Fathers of the Church

This is a list of legally free ebooks that are (a) written by the Fathers of the Church, who are, broadly speaking, the Christian writers of the first millennium; (b) written concerning early Christianity and the Fathers (patrology); (c) provide anthologies or collections of passages of early Christian writings (like the catenae or “chains” of authorities).

Please note that I have not focused on indexing the writings of the Fathers of the Church, which are more completely indexed and published on New Advent, among other websites. Hence, most of the ebooks listed below are commentaries on or compendia of early Church writings.

This list is a work in progress and will be expanded further.

  • Against Heresies [Or, Refutation and Overthrow of Knowledge falsely so-called ], by St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c.180 AD), trans. Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut; from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, eds. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885). Available on New Advent (rev. and ed. Kevin Knight), with active links to relevant Catholic Encyclopedia articles and Scripture passages; and on The Augustine Club. On Apologetics, Salvation, Heresy, Cosmology, Gnosticism, Divine Revelation, Bishops, Roman Primacy, Tradition, Sacraments, etc. [NB, A defense of Christianity against Gnosticism, which also shows that the early Church had a Catholic view of sacramental grace, the Roman primacy, the bishops as successors of the apostles, etc. Books I and II are somewhat difficult, so it may be better to start with Book III, which begins the summary of Christian teaching.]
  • [Against the Errors of the Greeks] Contra Errores Graecorum, by St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P., translated by Peter Damian Fehlner, F.I., re-edited and missing chapters supplied by Joseph Kenny, O.P. May be read online at DHS Priory of the Immaculate Conception. [N.B., Proves that the Eastern Fathers agree with the teachings of the Catholic Church]
  • The Call of All Nations [450 AD], by St. Prosper of Aquitaine, translated and annotated by Dr. P. de Letter, S.J. (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press; London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1952). Ancient Christian Writers: Works of the Fathers in Translation (edited by Johannes Quasten and Joseph C. Plumpe), No. 14. Available at Internet Archive.
  • Catena Aurea [Golden Chain of Commentaries on the Four Gospels], by St. Thomas Aquinas. May be read at Catechetics Online.
  • Catena Aurea – 1 – The Gospel of Matthew – A Commentary on the Gospel by St. Thomas Aquinas. May be downloaded in PDF format through the Saints’ Books index,
  • Catena Aurea – 2 – The Gospel of Mark – A Commentary on the Gospel by St. Thomas Aquinas. May be downloaded in PDF format through the Saints’ Books index,
  • Catena Aurea – 3 – The Gospel of Luke – A Commentary on the Gospel by St. Thomas Aquinas.  May be downloaded in PDF format through the Saints’ Books index,
  • Catena Aurea – 4 – The Gospel of John – A Commentary on the Gospel by St. Thomas Aquinas. May be downloaded in PDF format through the Saints’ Books index,
  • Catena aurea or, A golden chain of evidences demonstrating from “analytical treatment of history,” that papal infallibility is no novelty; a memorial of the Papal jubilee, June 16, 1871 to honor the “Annos Petri completos” of our Holy Father, Pope Pius the Great, by an Old Catholic (Perry County, Ohio: St. Joseph’s College, 1871).  Available in various formats at Open Library and Internet Archive. [N.B., While author refers to himself as an “Old Catholic”, this appears to be an ironic use of the term, since the work sets out to refute the thesis of Dollinger and the “Old Catholic” sect. The work is therefore orthodox. However, please exercise caution in view of certain statements tending to anti-Semitism.]
  • Cathedra Petri: or, The titles and prerogatives of St. Peter, and of his see and successors; as described by the early fathers, ecclesiastical writers, and councils of the church, by C.F.B. Allnatt (London: Burns and Oates, 1883). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library. The 1879 edition is available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • Church History, by Eusebius of Caesarea, translated by Arthur Cushman McGiffert. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1, edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890). Available at New Advent (Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight, copyright 2009 by Kevin Knight).
  • The Church in Crisis: A History of the General Councils, 325-1870, by Philip Hughes. With Imprimatur (1960). Available at Documenta Catholica Omnia and Christus Rex.
  • A Commentary by Writers of the First Five Centuries on the Place of St. Peter in the New Testament: and that of St. Peter’s successors in the Church, by James Waterworth (London: Thomas Baker, 1871). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • Commentary on Boethius’ “On the Trinity” (Super Boethium De Trinitate), by St. Thomas Aquinas (c. 1250s). Questions 1-4, translated by Rose E. Brennan, S.H.N. (Herder, 1946). Questions 5-6, translated by Armand Mauer (Toronto, 1953). May be read online at the website of the Dominican House of Studies, Priory of the Immaculate Conception. Also available at the Logic Museum, which contains parallel Latin and English texts.
  • Commonitory, For the Antiquity and Universality of the Catholic Faith Against the Profane Novelties of All Heresies, by St. Vincent of Lerins, died c. 450 AD. Available at New Advent.
  • An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, by John Henry Newman, 6th ed. (1878) Available in multiple formats at ManyBooks.net and Project Gutenberg, and may be read online at Newman Reader and Cambridge Books Online. The 7th edition (1890) is available in multiple formats at Internet Archive with a second copy here and at Open Library with a second copy here. [NB, One of the most important works by a major figure in 19th century Anglicanism, the Development of Christian Doctrine was published shortly before Newman's conversion to the one true Church. It is a seminal work on the theology of Divine revelation and the sociology of Christian culture.]
  • The Evidence for the Papacy: as Derived from the Holy Scriptures and from Primitive Antiquity, with an Introductory Epistle, by Colin Lindsay (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1870). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • From Tarsus to Rome: the story of the first Christian hierarchy, by Herman Joseph Heuser (London, New York: Longmans, Green and co.1929). With Imprimatur. Available at Open Archive [microform] and may be read at Onread.com. NB, the Onread.com copy has many proofreading errors.
  • The Government of the Church in the First Century: an Essay on the Beginnings of the Christian Ministry, by William Moran (Dublin: M.H. Gill & Son, 1913). With Imprimatur. Available in various formats at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • A handbook of patrology, by Joseph Tiveront (St. Louis, Mo. : B. Herder, 1920). With Imprimatur. Available in multiple formats at Open Library and Internet Archive (Digitizing sponsor: MSN, Book contributor: Kelly – University of Toronto)
  • A History of the Church to the Eve of the Reformation, by Philip Hughes. Ecclesiastial history. Available on Documenta Catholica Omnia and on the Roman Catholic Resource Index of the Secular Franciscan Order, Five Franciscan Martyrs Province.
  • The Ideal of the Monastic Life Found in the Apostolic Age, by Germain Morin, translated by C. Gunning, with a preface by Dom Bede Camm (London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1914). With Imprimatur. Available on Internet Archive and Open Library (Digitizing sponsor: MSN; Book contributor: Regis College Library, University of Toronto).
  • The Life of Saint Anthony, by St. Athanasius, newly translated and annotated by Robert T. Mayer (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1950). Ancient Christian Writers: Works of the Fathers in Translation (edited by Johannes Quasten and Joseph C. Plumpe), No. 10. With Imprimatur. Available at Internet Archive.
  • Manual of patrology, by Bernard Schmid, Victor Januarius Schobel (St. Louis, Mo.: B. Herder, 1899). Available in multiple formats at Open Library  and Internet Archive (Digitizing sponsor: MSN, Book contributor: Kelly Library, University of Toronto). A microform copy is also available at Open Library and Internet Archive.
  • On the Incarnation of the Word, by St. Athanasius. Available at New Advent.
  • On the Unity of the Church, by St. Cyprian of Carthage. Available at New Advent.
  • Patrology; the lives and works of the fathers of the church, by Otto Bardenhewer, Thomas Joseph Shahan (Freiburg im Breisgau, St. Louis, Mo., B. Herder1908). With Imprimatur and comments of approbation from various bishops. Available in multiple formats at Open Library and Internet Archive (Digitizing sponsor: MSN, Book contributor: University of California Libraries).
  • Peter’s rock in Mohammed’s flood: from St. Gregory the Great to St. Leo III, being the Seventh Volume of The Formation of Christendom, by Thomas William Allies (London: Burns & Oates; New York: Catholic Publications Society, 1890). Available at Open Library and Internet Archive (Digitizing sponsor: MSN, Book contributor: Kelly Library, University of Toronto). History, Islam.
  • Sermons for Christmas and Epiphany, by St. Augustine, translated and annotated by Thomas Comerford Lawler (Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press; London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1952). Ancient Christian Writers: Works of the Fathers in Translation (edited by Johannes Quasten and Joseph C. Plumpe), No. 15. Available at Internet Archive.
  • St. Peter at Rome: being an historical dissertation; with an appendix, containing reference to the discussion held in Rome, February 9th and 10th, 1872, in the Hall of the Pontificia Academia Tiberina, between three Catholic priests and three evangelical ministers, concerning the coming of St. Peter to Rome, by John Stewart M’Corry (London: Burns and Oates,1874). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.
  • The Theological Tractates and the Consolation of Philosophy, by Boethius, the Tractates translated by H.F. Stewart, D.D. and E.K. Rand, Ph.D. [who also wrote an excellent Introduction], and the Consolation translated in 1609 by “I.T.” and revised by H.F. Stewart (1918). Available at ManyBooks.net and Project Gutenberg. The Tractates included are: The Trinity is one God not three Gods; Whether Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may be substantially predicated of the Divinity; From the same to the same, how substances can be good in virtue of their existence without being absolute goods; On the Catholic Faith; A Treatise against Eutyches and Nestorius.
  • The Tradition of the Syriac Church of Antioch, Concerning the Primacy and the Prerogatives of St. Peter and of his Successors the Roman Pontiffs, by the Most Rev. Cyril Benham Benni, Syriac Archbishop of Mossul (Nineveh), translated under the direction of the author by Joseph Gagliardi (London: Burns, Oates, & Co., 1871). Available at Internet Archive and Open Library.

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