The purpose of this post is to use Patristic testimony to counter Prof. Stergios Sakkos’s absurd thesis that St. Peter did not go to Rome.
East: Bishop St. Ignatius the Martyr of Antioch says in 110 [Epistle to the Romans 4 in PG 5:689B], “I do not, as Peter and Paul, issue commandments unto you.”
WRH: The divine Ignatios says that Pope St. Peter the Apostle and St. Paul the Apostle commanded the Romans because those illustrious martyrs stayed there.
East: Bishop St. Dionysius of Corinth says in 178 [Epistle to Pope St. Soter of Rome in Eusebius’s Church History 2:25:8 in PG ],
You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.
West: Bishop St. Irenaeus of Lyons says in 180 [Against Heresies 3:1:1 in PG 7A:844B–845A], “Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church.”
WRH: Interestingly, the saintly bishop here testifies that St. Matthew the Apostle wrote his Gospel in Hebrew.
East: St. Clement the Philosopher of Alexandria says in 190 [Hypotyposes=Sketches in Eusebius’s Church History 6:14:6 in PG ],
The Gospels containing the genealogies, he says, were written first. The Gospel according to Mark had this occasion. As Peter had preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had followed him for a long time and remembered his sayings, should write them out. And having composed the Gospel he gave it to those who had requested it.
West: Bishop St. Cyprian the Martyr of Carthage says in 251 [Epistle 51:8 to Antonianus in PL ],
And he was made bishop by very many of our colleagues who were then present in the city of Rome, who sent to us letters concerning his ordination, honorable and laudatory, and remarkable for their testimony in announcement of him. Moreover, Cornelius was made bishop by the judgment of God and of His Christ, by the testimony of almost all the clergy, by the suffrage of the people who were then present, and by the assembly of ancient priests and good men, when no one had been made so before him, when the place of Fabian, that is, when the place of Peter and the degree of the sacerdotal throne was vacant; which being occupied by the will of God, and established by the consent of all of us, whosoever now wishes to become a bishop, must needs be made from without; and he cannot have the ordination of the Church who does not hold the unity of the Church.
WRH: Rome is the place of St. Peter because he was the first to preside in the Roman see.
East: Patriarch St. Peter I of Alexandria says in 306 [The Canonical Epistle 9 in PG 18:484D], “Thus Peter, the first of the Apostles, having been often apprehended, and thrown into prison, and treated with ignominy, was last of all crucified at Rome.”
West: Lactantius of North Africa says in 310 [The Divine Institutes 4:21 in in PL 6:516C-517A], “Peter and Paul preached at Rome.”
East: Patriarch St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Doctor) says in 350 [Catechetical Lectures 6:14-15 in PG 33:562AB,564A], “This man [Simon Magus], after he had been cast out by the Apostles, came to Rome… Peter and Paul, a noble pair, chief rulers of the Church, arrived and set the error right… For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of Heaven…”
And Peter, who had hid himself for fear of the Jews, and the Apostle Paul who was let down in a basket, and fled, when they were told, “You must bear witness at Rome” [Acts 23:11], deferred not the journey; yea, rather, they departed rejoicing; the one as hastening to meet his friends, received his death with exultation; and the other shrunk not from the time when it came, but gloried in it, saying, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” [2 Tim 4:6].
WRH: The thrice-blessed lionheart Athanasios, pillar of orthodoxy and destroyer of the Arian blasphemy, clearly regarded Acts 23:11 as fulfilled in the preaching and martyrdom of the great Sts. Peter and Paul at Rome.
West: Hieromonk St. Jerome the Great of Strido (Doctor) says in 377 [Epistle 15:1 to Pope St. Damasus I of Rome in PL 22:355], “I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church whose faith has been praised by Paul… My words are spoken to the successor of the fisherman, to the disciple of the Cross.”
East: Patriarch St. John Chrysostom the Great of Constantinople (Doctor) says in 391 [Homilies on Romans 32 in PG ],
Not so bright is the heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of Rome, sending out these two lights into all parts of the world. From thence will Paul be caught up, from thence Peter. Just bethink you, and shudder [φρίξατε] at the thought of what a sight Rome will see, when Paul arises suddenly from that deposit, together with Peter, and is lifted up to meet the Lord [1 Thess 4:17]. What a rose will Rome send up to Christ! [Is 35:1] what two crowns will the city have about it! what golden chains will she be girded with! what fountains possess! Therefore I admire the city, not for the much gold, not for the columns, not for the other display there, but for these pillars of the Church [1 Cor 15:38].
East: Bishop St. Gregory of Nyssa (Cappadocian Father) says before 394 [Epistle 13 to the Church at Nicomedia in PG ], “Which was more to the interest of the Church at Rome, that it should at its commencement be presided over by some high-born and pompous senator, or by the fisherman Peter, who had none of this world’s advantages to attract men to him?”
West: Pope St. Leo I the Great of Rome (Doctor) says before 461 [Sermons 82:1 in PL 54:422CD-423A],
The whole world, dearly-beloved, does indeed take part in all holy anniversaries, and loyalty to the one Faith demands that whatever is recorded as done for all men’s salvation should be everywhere celebrated with common rejoicings. But, besides that reverence which today’s festival has gained from all the world, it is to be honored with special and peculiar exultation in our city, that there may be a predominance of gladness on the day of their martyrdom in the place where the chief of the Apostles met their glorious end. For these are the men, through whom the light of Christ’s gospel shone on you, O Rome, and through whom you, who wast the teacher of error, wast made the disciple of Truth. These are your holy Fathers and true shepherds, who gave you claims to be numbered among the Heavenly kingdoms, and built you under much better and happier auspices than they, by whose zeal the first foundations of your walls were laid: and of whom the one that gave you your name defiled you with his brother’s blood. These are they who promoted you to such glory, that being made a holy nation, a chosen people, a priestly and royal state [1 Pt 2:9], and the head of the world through the blessed Peter’s holy See you attained a wider sway by the worship of God than by earthly government. For although you were increased by many victories, and extended your rule on land and sea, yet what your toils in war subdued is less than what the peace of Christ has conquered.