Saints of the Early Christian Church

Important saints in the early period of Christian history

The following are some of the men and women who were canonized by the Christian church. In the early years, the process of canonization wasn't what it is today. Recent investigations by modern Christian churches have de-canonized some saints and some saints were saints only in the east or west.

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St. Ambrose

Ambrose of Milan
An actual portrait in mosaic of Ambrose of Milan in the church St. Ambrogio in Milan. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Ambrose is the patron saint of learning, also referred to as St. Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan. He opposed the Arian Heresy and was active in the court of Emperors Gratian and Theodosius. Ambrose used his personal fortune to ransom captives taken by the Goths.

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St. Anthony

St. Anthony - Temptation of St. Anthony
St. Anthony - Temptation of St. Anthony.

St. Anthony, called the Father of Monasticism, was born about 251 A.D. in Egypt, and spent much of his adult life as a desert hermit (eremite).

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St. Augustine

St. Augustine Bishop of Hippo
St. Augustine Bishop of Hippo.

Augustine was one of the eight great doctors of the Christian Church and possibly the most influential philosopher ever. He was born in North Africa at Tagaste in A.D. 354 and died in A.D. 430.

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St. Basil the Great

St. Basil the Great Icon
St. Basil the Great Icon. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

Basil wrote, "Longer Rules" and "Shorter Rules" for monastic life. Basil sold his family's holdings to buy food for the poor. Basil became Bishop of Caesarea in 370, at a time when an Arian emperor was ruling.

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St. Gregory of Nazianzus

St. Gregorius Nazianzenus. (1762)
Image ID: 1576464 St. Gregorius Nazianzenus. (1762) (1762). © NYPL Digital Gallery

Gregory of Nazianzus was a "golden-voiced" orator and one of the 8 great Doctors of the Church (Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Athanasius, John Chrysostom, Basil the Great, and Gregory of Nazianzus).

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St. Helena

St. Helena
St. Helena.

Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine, who, upon her conversion to Christianity, went to the Holy Land where she is credited by some with having discovered the True Cross.

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St. Irenaeus

Saint Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Irenaeus was a second-century bishop in Gaul and Christian theologian whose importance lies in the area of helping establish the canonical New Testament and a picture of one of Christianity's offshoots, Gnosticism.

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St. Isidore of Seville

Isidore of Seville
Isidore of Seville by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Isidore is considered the last of the Latin Church fathers. He helped to convert the Arian Visigoths to the orthodox Christianity. He was made archbishop in about 600.

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St. Jerome

St. Jerome, by Albrecht Durer
St. Jerome, by Albrecht Durer.

Jerome is known as the scholar who translated the Bible into the language the people could read, Latin. He is considered the most learned of the Latin Church Fathers, being fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, with knowledge of Aramaic, Arabic, and Syriac.

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St. John Chrysostom

Byzantine Portrait of Saint John Chrysostom at the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople
Byzantine Portrait of Saint John Chrysostom at the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

John Chrysostom was known for his eloquence; hence, his name Chrysostom (golden mouth). John was born at Antioch, the second city of the Eastern half of the Roman Empire. John became a bishop in Constantinople, but his preaching against corruption led to his exile.

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St. Macrina

St. Macrina the Younger (c.330-380) was the sister of St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Basil the Great. From Caesarea in Cappadocia, Macrina was betrothed, but when her fiance died, she refused to marry anyone else and became a nun. She and another of her brothers turned the family estate into a convent and monastery.

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St. Patrick

St. Patrick and the Snakes
St. Patrick and the Snakes.

Patrick was born in the late fourth century (c. A.D. 390). Although the family lived in the village of Bannavem Taberniaei, in Roman Britain, Patrick would one day become the most successful Christian missionary in Ireland, its patron saint, and the subject of legends.