Timeline of the Catholic Church

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The history of the Catholic Church is integral to the history of Christianity as a whole. It is also, according to church historian Mark A. Noll, the "world's oldest continuously functioning international institution."[1] This article covers a period of just under two thousand years.

Over time, schisms have disrupted the unity of Christianity. The Catholic Church considers that major divisions occurred in c. 144 with Marcionism,[2] 318 with Arianism, 451 with the Oriental Orthodox, 1054 to 1449 (see East–West Schism) during which time the Orthodox Churches of the East parted ways with the Western Church over doctrinal issues (see the filioque) and papal primacy, and in 1517 with the Protestant Reformation, of which there were many divisions, resulting in over 200 denominations.

The Catholic Church has been the driving force behind some of the major events of world history including the Christianization of Western and Central Europe and Latin America, the spreading of literacy and the foundation of the universities, hospitals, the Western tradition of monasticism, the development of art and music, literature, architecture, contributions to the scientific method, just war theory and trial by jury. It has played a powerful role in global affairs, including the Reconquista, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Investiture Controversy, the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire, and the Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in the late 20th century.

Ministry of Jesus and founding[edit]

Byzantine image depicting Jesus as Christ pantocrator
  • The calculations of Dionysius Exiguus put the birth of Jesus in the year that in consequence is called 1 BC; most historians place his birth between 6 and 4 BC.
  • 28 AD: Jesus' baptism, start of ministry, and selection of the Apostles. The Gospel of Luke indicates that Jesus was baptized during the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar which is dated in 28 AD (found in Luke 3:1,21,22). Christian Gospels strongly suggest Peter as leader and spokesman of the Apostles of Jesus, being mentioned the most number of times in the Gospels. Peter and the sons of Zebedee, James and John, constitute the inner circle of the Apostles of Jesus, being witnesses to specific important events of the life of Jesus: preachings of Jesus such as the Sermon on the Mount and performance of miracles mainly involving cures and driving out demons, inaugurating the Messianic Age.
  • 30 AD: Peter declares and other followers believe Jesus of Nazareth to be the Jewish Messiah promised by Yahweh according to the Jewish Scriptures and the predictions of the Hebrew prophets. Entry into Jerusalem, start of Passion of Christ. Jesus of Nazareth is crucified in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea during the reign of Tiberius and Herod Antipas, after the Sanhedrin, under the High Priest Caiaphas, accuse Jesus of blasphemy. He was then crucified under Pontius Pilate. According to his followers, three days later, He rose from the dead. Forty days after his resurrection (Ascension), the Christian Gospels narrate that Jesus instructed His disciples thus: "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of time." (Matthew 28:18–20). Ten days later (Pentecost) Peter makes the first sermon converting 3,000 to be baptized.

First millennium[edit]

Early Christianity[edit]

Dates in the Apostolic Age are mostly approximate, and all AD, mostly based on tradition or the New Testament.

The Crucifixion of Saint Peter (1601) by Caravaggio


Eastern Orthodox icon depicting the First Council of Nicaea
Constantine the Great summoned the bishops of the Christian Church to Nicaea to address divisions in the Church (mosaic in Hagia Sophia, Constantinople (Istanbul), ca. 1000).


Justinian I depicted on a mosaic in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy


Blessed Charlemagne

Second millennium[edit]


Notre-Dame Cathedral – designed in the Gothic architectural style.


Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
Pope Paul III


Louis XIV of France


John Carroll

19th century[edit]

Napoleon Bonaparte

20th century[edit]

Karl of Austria.
Pope Pius XI

Third millennium[edit]

21st century[edit]

Benedict XVI, first Pope elected in 21st century

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • The History of the Catholic Church, From the Apostolic Age to the Third Millennium James Hitchcock, Ph.D. Ignatius Press, 2012 ISBN 978-1-58617-664-8
  • Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church. Crocker, H.W.
  • Bokenkotter, Thomas. A Concise History of the Catholic Church. Revised and expanded ed. New York: Image Books Doubleday, 2005. ISBN 0-385-51613-4

External links[edit]