What evidence is there that the early Church believed in the Real Presence?
May 31, 2020, 12:00 PM
There is so much evidence of the early Church’s faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist that we could write a whole book about it. Here we will just share a few quotations from Christians who were born before the year 200.
St. Paul (c.10-c.67):
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ (1 Cor 10:16).
Anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgement upon himself (1 Cor 1:29).
St. Ignatius of Antioch (c.50-c.117), a student of St. John the Apostle:
I have no taste for the food that perishes nor for the pleasures of this life. I want the Bread of God which is the Flesh of Christ, who was the seed of David; and for drink I desire His blood which is love that cannot be destroyed (Letter to the Romans).
St. Justin Martyr (c.100-165), a philosopher convert:
So likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh… are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh (First Apology)
St. Irenaeus (c.130-202), who studied under St. Polycarp, a student of St. John the Apostle:
For just as the bread which comes from the earth, having received the invocation of God, is no longer ordinary bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly, so our bodies, having received the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, because they have the hope of the resurrection (Adversus Haereses, “Against the Heresies”).
Origen (185-254):
When you have received the body of the Lord, you reverently exercise every care lest a particle of it fall and lest anything of the Consecrated Gift perish. You account yourselves guilty, and rightly do you so believe, if any of it be lost through negligence (Homilies on Exodus).
There are many other Church Fathers one could turn to for similar evidence of the early Church’s belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.