Constantine’s Role in the Shaping of the Catholic Church
A history of Constantine, and his important role in shaping the Catholic Church in both history and as we know it today.
This paper explains the persecution of the Christian minority before Constantine, and how he led them to become the Emporer’s favored people and a recognized religion that no longer needed to practice in fear. The paper focuses on the growth of Catholicism and Constantine’s crucial role.
The first recorded persecution of the Christian people perpetrated by the Roman Government was in the year 64 AD. Nero was Emperor and he saw the Christians as both threatening and blasphemous to the Roman Empire. At that time, the Christians were seen as threatening by the other Romans because they would not partake in pagan rituals. Because the Christian Gospels opposed idolatry, and their First Commandment clearly ordered their followers to accept no others gods, it basically insisted that the Roman gods be rejected. Beginning in the third century, Edicts were composed by the Emperor and entailed persecution of the Christians. The Christians that would not pay public homage to the Roman gods were subject to torture and death at the hands of the rulers. In the early fourth-century, Diocletian was the main threat to the Christians; he ordered all of their books and places of worship to be burned. In addition, Christians were not allowed to congregate and were omitted from the protection of laws. However, all of this would end in 311 when Galerius issued a decree that allowed Christians to continue with their religious practices. These liberties were temporarily halted when Galerius died and Maximinus Daia once again ordered for the persecution of the Christians. Soon after though, Constantine was named Emperor after his father’s demise. With Constantine’s ascent to Emperor, the Christian people breathed a sigh of relieve; they knew that they would no longer be a minority people and fear persecution.