22nd May 337. The Glory that is Rome.
‘The Church by its connection with Christian Princes gained power and riches, but lost in virtue’: [St.] Jerome in the 4thc.
If Christianity’s rise and spread was due to the evangelizing [St.] Paul, then its political power was the result of the conversion of Emperor Constantine, who died, (as accepted by most historians), Today in 337, but not before he was baptized on his deathbed. (1)
Constantine ever one to capitalise on the power of religion to change minds, saw the growth of Christianity as a means to weld the Empire. It had an influence on Europe, through the institutionalizing of Christianity ever since.(2)
When the Romans vanquished the Greeks, Rome was Hellenized (adopted Greek culture), and later were to syncretize all religions of the people they subdued.
This reached a peak in the 3rd century, when Heliogabalus attempted to combine Christianity, Judaism, the Sun God and other Roman cults into a form of monotheism.
It thus saw the Roman Pagan, and what was to become The Old Testament and the New Testament scriptures, as being closely entwined, and as coming together to fulfill some divine plan, in what can only be described as a ‘sui impleret prophetia’: a self-fulfilling prophecy.
However this early Christianity refused to be quietly subsumed, causing their brutal persecution until the time of Constantine in the 4thc after which it gradually aspired to ‘Glory which was Rome’ and set to last a 1000 years.
Once the Emperor held sway, now the Bishop of Rome. The Cathedra, the chair in which once sat the Roman Magistrate, became a bishop’s throne, and a fierce orthodoxy was demanded now that The Empire had thrown its weight behind it.
Later came the forged ‘Donation of Constantine’, which according to the 13thc Dante’s, Divine Comedy, was the root of Papal worldliness.
This was a document, which after Constantine’s removal east to the Bosphorus, was supposed to have given his authority to Papal secular control in the west, as well as other privileges of Roman rule.(3)
However there was one weakness, for after the fall of Rome, many bishops in the west, including Pope Gregory the Great, ordered Augustine ,and in 601, Abbot Mellitus, later Bishop of London, to sanctify pagan sites so that religious association would be sustained.
Thus wooden crosses were erected at these sites by the peripatetic priests from the growing minsters or religious communities. Temples were not to be destroyed, holy relics and solemn rites were to replace animal sacrifice.
It was this alloy of Christianity and Paganism which has remained ever since and which in more rational ages has undermined Christianity’s credibility.
(1) Constantine was born 27.2.272. His full title was: Constantine Caesar Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus.
(2) Thus now Christianity was safe to worship, but not until the 1st Council of Nicaea when Theodosius I, was it made the State Religion in 391.
Imperial Rome’s Pantheon of gods eventually extended to the Emperor when Julius Caesar claimed descent from Aeneas, son of Venus, just as the popes were later to claim Apostolic Descent from Peter.
This deification of the emperor, reinforced the power of the Roman Pantheon, which brought it into conflict with Christianity.
(3) The Empire was not divided formally into East and West until after the death of Theodosius the Great in 395.
Ref: wikipedia.org/constantine.Also Pic.Ref.