Guenter Jacki: Passion Play/Christ with Three Crosses
Artist: Guenter Jacki
During the last two centuries of the Roman Republic, the structure of Roman religion changed dramatically. The state had incorporated too many deities into its pantheon. Gone were the days of pious dignity and solemnity. Familiarity had bred contempt, and the average citizen was no longer fulfilled by religious festivals or rituals. Many turned to eastern faiths which centered around single deities -- such as Isis or Mithras -- and promised personal salvation or eternal life. These new philosophies may have helped Christianity take root, flourish and ultimately prevail throughout the empire. Tacitus, a Roman historian of the late first and early second century, wrote that "Christus ... suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate." There were Christians in Rome within 10 years of Jesus' crucifixion and Christians in Britain by the end of the second century. Tradition contends that St. Peter or Joseph of Arimathea planted the first seeds of Christianity in Britain. History doesn't support this claim but does maintain that by the fourth century, Christianity had a strong foothold in Britain. By the sixth century, the old Celtic cults had all but disappeared. Later, as Romano-British culture declined and Saxon influences grew stronger, Christianity emerged to unify the small, scattered kingdoms which rose up from the ashes of Roman Britain.
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