When Did Christianity Start In Ancient Rome

The history of Christianity in ancient Rome is complex and can be seen in many ways. It is believed that Christianity began in the Roman world in the first century AD and spread quickly throughout the empire. The Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in the Edict of Milan in 312 AD and it became the official religion of the Roman empire. Although there is no certain agreement as to when Christianity first appeared in Rome, most scholars believe it was around the year 50 AD.

The Roman society at this time was largely pagan, and Christianity was viewed with suspicion. Though it had not yet become officially accepted by the state, early Christians were active in preaching the gospel. The New Testament was written during this period, as was the Didache, which was an instruction manual for Christian living. By the end of the first century, Christianity had spread throughout the empire, becoming a significant presence.

When Christianity was first introduced in Rome, it was largely seen as a Jewish sect by most pagans. It is thought that early Christian missionaries from Palestine spread the gospel through the city and beyond. Some believe that the first converted city was Antioch, now located in Turkey. It was in Antioch that Paul was converted to Christianity, which most scholars agree was in the year 49 AD.

Though Christianity was seen as a somewhat strange, disruptive force in pagan Roman society, it gradually became accepted. Early converts had to endure widespread persecution, including death. This served to increase the faith of Christians and their commitment to the cause. The reign of Emperor Constantine marks the turning point in the acceptance of Christianity in the Roman world.

Under Constantine, the Edict of Milan gave Christians the right to worship freely and to build churches. After decades of persecution, this was a great moment for the faith. Constantine’s conversion to Christianity also helped to legitimize the religion in the eyes of many pagans, who saw him as a great leader. This marked the beginning of a new era for Christianity, one in which it would gain increasing influence and power.

In the centuries that followed the Edict of Milan, Christianity continued to grow in influence. By the fourth century, it had become the dominant religion in the Roman empire, a position it would hold for centuries. As Christianity grew in power and influence, it began to shape the politics, culture, and social structure of the empire. This was especially true after the Roman emperor Theodosius I declared it the official religion of the empire in 380 AD.

Its Impact on Roman Culture

Christianity had a profound impact on the culture of ancient Rome. It changed the way people worshipped, how they lived their lives, and their views on a range of topics. The concept of charity was embraced, as Christians believed in helping their fellow man. This concept of charity was seen in the Roman world for the first time, and it had a powerful impact.

The church also played an important role in education during this time. Many schools were established by the church, which offered a range of courses and scholastic opportunities to many. This helped to spread knowledge throughout the empire and was an important part of the culture.

Christianity also had an impact on literature, art, and architecture. Writers and artists began to draw inspiration from the Bible and Christian themes. This led to a flood of works that were produced during this period, helping to shape much of the modern western world. Architecture was also changed by the church, as many new churches and cathedrals were built during this period.

Finally, Christianity had a transformative impact on morality. The idea that one should act with compassion and mercy were seen as revolutionary ideas in the Roman world. This concept of morality was new to the ancient world, and it had a profound effect on how people lived their lives.

Its Decline

Though Christianity was a powerful force in the early days of the Roman empire, it declined throughout the centuries. Many ancient pagans found the religion to be too strict, and some believed it was incompatible with their own beliefs. By the time of Emperor Justinian I, Christianity had become a powerless institution in the grand scheme of things. This decline was only compounded by the arrival of Islam in the seventh century.

The decline of Christianity in Rome is also attributed to internal factors. Over the centuries, the church became increasingly complicated and hierarchical. Power struggles, politics, and corruption all played a part in weakening the Christian faith in the region. Eventually, it was marginalized to the point where it was no longer a major force in the region.

The Legacy of Christianity in Rome

Although Christianity is no longer the dominant force it once was in Rome, its legacy is still strong. In addition to its impact on culture and morality, the faith has left behind a lasting impression in the minds of many. It is a reminder of the power of faith and of the good that can come from it in a world that is often filled with turmoil and difficulty.

Christianity also serves as an important reminder of the need for freedom of religion. In a time when religious organizations were often persecuted, the rise of Christianity provided a counterpoint to the prevailing culture.

The legacy of Christianity in Rome is one of resilience, determination, and hope. Despite persecution and decline, the faith survives and continues to be a powerful force in the world today.

Christianity and Rome Today

The role of Christianity in contemporary Rome is much different from what it was in the past. Today, the religion is largely confined to the private sphere, though it still retains influence in certain areas. Many of Rome’s churches are still a prominent feature of the cityscape, and religious festivals and practices are an important part of the local culture.

Though it is no longer the dominant force it once was, Christianity still has an important role to play in Rome. The faith continues to shape the cultural and moral landscape of the city, providing a steady foundation in a world that is often prone to change.

Modern Impact of Christianity in Rome

Today, the impact of Christianity in Rome extends far beyond the city’s walls. It has spread throughout the world, influencing politics, law, education, and culture. Its legacy continues to inspire and guide people in their personal lives and their interactions with the larger world.

The legacy of Christianity in Rome is still evident today. Though it is not as influential as it once was, it is still a major force in the city and the wider world. As the faith evolves, it will continue to influence the cultural and moral landscape of contemporary Rome.


The history of Christianity in ancient Rome is complex and full of significance. From its humble beginnings to its rise to power and eventual decline, the faith has played an important role in shaping the city and the wider world. The legacy of Christianity in Rome is still evident, from the presence of its churches to its influence on politics, culture, and morality. Though it may have changed over the centuries, Christianity remains an important part of the history and culture of Rome today.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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