quiriacus, Bishop of Jerusalem. He was slain in a riot.


St. Polycarp writes his second letter to the Church in Philadelphia.

Martyrdom of Saints Exsuperius and Zoe.


Martyrdom of St. Telesphorus. The Holy See is vacant for two years.


St. Hyginus becomes Pope. He was a Greek from Athens who had previously been a philosopher.


The title of Pope was first adopted by Pope Hyginus.


St. Pius I becomes Pope. The Gnostic Marcion of Pontus rejected the Old Testament.


Pope St. Pius I had to cope with the Gnostic heretics who were active at Rome during his Pontificate. The Pope excommunicated the Gnostic leader, Marcion, who therupon set up his own church. But if heretics afflicted the soul of Pope St. Pius I, he must have been consoled by the visit of St. Justin Martyr, the great Defender of Christendom. It was Pope St. Pius I who in a letter made mention of the Eucharisitc Service as the Mass. he wrote: "Euprepia has handed over possession of her house to the por, where...we make Masses with out poor."


Hermas, the brother of Pope St. Plus I, wrote The Shepherd.


Marcionist Heresy begins. These heretics rejected the writings of the Old Testament and believed that Christ was not the Son of the God of the Jews, but the son of the good god, who was different from the god of the Ancient Covenant. They also did what the present day Mormons do; and that is they held baptisms for the dead! They imposed a rigoristic asceticism on their followers. They were polytheists (belief in many gods). They arose in the very infancy of Christendom and adopted from the beginning a strong ecclesiastical organization, parallel to that of the Catholic Church, they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christendom has ever known! Marcion is the first heretic to have altered the New Testament (that I have found, anyway). His gospel, as he called it, contained only one Canonical Gospel, St Luke's, minus the first two chapters and ten Epistles from St. Paul. He omitted many verses to make his gospel "fit" his theology. He changed one preposition in Ephesians 3:10, he changed before to from and coined a text in favor of his doctrine. He considered Galatians to be the character of Marcionism. It is obvious that Marcion was a consecrated Catholic Bishop. A layman could not have disputed on Scripture with presbyters as he did, nor have threatened shortly after his arrival: "I will divide your Church and cause within her division, which will last forever," as Marcion is said to have done; a layman could not have founded a vast and world-wide institution, of which the main characteristic was that it was Episcopalian, and a layman could not be referred to for centuries as their first bishop.


St. Justin the Martyr writes his First Apology.


St. Justin the Martyr writes his Second Apology.


The Second Letter of Pope St. Clement I to the Corinthians was composed. Our beloved Pope Saint did not write this himself, he died forty-nine years earlier. The work is the oldest extant Christian homily; written by an anonymous person.


Martyrdom of Pope St. Pius I. He presided over the Synod that condemned Marcion in 144.

St. Anicetus becomes Pope. Soon after his Papal accession, he received a visit from St. Polycarp, the Octogenarian Bishop of Smyma, who, after they had reached agreement on other issues, tried to persuade him to adopt the practice of the Churches of Asia Minor ofobserving Easter on the 14th of the Jewish month Nisan (the day of Passover)-the so-called Quartodeciman Date. Pope St. Anicetus erected the Memorial Shrine for St. Peter on the Vatican Hill.

Martyrdom of Saints Speusippus, Eleusippus, and Meleusippus. These Saints were three twin brothers, who with their grand-mother, Leonilla, suffered Martyrdom.

Martyrdom of St. Germanicus.


St. Polycarp suffers Martyrdom at the age of 86. He was burned at the stake. While engulfed in flames, eye-witnesses smelled bread baking. His body was aglow. He was then stabbed in the heart with a sword and his blood put out the tire. Burning at the stake is the ancient penalty for high treason.

Montanist Heresy begins. These schismatics denied the forgiveness of sins. They were first known as the Phrygians, or "Those among Phrygians," and in the West, Cataphtygians. This sect was founded by a false prophet, Montanus, with two false prophetesses, Maximilla and Priyca, sometimes called Priscilla. Montanus was a devotee to the great goddess. His headquarters was in the village of Pepuza. Their method of prophesy as told by an anonymous opponent of the sect is thus: "First the prophet appears distraught with terror, then follows quiet, (fearlessness), beginning by studied vacancy of thought or passivity of intellect, he is seized by an uncontrollable madness. The prophets did not speak as messengers of God: "Thus saith the Lord," but described themselves as possessed by God and spoke His Person. "I am the Father, the Word, and the Paraclete," said Montanus. And again saying: "I am the Lord God omnipotent, who have descended into a man" and " "neither an angel, nor an ambassador, but I, the Lord, the Father, am come." Maximilla said: "Hear not me, but hear Christ...I am driven off from among the, sheep like a wolf (a false prophet. See Matthew 7: 15); I am not a wolf, but I am speech, and spirit, and power." This possession by a spirit, which spoke while the prophet was incapable of resisting, is described by the spirit of Montanus: "Behold the man is like a lyre, and I dart like plectrum. The man sleeps and I am awake." The Paraclete ordered a few fasts and abstinences, the latter were strict xerophagiar, but only for two weeks in the year, and Saturdays and Sundays did not count. Virginity was strongly recommended, but second marriages were disapproved. Chastity was declared by Priscilla to be a preparation for ecstasy: the holy (chaste) minister knows how to minister holiness. For those who purify their hearts by conjecture for Purificantia enim concordal both see visions, and placing their head downwards also hear manifest voices, as saving as they are secret. It was rumored that Priscilla had been married and left her husband. This heresy was probably the foundation for other heresies that followed.


Valentinianist Heresy begins. This Gnostic heresy was formulated by Valantinius, the best known and most influential of the Gnostic heretics. He taught that mankind is divided into three classes. He went to Rome to disseminate his views. He was excommunicated for his errors, he later recanted. Valentinius professed to have derived his views from Theodas or Theudas, a disciple of St. Paul, but his system is obviously an attempt to amalgamate Greek and Oriental speculations of the most fantastic kind with Christian ideas. He was indebted to Plate. From him was derived the parallel, between the ideal world and the phenomena. He drew freely from some Books of the New Testament, but used a strange system of interpretation by which the Sacred Authors were made responsible for his own cosmological and pantheistic views. In working out his system he was thoroughly dominated by dualistic views. He assumed as the beginning of all things, the Primal Being or Bythos, who after the ages of silence and contemplation, gave rise to other beings by a process of emanation. The first series of beings, the aeons, were thirty in number, representing fifteen syzygies or pairs sexually complementary. Through the weakness and sin of Sophia, one of the lowest aeons, the lower world with its subjection to matter is brought into existence. Man, the highest being in the lower world, participates in both the psychic and the hylic (material) nature, and the work of redemption consists in freeing the higher, the spiritual, from its servitude to the lower. This was the work and mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit. The Christology of Valentinius is confusing in the extreme. He seems to have maintained the existence of three redeeming beings, but Christ the Son of Mary did not have a real body and did not suffer. The system of Valentinius was extremely comprehensive, and was worked out to cover all phases thought and action. While Valentinius was alive he made many disciples, and his system was most widely diffused of all forms of Gnosticism. His school was divided into two branches, the Oriental and the Italian. The former was spread through Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor, the latter in Rome, Italy, and Southern Gaul. Among the more prominent disciples of Valentinius, who, however, did not slavishly follow their master in all his views, were Heracleon, Ptolemy, Marcos, and Bardesanes. Many ofthe writings of these Gnostics, and a large number of excerpts from the writings of Valentinius, are still in existence. Tertullisn ascribes to him the apocryphal gospel of Valentinius, which, according to St. Irenaeus, was the same as the "Gospel of Truth." This Gospel was found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt. This strange system of Valentinius reflects the influence of Platonism, and of the Eastern Dualistic religion of Zoroaster as well as that of Christendom. The so-called sin of Sophia was that she produced a demiurge (The God of the Old Testament) who created the essentially evil material universe in which human souls, originally of the spiritual realm, are imprisoned. The aeon Christ united himself with the man named Jesus to bring redeeming knowledge (Gnosis) of the divine realm to humanity. According to Valentinius, only the most spiritual human beings, the Gnostics themselves, are fully able to receive this revelation and thereby return after death to the spiritual realm. Other Christians can only attain the realm of the demiurge, and pagans, engrossed in material existence, are doomed to eternal damnation. This heresy sounds a great deal like some of the sects in out present day.


Marcus Aurelius becomes co-Roman Emperor along with Lucius Verus. Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher. He became a follower of Stoicism. He wrote a series of thoughts that were written down and published as "Meditations." As a Stoic, Marcus Aurelius believed that a moral life leads to tranquillity and that moderation and acceptance improve the quality of one' s life. In many respects, Marcus Aurelius was a high-minded man; however; he was unable to appreciate the truth and beauty of the Catholic Faith. He characterized Martyrdom as "mere obstinacy." He named his childhood friend and adopted brother, Lucius Veras as co-Emperor. The reign of Marcus Aurelius was marked by epidemics and frequent wars along the Empire's frontiers.


The Fourth Roman Persecution, under Marcus Aurelius. This persecution was centered primarily in the City of Lyons, in what is now France. Catholics of Noble birth were banished, members of the lower class were put to death. It was this persecution that claimed the lives of St. Justin and St. Pothinus, a man of ninety and St. Ponticus, a boy of fifteen. It this bloody persecution young and old alike gave testimony to the Catholic Faith by sacrificing their lives. There is extant a letter from the Christians in Lyons to the Christians in other churches which is an historical proof of this persecution. These tragic events were followed by a period of twenty years of comparative peace.


St. Justin, the greatest Apologist of the second century, and his six companions are beheaded for the Faith at Rome: earning his name, St. Justin the Martyr.


Death of Pope St. Anicetus. The Church has always professed him to be a Martyr.

St. Justin Martyr

St. Soter becomes Pope. He was an Italian from Campania. During his reign as Pontiff, Easter was introduced as an annual festival. The Feast had not existed in Rome previously, and the date now accepted, in contrast to the Quartodeciman practice of the Churches in Asia Minor, was Sunday following the 14th of the Jewish month, Nisan. Pope Soter writes critically of Montanism.

Pope St. Soter sends charitable gifts to the Church in Corinth.



Ptolemy the Gnostic Heretic. He was a personal disciple of Valentinius. He was Heracleon, the principal writer of the Italian or Western school of Valentinian Gnosticism. His works have reached us in an incomplete form as preserved by St. Irenaeus, and a letter to Flora, a Christian lady, not otherwise known to us. This letter is found in the works of St. Epiphanius. It was written in response to Flora's inquiry concerning the origin of the Law of the Old Testament. This law, Ptolemy states, cannot be attributed to the Supreme God, nor to the devil; nor does it proceed from one law-giver. A part of it is the work of an inferior god; the second part is due to Moses, and the third to the Elders of the Jewish people. Three different sections are to be distinguished even in the part ascribed to the inferior god:

1). The absolute pure legislation of the Decalogue (the Ten Commandments) which was not destroyed, but fulfilled by the Savior.

2). The laws mixed with evil, like the right of retaliation, which were abolished by the Savior because they were incompatible with His nature.

3). The section which is typical and symbolical of the higher world. It included such precepts as circumcision, fasting, and was raised by the Savior from a sensible to a spiritual plane.


The Biblical Canon of St. Mileto, Bishop of Sardis was introduced. He submitted a list of Books identical to the Roman Catholic Canon of the Bible that the Church has always used.


St. Eleutherius becomes Pope. He was a native of Nicoplois, Greece. According to St. Hegesippus he was a Deacon in Rome under Pope St. Anicetus. He was the last in the succession list of Bishops of Rome transmitted by St. Irenaeus. A British King wrote to him asking to be made a Christian. Pope St. Eleutherius dealt with the Montanist heresy. He died a Martyr for the Faith.


Athenagoraa of Athens writes the "Supplication For Christians."

The Roman persecution in Lyons were most violent. St. Irenaeus carried a letter from those persecuted in their prisons, to Pope St. Eleutherius.


Martyrdom of St. Concordius. He was a Sub-Deacon. Refusing to offer a sacrifice to an idol, he was first beaten with clubs, then stretched on the rack, all the while singing cheerfully, "Glory Be To Thee Lord Jesus!" Three days later, soldiers came into the dungeon to behead the Saint unless he changed his mind and would offer a sacrifice to their idol. He spit on the image and the soldiers cut off his head. Martyrdom of Saints Marcellus and Valerian; also Saints Epipodius and Alexander. They were friends since childhood. St. Pothinius also suffered Martyrdom.

Death of the Montanist prophetess, Maximilla. I think a better title for her could be "actress."


St. Hegesippus, the historian writes his memoirs. Later in this year, he died of extreme old age. He has been reputed as "The Father of Church History" and is listed in the Roman Martyrology today.

Commodus becomes Emperor of Rome. He is considered one of the most sanguinary and licentious tyrants of history.

Death of St. Mileto, Bishop of Sardis. He was unmarried and ruled his conduct by the Holy Spirit. He is the same Bishop who in 170 submitted the list of Books that in time became known as the New Testament.

Death of St. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth. He was one of the foremost of the Church in the second century.


The New Testament Canon of St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, was introduced. St. Irenaeus, was a student of St. Polycarp, who was a student of St. John the Apostle. He died a Martyr for the Faith.


Martyrdom of St. Apollonius The Apologist. He was decapitated for refusing to offer sacrifices to the idols.


St. Victor I becomes Pope. He was an African by birth and the first Latin Pope. He may have advanced the Latinization of the Church in Rome, overshadowed by Graeco-Oriental influences. He excommunicated the leather-seller, Theodotus of Byzantium, the leader of an Adoptionist group which taught Jesus had been an ordinary man until the Holy Spirit descended upon Him at His Baptism.

Pope St. Victor I also deposed the Gnostic writer, Florinus from the priesthood. He was without a doubt the most forceful Pope of the Second Century.



St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, intercedes to Pope St. Victor I for lifting the excommunication laid by the Pontiff upon the Christian Communities of Asia Minor which preserved in the practice of the Quartodecimans in regard to the observance of Easter.


Quintus Septimus Florens Tertullianus becomes a Catholic. Tertullian, was born in Carthage of pagan parents. He became a lawyer of considerable repute shortly after his conversion. His expert knowledge in the field of law was turned to the defense of Christendom.


Martyrdom of Pope St. Victor I.


St. Zephyrinus becomes Pope. He was a Roman, a simple man who did not take up the higher studies and devoted himself to the practical administration of the Church. Immediately after his elevation to the Holy See, St. Zephyrinus called to Rome the confessor, Callistus, who lived at Antium and who had received a monthly pension from Pope St. Victor I, and intrusted him with the oversight of the Caemeterium. It is evident that shortly before this the Roman Christian Community had, under Pope Victor, become the owner of a common place of burial on the Via Appia, and Pope St. Zephyrinus placed Callistus over this cemetery which was given the name of Callistus.



Death of St. Pantaenus. He had been a Stoic philosopher. He was the head of the Catechetical school in Alexandria. His conversion was made possible by the converts of St. Bartholomew the Apostle.

The Muratorian Canon was compiled.

St. Hippolytus of Rome wrote the Dogmatic Treatise on The Anti-Christ.

The completion of this year marked the End of the Apostolic Age.

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