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I'm actively studying apostolic succession and am trying to make a website (with API) that would try to make a timeline. However, finding the links between two bishops/priests is very hard to do.

I've tried using Catholic Hierarchy but the results don't show whose consecrated who, and thus the link between them gets a bit iffy.

Of course, what I'm asking for might be something that I still don't yet understand entirely, but any help is appreciated. :)

  • A list of what? – curiousdannii Sep 25 '16 at 13:36
  • @curiousdannii A list of bishops that include who consecrated them and who they consecrated. – thevypr Sep 25 '16 at 13:49
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    Even if you limit it to only the Catholic Church that would be a huge undertaking. There are over 5000 Catholic bishops right now. The Catholic Church probably does keep records like that, but I don't know if they're consolidated, or if they're public. – curiousdannii Sep 25 '16 at 13:53
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    "but the results don't show whose consecrated who" Yes it does. See the page for Abp. Lefebvre, to take an example. It lists his principal consecrator and co-consecrators. It also shows his "Episcopal Lineage / Apostolic Succession" back to the 16th century. – Geremia Sep 25 '16 at 14:36
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    I see a difference between asking for a resource (which happens to be a list) and asking for a list. So I think this question is fine. – Nathaniel Sep 25 '16 at 19:52
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I believe that Catholic Hierarchy is currently the best tool for showing apostolic succession.

Keep in mind that written records only exist going back to the Renaissance, and they get spottier as we go back in history.

However, looking at (for example) the page for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, scrolling down past the “events” table and “micro-data summary,” we see that Cardinal Dolan was ordained a bishop by then-Archbishop Justin Rigali. Clicking on (now) Cardinal Rigali’s link, we see that he was ordained a bishop by Pope St. John Paul II, and so forth.

There is another complication to keep in mind with regard to apostolic succession: most episcopal ordinations are acually concelebrations. That is, a minimum of three bishops lay their hands on the ordinand, and all three pronounce the essential words of consecration. The apostolic succession, therefore, could just as legitimately be traced through the so-called co-consecrators (visible just under the “principal consecrator” field). Moreover, there are often more than three concelebrants, and these do not make it into the records.

(The custom of having multiple consecrators—however it arose—has the advantage of removing, for all intents and purposes, all possible doubt as to the validity of the episcopal ordination.)

If you keep clicking, you will note that the vast majority of Western bishops can trace their lineage to a certain Cardinal Scipione Rebiba. (This happened because Pope Benedict XIII, who traced his line to Cardinal Rebiba, consecrated no less than 139 bishops, for dioceses across Europe.) Unfortunately, we do not know who ordained Cardinal Rebiba a bishop (though there is no doubt that he was an auxiliary bishop in Chieti, Italy, and later archbishop of Pisa), so the written records largely stop there.

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I would say yes, you can ask any apostolic church and you will get a list of bishops all the way to the apostles. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12272b.htm

  • I don’t think any church has written records that go back any further than the Renaissance. What you can find is the list of bishops in a given diocese (e.g., Rome, Milan, etc.) dating back to Apostolic or post-Apostolic times. But we have lost track of exactly ordained whom. – AthanasiusOfAlex Oct 3 '16 at 7:04

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