The History Of The Catholic Church:
The history of the Catholic Church, starting with a short history of Rome, including Christian persecution under Emperors Domitian & Decius, Constantine’s rise to power, his issue of the Edict of Milan which made Christianity legal, and how pagan practices were absorbed into the Roman Church’s festivals and traditions.
What comes to mind when people think of the Pope? Catholics revere him as,
“The Holy Father.”
Others have less flattering views.
For many, the manner in which the pope dresses brings to mind pagan origins. One thing is clear: Christ’s Apostles did not dress like that! And, they certainly didn’t have church services which approach anything that we see in the Catholic Church today! So, where did all this religious pomp come from? The Roman Church’s beginnings can be traced back to the Imperial cult of ancient Rome.
Different Religious Mindsets:
Jesus Christ’s ministry was to the House of Israel. Christianity began as a strictly Jewish phenomenon, with the Old Testament law which had been entrusted solely to the Jewish peoples, pointing to, and then being fulfilled in Christ. Non-Jewish nations began to hear about the gospel only after Peter had a vision in which he realized the gospel was opened to the Gentile nations.
Early Jewish believers understood that Jesus fulfilled the role of their long awaited Messiah. Non-Jewish nations had no such heritage. So there was a vast difference in how Christianity developed throughout Israel in the First Century with how Christianity developed throughout Rome during the Fourth Century. Instead of understanding Christianity as a fulfillment to Old Testament law, as the Jews did, Romans viewed Christianity as a refinement to their established pagan religion.
Envision millions of families throughout the Roman Empire who had fervently believed in and practiced paganism for several generations; then, the day came when Christianity replaced paganism. That is what some teachers of religion would have us to believe; yet, let’s be realistic; evidence points to pagan tradition still thriving in Rome years after the Roman Church was established.
A Short History of Rome:
During pagan times Roman Emperors once stood as,
“… the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State.”
Considered the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Emperor Augustus ruled Rome from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD. Legend has it that a god in the guise of a serpent visited Augustus’ mother in the temple of Apollo nine months before Augustus was born. Standing as chief priest over Rome’s pagan cults Augustus held the title, pontifex maximus, which is the same title bestowed upon the current Pope.
Augustus instituted a program consisting of building new pagan temples and restoring Rome’s old religion. Laws instituted to promote pagan worship were supposedly issued for the sake of humanity. People were persuaded to worship Rome’s gods for the good of mankind. It was taught that the powerful gods of nature (Janus, Jupiter, Juno, Mars, and Vesta) had to be appeased to keep calamities such as earthquakes, drought, and famine from afflicting people. If anyone refused to reverence the gods, they were allegedly putting the whole Empire in jeopardy, for it was thought that well-pleased gods protected Rome.
Merely for his own pleasure Caius Caligula had innocent people tortured while he was entertaining. He was the first Roman Emperor who insisted on being a god in his lifetime. Emperors before him had been pronounced gods after death, but Caligula had statues of himself placed in Jewish synagogues, and since he considered himself a god, he demanded that the Jews worship his image. His image would also have been placed in the Jerusalem temple if he hadn’t been assassinated before that order could be carried out.
Emperor Nero ruled from 54 to 68 A.D.
“He became infamous for his personal debaucheries and extravagances.”
Domitian, the younger brother of Titus, was elected emperor in the year 81 A.D. He demanded that his officers and staff call him dominus et dues, which in English translates as “Lord and God.” These mortal men were gods in their own minds.
Emperor Domitian arrested some Christians who would not revere his divinity. They were condemned to death and subsequently executed. It’s rather ironic that the charge of atheism was hung upon these faithful believers.
In A.D. 250 under Emperor Decius, a new law was drafted: all those who offended the gods would be arrested. But, if the accused Christians would publicly pay homage to Rome’s gods by pouring out wine before them and renouncing their Christian faith, then all charges would be dropped and they would be set free. Decius issued an edict ordering everyone to perform public acts of worship. Anyone refusing was put to death. Certificates of conformity were issued to the superintendent of sacrifices at the time of sacrifice. This registration avowed worship in the state-approved cults.
The final and most severe Christian persecution came from Emperor Diocletian, who along with Maximian in the west co-ruled Rome. Christian persecution under Emperor Diocletian (284 A.D. to 305 A.D.) resulted in the deaths of 3,000 to 3,500 Christians, and the torture, imprisonment, or dislocation of many more. However, it became evident that Christianity was not going away. Finally an Edict of Toleration was issued by Emperor Galerius which brought an end to the last “severe persecution” instituted by Diocletian.
Constantine Takes the Throne:
After Diocletian retired, Constantine was appointed Caesar; then he was promoted to position as Augustus. However, certain leaders attempted to demote Constantine back to Caesar. In the ensuing struggle for the throne, Constantine and his legions fought against Maximian. The occupying forces of Massilia surrendered and Maximian either committed suicide or was executed. Constantine then marched on to Rome to battle his opponent Maxentius.
Legend has it that the night before the battle Constantine either had a dream or a vision in which he saw the sign of Christ, consisting of the Chi Rho/cross, over the Sun, which prompted him to have his soldiers paint the symbol on their shields. The supposed vision assured Constantine that by using the Chi Rho/cross, he would conquer the opposing forces; even though the majority of his own warriors were pagan.
When Constantine and his army invaded Rome, Constantine’s opponent Maxentius, together with thousands of his soldiers, drowned in the Tiber river, during the Battle at the Milvian Bridge, as the bridge of boats Maxentius’ army was retreating over collapsed. As the story goes the victory gave Constantine convincing proof that the God of the Christians helped him defeat his enemies, and out of gratitude, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which made Christianity legal.
Problems With the Story:
The story of Constantine seeing a cross or some other Christian symbol above the sun before the battle would be a lot more convincing if it were the only version of the story. However, it was not: Before the supposed vision in question, Constantine had claimed he experienced a similar vision of the god Apollo granting him laurel wreaths, which symbolized victory, health, and a long reign. Constantine had pictured himself in Apollo’s likeness: as a saving figure to whom would be granted,
“rule of the whole world.”
When Constantine took the throne, Emperors were commonly thought to be incarnate gods. At the very least, they were thought of as having been given divine power to rule. So, the legend of an Emperor either being in Apollo’s likeness; or, having received power from one of Rome’s gods was a common theme.
“There is little reason to believe that either the dynastic connection or the divine vision, are anything other than fiction, but their proclamation strengthened Constantine’s claims to legitimacy and increased his popularity among the citizens of Gaul.”
One glaring problem with the story in question is that in 317 AD, which is five years after his victory over Maxentius’ army, Constantine commemorated his victory with a special coin, which depicted Sol — The Sun God — handing him an orb symbolizing Sol granting Constantine power to rule. Not Jesus Christ!
The coin also had the inscription “SOLI INVICTO COMITI” or, in other words,
“To the invincible Sun God, companion of the Emperor.”
Another Problem Is The Arch of Constantine:
“After gaining victory in the Battle of the Milvian Bridge (312 AD), a triumphal arch—the Arch of Constantine—was built (315 AD) to celebrate it; the arch is decorated with images of Victoria [the goddess of victory] and sacrifices to gods like Apollo, Diana, and Hercules, but contains no Christian symbolism.”
Some might argue that the arch did contain the Chi Rho which became a Christian symbol; yet, at the time it was a pagan symbol.
On March 7th 321 A.D. Constantine decreed dies Solis — the day of the sun — as the official Roman day of rest. One might wonder why Constantine was still giving honor to the Sun god nine years after he was supposedly led to victory by Jesus Christ? This is further evidence that the story of Constantine seeing a Christian symbol before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge is a later invention. Also, Constantine’s coinage carried the symbols of the sun cult until 324; which is 12 years after the battle in question.
The Emerging Catholic Church:
Emperor Constantine was the son of the Roman officer Constantius. Constantius raised Constantine in the upper class of society. Intellectuals from the schools of higher learning where Constantine was educated regarded Christianity as a crude religion, in language, status, and outward appearance. Constantine made Christianity fashionable to the higher classes. He took the title of pontifex maximus, standing as chief priest over the pagan cults. He then brought pagan priests into the Christian Church, giving them high administrative offices. When controversy arose over what doctrines to teach the people, an appointed council of bishops was called to define and draft creeds to which all parties would agree. Doctrinal debates that earlier may have run their course among theologians now became political issues.
Council of Nicaea, 325 A.D.:
“The Council was opened by Constantine with the greatest solemnity. The emperor waited until all the bishops had taken their seats before making his entry. He was clad in gold and covered with precious stones in the fashion of an Oriental sovereign. A chair of gold had been made ready for him, and when he had taken his place the bishops seated themselves. After he had been addressed in a hurried allocution, the emperor made an address in Latin, expressing his will that religious peace should be re-established” (Nicea, The New Catholic Encyclopedia).
The Council of Nicaea drafted 20 laws ranging from, if penance should be imposed on defectors of the church, to the proper position in which Christians should pray during service. They also heavily amended the Caesarean creed. This creed was the basis for the “Nicene” creed. Once the creed was written, Emperor Constantine signed it. In addition to banishing Arius, bishop of Alexander, also known as Alexandria, who was teaching a non-orthodox view of God, the Council also banished two other bishops who refused to sign the creed.
Constantine called this meeting for political reasons, because Christians in Rome were divided on theological issues; and, he wanted the controversy to settle down. The meeting consisted of fiercely heated debates; it lasted almost two months. Out of about 1,800 bishops in the Roman Empire, only 318 showed up for the Council of Nicaea. Perhaps the bishops who did not attend were opposed to Rome taking control of the Christian movement?
According to the Church Historian Eusebius, who was present during the Council of Nicaea, Constantine wrestled the Christian movement away from the Jewish Christians, stating in his letter after the meeting:
“Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd; for we have received from our Saviour a different way.” (Eusebius, Life of Constantine Vol. III Ch. XVIII)
Constantine was not happy with the Messianic Jews, because they were refusing to observe the emerging Roman Church traditions of:
■ The Sunday Sabbath.
So, he connected Jewish Christians (and all Jews) to the leaders in Israel who had sought to have Jesus Christ put to death.
In the letter to the Bishops who were not present at the Council of Nicaea, Constantine wrote:
“Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries. … studiously avoiding all contact with that evil way … For how can they entertain right views on any point who, after having compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness carries them. … lest your pure minds should appear to share in the customs of a people so utterly depraved … Therefore, this irregularity must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord.” (The Epistle of the Emperor Constantine, Ecclesiastical History by Theodoret, Book 1. Chapter 9)
The Roman Catholic Church:
Elements from Rome’s pagan roots were reinterpreted in the light of Christianity, and then blended into Rome’s established religious system. For example, Jesus was given the birth date of December 25th, because pagans understood this as the day the Sun God —Sol Invictus— is reborn. On December 21st or 22nd, at the winter solstice, which means,
“sun standing still”
in Latin, the sun completes its circuit and is in the furthest end of its cycle, where it seems to stand still or “die” for three days. Then, as the sun appears to move again on December 25th, it becomes “reborn.” Another example is the Roman fast of lent, (giving up certain foods or activities for 40 days), which started out as a pagan tradition of weeping and mourning for the deity Tammuz, who was the consort of Ishtar; the springtime goddess of fertility.
“… the Easter story [also] comes from the Sumerian legend of Damuzi (Tammuz) and his wife Inanna (Ishtar), an epic myth called ‘The Descent of Inanna’ found inscribed on cuneiform clay tablets dating back to 2100 BC.” (Dr. Tony Nugent, teacher of Theology and Religious Studies at Seattle University / ancient origins.net)
In 391 A.D. Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Roman state. But, in what form? Traditions die hard; or in this case, re-emerge. Eventually, every man, woman, and child, living within Rome’s jurisdiction was forced to convert to the Roman Church. This forced conversion brought even the most diehard pagans in.
Rome’s pagan cults were absorbed into a “Universal” Church. “Universal” is what “Catholic” means.
Vaticanus Hill in Rome:
Today, Saint Peter’s Square is located on the same hill and in the same courtyard in which Emperor Nero sacrificed Christians. And, the obelisk which Caius Caligula brought from Egypt to Rome is found in its central location — the Vatican overlooking the pagan symbol:
The large eight-rayed sun wheel is symbolic of the pagan god Ishtar, within that sun wheel, a four-rayed wheel is depicted, which is a symbol of the pagan god Baal, the obelisk in the center of the wheel represents Baal’s reproductive organ:
“Baal, god worshipped in many ancient Middle Eastern communities, especially among the Canaanites, who apparently considered him a fertility deity and one of the most important gods in the pantheon.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Baal)
It only makes sense that an ancient pagan god of fertility would be represented with a phallic symbol.
The courtyard of the Roman Catholic Church is surrounded with images of pagan gods and goddesses; a mere glimpse into the Catholic faith reveals that pagan thought has permeated the entire organization:
This is demonstrated by Rome giving the titles,
■ “Queen of Heaven.”
■ “Mother of God.”
to Mary, which are the same basic titles the Roman goddess Diana was known by before Diana’s shrine was rededicated to Mary.
■ And Then Along Comes Mary — Rich Kelsey
■ Does Matt 28:19 Prove the Trinity? — Rich Kelsey
■ Trinitarian Terms — Rich Kelsey
■ Who Is Jesus Christ? — Rich Kelsey
 “THE HOLY FATHER – The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.” (LUMEN GENTIUM, 23, www.Vatican — The Holy See)
 Jesus said: “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9, NIV)
 The one clear idea underlying all is orthodox as opposed to heretical, and Kattenbusch does not hesitate to admit that in Cyprian we first see how Catholic and Roman came eventually to be regarded as interchangeable terms. (Cf. Harnack, Dogmengeschichte, II, 149-168. Catholic Encyclopedia online “Catholic”)
 “What was the population of imperial Rome? City blocks in Pompeii and Ostia are sufficiently well explored that a fair estimate of population density can now be arrived at. That peoples the city of ancient Rome with roughly 450,000 inhabitants … What was the population of ancient Rome? Many have believed there were as many as one million inhabitants.” (High Beam Research – The Population of Ancient Rome)
 “The Imperial cult of ancient Rome identified emperors and some members of their families with the divinely sanctioned authority of the Roman State … Theodosius I adopted Christianity as Rome’s State religion. Rome’s traditional gods and ‘Imperial cult’ were officially abandoned. However, many of the rites, practices and status distinctions that characterised the cult to emperors were perpetuated in the theology and politics of the Christianized Empire” (Imperial cult – ancient Rome, Wikipedia)
 “Augustus (23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.” (Wikipedia)
 “As happened frequently in ancient times, a person who had achieved the heights which Augustus had was sooner or later furnished with a divine pa¬ternity. In his [Augustus’] case it was said that a god in the guise of a serpent had visited his mother in the Temple of Apollo nine months before he was born.” (Roman Realities, Wayne State University Press, Hooper, p. 341).
 “This term, [pontifex maximus] borrowed from the vocabulary of pagan religion at Rome … des-ignated … members of the council of [pagan] priests forming the Pontiﬁcal College, which ranked as the highest priestly organization at Rome and, was presided over by the pontifex maximus” (New Catholic Encyclopedia XI).
 “The most noteworthy of the titles are Papa, Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus, Servus servorum Dei. The title pope (papa) was, as has been stated, at one time employed with far more latitude … The terms Pontifex Maximus, Summus Pontifex, were doubtless originally employed with reference to the Jewish high-priest, whose place the Christian bishops were regarded as holding each in his own diocese (Epistle of Clement 40). As regards the title Pontifex Maximus, especially in its application to the pope, there was further a reminiscence of the dignity attached to that title in pagan Rome.” (The Pope, New Catholic Encyclopedia, newadvent.org).
 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12, NIV)
 (Caius Caligula born died ruled Rome from 37 to 41 AD.)
 “In AD 40, Caligula began implementing very controversial policies that introduced religion into his political role. Caligula began appearing in public dressed as various gods and demigods such as Hercules, Mercury, Venus and Apollo … two temples were erected for worship of him in Rome … Caligula had the heads removed from various statues of gods and replaced with his own in various temples … he was represented as a sun god on Egyptian coins.” (Caligula, Claims of Divinity, Wikipedia)
 “About A.D. 40, Caius Caligula issued a peremptory decree ordering the erec¬tion and worship of his statue in the Temple of God.” (“The Abomination of Desolation,” On Line Catholic Encyclopedia)
 (Nero, Encyclopedia Britannica)
 “He was the first of the emperors to deify himself during his lifetime by assuming the title of ‘Lord and God.’” (on Line Catholic Encyclopedia, New Advent, Domitian)
 “The scope of the anti-Christian legislation of Decius was broader than that of his predecessors and much more far-reaching in its effects. The text of his edicts has not survived but their general tenor can be judged from the manner in which they were executed. The object of the emperor was not the extermination of the Christians, but the complete extinction of Christianity itself” (Decius – On Line Catholic Encyclopedia).
 Maximan had been given a lesser position during Diocletian’s reign –
 “[Christian] persecution [under Diocletian 284 A.D. to 305 A.D.] resulted in the deaths of—according to one modern estimate—3,000 to 3,500 Christians, and the torture, imprisonment, or dislocation of many more …” (Diocletianic Persecution, Wikipedia)
 “Diocletian full name Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus. 245–313 ad, Roman emperor (284–305), who divided the empire into four administrative units (293) and instigated the last severe persecution of the Christians (303) (Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005) “In AD 305 Diocletian and Maximian abdicated. The Caesars Galerius and and Constantius thereby became Augusti and Severus II and Maximinus II Daia acceded to the vacant positions of Caesar. Galerius was theoretically the junior of the two Augusti, but he didn’t show the respect Maximian had awarded Diocletian’s seniority … Maxentius, the son of Maximian was nor prepared to accept his expectations of a imperial position to be ignored any longer. And so he [Maxentius] revolted in Rome, declared himself Augustus and recalled his father Maximian to rule with him as joint emperor.” (Romanempire.net/decline/galerius)
 “At the Conference of Carnuntum in AD 308, where all the Caesars and Augusti met, it was demanded that Constantine give up his title of Augustus and return to being a Caesar. However, he refused.”( Constantine the Great, Roman Empire.net )
 “The Chi Rho is one of the earliest forms of chistogram, and is used by Christians. It is formed by superimposing the first two (capital) letters chi and rho (ΧΡ) of the Greek word “ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ” =Christ in such a way to produce the monogram. Although not technically a Christian cross, the Chi-Rho invokes the crucifixion of Jesus, as well as symbolizing his status as the Christ. The Chi-Rho symbol was also used by pagan Greek scribes to mark, in the margin, a particularly valuable or relevant passage …” (Chi-Rho, Wikipedia)
 “A vision had assured him that he should conquer in the sign of the Christ, and his warriors carried Christ’s monogram on their shields, though the majority of them were pagans. The opposing forces met near the bridge over the Tiber called the Milvian Bridge, and here Maxentius’ troops suffered a complete defeat, the tyrant himself losing his life in the Tiber (28 October, 312). Of his gratitude to the God of the Christians the victor immediately gave convincing proof; the Christian worship was henceforth tolerated throughout the empire (Edict of Milan, early in 313).” (Catholic Encyclopedia Constantine the Great, newadvent.org)
 (The Battle at the Milvian Bridge took place on Oct, 28th, 312 A.D.)
 “Constantine marched on Rome. Constantine later claimed to have had a vision on the way to Rome, during the night before battle. In this dream he supposedly saw the ‘Chi-Ro’, the symbol of Christ, shining above the sun. Seeing this as a divine sign, it is said that Constantine had his soldiers paint the symbol on their shields. Following this Constantine went on to defeat the numerically stronger army of Maxentius at the Battle at the Milvian Bridge (Oct AD 312). Constantine’s opponent Maxentius, together with thousands of his soldiers, drowned as the bridge of boats his force was retreating over collapsed. Constantine saw this victory as directly related to the vision he had had the night before. Henceforth Constantine saw himself as an ’emperor of the Christian people’. If this made him a Christian is the subject of some debate. But Constantine, who only had himself baptized on his deathbed, is generally understood as the first Christian emperor of the Roman world.” (Constantine the Great, Roman Empire.net)
 The Edict of Milan (A.D. 313):
When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I Licinius Augustus fortunately met near Mediolanurn (Milan), and were considering everything that pertained to the public welfare and security, we thought, among other things which we saw would be for the good of many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence of the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the Christians and others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred; whence any Divinity whatsoever in the seat of the heavens may be propitious and kindly disposed to us and all who are placed under our rule. And thus by this wholesome counsel and most upright provision we thought to arrange that no one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion which he should think best for himself, so that the Supreme Deity to whose worship we freely yield our hearts may show in all things His usual favor and benevolence. Therefore, your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion.
Moreover, in the case of the Christians especially we esteemed it best to order that if it happens anyone heretofore has bought from our treasury from anyone whatsoever, those places where they were previously accustomed to assemble, concerning which a certain decree had been made and a letter sent to you officially, the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception, Those, moreover, who have obtained the same by gift, are like¬wise to return them at once to the Christians. Besides, both those who have purchased and those who have secured them by gift, are to appeal to the vicar if they seek any recompense from our bounty, that they may be cared for through our clemency. All this property ought to be delivered at once to the community of the Christians through your intercession, and without delay. And since these Christians are known to have possessed not only those places in which they were accustomed to assemble, but also other property, namely the churches, belonging to them as a corporation and not as individuals, all these things which we have included under the above law, you will order to be restored, without any hesitation or controversy at all, to these Christians, that is to say to the corporations and their conventicles: providing, of course, that the above arrangements be followed so that those who return the same without payment, as we have said, may hope for an indemnity from our bounty. In all these circumstances you ought to tender your most efficacious intervention to the community of the Christians, that our command may be carried into effect as quickly as possible, whereby, moreover, through our clemency, public order may be secured. Let this be done so that, as we have said above, Divine favor towards us, which, under the most important circumstances we have already experienced, may, for all time, preserve and prosper our successes together with the good of the state. Moreover, in order that the statement of this decree of our good will may come to the notice of all, this rescript, published by your decree, shall be announced everywhere and brought to the knowledge of all, so that the decree of this, our benevolence, cannot be concealed. (from Lactantius, De Mort. Pers., ch. 48. opera, ed. O. F. Fritzsche, II, p. 288 sq. Bibl Patr. Ecc. Lat. XI)
 (Panegyrici Latini 6(7).21.5.)
 (Constantine the Great, Wikipedia)
 (Constantine the Great, Wikipedia)
 “On the venerable Day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.” (Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time [A.D. 321].) — Source: Codex Justinianus, lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3 (5th ed.; New York: Scribner, 1902), p. 380, note 1.
 (Constantine the Great, Wikipedia)
 “Although criticized by his enemies as a proponent of a crude and false religion.” (Constantine the Great, Microsoft Encarta Deluxe Encyclopedia)
 “The Council was opened by Constantine with the greatest solemnity. The emperor waited until all the bishops had taken their seats before making his entry. He was clad in gold and covered with precious stones in the fashion of an Oriental sovereign. A chair of gold had been made ready for him, and when he had taken his place the bishops seated themselves. After he had been addressed in a hurried allocution, the emperor made an address in Latin, expressing his will that religious peace should be re-established.” (“Nicea,” The New Catholic Encyclopedia)
 “For a time it seemed as if merely tolerance and equality were to prevail. Constantine showed equal favour to both religions. As pontifex maximus he watched over the heathen worship and protected its rights” (On-line Catholic Encyclopedia).
 “When the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in the 4th century, he launched the era of Christian hegemony. Despite a short-lived attempt by the Emperor Julian to revive and preserve traditional and Hellenistic religion and to affirm the special status of Judaism, in 391 under Theodosius I Christianity became the official state religion of Rome, to the exclusion of all others. Pleas for religious tolerance from traditionalists such as the senator Symmachus (d. 402) were rejected, and Christian monotheism became a feature of Imperial domination. Other religions were gradually transformed, absorbed or strictly suppressed. Many forms of traditional religious practice, particularly festivals and games (ludi), which might be divorced from theological implications, retained their vitality through the 4th and 5th centuries. Rome’s religious hierarchy and many aspects of ritual influenced Christian forms, and many pre-Christian beliefs and practices survived in Christian festivals and local traditions.” (Religion in ancient Rome, Wikipedia)
 “The Hail Mary (sometimes called the ‘Angelical salutation’, sometimes, from the first words in its Latin form, the ‘Ave Maria’) is the most familiar of all the prayers used by the Universal Church in honour of our Blessed Lady.” (Hail Mary, Catholic Encyclopedia, newadvent.org)