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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XXX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXX.—The Apostles that were Married.

1. Clement, indeed, whose words we have just quoted, after the above-mentioned facts gives a statement, on account of those who rejected marriage, of the apostles that had wives. 847 p. 162 “Or will they,” says he, 848 “reject even the apostles? For Peter 849 and Philip 850 begat children; and Philip also gave his daughters in marriage. And Paul does not hesitate, in one of his epistles, to greet his wife, 851 whom he did not take about with him, that he might not be inconvenienced in his ministry.”

2. And since we have mentioned this subject it is not improper to subjoin another account which is given by the same author and which is worth reading. In the seventh book of his Stromata he writes as follows: 852 “They say, accordingly, that when the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, ‘Oh thou, remember the Lord.’ Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them.” This account being in keeping with the subject in hand, I have related here in its proper place.



A chapter intervenes between the quotation given by Eusebius just above and the one which follows. In it Clement had referred to two classes of heretics,—without giving their names,—one of which encouraged all sorts of license, while the other taught celibacy. Having in that place refuted the former class, he devotes the chapter from which the following quotation is taken to a refutation of the latter, deducing against them the fact that some of the apostles were married. Clement here, as in his Quis dives salvetur (quoted in chap. 23), shows his good common sense which led him to avoid the extreme of asceticism as well as that of license. He was in this an exception to most of the Fathers of his own and subsequent ages, who in their reaction from the licentiousness of the times advised and often encouraged by their own example the most rigid asceticism, and thus laid the foundation for monasticism.


Strom.III. 6.


Peter was married, as we know from Matt. 8:14, 1 Cor. 9:51 Cor. ix. 5). Tradition also tells us of a daughter, St. Petronilla. She is first called St. Peter’s daughter in the Apocryphal Acts of SS. Nereus and Achilles, which give a legendary account of her life and death. In the Christian cemetery of Flavia Domitilla was buried an Aurelia Petronilla filia dulcissima, and Petronilla being taken as a diminutive of Petrus, she was assumed to have been a daughter of Peter. It is probable that this was the origin of the popular tradition. Petronilla is not, however, a diminutive of Petrus, and it is probable that this woman was one of the Aurelian gens and a relative of Flavia Domitilla. Compare the article Petronilla in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. Petronilla has played a prominent rôle in art. The immense painting by Guercino in the Palace of the Conservators in Rome attracts the attention of all visitors.


It is probable that Clement here confounds Philip the evangelist with Philip the apostle. See the next chapter, note 6.

Philip the evangelist, according to Acts xxi. 9, had four daughters who were virgins. Clement (assuming that he is speaking of the same Philip) is the only one to tell us that they afterward married, and he tells us nothing about their husbands. Polycrates in the next chapter states that two of them at least remained virgins. If so, Clement’s statement can apply at most only to the other two. Whether his report is correct as respects them we cannot tell.


The passage to which Clement here refers and which he quotes in this connection is 1 Cor. ix. 5; but this by no means proves that Paul was married, and 1 Cor. vii. 8 seems to imply the opposite, though the words might be used if he were a widower. The words of Philip. iv. 3 are often quoted as addressed to his wife, but there is no authority for such a reference. Clement is the only Father who reports that Paul was married; many of them expressly deny it; e.g. Tertullian, Hilary, Epiphanius, Jerome, &c. The authority of these later Fathers is of course of little account. But Clement’s conclusion is based solely upon exegetical grounds, and therefore is no argument for the truth of the report.


Strom.VII. 11. Clement, so far as we know, is the only one to relate this story, but he bases it upon tradition, and although its truth cannot be proved, there is nothing intrinsically improbable in it.

Next: Chapter XXXI