52 Jurist 79 (1992)
Local Churches and Catholicity in the First Millennium of the Roman Tradition

handle is hein.journals/juristcu52 and id is 85 raw text is: THE JURIST 52 (1992) 79-108

LOCAL CHURCHES AND CATHOLICITY
IN THE FIRST MILLENNIUM OF THE
ROMAN TRADITION
VITTORIO PERI*
A. THE CHURCH'S CONSCIOUS EXPERIENCE OF CATHOLICITY
1. Catholicity: Sacramental Experience of a Historical Reality
Ever since Pentecost the Church in all its members has lived the
mysterious and visible experience of its distinctive unity and universal
destination. On that feast day pious Israelites and proselytes belonging
to all the nations of the Greco-Roman commonwealth gathered in
Jerusalem. About 120 members of the first nucleus of the Church
emerged from the Cenacle and began to praise the greatness of God;
filled with wonder, people understood them, in each person's own
mother tongue (see Acts 2: 1-13). Every experience of the Church's
unity and catholicity is an extraordinary and mysterious event that must
be discovered and understood ever better, in faith and in history.
We owe to the official record of a trial that ended with some death
sentences one of the most direct and significant testimonies to the way
in which the Church's experience of catholicity spread broadly among
the clergy and faithful of every ancient local Church: a dogmatic con-
viction, stated in the most ancient symbols of the faith, taken up by the
earliest councils,' and at the same time rooted in the personal and
communal consciousness of Christians.
At Smyrna (today's lzmir in Turkey) in the spring of a year around
250, the priest Pionius and some Christian men and women were put on
* Scriptor graecus, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vatican City.
J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 4th ed. (London: Longmans, Green,
1964); Giuseppe L. Dossetti, II simbolo di Nicea e di Costantinopoli. Edizione critica,
Testi e Ricerche di Scienze religiose 2 (Roma: Herder, 1967); Henri de Lubac, La foi
chrtienne. Essai sur la structure du symbole des ApOtres, 2nd ed. (Paris: Aubier-
Montaigne, 1970); Vittorio Peri, Caratteri dell'apologetica greca dagli inizi al concilio
di Nicea, in Dizionario di Teologiafondamentale (Torino, 1987) 17-60.

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