(1.1) The Evolution of Christianity
After the Death and Resurrection of Christ, the Apostles and his followers became the sporadic target of persecutions for worshiping Christ and refusing to pay homage to any Roman Gods. They were primarily accused of rebellion and angering Pagan Gods, especially when misfortune besat upon the empire.
With Christian gatherings and worshiping in public places deemed illegal, the early Catholic mass was often held in the house of wealthier members although in limited numbers.
But the worst is yet to come.
In 64 AD, The Great Fire of Rome that lasted for 6 days devastated the Roman Empire. In order to deflect accusations that he was responsible for the fire, Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for the destruction which started the first government led persecutions against the followers of Jesus. From then on, being a Christian was enough to put someone on trial, torture and death.
For years that followed, the world became witness to tremendous Sacrifice unseen in any faith –Martyrs who embrace danger and even death with display of love and forgiveness.
And those who survived the persecutions, many literally went underground to worship. This contributed partly to variations in Christian beliefs, interpretations and practices.
Then respite came under Emperor Constantine.
The Great Empire of Rome was besieged with politics and people jostling for power. Being an Emperor was short lived with the majority dying on the sword of fellow Romans. Emperor Constantine therefore sought to strengthen his position and unify the Roman Empire against another Roman Emperor, Maxentius.
In the battle which would change the Empire and the history of Christianity itself, a miracle happened leading to the battle at the Milvian Bridge in 312 AD. In the account of Eusebius writing in the “Life of Constantine”, Emperor Constantine was marching with his soldiers when he saw a vision of a cross of light above the sun with a message that “Through this sign you shall conquer.” He was a bit unsure of what the apparition meant until he had a dream the following night with Christ giving him instruction to use his sign against his enemies. Emperor Constantine listened to his dream and ordered his soldiers’ shields to be marked with the sign of Christ in the form of Chi (X) and Rho (P) sign.
With the Sign of Christ, he achieved victories in battle which he gave Christ credit and worship. In 313, he signed the Edict of Milan which formally stopped the Persecution against the Christians. Furthermore in 325 AD, he organised the Council of Nicaea which dealt with the threat of Arianism and it was then the Nicene Creed was first instituted.
The Catholic Church subsequently organised several councils or synods to mainstream the interpretation and practice of the Catholic faith. This included the important Council of Trent held between 1545 and 1563 which addressed issues such as the Biblical Canon, the Sacraments, the Veneration of Saint, Original Sin, Salvation and the Catholic Mass.