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

Character/Date Short Biography


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

Church Fathers

Saint Ignatius of Antioch
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 Carthage
Bishop of Carthage who battle heresies and suffered with his flock through persecutions.
Saint Athanasius
Bishop of Alexandria. Opposed the Arian heresy.
Saint Basil
Influential bishop and important church father, particularly revered in the Orthodox churches. Opposed Arianism.
Saint Ambrose
Bishop of Milan. Resisted Arian heresy, advised emperors, advocated for Church interests.
Saint Jerome
Translated the Bible into the Latin Vulgate.
Saint Chrysostom
Bishop in Syria and Constantinople. Great orator, and notable ascetic.
Saint Augustine
Greatest Christian theologian of the Middle Ages. Wrote Confessions and City of God.


Saint Cecilia
d. 117
Noblewoman of Rome who was martyred under the reign of Marcus Aurelius.
Saint Dorothea
Martyr Virgin who refused to worship the Roman Gods and was put to death.
Saint Lawrence
Deacon of Rome who was martyred during the persecutions of Valerian by being grilled on a gridiron.
Saint Alban
d. 304
First martyr of England. Killed for hiding a priest in his home.

Early Saints

Saint Christopher
d. 250
Early Christian saint whose name means "bearer". Said to have born the burdens of the Christ child."
Saint Denis
d. 250
Saint of the third century who was martyred in Roman Gaul by druid priests for converting Celts to Christianity.
Saint Paul the Hermit
First Christian hermit. Fled to the Theban desert to avoid persecution of Decius.
Saint Helena
Wife of Constantius Chlorus and mother of Constantine. Influenced her son to become Christian.
Saint Nicholas
d. 343
Bishop in fourth century Asia Minor, known for his generosity.
Saint Martin of Tours
Roman soldier who gave up his military career to follow Christ. Bishop of Tours and early monastic personality.
Saint George
Patron saint of England. Soldier who killed a dragon and died a martyr's death.
Saint Germanus
Renowned Bishop from Gaul visited Britain in order to help combat Pelagianism heresy.
Saint Synesius
d. 414
Bishop in Africa near the city of Cyrene, and associate of Hypatia.
Saint Benedict
Established the Benedictine order of monks. Founded the monastic movement in Europe.
Saint Clotilda
d. 545
Christian wife of Clovis; converted him to Christianity, and built a church.
Saint Simeon
Hermit who lived for many years on the top of a pillar, practicing penance.
Gregory the Great
Increased the power of the papacy by church reforms and effective management.


Founder of the Arian Heresy, which insisted that the Son was not eternal, but created by the Father.
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.

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