Selected Chronology of the Church


Know basic facts, centuries, and sequence of all items. Know exact dates of bolded items.
(c. = approximate)

30 c. AD Death and Resurrection of Jesus followed by Pentecost, the “birthday” of the Church
50 Earliest document of the New Testament (1 Thessalonians) written
64 First great persecution of the Christians under the emperor Nero begins; Peter & Paul are martyred; approximate date 1st gospel (Mark or Matthew) written
70 Destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by Roman Armies
95 c. Gospel of John completed; Clement’s letter to the Corinthians written
100 c. Last books of NT (probably 2 Peter, 1 John) written. Patristic period begins
110 c. Letters & Martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch
144 Marcion is excommunicated by the Church of Rome
151 c. 1st Apology of Justin written. Justin later martyred ca. 165
155 Martyrdom of Polycarp; approximate beginning of Montanism
185 c. Irenaeus writes Against Heresies; Clement takes over the catechetical school at Alexandria to be followed 20 years later by Origen
200 c. Sabellius teaches that Father & Son are the same person (modalism)
206 Tertullian, the first theologian to write in Latin, becomes a Montanist
250 Origen suffers imprisonment & torture in the persecution of Decius
292 Emperor Diocletian divides Roman Empire into East and West.
303 Great persecution of Diocletian begins lasting in the West till 306 and in the east till 313.
313 Constantine legalizes Christianity & all religions in the Edict of Milan


Know basic facts, centuries, and sequence of all items. Know exact dates of bolded items.

313 Constantine legalizes Christianity & all religions in the Edict of Milan
325 First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea condemns Arius, proclaims dogma of Christ’s divinity, expands second stanza of Creed. After the Council, Athanasius, Patriarch of Alexandria, becomes its great champion.
381 1st (Ecum) Council of Constantinople condemns Apollinaris. Relying on the Cappadocians, expands 3rd stanza of creed defining the divinity of the Holy Spirit. It thus completes what we call the Nicene Creed.
382 First official list of biblical canon provided by Pope Damasus; local council of Carthage publishes essentially the same list in 397
387 Baptism of Augustine by Ambrose, bishop of Milan
430 Death of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo
431 Ecum. Council of Ephesus, led by St. Cyril of Alexandria, defines Christ as incarnate Word of God and proclaims Mary Theotokos (God-bearer)
449 “Robber Council” of Ephesus approves one nature doctrine of Eutyches
451 Ecum. Council of Chalcedon, following the lead of Pope St. Leo, defines Christ as having both a divine and a human nature in one person
476 Last Western Roman Emperor deposed & the Middle Ages begins in the West; Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine) lasts till 1453!
529 (local) 2nd Council of Orange condemned Semi-Pelagianism; St. Benedict establishes his monastery at Monte Cassino, Italy
589 Filioque begins to be inserted into Nicene Creed throughout Spain following 1st (local) Council of Toledo. It was not used by Rome till early 11th Cent.
622 Islam begins with Mohammed’s Hegira (flight) from Mecca
680 3rd Ecum. Council of Constantinople affirms that Jesus had a truly human will as well as a truly divine will against the Monothelites
726 Byzantine Emperor launches iconoclasm beginning 120 year controversy
756 Central Italy given to Pope by Pepin, king of the Franks (“the Donation of Pepin”). Pope remains political ruler of these papal states till 1870.
787 2nd Ecum Council of Nicaea vindicates the veneration of images


Know basic facts, centuries, and sequence of all items. Know exact dates of bolded items.

867 Photius, patriarch of Constantinople, denounces Latin addition of the filioque to the creed; temporary Photian Schism begins
1054 Mutual Excommunications between Patriarch of Constantinople and Pope leads to Great Schism between Catholic (West) & Orthodox (East). Subsequent councils deemed “ecumenical” by Catholics have no Eastern Orthodox participants
1109 Death of St. Anselm, monk, theologian, and Archbishop of Canterbury
1140 St. Bernard, Cistercian abbot of Clairvaux, debates Abelard
1160 Death of Peter Lombard, compiler of the Four Books of Sentences, the standard theology textbook until the mid 16th century
1209 Pope Innocent III approves Francis of Assisi’s rule for his Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans), the 1st mendicant order. Dominican rule approved 7 years later.
1215 4th (ecum) Lateran Council canonizes the term “transubstantiation” and mandates annual reception of penance and Eucharist
1274 2nd (Ecum) Council of Lyons accomplishes temporary reunion of separated Eastern Churches with Rome which was later repudiated by Orthodox; deaths of Aquinas & Bonaventure
1277 Local condemnation of some of Aquinas’s ideas at Paris and Oxford
1308 Beginning of “Babylonian Captivity” of the Papacy in Avignon, France
1349 Death of William of Ockham, nominalist theologian
1378 Beginning of the “Great Western Schism” (2 and 3 simultaneous claimants to the Papal Office)
1417 Ecum. Council of Constance ends Western Schism, condemns Wyclif and Hus
1439 Ecum. Council of Florence formulates decrees of union with separated Eastern churches that were later repudiated by the Orthodox East; also repudiates conciliarism by affirming papal supremacy


Know centuries & basic facts of all items; know exact dates of bolded items

1454 Gutenberg invents the printing press
1517 5th (ecum.) Lateran Council fails to act decisively against abuses. Martin Luther posts his 95 theses against the sale of indulgences sparking reformation in Germany
1520 Martin Luther, excommunicated by Pope Leo X, refuses to recant
1522 Ulrich Zwingli initiates the stream of Protestantism in Zurich, Switzerlandthat came to be called the “Reformed” stream (as distinguished from the Lutheran one)
1531 The Augsburg Confession, by Philip Melanchthon, systematizer of Lutheran theology
1540 St. Ignatius of Loyola established the Society of Jesus (Jesuits)
1541 John Calvin returns to Geneva to assume long-term supervision of the city
1545 Beginning of the Ecumenical Council of Trent
1546 Death of Martin Luther
1559 Final edition of Calvin’s greatest literary work, the Institutes of the Christian Religion
1563 End of the Ecumenical Council of Trent, the official Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation
1571 39 Articles of Religion, the most important doctrinal document of Anglicanism
1580 Lutheran Orthodoxy defined by the Formula of Concord
1610 J. Arminius’ followers write the Remonstrance, teaching a Reformed Protestantism without double predestination
1619 The Synod of Dort condemns Arminians, defines Calvinist Orthodoxy


1640 Cornelius Jansen’s book Augustinus is published sparking the Jansenist movement
1670 Blaise Pascal’s Pensées are published posthumously
1675 Philip Jacob Spener’s book Desideria popularizes the Pietist movement
1695 Deism gets a boost from John Locke’s The Reasonableness of Christianity
1723 The “Old Catholic” schism begins in Holland fomented by the Jansenist movement
1738 Conversion of Anglican pastor John Wesley results in Methodist movement
1799 F. Schleiermacher’s begins propagating a reinterpreted, “romantic” Christianity
1835 David F. Strauss’s skeptical Life of Jesus popularizes “radical” biblical criticism
1841 Ludwig Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity launches modern atheism
1845 John Henry Newman leaves the Anglican Communion to become a Catholic
1854 Pope Pius IX defines the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception
1870 Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus defines the Dogma of Papal Infallibility
1878 Pope Leo XIII initiates neo-Thomism with encyclical Aeterni Patris
1900 Liberal Protestantism hits high point with Adolf von Harnack’s What is Christianity?
1907 Modernism condemned by Pope Pius X
1909 First tract of the series entitles The Fundamentals is published to counter liberal Protestantism, spawns the Protestant “fundamentalist” movement
1918 Karl Barth’s Commentary on Romans begins “neo-orthodox” reaction to Liberalism
1943 Pius XII “canonizes” Catholic biblical criticism in Divino Afflante Spiritu
1962 Pope John XXIII opens the first session of the Second Vatican Council
1965 Pope Paul VI closes the Second Vatican Council
1978 Election of Pope John Paul II

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio

From a colorful and varied background as a professor of theology, a father of five, business owner, and professional performer Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) crafts talks, blog posts, books, and videos that are always fascinating, practical, and easy to understand.  He is a TV and radio personality, New York Times best-selling author, and speaker who has been leading people on a journey of discovery for over thirty years.  For complete bio and video, visit the Dr. Italy page.