The first 400 Years
(3 OF 3)
|by "The Legacy"
Ital333, Prof. Barbara Nucci, March 1999
mother Helenaís encouragement, Constantine began to
build "churches" for Christian worship which had before
been held mostly in homes. In an effort to
recompense for the persecutions, he commissioned many
new churches, including many pagan temples converted for
Christian use(Chadwick, 128), such as
Angelo in Formis. Whether intended or not, this resulted in the preservation
of many art forms, mosaics, and architecture from previous eras that would
otherwise have been lost.
Events in Italy
BC - 1300 AD
AD - 1998 AD
The confusion between paganism
and Christianity grew as Constantine continued to worship the sun god and
even installed statues of the sun god and mother goddess, Cybele, in the
new forum at Constantinople and in many of the new churches. Even
the days of the week were named from astrological planets, and Constantine
declared Sunday to be a day of rest by law in honor of the sun god.
emperorís move to Constantinople and his subsequent investment of magistrate
powers in the bishop of Rome, the church in Rome began to take additional
authority, claiming the "right" of rule derived from the apostle Peter.
However, all sources we have found indicate there is no basis for the idea that
Peter founded the church in Rome or that the bishops there carried any
additional grace, wisdom, or "right" than those in other churches.
Nevertheless, when Bishop Ambrose excommunicated Emperor Theodosius and
forced him to undergo public humiliation before relenting, the power of
the church over civil government, which by then included not only Rome
but most of Europe and part of Africa and Asia, was firmly established. (Chadwick,
As the power of the
Roman church grew, the foundation for the papacy was being laid.
Regardless of the many political and materialistic evolutions which the
papacy later experienced, its powerful existence arguably ensured the survival
of Christianity against the onslaught of the Muslim Turks, the invasion
of the Lombards and other potential invaders. (Lintner,
By the second century,
Christian artwork was becoming prevalent. (Chadwick,
277) Certainly the churchís encouragement of the arts, frescoes,
Gregorian chants, statuary, etc., opened a vital window to the past for
those of us in the future. The manuscripts painstakingly hand-copied
by monks, others sheltered and hidden, which preserved so much knowledge
through ages when so few revered it was a direct benefit of the Catholic
church. Throughout Italy, it is evident that the church has
long been a rich repository of art and literature. A tour through
nearly any town in Italy today displays a wealth of history in the basilicas
and cathedrals, many of which show evidence of their prior usage as pagan
temples. It is a visible legacy of Christian heritage that can be
found nowhere else in the world.
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