The history of the Catholic Church is integral to the history of Christianity as a whole. It is also, according to church historian Mark A. Noll, the "world's oldest continuously functioning international institution."[1] This article covers a period of just under two thousand years.

Over time, schisms have disrupted the unity of Christianity. The Catholic Church considers that major divisions occurred in c. 144 with Marcionism,[2] 318 with Arianism, 451 with the Oriental Orthodox, 1054 to 1449 (see East–West Schism) during which time the Orthodox Churches of the East parted ways with the Western Church over doctrinal issues (see the filioque) and papal primacy, and in 1517 with the Protestant Reformation, of which there were many divisions, resulting in over 200 denominations.

The Catholic Church has been the driving force behind some of the major events of world history including the Christianization of Western and Central Europe and Latin America, the spreading of literacy and the foundation of the universities, hospitals, the Western tradition of monasticism, the development of art and music, literature, architecture, contributions to the scientific method, just war theory and trial by jury. It has played a powerful role in global affairs, including the Reconquista, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Investiture Controversy, the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in the late 20th century.

Ministry of Jesus and founding

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Main article: Chronology of Jesus

Byzantine image depicting Jesus as Christ pantocrator
  • The calculations of Dionysius Exiguus put the birth of Jesus in the year that in consequence is called 1 BC; most historians place his birth between 6 and 4 BC.

First millennium

This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2021) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Early Christianity

Main article: History of early Christianity

Dates in the Apostolic Age are mostly approximate, and all AD, mostly based on tradition or the New Testament.

The Crucifixion of Saint Peter (1601) by Caravaggio


Eastern Orthodox icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea
Constantine the Great summoned the bishops of the Christian Church to Nicaea to address divisions in the Church (mosaic in Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), ca. 1000).


Justinian I depicted on a mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy


Blessed Charlemagne

Second millennium


Notre-Dame Cathedral – designed in the Gothic architectural style.


Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Pope Paul III


Louis XIV of France


John Carroll

19th century

Napoleon Bonaparte

20th century

Karl of Austria.
Pope Pius XI

Third millennium

21st century

See also: History of the Catholic Church since 1962

Benedict XVI, first Pope elected in 21st century

See also


  1. ^ The New Shape of World Christianity, Mark A. Noll (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 191.
  2. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Marcionites" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.: "...they were perhaps the most dangerous foe Christianity has ever known."
  3. ^ "Nuestra Senora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar)". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved May 30, 2019. Unlike every other recorded apparition, this one took place during the earthly life of the Mother of God.
  4. ^ Chadwick, Henry, pp. 23–24.
  5. ^ "The Syro-Malabar Church Today: An Overview::The St. Thomas Christians::East Syrian (Chaldean)::Syro-Malabar Major Archiepiscopal Church".
  6. ^ "Syro Malabar Church Chronology".
  7. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. John the Evangelist" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  8. ^ St. John the Evangelist,, retrieved September 30, 2006
  9. ^ EARLY CHRISTIAN FATHERS, ed., Cyril C. Richardson (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 230.
  10. ^ THE STUDY OF SPIRITUALITY. eds., Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, and Edward Yarnold, S.J. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 102-3.
  11. ^ Jones, Wainwright and Yarnold, 107.
  12. ^ Gregerman, Adam (2016), "Origen's Contra Celsum", Building on the Ruins of the Temple, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, vol. 165, Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, pp. 59–96, ISBN 978-3-16154-322-7
  13. ^ McMullen, p. 44.
  14. ^ De Imperatoribus Romanis – Constantine I, retrieved February 23, 2007
  15. ^ S.R.E. Humbert, Adversus Graecorium calumnias 6, in Patrologie Cursus Completus, series Latina, e.d. J.P.Migne, 1844, p.143
  16. ^ Duffy, p. 29.
  17. ^ New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, volume 3 (Washington: Catholic University Press, 2002), 556-557
  18. ^ Duffy, p. 30.
  19. ^ "405 Jerome Completes the Vulgate". Christian History | Learn the History of Christianity & the Church. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  20. ^ J. P. Rodriguez, with foreword by Orlando Patterson CHRONOLOGY OF WORLD SLAVERY (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1999). 50.
  21. ^ Kristó, Gyula (2001). "The Life of King Stephen the Saint". In Zsoldos, Attila (ed.). Saint Stephen and His Country: A Newborn Kingdom in Central Europe – Hungary. Lucidus Kiadó. pp. 15–36. ISBN 978-963-86163-9-5.
  22. ^ Rule, Martin (1883), The Life and Times of St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Britons, Vol. I, London: Kegan Paul, Trench, & Co.
  23. ^ "Waldenses | Description, History, & Beliefs". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  24. ^ Rodriguez, p. 53.
  25. ^ Jones, Wainwright and Yarnold, 317.
  26. ^ Rodriguez, 57.
  27. ^ Wallace, Robert (1972) [1966]. The World of Leonardo: 1452–1519. New York: Time-Life Books.
  28. ^ Rodriguez, 61, 150.
  29. ^ Rodriguez, 62.
  30. ^ Weber, Stephanie (April 19, 2018). "Coffee Was the "Devil's Drink" Until One Pope Tried it and Changed History". History Hustle. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  31. ^ "Suave Molecules of Mocha" Archived March 9, 2005, at the Wayback Machine Coffee, Chemistry, and Civilization, New Partisan – A Journal of Culture, Arts and Politics, March 7, 2005, retrieved October 23, 2006
  32. ^ Jones, Wainwright and Yarnold, 382.
  33. ^ Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Melchites" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  34. ^ Jones, Wainwright and Yarnold, 425-6.
  35. ^ Rodriguez, 297.
  36. ^ Nair, Preetu (April 24, 2018). "Syro – Malabar church: Fr Varghese Payyappilli's elevation to the 'Venerable' to be declared in Kerala on Thurs". The Times of India. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  37. ^ Hubert Jedin, Church history, 619
  38. ^ Vecsey, George (February 14, 1979). "Bishops End Puebla Conference With Plea for Rights of the Poor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  39. ^ Schism of SSPX Pete Vere, My Journey out of the Lefebvre Schism: All Tradition Leads to Rome, Catholic Education Resource Center, retrieved November 20, 2006
  40. ^ "ACU's history". Retrieved April 11, 2021.
  41. ^ Fahlbusch, Erwin; Bromiley, Geoffrey William; Lochman, Jan Milie; Mbiti, John; Pelikan, Jaroslav; Barrett, David B.; Vischer, Lukas (1999). The Encyclopedia of Christianity. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-2415-8.
  42. ^ Benedict XVI, Meeting with the representatives of science in the Aula Magna of the University of Regensburg (September 12, 2006)
  43. ^ Faith, Reason and the University Memories and Reflections from official Vatican website, retrieved October 18, 2006
  44. ^ "Three Stages in the Program of De-Hellenization" by Pope Benedict XVI, Zenit News Agency, retrieved October 18, 2006
  45. ^ Pope Is Regretful That His Speech Angered Muslims, Sep. 17, 2006, L.A. Times, retrieved October 18, 2006[dead link]
  46. ^ Al Qaeda threat over pope speech, Sep. 18, 2006, retrieved October 18, 2006[dead link]
  47. ^ Qaeda-led group vows "jihad" over Pope's speech, Sep. 18, 2006, Reuters Archived October 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine, retrieved October 18, 2006
  48. ^ Moto Proprio, De Aliquibus Mutationibus, June 11, 2007
  49. ^ "On the Trail of Aparecida: Jorge Bergoglio and the Latin American ecclesial tradition". America Magazine. October 30, 2013. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  50. ^ Kleiber, Reinhard (2008). "Iran and the Pope Easing Relations". Quantara. Archived from the original on December 31, 2010. Retrieved June 24, 2008.
  51. ^ "Pope Francis Got These Big Oil CEOs to Fight Global Warming". Fortune. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  52. ^ "Message of His Holiness Pope Francis on the 100th anniversary of "Metz Yeghern" and proclamation of St. Gregory of Narek as a Doctor of the Church". April 12, 2015.
  53. ^ "Historic Mass dedicated to 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide begins at the Vatican (live)". Armenpress. April 12, 2015.
  54. ^ Erasmus (pseud.) (February 13, 2016). "From the New World, a pope and a patriarch address old-world fights". The Economist (blog). London. Archived from the original on February 15, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
  55. ^ "Historic encounter between the Pope and Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia: Orthodox and Catholics are brothers, not competitors". Vatican City: Vatican Information Service. February 13, 2016. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016. Includes full text of the Joint Declaration.
  56. ^ "Unity call as Pope Francis holds historic talks with Russian Orthodox Patriarch". BBC. February 12, 2016. Archived from the original on February 13, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
  57. ^ John Phillips, "Pope raises prospects of married men becoming priests,", November 2, 2017.
  58. ^ Richard P. Mc Brien, THE CHURCH, The Evolution of Catholicism (New York: Harper One, 2008), 450.
  59. ^ Francis, Pope (March 19, 2018). "Gaudete et exsultate: Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness in today's world". 10. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  60. ^ William Dailey, C.S.C., "Would a mass resignation of bishops hurt the US Church? Quite the opposite,"
  61. ^ Thomas Reese, S.J., "Pennsylvania grand jury report is a new low for Catholic Church," 15, 2018
  62. ^ Elisabetta Povoledo and Laurie Goodstein, "Pope Declares Death Penalty Always Wrong," NEW YORK TIMES, p.1.
  63. ^ "Holy See recognizes Orthodox Church of Ukraine – Kyiv Patriarchate". Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  64. ^ "Ordinary Public Consistory for the Voting on Certain Causes of Canonization". Bollettino. Holy See Press Office (in Italian). Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  65. ^ Cindy Wooden (July 2, 2019). "Pope gives relics of St. Peter to Orthodox patriarch". Catholic News Service. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  66. ^ "Pope Francis points out attempts to manipulate religion in Ukraine". TASS. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  67. ^ "Pope Francis meets with Bartholomew, Patriarch of Constantinople | ROME REPORTS". Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  68. ^ "Pope Francis meets with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew - Vatican News". September 17, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  69. ^ Nicola Ruotolo; Mia Alberti. "Pope appoints 13 cardinals who reflect his inclusive vision for Catholic Church". CNN. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  70. ^ Polish bishops open beatification process for parents of St John Paul II

Further reading