I suppose this question is a bit twofold: I'm wondering what Churches the Apostles are historically held to have founded, and in what places; and I'm also wondering who are the men historically held to have succeeded the Apostles as the leaders of these churches, before and after the Apostles' deaths? Do we have any contemporary record of this succession? Are any of the successors Church Fathers?

Ultimately I'm interested in looking further into what, if anything, remains of the teaching of these early successors, and what their respective particular Churches express in common of the faith, or on which elements they lay special stress.

Thank you for your help!


1 Answer 1


Who Were the First (1-10 or so?) Successors of the Apostles in the Churches They Founded?

The See of Antioch

There is somewhat of an open question whether or not St. Peter was the first bishop of Antioch or if he merely appointed St. Evodius as the first bishop of this see.

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.

If we take it that St. Peter was in fact the first bishop of Antioch, then his successors to this see are as follows:

I. St. Peter the apostle, who governed this church at least seven years.

II. Euodius, who sat 23 years. In his time the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.

III. Ignatius. After presiding near 40 years over this church, he was carried out of Syria to Rome, and there thrown to wild beasts in the theatre, Ann.Chr.110. Trajan.11.

IV. Heron, he was bishop 20 years: To him succeeded

V. Cornelius, who kept the place 13 years, dying Ann. Chr. 142.

VI. Eros, 26, or (as Eusebius says) 24 years.

VII. Theophilus, 13, a man of great parts and learning; many of his works were extant in Eusebius’s time, and some of them we still have at this day.

VIII. Maximinus, 13. He dying, the next chosen was

IX. Serapio, 25. Many of his works were mentioned by Eusebius and St. Hierom. To him succeeded.

X. Ascelepiades, a man of great worth and eminency, and invincible constancy in the time of persecution; he continued in this See 9 years.

XI. Philotus, 8.

XII. Zebinus, or Zebennus, 6 years.

Catalogue of the Apostles and their Successors

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

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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 see of Rome

The see of Rome had St. Peter as it’s first bishop and founder. Both St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred in Rome between 64 A.D. to 67 A.D.

I. St. Peter, suffered martyrdom under Nero.

II. Linus, son of Herculanus, a Tuscam; he is mentioned by St. Paul, and sat between 11 and 12 years.

III. Cletus, or Anacletus, a Roman, the son of Æmilianus, who sat 9 years.

IV. Clemens, a Roman, born in Mount Cælius, the son of Paustinus, near akin, say some, to the emperor: He was condemned to dig in the marble quarries near the Euxine sea, and by the command of Trajan thrown into the sea, with an anchor about his next. He was bishop of Rome 9 years, and 4 months.

V. Euaristis, by birth a Greek, but his father a Jew of Bethlehem. He is said to have been crowned with martyrdom the last year of Trajan, and in the ninth of his bishoprick.

VI. Alexander, a Roman, though young in years, was grave in his manners and conversation. He sat 10 years and 7 months and died a martyr.

VII. Xystus, or Sixtus, a Roman, he was martyred in the tenth year of his bishoprick, and buried in the Vatican.

VIII. Telesphorus, a Greek, succeeded; Justin the martyr flourished in his time. He died a martyr, having sat 11 years, and 3 months; and was buried near St. Peter in the Vatican.

IX. Hyginus, the son of an Athenian philosopher, was advanced to the chair under Antoninus Pius: He sat according to Eusebius 8 years.

X. Pius, an Italian, born at Aquileia: he died after being bishop 11 years and 4 months.

XI. Anicetus, born at Syria: He is said after 11 years, to have suffered martyrdom, and was buried in the Via Appia, in the cemetery of Callistus. In his time Polycarp went to Rome.

XII. Soter, or (as Nicephorus calls him) Soterichus, was a Campanian, the son of Concordius. There was an intercourse of letters between him and Dionysius bishop of Corinth. He died after he had sat 9 years.

Catalogue of the Apostles and their Successors

See of Jerusalem

According to a universal tradition the first bishop was the Apostle James the Less, the "brother of the Lord". His predominant place and residence in the city are implied by Galatians 1:19. Eusebius says he was appointed bishop by Peter, James (the Greater), and John (II, i).

I. S. James the Less, constituted bishop by the apostles: he was thrown off the temple, and knocked on the head with a fuller’s club.

II. Simeon, the son of Cleophas, brother to Joseph. He sat in this chair 23 years, and suffered martyrdom in the reign of Trajan, in the one hundred and twentieth year of his age.

III. Justus succeeded in his room, and sat 6 years.

IV. Zaccheius, or (as Nicephorus the patriarch calls him) Zacharias, 4.

V. Tobias; to him, after 4 years, succeeded

VI. Benjamin, who sat 2 year.

VII. John, who continued the same space.

VIII. Matthias, or Matthæus, 2 years.

IX. Philippus, one year; next came

X. Seneca, who sat 4 years.

XI. Justus, 4.

XII. Levy, or Lebes, 2.

XIII. Ephrem, or Ephres, or, as Epiphanius stiles him, Vaphres, 2.

Catalogue of the Apostles and their Successors

See of Constantinople

The See of Constantinople was originally known as the See of Byzantium.

This church was at founded by St. Andrew, the brother of St Peter.

The succession of its bishops was as follow:

I. St. Andrew the apostle. He was crucified at Patræ in Achaia.

II. Stachy, whom St. Paul calls his beloved Stachys, ordained bishop by St. Andrew; he sat 16 years.

III. Onesimus, 14.

IV. Polycarpus, 17.

V. Plutarchys, 16.

VI. Sediceo, 9.

VII. Diogenes, 15.

VIII. Eleutherus, 7.

IX. Felix, 5.

X. Polycarpus.

XI. Athenorus, 4. He erected a church called Elea, afterwards much beautified and enlarged by Constantine the Great.

XII. Euzolus, 16.

XIII. Laurentius, 11 years, and 6 months.

See of Alexandria

According to Church tradition, St. Mark the Evangelist founded the episcopal see of Alexandria, which was one of the five most important sees of early Christianity.

According to tradition, in AD 49, about 19 years after the Ascension of Jesus, Mark travelled to Alexandria and founded the Church of Alexandria. The Coptic Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria, and the Coptic Catholic Church all trace their origins to this original community.

I. St. Mark the evangelist, who was martyred. Nicephorus of Constantinople makes him to sit 2 years.

II. Anianus, characterized by Eusebius, a man beloved of God, and admirable in all things. He ruled in that throne 22 years.

III. Avilius, 12, or, as Eusebius says, 13.

IV. Cerdo, succeeded about the first year of Trajan: he sat 10 years.

V. Primus, 12.

VI. Justus, or Justinus, 10.

VII. Eumenes, 10, or as Eusebius says, 13. S. Hierom in his translation calls him Hymenæus.

VIII. Marcus or Marcianus, 13.

IX. Caladrion, 10.

X. Agrippinus, 14.

XI. Julianus, 15.

XII. Demetrius, 21. He was a man of great zeal and piety, and underwent many troubles in the persecution at Alexandria. He was at first a great friend of Origen, but afterwards became his enemy; laying some irregularities to his charge, partly out of emulation at the great reputation which Origen had gained in the world; partly in that Origen had suffered himself to be ordained presbyter by two other bishops, Alexander bishop of Jerusalem, and Theoctistis of Cæsarea.

XIII. Heraclus, a man of philosophical genius, and educated under the institution of Origen. On the death of Demetrius he was advanced to the government of the church, the care wherof he took for sixteen years.

Catalogue of the Apostles and their Successors

See of Crete

The See of Crete was created by St. Paul the Apostle, with St. Titus as it’s first bishop, in 64 AD. Being made Bishop of Crete by St Paul himself, Titus later chose other bishops to rule the Church outside Gortyn, dividing the island into dioceses and thus becoming Archbishop of Crete. Later, the See was transferred to Heraklion, where it stands today.

Known bishops of the See of Crete are as follows:

  • Saint Titus 55/64 - 105 ?

  • Saint Artemas

  • Saint Philippos (160/170 – 180/192)

  • Dioskoros

  • Kreskes (fl. 256)

  • Saint Cyril (d. 304?)

  • Saint Myron (d. 350?)

  • Saint Peter

  • Paul I

  • Ikonios (fl. 431)

  • Martyrios (fl. 449–457/8)

See of Ephesus

The Church at Ephesus was founded by the Apostle St. Paul with it’s first bishop being St. Timothy.

The Metropolis of Ephesus was an ecclesiastical territory (metropolis) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in western Asia Minor, modern Turkey. Christianity was introduced already in the city of Ephesus in the 1st century AD by Paul the Apostle. The local Christian community comprised one of the seven churches of Asia mentioned at the Book of Revelation, written by John the Apostle. The metropolis remained active until 1922-1923.

Known bishops (of Ephesus):

  • St Timothy the first bishop of Ephesus

  • Onesimus the second bishop of Ephesus.

  • seven of Onesimus relatives

  • Gaius of Ephesus

  • Polycrates of Ephesus fl. 130-196

  • Apollonius of Ephesus fl. 220

  • Heraclides, bishop of Ephesus fl. 403

  • Memnon fl. 440

  • Bassianus (bishop) c. 444

  • Stephen of Ephesus (448-51), attendee of the Council of Chalcedon and first recorded source of the seven sleepers of Ephesus.

  • Paul, Miaphysite Bishop of Ephesus 475

  • John of Ephesus fl. 507-588

  • Hypatius (c. 530)

  • Abraham (after 542 or 553)

  • Theodosius III c. 729-745

Allow me to conclude with the following from the Apostolic Constitutions (Book VII)

Enumeration Ordained by Apostles

Who Were They that the Holy Apostles Sent and Ordained?

XLVI. Now concerning those bishops which have been ordained in our lifetime, we let you know that they are these: James the bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord; upon whose death the second was Simeon the son of Cleopas; after whom the third was Judas the son of James. Of Cæsarea of Palestine, the first was Zacchæus, who was once a publican; after whom was Cornelius, and the third Theophilus. Of Antioch, Euodius, ordained by me Peter; and Ignatius by Paul. Of Alexandria, Annianus was the first, ordained by Mark the evangelist; the second Avilius by Luke, who was also an evangelist. Of the church of Rome, Linus the son of Claudia was the first, ordained by Paul; 2 Timothy 4:21 and Clemens, after Linus' death, the second, ordained by me Peter. Of Ephesus, Timotheus, ordained by Paul; and John, by me John. Of Smyrna, Aristo the first; after whom Stratæas the son of Lois; 2 Timothy 1:5 and the third Aristo. Of Pergamus, Gaius. Of Philadelphia, Demetrius, by me. Of Cenchrea, Lucius, by Paul. Of Crete, Titus. Of Athens, Dionysius. Of Tripoli in Phœnicia, Marathones. Of Laodicea in Phrygia, Archippus. Of Colossæ, Philemon. Of Borea in Macedonia, Onesimus, once the servant of Philemon. Of the churches of Galatia, Crescens. Of the parishes of Asia, Aquila and Nicetas. Of the Church of Æginæ, Crispus. These are the bishops who are entrusted by us with the parishes in the Lord; whose doctrine keep always in mind, and observe our words. And may the Lord be with you now, and to endless ages, as Himself said to us when He was about to be taken up to His own God and Father. For says He, Lo, I am with you all the days, until the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:20.

  • Thanks Ken, that is very helpful! Do you know if there are other resources that would give similar details for the rest of the Twelve? Dec 12, 2023 at 16:18
  • 1
    @DanielHyland Try the Catholic Encyclopedia.
    – Ken Graham
    Dec 12, 2023 at 18:10

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