The Roman Minute: Rome Inconsistent (the Persecution of Christians)


You know that Rome persecuted Christians, but did it happen throughout all of Rome? At all times?


Salvete omnes! I'm Lindsey Scholl and welcome again to The Roman Minute, where you can sample a little bit of Rome in around a minute. Today we're talking about an unsavory side of Rome: the persecution of Christians. Roman persecution was a fact. But it is one of the more complicated facts of history. Religious persecution depended on two things: local attitudes and the personality of the emperor. Some emperors barely noticed Christians. Other emperors, such as Nero and Diocletian, are known for violent religious purges. But it was hit or miss.

The Emperor Septimius Severus was so friendly to Christians that he hired one as a nurse for his son, but he ended up banning conversions to Judaism and Christianity. I mentioned that local attitudes were important. Severus' persecution tended to focus in North Africa and Egypt, whereas Nero's persecution many years before began in the city of Rome. This timeline shows the erratic nature of Christian persecution in the Roman Empire. Violent assaults on Christians could certainly be a real threat--giving us the remarkable stories of the martyrs--but not at all times and not in all places.

I'm Dr. Lindsey Scholl, bringing you the Roman Minute and wishing you Pax Christi.