Murals (2008) by PHANTAST - Graffiti - Cultural Music & Art Association inc. - 98 Milne St. Benleigh





Since Augustus, the worship of the gods of Rome was deemed essential to the empire's survival.
The Pax Romana (Roman empire's peace) was thought to rely on the Pax Deorum, the peace imposed by the gods, who in return for regular sacrifice would guarantee the empire's security and prosperity.
When Diocletian moved into his palace in Nicomidia in287, a Christian basilica was clearly visible on the opposite hill, seeming to confront the imperial palaceas an equal. He made no move against the Church for 16 years but as a firm believer in the Pax Deorum at a time when the fate of the empire hung in the balance, Diocletian would find the Christians' stubborn refusal to honour the gods incrasingly intolerable.
On 23 Feb 303, he demanded that the presumptuous basilica be demolished.
The next day, he outlawed Christian meetings and ordered the destruction of churches and the confiscation of Christian scriptures. All men, women and children were required on pain of execution to gather in the empire's public squares to sacrifice to the gods of Rome. Yet the legislation was implemented in only a few regions and in the west, where there  were few Christian communities, hardly at all. It is difficult to know how many people  died as a result. Christians were rarely pursued if they failed to show up for the sacrifice; many apostatised and others found loopholes. Most of those who were put to death had defiantly presented  themselves to the authorities as a voluntary martyrs, a practice condemned by church.
The cult of the maryrs became central to Christian piety because they proved that Jesus had not been unique: the Church had 'friends of God' with devine powers in its very midst.
 (Candida Moss, Imitating Jesus in Ancient Christian  Ideologies of Martyrdom, Oxford,2010).


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