According to tradition, the Apostle Peter founded the Church in Antioch in A.D. 34 and is regarded as the first Bishop of Antioch. Here are a few extracts from sources I found regarding this claim:

Peter preached the Gospel in Judea, founded the Church of Antioch and finally came to Rome... St. Peter traditionally is regarded as the leader of the Twelve Disciples of Jesus... In the course of his missionary journeys, Peter founded the Church in Antioch, where the followers of Jesus were first called Christians. St. Peter is regarded by the Church as the first Bishop of Antioch, and the present-day Patriarch of Antioch is his successor in that Apostolic See. - Saints Peter and Paul

Church tradition maintains that the See of Antioch was founded by Saint Peter the Apostle in A.D. 34... It was the resolution of this conflict [male circumcision] at the Council of Jerusalem under Saint James the Apostle that determined the direction of the Antiochian mission to the Gentiles, and the dynamic nature of that Christian community in its missionary outreach. - The Patriarchate of Antioch: Founded by Saints Peter and Paul

Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch (founded by Saint Peter). As the traditional "overseer" (ἐπίσκοπος, episkopos, from which the word bishop is derived) of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period. This diocese is one of the few for which the names of its bishops from the apostolic beginnings have been preserved... According to church tradition, this ancient Patriarchate was founded by the Apostle Saint Peter. - Patriarch of Antioch (Wikipedia)

Apparently Ignatius was bishop of Antioch (martyred under Emperor Trajan circa A.D. 110)

Theophilus was bishop of Antioch (A.D. 169-183)

Serapion was bishop of Antioch (A.D. 190-203)

Is there any substantive evidence to support the claim by the Antiochian Orthodox Church that the apostle Peter founded their church? And, if so, what are the implications with regard to the Roman Catholic Church claiming Peter founded their church in Rome?


5 Answers 5


Is there any possible evidence to support the claim of the Antiochian Orthodox Church that their Church was founded by the Apostle St. Peter founded their church? And, if so, what are the implications with regard to the Roman Catholic Church claiming St. Peter founded their Church in Rome?

There are a few things we must remember prior to going on into details with this question. Prior to 1054, most of Christendom was in Christian unity and the Church in Antioch was no exception.

The Church of Antioch is one of the five patriarchates that constituted the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church before the schism between Rome and Antioch in 1098 and between Rome and the other patriarchates at around the same general period. Today it is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches. In English translations of official documents, the Church of Antioch refers to itself as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East.

The Church of Antioch is the continuation of the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter (who served as its first bishop) and Paul, who are its patron saints. In terms of hierarchical order of precedence, it currently ranks third among the world's Orthodox churches, behind Constantinople and Alexandria.

The seat of the patriarchate was formerly Antioch (Antakya), in what is now Turkey. - Church of Antioch (Orthodox Wiki)

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned the Church in Antioch was indeed founded by the Prince of the Apostles St. Peter. Churches can not always control the fates of history and seeing that the Church of Antioch eventually became an independent Orthodox Church, separated from Rome is of interest here. Seeing that the Apostle St. Peter eventually moved on to found the See of Rome where he eventually was martyred for the faith and where the primacy of the Apostle Peter was to remain. In other words, this implies that the gifts that the Apostle St. Peter received from Our Lord were transferred to the successors of St. Peter at Rome and not to the successors of St. Peter at Antioch. That much has never seriously been questioned within the Catholic Church. St. Evodius and St. Peter had different regions of jurisdiction at the same time. The gifts given to the Prince of the Apostles will be transferred to the Successor of St. Peter were he last reigned as Supreme Pontiff.

It is quite possible that St. Ignatius of Antioch, the successor of St. Evodious, was the active bishop of this region prior to the death of the glorious Apostle St. Peter while he was yet the Bishop of Rome.

Now let us look a little closer to the question of Antioch. Scriptures point out to us that St. Peter was indeed in Rome.

The incident at Antioch was an Apostolic Age dispute between the Apostles Paul and Peter which occurred in the city of Antioch around the middle of the first century. The primary source for the incident is Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 2:11–2:14. Since Ferdinand Christian Baur, scholars have found evidence of conflict among the leaders of Early Christianity; for example James D. G. Dunn proposes that Peter was a "bridge-man" between the opposing views of Paul and James the brother of Jesus.1 The final outcome of the incident remains uncertain, resulting in several Christian views of the Old Covenant to this day. - Incident at Antioch

The Church of St. Peter in Antioch, or Antakya, may very well be the world’s oldest place of Christian worship still in active use. Built into the side of a slope on Mount Starius, it was the seat of the first patriarchate established outside of the Holy Land. According to tradition, it stands on the spot where Peter the Apostle delivered the first sermon in the city, and it was here that the term ‘Christian’ was used for the first time in reference to the followers of Jesus Christ. The Church of St. Peter was rebuilt and expanded on several occasions, but is remarkable for the fact that some of the masonry and artwork has been reliably dated to the 1st century AD, making it the oldest Christian church building still in existence. Unfortunately, because of its remote location in a solidly Muslim region, it receives relatively few Christian visitors. Nevertheless the site is well preserved under the auspices of the Turkish Department of Museum Management, and is open to all who do make the journey. - Church of St. Peter

Church of Saint Peter

Church of Saint Peter at near Antakya (Antioch), Turkey

Some people believe that the founding of the Church in Antioch can be traced to the Biblical Acts of the Apostles (11:25-27), which relates that Barnabas travelled to Tarsus to bring Paul the Apostle there. They worked for a year with the nascent Christian community, and their adherents to the faith were called "Christians" for the first time. Christian tradition considers the apostle Peter to be the founder of the Church of Antioch and the first priest of the Christian population established there; the Church of St. Peter is traditionally considered to be at the place where he first preached the Gospel in Antioch.

The oldest surviving parts of the church building date from at least the 4th or 5th century; these include some pieces of floor mosaics, and traces of frescoes on the right side of the altar. The tunnel inside which opens to the mountainside is thought to have served the Christians for evacuation of the church in case of sudden raids and attacks. Water which seeps from the nearby rocks was gathered inside to drink and to use for baptism; flow of this water, which visitors drank and collected to give to those who were ill (believing that it was healing and curative), has lessened as a result of recent earthquakes.

Crusaders of the First Crusade who captured Antakya in 1098 lengthened the church by a few meters and connected it with two arches to the façade, which they constructed. Acting on orders from Pope Pius IX, Capuchin Friars restored the church and rebuilt the façade in 1863; French Emperor Napoleon III contributed to the restoration. The remains to the left of the entrance belong to colonnades which formerly stood in front of the present façade. - Church of Saint Peter (Wikipedia)

The Catholic Encyclopedia has this to say:

The first Bishop of Antioch after St. Peter. Eusebius mentions him thus in his "History": "And Evodius having been established the first [bishop] of the Antiochians, Ignatius flourished at this time" (III, 22). The time referred to is that of Clement of Rome and Trajan, of whom Eusebius has just spoken. Harnack has shown (after discarding an earlier theory of his own) Eusebius possessed a list of the bishops of Antioch which did not give their dates, and that he was obliged to synchronize them roughly with the popes. It seems certain that he took the three episcopal lists of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch from the "Chronography" which Julius Africanus published in 221. The "Chronicle of Eusebius" is lost; but in Jerome's translation of it we find in three successive years the three entries

•that Peter, having founded the Church of Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he perseveres as bishop for 25 years;

•that Mark, the interpreter of Peter, preaches Christ in Egypt and Alexandria; and

•that Evodius is ordained first Bishop of Antioch. - Evodius (Catholic Encyclopedia)

According to the Apostolic Constitutions Book VII P 46, the claim is that St. Evodius was first bishop, but who was appointed as such by Peter; thus making St. Peter also the founder of the Antiochian See.


Interesting question akin to did Peter found the church at Rome. Historical evidence of either is scant, but here is Eusebius and Schaff's commentary. For Eusebius, Evodius was first bishop, followed by Ignatius.

At this time Ignatius was known as the second bishop of Antioch, Evodius having been the first. -source-

And commentary:

738 We cannot doubt that the earliest tradition made Evodius first bishop of Antioch, for otherwise we could not explain the insertion of his name before the great name of Ignatius. The tendency would be, of course, to connect Ignatius directly with the apostles, and to make him the first bishop. This tendency is seen in Athanasius and Chrysostom, who do not mention Evodius at all; also in the Apost. Const. VII. 46, where, however, it is said that Evodius was ordained by Peter, and Ignatius by Paul (as in the parallel case of Clement of Rome). The fact that the name of Evodius appears here shows that the tradition that he was the first bishop seemed to the author too old and too strong to be set aside. Origen (in Luc. Hom. VI.) is an indirect witness to the episcopacy of Evodius, since he makes Ignatius the second, and not the first, bishop of Antioch. As to the respective dates of the early bishops of Antioch, we know nothing certain. On their chronology, see Harnack, Die Zeit des Ignatius, and cf. Salmon’s article Evodius, in Smith and Wace’s Dict. of Christ. Biog. -ibid-

So, according to the Apostolic Constitutions Book VII P 46, the claim is that Evodius was first bishop, but who was appointed as such by Peter.

Of Antioch, Euodius [Evodius], ordained by me Peter; and Ignatius by Paul. -source-

The sense is not necessarily that Peter lived for years in Antioch, but rather visited and established his successor Evodius, the first bishop.

Implications of this tradition of Peter founding the church at Antioch? It depends on one's interpretation of the well discussed "upon this rock" being either Peter or his confession. If one believes the rock refers to Peter, then we have competing claims as to which church that might be; that is, either the one sourcing to Antioch or Rome or even Jerusalem. If one believes the rock refers to one's confession of faith in Christ, then it basically does not matter the location of where Peter roamed, but rather just the facts that he and the other apostles did carry the gospel, the good news, message outward from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth.

  • Appreciate the information regarding the bishops of Antioch and the simple, logical conclusion that after establishing the church in Antioch, Peter handed over control and went on his way. Ten out of ten for a diplomatic conclusion as to the possible implications.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 15:07

The comment made by the head of the Syro Malabar Catholic church is 'No document exists before Chalcedon (AD 551). After Chalcedon, Rome created a list of bishops beginning from St Peter and constantinople created a list of bishops beginning from St Andrew. the so called Greek orhodox church of Antioch (Antiochean Orthodox church) was in invention of Constantinople after Melkites fully joined catholic church. They follow Byzantine liturgy, and not Antiochean.


Antioch was the first diocese St. Peter founded. Later he went to Rome, where he ruled the entire Church until the end of his life.

In this context St. Robert Cardinal Bellarmine mentions Antioch in De Romano Pontifice bk. 2 ch. 4 (my emphases):

Isidore, in his life of Peter, says: “He, after founding the Church at Antioch, continued to Rome against Simon Magus under the rule of Claudius Caesar and there, preaching the Gospel, held the pontificate of the same city for twenty-five years.” Bede553 has the same, as does Freculph,554 Ado of Vienna,555 and all more recent authors.

[…] the testimonies of the ancient Roman Bishops who were martyrs or confessors[:] Pope Clement teaches that with death threatening he [St. Peter] handed on the Roman Episcopate to him.556 Anacletus in Epistle 3 teaches that on account of the see of Peter, the Roman Church is the head of all others. Marcellus I, in a letter to the Antiochenes, says: “The See of Peter was begun with you, and was transferred to Rome at the Lord’s command, etc.” Pope Damasus says that Peter was the Bishop of Rome for twenty-five years, that is, even to his death.557 Innocent I, teaches the same thing, in a letter to the Council of Miletus.558 Moreover, so do Pope Leo, Gelasius, John III, Pope St Gregory, Agatho, Adrian and Nicholas I, and all others who wrote anything, affirm that their See is the Seat of Peter.559

553. De sex aetatibus.
554. Chronicorum, tomus 2, bk 2, ch. 13.
555. Chronicum, anno Christi XLV.
556. Constit. Apostolic., bk 7, ch. 46.
557. In pontificali in Petro.
558. This is 93 among the epistles of Augustine.
559. Leo, serm. 1 de natali Apostolorum; Gelasius Epistola ad Episcopos Germaniae et Galliae; Gregory bk 2, epist. 33; Agatho in epistola ad Constantinum imperatorem; Adrian epistola ad Tharasium; Nicholas I, Epistola ad Michaelem.

See also ch. IX "Antioch" of Saint Peter and the First Years of Christianity by Constant Fouard.


Is there any substantive evidence to support the claim by the Antiochian Orthodox Church that the apostle Peter founded their church ?

That would depend on one's notion of substantive evidence:

( 1 Peter 5:13 ) The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you; and so doth Marcus my son.

The above passage is somewhat ambivalent, since Rome is (also) called Babylon elsewhere in scripture; specifically, the Book of Revelation.

what are the implications with regard to the Roman Catholic Church claiming Peter founded their church in Rome ?

No one says he didn't; four of the five ancient patriarchates trace their roots back to him:

  • Jerusalem, where he lived before going to preach the Gospel to the Jewish diaspora.
  • Alexandria, where, according to tradition, Saint Mark the Evangelist, believed to have been his right hand man, was consecrated as its first bishop.
  • Rome, where he was eventually martyred.

As such, it's not entirely clear why Antioch's claim would be exceptional; Roman Christians have certainly been aware of it since time immemorial:

Early martyrologies indicate that two liturgical feasts were celebrated in Rome, centuries before the time of Charles the Bald.

The ninth-century form of the Martyrologium Hieronymianum associated the January 18 feast with his stay in Rome, and the February 22 feast with his stay at Antioch. The two feasts were included in the Tridentine Calendar with the rank of Double, which Pope Clement VIII raised in 1604 to the newly invented rank of Greater Double.

Those traditionalist Catholics who do not accept the changes made by Pope John XXIII continue to celebrate both feast days: "Saint Peter's Chair at Rome" on January 18 and the "Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch" on February 22.

Wikipedia, Chair of Saint Peter.

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