This trip leads you to three of the biggest and most magnificent basilicas in Rome.
After the defeat of the last Roman emperor,... more » Romulus Augustule, and the end of the Roman Empire, the city of Rome fell under the political control of Christian popes. Countless churches were built during the following centuries.
In A.D. 60 Paul, one of the 12 apostles, arrived in Rome and started to diffuse the monotheistic (single god)Christian religion. The Romans had a polytheistic (many gods) religious tradition. The first massacre of Christians was organized by Nero in A.D. 64. As a huge fire consumed large parts of Rome, rumors spread that Nero started the fire to gain space to erect his new palace. Nero, frightened, charged the Christians with the arson and organized the massacre to silence them. St. Paul and St. Peter likelydied during this massacre.
Tacitus wrote that Christians were burned on high crosses to serve as lamppost at night or they were killed by excited dogs. As a Roman citizen, Paul was executed by decapitation. The conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine in 314 allowed the expansion of Christianity and the end of the massacres.
Some famous popes:
Gregory VII, the reformer (1073-1085): He established celibacy for members of the clergy as a reaction to the libertine comportments in the clergy. He is famous also for the church's role in the Investiture Controversy in which he excommunicated Henry IV, affirming the primacy of the papal authority over the emperor for the investiture (choice) of the bishops. Attacked by Henry IV, Gregory VII found refuge in the Castel San'Angelo. The Normans (also known as barbarians) agreed to form an alliance with the pope and saved him. But the Normans also devastated Rome, so that, scared by the reaction of Roman citizens, Gregory VII was compelled to go into exile.
Leo X (1513-1521): This rich pope and the luxurious lifestyle of his court triggered the reaction of Luther against the Catholic church, leading to Protestantism.
Sixtus IV (1471-1484): He was the builder of the famous Sistine Chapel. But he also had dark spots in his story: To help his nephews obtain the coveted charge of bishops in the city of Imola, he organized the murder of Giuliano de Medici during a church service in the cathedral of Florence. less «