Silver book cover with St. Peter (550/600).
New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fletcher Fund 1950.
Image in the Public Domain

In memoriam: Philip Henry Rousseau
Professor Emeritus of Early Christian Studies
3 Nov. 1939 – 3 Sept. 2020
Requiescat in pace


The Center for the Study of Early Christianity is an interdisciplinary research center of the Catholic University of America reporting directly to the Provost. It administers its own graduate program and awards Mellon-Helis Fellowships in Early Christian Studies. It also sponsors a broad range of related scholarly activities, including lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops, publications, and networks of affiliation. The Andrew W. Mellon Chair of Early Christian Studies is integral to the functioning of the Center, and the distinguished scholar who holds this endowed chair fulfills its expectations - through teaching, research, and publication - within the framework of the Center.

Our Goals

  • To foster an interdisciplinary approach to the study of early Christianity across the whole University.
  • To provide the setting and the resources, and to create regular and special events, that will help all faculty and graduate students in the field to share their interests and enthusiasms, build on what they have achieved, and develop new ideas and projects.

Our Governing Principles

  • We believe that the development of early Christianity has to be studied in its social, political, and cultural context.
  • We emphasize the importance of the ancient languages of the early Christian era - Greek especially, but also Latin, Syriac, and Coptic (along with several other languages of the Christian Orient).
  • We aim to develop within each student the skills proper to a range of disciplines and methodologies.

History of the Center

Graduate Admission Portal

Important note: Admissions into the MA/PhD program in Early Christian Studies for matriculation in Fall 2021 are currently on hold. Admissions for matriculation in Fall 2022 will resume next year. 

News and Announcements

Dr. Aaron Butts, Associate Professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, will deliver a lecture entitled "Rethinking 'Magic' in Ancient Christianity and Judaism: A View from Ethiopian Prayer Scrolls" on Thursday, March 25 at 6:30 PM (EST). The event will take place on Zoom. The meeting link is: (Meeting ID 96949544308). 

On Feb. 18, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Fr. Columba Stewart, O.S.B. delivered a Zoom lecture on "Threat and Response: Saving the World's Manuscript Heritage from imminent Disaster."  A recording of the lecture can be found here.  

Congratulations to Dr. Dana Robinson (Ph.D., 2016) on the recent publication of her book, Food, Virtue, and the Shaping of Early Christianity by the Cambridge University Press.

Congratulations to two recent graduates of the program: Dr. Sean Argondizza-Moberg (Ph.D., 2016) has been appointed Assistant Professor at the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies at the University of Toronto. Dr. Yuliya Minets (Ph.D., 2017) has been appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Foreign Languages at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama. 

Dr. Joel Kalvesmaki (Ph.D., 2006) has been named the next editor of Christianity in Late Antiquity, the official book series of the North American Patristics Society, published by the University of California Press. He takes over the position from Dr. Christopher Beeley of Yale University.

Congratulations to Carl Stuart Vennerstrom, M.A. on the completion of the M.A. in Early Christian Studies, awarded at the May 16, 2020 virtual graduation ceremony.

The Center thanks all those who participated in its recent conference Treasures New and Old: Christian Culture and Cultures in the Patristic Age. President John Garvey's comments can be found here. Prof. Robert Wilken's remarks appear in the February 2020 issue of First Things under the title "An Affair of Things". Photos of the conference can be found here.

Catholic University was well-represented at the Eighteenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held the last week of August in Oxford. Graduate students participating in the conference included Sr. Maria Theotokos Adams, SSVM (STRS), Karen Carducci (Greek and Latin), Matthew Hale (STRS), Jon Paul Heyne (History), Ross Twele (STRS), and Carl Vennerstrom (ECS). CUA alumni at the conference included Dr. Kevin Kambo (Philosophy), Dr. Zachary Keith (STRS), Rev. Brendan Lupton (STRS), Sr. Maria del Fiat Miola (ECS), and Dr. Adam Rasmussen (STRS). Faculty, associates, and visiting scholars in attendance included Dr. Thomas Clemmons (STRS), Dr. Robin Darling Young (STRS), Dr. William Klingshirn (Greek and Latin), Dr. Michael Petrin (STRS), and Rev. Vasilije Vranic (ECS). Photograph...