History of Christianity in Romania - Roman Times

Roman Times

See also: Lower Moesia, Roman Dacia, and Scythia Minor

Christian communities in Romania date at least from the 3rd century. According to an oral history first recorded by Hippolytus of Rome in the early 3rd century, Jesus Christ's teachings were first propagated in "Scythia" by St. Andrew. If "Scythia" refers to Scythia Minor, and not to the Crimea as has been claimed by the Russian Orthodox Church, Christianity in Romania can be considered of apostolic origin.

The existence of Christian communities in Dacia Traiana is disputed. Some Christian objects found there are dated from the 3rd century, preceding the Roman withdrawal from the region. Vessels with the sign of the cross, fish, grape stalks, and other Christian symbols were discovered in Ulpia Traiana, Porolissum, Potaissa, Apulum, Romula, and Gherla, among other settlements. A gem representing the Good Shepherd was found at Potaissa. On a funerary altar in Napoca the sign of the cross was carved inside the letter "O" of the original pagan inscription of the monument, and pagan monuments that were later Christianized were also found at Ampelum and Potaissa. A turquoise and gold ring with the inscription "EGO SVM FLAGELLVM IOVIS CONTRA PERVERSOS CHRISTIANOS" ("I am Jupiter's scourge against the dissolute Christians") was also found and may be related to the Christian persecutions in the middle of the 3rd century.

In Scythia Minor a large number of Christians were martyred during the Diocletianic Persecution at the turn of the 3rd and 4th centuries. Four martyrs' relics were discovered in a crypt at Niculiţel, with their names written in Greek on the crypt's inner wall. Thirty-five basilicas built between the 4th and 6th centuries have been discovered in the main towns of the province. The earliest basilica, built north of the Lower Danube, was erected at Sucidava (now Celei), in one of the Roman forts rebuilt under Justinian I (527–565). Burial chambers were built in Callatis (now Mangalia), Capidava, and other towns of Scythia Minor during the 6th century. The walls were painted with quotes from Psalms.

Clerics from Scythia Minor were involved in the theological controversies debated at the first four Ecumenical Councils. Saint Bretanion defended the Orthodox faith against Arianism in the 360s. The metropolitans of the province who supervised fourteen bishops by the end of the 5th century had their See in Tomis (modernly Constanţa). The last metropolitan was mentioned in the 6th century, before Scythia Minor fell to the Avars and Sclavenes who destroyed the forts on the Lower Danube.

Read more about this topic:  History Of Christianity In Romania

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