How Christianity Emerged From The Ashes Of The Fall Of The Roman Empire

The fall of the Roman Empire was necessary for the Church to emerge out of the ashes of Rome as the new and more perfect government. Here are a few important facts about Romans before you continue to study the fall of the Roman Empire.

  • Unlike the Greeks, the Romans were doers and not thinkers. 
  • Rome was at its height in Christ’s day. 
  • Romans had fighting down to an art and were rarely defeated in battle. 
  • Rome created roads so that travelers could go in and out of Rome easily. 
  • They also built aqueducts and were able to bring water to homes in the city. 
  • Their government was organized under one man: Caesar.

"Fiddling While Rome Burns" - Nero Plays A Key Role In The Fall Of The Roman Empire

Emperor Nero

The glory of Rome began to decline during the time of Emperor Nero in 54 AD, twenty years after Christ’s death. Nero loved power and his wealth was made up from the citizens’ tax money. Nero also hated the Christians and lit a fire in the city then blamed them for it. The emperor then built a great circus and killed many Christians in it.

After Nero, the “Good Emperors” ruled. They had an idea of restoring Rome to her former glory. They ruled from 96-180. While they did help Rome, though not enough to fix all the problems, they also persecuted the Christians. The last of the “Good Emperors” was Marcus Aurelius who was succeeded by his son, Commodus. He was reckless and insane.

Under him no one worked any more in Rome, taxes were raised and food went up. Moral standards decreased and less people were born because they stopped having children or let the ones who were living die. People entertained themselves with “games” that were more like battles. Sometimes there were animals that men had to fight and kill or be killed. The gladiators also fought man to man, and all fought to the death.

Diocletian -The Last Of The "Good Emperors"

In the next ninety years after Commodus, Rome would have twenty emperors. After Carus, Diocletian became the new emperor in 284. He would have been called the last of the “Good Emperors” had not the greatest persecution against Christianity broke out during his rule. But, he was a true patriot and loved Rome as well as the empire.

Diocletian moved to the wealthier part of the empire, the East. Because of the distance, he set up a partner-emperor in the West. The East supported the West. The East would send goods like silk and the West would be mostly responsible for providing an army.

The empire was from then on ruled by two emperors. This went on until Constantine.

"In This Sign You Shall Conquer"

In succession to the emperor in the West was the young ambitious Constantine. Constantine’s father was the emperor in Rome. When he died Constantine was taken captive by the new emperor in the East. Because Constantine was no longer in the West the emperor who captured Constantine was now the sole ruler of the empire.

Constantine managed to escape while his captor was drunk. Constantine stopped at every out post for a new horse and then he hamstrung the rest. With this technique he had a good head start being 16 hours ahead of his pursuers.

in this sign you will conquer Constantine

When Constantine got to Rome he decided to fight the false emperor, Maxentius. The night before the fight, Constantine saw in the sky a cross and he heard the words, “In this sign you shall conquer.” He ordered all of his men to put a red cross on their shields.

He won the battle and became the emperor of Rome and later, of the entire empire. The new emperor, Constantine, released all of the Christians and stopped the persecutions. He is known as the “Father of Christendom”. His mother was St. Helena and before he died he became a Christian. 

Through the fall of Rome, God allowed the Church to emerge out of the ashes by using Constantine who supported and created the more perfect government.

Like Diocletian, Constantine moved his capital to Constantinople making Rome more of a spiritual power. The Vatican and several of the minor churches were donations given by Constantine to the Church. Rome then became the center of an empire that far outreached the influence of the Roman Empire as the Church that was once persecuted preached to the four corners of the globe.


This article was written by Becket Bowen.

Johnson, Rev. George. The Story of the Church. Rockford: Tan Books and Publishers, 1980.
Carroll, Anne W. Christ the King Lord of History. Charlotte, NC: Tan Books and Publishers, 2012.

The Fall Of The Roman Empire In Film

While doing research for FABIOLA, we watched a variety of films which covered the fall of the Roman Empire. Ranging from Fire Over Rome to Gladiator, we even have some cartoons reviews on this page!

Satisfy Your Obsession With Rome With These 7 Great Movies About Roman History


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