The Mother Of Christ by Father Vassall-Phillips Part 9

It may be well to explain here that early in the second century there were already three Patriarchates in Christendom, each of them Petrine, that is, connected in a special manner with Blessed Peter, upon whom Christ built His Church. Rome, where the Prince of the Apostles died, the Patriarchate of the West (including Northern Africa) 1 ; Antioch, where he sat first as Bishop before he moved his Cathedra to Rome, the Patriarchate of Asia; and Alexandria, whither he sent his disciple Mark, the Patriarchate (speaking generally) of Africa.

The Christian literature belonging to the age immediately succeeding that of the Apostles, is very scanty. It is therefore remarkable that from these primitive times we have distinct testimony from each of the three great Patriarchates to the fact, that it was believed amongst Christians of those remote days, as explicitly as it is believed amongst Catholics to-day, that the Blessed Virgin holds the place of the Second Eve, repairing her mother's fault.

To establish the point, I will give short quotations from some very early Fathers. Of these St. Justin may represent the Patriarchate of Antioch, St. Irenaeus and Tertullian the Patriarchate of Rome, and Origen the Patriarchate of Alexandria.


St. Justin, called the Philosopher, was born A.D. 100. He was educated as a Pagan in Palestinian Syria, but in manhood, was instructed in the Christian Faith, by "an old man of venerable aspect " who was previously unknown to him. His two " Apologies " for Christianity will always remain classics. In one of them occur the following words :

" We know that the Son of God, . . . through means of the Virgin, became Man, so that the dis obedience due to the serpent, might have its undoing after the same fashion that it had its beginning. For whereas Eve, yet a virgin and undented, through conceiving the word that came from the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death—Mary the Virgin, possessed of faith and joy, when the Angel told her the good tidings . . . answered : Be it done unto me according to thy word." (Tryph. 100.)

The successor of St. Peter is, qua tails, Head of the Universal Church. He is also Patriarch of the West and Bishop of Rome. Romans alone belong to his diocese ; Latins alone belong to his Patriarchate; all Catholics, whether other Patriarchs and Bishops or simple Christians, are subject to his spiritual jurisdiction as Vicar of Christ throughout the world.