Timeline of the Catholic Church

Last updated

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

Byzantine image depicting Jesus as Christ pantocrator Christ pantocrator daphne1090-1100.jpg
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

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 Martirio di San Pietro September 2015-1a.jpg
The Crucifixion of Saint Peter (1601) by Caravaggio


Eastern Orthodox icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea THE FIRST COUNCIL OF NICEA.jpg
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). Byzantinischer Mosaizist um 1000 002.jpg
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 Mosaic of Justinianus I - Basilica San Vitale (Ravenna).jpg
Justinian I depicted on a mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy


Blessed Charlemagne Charlemagne denier Mayence 812 814.jpg
Blessed Charlemagne

Second millennium


Notre-Dame Cathedral - designed in the Gothic architectural style. Paris Notre-Dame, July 2001.jpg
Notre-Dame Cathedral – designed in the Gothic architectural style.


Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City Michelangelo's Pieta 5450 cropncleaned edit.jpg
Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Pope Paul III Titian - Pope Paul III - WGA22962.jpg
Pope Paul III


Louis XIV of France Louis XIV of France.jpg
Louis XIV of France


John Carroll John Carroll Gilbert Stuart.jpg
John Carroll

19th century

Napoleon Bonaparte Jacques-Louis David - The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries - Google Art Project.jpg
Napoleon Bonaparte

20th century

Karl of Austria. Charles I of Austria.jpg
Karl of Austria.
Pope Pius XI Papst Pius XI. 1JS.jpg
Pope Pius XI

Third millennium

21st century

Benedict XVI, first Pope elected in 21st century Pope Benedictus XVI january,20 2006 (20).JPG
Benedict XVI, first Pope elected in 21st century

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope</span> Head of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, Roman pontiff or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome, head of the worldwide Catholic Church, and has also served as the head of state or sovereign of the Papal States and later the Vatican City State since the eighth century. From a Catholic viewpoint, the primacy of the bishop of Rome is largely derived from his role as the apostolic successor to Saint Peter, to whom primacy was conferred by Jesus, who gave Peter the Keys of Heaven and the powers of "binding and loosing", naming him as the "rock" upon which the Church would be built. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope John XXIII</span> Head of the Catholic Church from 1958 to 1963

Pope John XXIII was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 28 October 1958 until his death in June 1963.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope Paul VI</span> Head of the Catholic Church from 1963 to 1978

Pope Paul VI was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 21 June 1963 to his death in August 1978. Succeeding John XXIII, he continued the Second Vatican Council, which he closed in 1965, implementing its numerous reforms. He fostered improved ecumenical relations with Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, which resulted in many historic meetings and agreements. In January 1964, he flew to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. This was the first time a reigning pontiff had flown on an airplane, the first papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and the first time a pope had left Italy in more than a century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope Pius X</span> Head of the Catholic Church from 1903 to 1914

Pope Pius X was head of the Catholic Church from 4 August 1903 to his death in August 1914. Pius X is known for vigorously opposing modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, and for promoting liturgical reforms and scholastic theology. He initiated the preparation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the first comprehensive and systemic work of its kind. He is venerated as a saint in the Catholic Church. The Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic fraternity formed decades after his death, is named after him.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Traditionalist Catholicism</span> Catholic religious movement

Traditionalist Catholicism is a movement that emphasizes beliefs, practices, customs, traditions, liturgical forms, devotions and presentations of teaching associated with the Catholic Church before the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965). Traditionalist Catholics particularly emphasize the Tridentine Mass, the Roman Rite liturgy largely replaced in general use by the post-Second Vatican Council Mass of Paul VI.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">College of Cardinals</span> Body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church

The College of Cardinals, more formally called the Sacred College of Cardinals, is the body of all cardinals of the Catholic Church. As of 15 March 2024, there are 238 cardinals, of whom 129 are eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. Cardinals are appointed by the pope for life. Changes in life expectancy partly account for historical increases in the size of the college.

The East–West Schism, also known as the Great Schism or Schism of 1054, is the ongoing break of communion between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches that began in 1054. A series of ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes between the Greek East and Latin West preceded the formal split that occurred in 1054. Prominent among these were the procession of the Holy Spirit (Filioque), whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the Pope's claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of the See of Constantinople in relation to the pentarchy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Melkite Greek Catholic Church</span> Eastern Catholic church

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church, or Melkite Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. Its chief pastor is Patriarch Youssef Absi, headquartered at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Dormition in Damascus, Syria. The Melkites, who are Byzantine Rite Catholics, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, formerly part of Syria and now in Turkey, of the 1st century AD, where Christianity was introduced by Saint Peter.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gregorio Pietro Agagianian</span> Head of the Armenian Catholic Church from 1937 to 1962

Gregorio Pietro XV Agagianian was an Armenian cardinal of the Catholic Church. He was the head of the Armenian Catholic Church from 1937 to 1962 and supervised the Catholic Church's missionary work for more than a decade, until his retirement in 1970. He was considered papabile on two occasions, in 1958 and 1963.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the papacy</span> History of the office held by the pope as head of the Catholic Church

According to Roman Catholicism, the history of the papacy, the office held by the pope as head of the Catholic Church, spans from the time of Peter to the present day.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholic Church and ecumenism</span> Dialogue between the Catholic Church and other Christian denominations

The Catholic Church has engaged in the modern ecumenical movement especially since the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and the issuing of the decree Unitatis redintegratio and the declaration Dignitatis humanae. It was at the Council that the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity was created. Those outside of the Catholic Church were categorised as heretics or schismatics, but in many contexts today, to avoid offence, the euphemism "separated brethren" is used.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Papal name</span> Regnal name taken by a pope

A papal name or pontificial name is the regnal name taken by a pope. Both the head of the Catholic Church, usually known as the pope, and the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria choose papal names. As of 2013, Pope Francis is the Catholic pope, and Tawadros II or Theodoros II is the Coptic pope. This article discusses and lists the names of Catholic popes; another article has a list of Coptic Orthodox popes of Alexandria.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kurt Koch</span> Swiss prelate of the Catholic Church (born 1950)

Kurt Koch is a Swiss prelate of the Catholic Church. He has been a cardinal since November 2010 and president of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity since 1 July 2010. He was the bishop of Basel from 1996 until 2010.

The tradition of the Catholic Church claims it began with Jesus Christ and his teachings; the Catholic tradition considers that the Church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by the Disciples of Jesus. The Church considers its bishops to be the successors to Jesus's apostles and the Church's leader, the Bishop of Rome, to be the sole successor to St Peter who ministered in Rome in the first century AD after his appointment by Jesus as head of the Church. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and administrative issues. Historian Eamon Duffy claims that by the 3rd century, the church at Rome might even function as a court of appeal on doctrinal issues.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholic ecumenical councils</span> Ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church

According to the Catholic Church, a Church Council is ecumenical ("world-wide"), if it is "a solemn congregation of the Catholic bishops of the world at the invitation of the Pope to decide on matters of the Church with him". The wider term "ecumenical council" relates to Church councils recognised by both Eastern and Western Christianity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Papal infallibility</span> Dogma of the Catholic Church

Papal infallibility is a dogma of the Catholic Church which states that, in virtue of the promise of Jesus to Peter, the Pope when he speaks ex cathedra is preserved from the possibility of error on doctrine "initially given to the apostolic Church and handed down in Scripture and tradition". It does not mean that the pope cannot sin or otherwise err in some capacity, though he is prevented by the assistance of the Holy Spirit from issuing heretical teaching even in his non-infallible Magisterium, as a corollary of indefectibility. This doctrine, defined dogmatically at the First Vatican Council of 1869–1870 in the document Pastor aeternus, is claimed to have existed in medieval theology and to have been the majority opinion at the time of the Counter-Reformation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pope Benedict XVI and ecumenism</span> Ecumenism discourse

Pope Benedict XVI, who led the Roman Catholic Church as Pope from 2005 to 2013, continued manouevring the Church through the dynamics of modernity, which the Church had begun engaging in with the Second Vatican Council. Because the question of religious pluralism is a key issue raised by modernity, ecumenism, the establishment of harmony and dialogue between the different Christian denominations, is a significant concern of a post Second Vatican Council Church. Pope Benedict XVI's approach has been characterised as leaning toward the conservative while still being expansive and engaged, involving the full breadth of Christendom, including the Orthodox Churches and Protestant churches, as well as freshly engaging with other Christian bodies considered by Roman Catholics to be more heterodox, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christianity in the 21st century</span> Christianity-related events during the 21st century

Christianity in the 21st century is characterized by the pursuit of church unity and the continued resistance to persecution and secularization.

In the Catholic Church, the Synod of Bishops, considered as an advisory body for the pope, is one of the ways in which the bishops render cooperative assistance to him in exercising his office. It is described in the 1983 Code of Canon Law as "a group of bishops who have been chosen from different regions of the world and meet at fixed times to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel in the preservation and growth of faith and morals and in the observance and strengthening of ecclesiastical discipline, and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world."

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Catholic Church:


  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, ewtn.com, 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". www.acu.edu.au. 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, CNN.com 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". vatican.va. 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". visnews-en.blogspot.com. 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.co.uk. 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," www.telegraph.co.uk, 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". w2.vatican.va. 10. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  60. William Dailey, C.S.C., "Would a mass resignation of bishops hurt the US Church? Quite the opposite," www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2018/08/16.
  61. Thomas Reese, S.J., "Pennsylvania grand jury report is a new low for Catholic Church," www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/signs-times/August 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". www.unian.info. 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". www.romereports.com. Retrieved May 17, 2020.
  68. "Pope Francis meets with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew - Vatican News". www.vaticannews.va. 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