Lorenzo_Lotto_-_Madonna_and_Child_with_St_Ignatius_of_Antioch_and_St_Onophrius_(detail)_-_WGA13664In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, St. Ignatius of Antioch (110 A.D.) wrote:

“I give glory to Jesus Christ, the God who has made you wise; for I have observed that you are set in faith unshakable, as if nailed to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ in body and in soul; and that you are confirmed in love by the Blood of Christ, firmly believing in regard to our Lord that He is truly of the family of David according to the flesh, and God’s Son by the will and power of God, truly born of a Virgin, baptized by John so that all justice might be fulfilled by Him, in the time of Pontius Pilate and Herod the Tetrarch truly nailed in the flesh on our behalf, and we are the fruit of His divinely blessed passion, so that by means of His resurrection He might raise aloft a banner for His saints and believers in every age, whether among the Jews or among the gentiles, united in a single body in His Church.”

meetcfJust one century later, St. Cyprian of Carthage reminded us of our call to unity:

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. … ’ [Matt. 16:18]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. . . . If someone [today] does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; first edition [A.D. 251])