The map above shows how Christianity was spread throughout the Holy Roman Empire from 300 AD to 800 AD.
As seen in the map, only a few areas within the Empire are natively Christian, the dark blue color in the map indicates this. This includes Ancient Rome in Italy, where the religion was introduced by the Apostle St. Paul. The conversion process in the ancient city encountered hardships, as Christians were persecuted there. The oppression of Christians worsened when a massive fire hit Rome in 64 AD, where the emperor Nero accused Christians of starting it.
Christianity was finally accepted in the Empire when in the year 313, Constantine legalized the religion through the Edict of Milan. Twelve years later, together with the Council of Nicaea, he helped form the Nicene Creed, which formalized orthodox Christian beliefs. Emperor Theodosius ratified the Edict of Thessalonica in the year 380, designating Christianity as the Empire’s official religion.
Reddit user u/legitboardshop notes that in the year 301 AD, Armenia became the first country in the Empire to be fully Christianized, after a series of occupations by the Mongols, Romans, and Persians. However, their status as a Christian nation came with a cost. The user added that because Armenia is surrounded by Muslim-majority countries, they became easy targets for persecution.
The Christian religion continued to spread throughout the Empire, even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the year 476. The territories where it expanded include:
- Southern Europe
- Northern Africa
- Parts of Asia
Parts of Germany and Britain only became Christianized within the years 590 to 805 AD. They are marked on the map in light green.
- British Anglo-Saxons were Christianized from 597 to 670 AD.
- The German Frisian population was converted in 690 to 739 AD.
- German Saxons did the same in 797 to 805 AD.
You can find out more about Christianity in the Roman Empire by taking a look at these books:
- Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts
- The Christians and the Roman Empire
- The Church and the Roman Empire (301-490): Constantine, Councils, and the Fall of Rome (Reclaiming Catholic History)
- Patient Ferment of the Early Church
- Christianity and the Roman Empire from Nero to Theodosius
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