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What is a Christian priest? History of Religion

By |2017-08-23T09:57:31+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion, Romans|

Priest blessing people who have the plague Very soon after the crucifixion of Jesus, by around 40 or 50 AD, the early Christians began to choose leaders from among themselves. The Christians called these leaders presbyters, or "elders" in Greek. That's where we get our word priest from. The congregation - the people who went to the [...]

What does it mean to be Pope? History of Christianity

By |2018-04-24T23:11:02+00:00August 23rd, 2017|Religion, Romans|

Peter and Paul, in a mosaic from Ravenna (500s AD) In the later Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, the Pope was the leader of the Catholic Church. Whenever there was a question about whether God would like something or not, people could ask the Pope, and he would tell them what God wanted. According to [...]

Who were the Nestorians? History of Christianity

By |2017-08-22T17:18:53+00:00August 22nd, 2017|Religion, Romans|

A Nestorian cross on a tombstone from Kazakhstan (1300s AD) In 428 AD, when Pulcheria and Eudocia were running the Roman Empire, a bishop named Nestorius became the Patriarch of Constantinople. That's like being the Pope but for people in the Eastern Empire. Nestorius didn't like the idea that Jesus was both a man and a god at the same time. Nestorius thought [...]

What is Christian mass? Christianity – Religion

By |2017-08-22T14:16:43+00:00August 22nd, 2017|Religion|

Catholic priests celebrating Mass The central part of Christian life in antiquity and the Middle Ages was the Christian Mass. That was when you went to church and the priest went through a series of prayers to God. You would participate in some of the prayers. Sometimes you just said Amen at the end. Other times you called out answers - [...]

Gnostics – Early Christianity – Roman religion

By |2017-08-21T22:51:25+00:00August 21st, 2017|Religion, Romans|

Books of Roman Gnostic writings from Nag Hammadi in Egypt (300s AD) About the time of Jesus, about 100 BC-100 AD, people living in the Eastern Mediterranean and West Asia were gradually beginning to think more about the afterlife than they had before. What happened to you after you died? Did you go to Heaven? How could you make [...]

Cyprian and the Decian Persecution – Christianity

By |2018-04-24T15:50:52+00:00August 21st, 2017|Religion, Romans|

Sacrifice certificate on papyrus from Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, dating to the Decian persecution (about 3 inches wide) About 249 AD, the situation of the Christians took a sharp turn for the worse. The year 247 AD marked 1000 years since the founding of the city of Rome: the Millennium. A lot of people were frightened and thought this might mean the end of [...]

What is a bishop? Christianity – Religion

By |2017-08-21T17:56:08+00:00August 21st, 2017|Medieval, Religion|

A bishop from medieval Iceland (in the form of a chess piece). Now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York A bishop was a man who was in charge of the Christians of a certain city. All big cities in the ancient Roman Empire and Sassanian Empire and medieval Europe had bishops. The earliest bishops appeared soon after the crucifixion of Jesus, about [...]

Augustine of Hippo – Christianity and the fall of Rome

By |2017-08-21T15:41:56+00:00August 21st, 2017|Religion, Romans|

The Roman theater at Thagaste (Souk Ahras), in Algeria, where Augustine grew up. Augustine was born in a small town in North Africa in the mid-300s AD. His parents were not poor, so when he got older and it seemed that he was very smart, they sent him to a bigger city to go [...]

Bishop Ambrose of Milan – History of Christianity

By |2017-08-20T23:56:44+00:00August 20th, 2017|Religion, Romans|

Bishop Ambrose of Milan By the later 300s AD, the Roman emperors were all Christians. So more and more of the people of the empire converted to Christianity. One of the most important men who encouraged people to convert was Ambrose, the bishop of Milan in northern Italy. Ambrose worked hard to define what sort of relationship Roman emperors [...]

Gregory of Tours – Medieval historian

By |2017-08-03T22:21:27+00:00August 3rd, 2017|Literature, Medieval|

This reading desk belonged to a nun, St. Radegund, who was Gregory's friend. Do you see the chi-rho symbol near the top? Gregory of Tours was born about 538 AD - we don't know exactly when. His parents were both rich people, from rich families. When Gregory grew up, he became the Bishop of Tours, which was a city in the center [...]