Why the Romans Convert to Christianity

Topics: Roman Empire, Christianity, Ancient Rome Pages: 6 (945 words) Published: November 19, 2008
Q: Why did the Romans convert to Christianity?

Rome: Thought of as one of the most majestic and powerful places in the world. It’s
composed of seven hills along the lush Tiber river and the Vatican City, St. Peters

Cathedral, and the Pope all call this place home. To know more about present day Rome and its

traditions we must first look into the past at its people.

One of the most important events in Rome was the Late Antiquity. This was the period

between the 3rd and 7th Century and was known as the beginning of Christianity in the Roman

Empire. Christianity had been present before in Rome, but was not accepted until the Late

Antiquity. One of the reasons why it was not accepted before was because Christianity

is the belief in Jesus Christ, who is the trinity (the father, the son, and the holy spirit.) This

ideology went against the principles of Rome and thus was believed to be a “subversive force”

which led to the persecution of Christians. Though the Late Antiquity seemed drastic, this was

exactly what Rome needed. The Roman people were in desperate need of a nurturing religion

that was set up on stable morals and did not believe in self sacrifice and mutilation. They needed

and wanted a basic religion for Rome for numerous reasons.

During the Fall of the Roman Empire the corrupt Caesars in control were pagan and

believed that they were a divine power and practiced intolerable acts such as self mutilation,

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sacrifices, and persecution of those who would not grovel at the feet of the Roman Empire. Late

Antiquity was an extremely unstable era where many religions were transplanted from other

countries at the time religious cults were very prolific. One of the most prominent cults

worshiped Mithras, who was very popular with men in the military. Mithras was a strong

dominating character who believed in sacrifices. Another popular cult was based off the Egyptian

goddess Isis. This cult believed in a virginal birth and miraculous resurrections. Judaism and

Christianity were present at this time but in very minute numbers. Judaism had become known by

the soldiers because it was highly practiced in Judea and Palestine when the Romans conquered

them. Tales of the practices of the Christians and Jews circulated back to the enraged Emperor

Diocletian who began to persecute them. Though the Christians were being condemned now

their “salvation” was near.

Emperor Diocletians successor, Constantine, converted to Christianity in 312 and then in

313 legalized Christianity. This act put the Roman people on a path to hope. The legalization of

Christianity boosted the number of Christians from 5 % in the 4th century to the majority of the

people after 313. Then in 325 Constantine ordered the church council of Nicea to make one

unified statement of the Christian belief. He also changed the architecture of the Christian

churches. He built the first great basilicas and poured an enormous amount of money into

building churches. The Christians once worshiped in catacombs in the dark and were buried in

secret, now they were free to worship in public. Following in his fathers footsteps, Constantines

son, Emperor Constantius banned the pagan traditions and put out a decree that

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anyone who followed in this corrupt practice would be put to death. The belief of Christianity in

Rome differed than our present day Christian belief in the fact that they believed the Emperor

would be “God on earth.”. The Christians were to unify together and take lead under the

Emperor who would take them to the promised afterlife when the end of the world came.

The drastic change of Rome becoming Christian is said to be anachronistic. This means

that it is historically out of place such as the takeover of Christianity. There are numerous

reasons though why the...
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