Italian expert links first Christmas celebration to pagan shrine in Rome
A recently discovered pagan shrine dedicated to Rome's legendary founder Romulus and his brother Remus is being linked by a scholar to the first celebration of Christmas held on the date that still marks the festivity today.
Last month Italian archaeologists unveiled an underground grotto which they believe ancient Romans worshipped as the place where a wolf nursed the legendary twins.
Now, a top Italian scholar says that because of that shrine, 4th century Emperor Constantine chose the site to build the church where Christmas was first marked on Dec. 25. The choice was part of efforts in the early days of Christianity to link pagan practices to Christian celebrations.
"This is very probably the church where the first Christmas was celebrated," Andrea Carandini, a professor of archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza University, told reporters Friday. "Now we know why."
Carandini said while it was known among scholars that the first Christmas service was held at the Basilica of St. Anastasia, it was not known that the grotto of Romulus and Remus — the "Lupercale" — was possibly so close.
The discovery helps explain the transition from paganism to Christianity, scholars said.
"The church was built to christianize these pagan places of worship," Carandini said. "It was normal to put a church near these places to try to 'save' them."
Rome's archaeological superintendent Angelo Bottini, who did not take part in the research, said Carandini's hypothesis was "evocative and coherent" and "helps us understand the mechanisms of the passage from paganism to Christianity."
Bottini and Carandini both said future digs would be able to prove the link between the shrine and the church if structures belonging to the "Lupercale" were found directly below the basilica.
The Basilica St. Anastasia was the first church to rise not on the ancient city's outskirts, but on the Palatine Hill, the palatial center of power and religion in imperial Rome, Carandini said. Though little known today, at the time of Constantine it was one of the most important basilicas for Christians in Rome, he said.
Constantine, who ended the frequent waves of anti-Christian persecutions in the Roman empire by making Christianity a lawful religion in 313, played a key role in unifying the beliefs and practices of the early followers of Jesus.
In one defining moment, he presided over the Council of Nicaea in 325, which among other things homogenized the dates of important Christian festivals. The council opted to mark Christmas, at that point celebrated at different dates throughout Christianity, on Dec. 25 to coincide with the Roman festival celebrating the birth of the sun god, Carandini said.
Sometime after the council, St. Anastasia was built on the Palatine, possibly as early as 326, Carandini said.
The "Lupercale" shrine — named after the "lupa," Latin for she-wolf — is buried 16 meters (52 feet) underground. So far archaeologists have only been able to see it by inserting probes and cameras that have revealed a vaulted ceiling decorated with colored marble and a white imperial eagle.
Though some experts have expressed doubts on the identification of the "Lupercale," most archaeologists believe the shrine fits the descriptions found in ancient texts, and plans are being drawn up to excavate the structure further.
Read more: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/
'Mythical Roman cave' unearthed
Rome's She-Wolf Younger Than Its City
More Clues in the Legend (or Is It Fact?) of Romulus
List of winter festivals
The Pharmacratic Inquisition (Video)
Red Ice Creations Radio - Michael Tsarion - Inquisitions Old and New
Red Ice Creations Radio - Michael Tsarion - Irish Origins Part 1 - The West to East Movement of Civilization, Land Bridges & Age of Catastrophe
Latest News from our Front Page
Facebook’s New ‘Chinese-style’ Political Censorship System Goes Global
Last week 21WIRE reported on Facebook’s new communitarian policy whereby readers can ‘flag’ content as “fake news” if they believe it’s not real, or if they do not like it. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo False Flag event, the social media giant is now allowing governments to determine what is ‘good free speech’, and what is not.
“An article ...
"Cheerful" Dutch Financier Becomes 4th ABN Amro Banker Suicide
Following the deaths of 36 bankers last year, 2015 has got off to an inauspicious start with the reported suicide of Chris Van Eeghen - the 4th ABN Amro banker suicide in the last few years. As Quotenet reports, the death of Van Eghen - the head of ABN's corporate finance and capital markets -"startled" friends and colleagues as ...
West’s tributes to late Saudi King reveal hypocrisy not democracy
Hypocrisy is not usually regarded as a virtue of leadership, yet judging by the gushing tributes paid to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah by various Western governments and establishment figures on his death, there are those who believe it should be.
In the UK this hypocrisy has been stretched to breaking point with the decision to fly the flags over Downing ...
Millions of GMO insects could be set loose in Florida Keys
Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys if British researchers win approval to use the bugs against two extremely painful viral diseases.
Never before have insects with modified DNA come so close to being set loose in a residential U.S. neighborhood.
"This is essentially using a mosquito as a drug to cure disease," said Michael Doyle, executive ...
Furguson Scared The Super - Rich So Bad They're Planning Exits
According to a speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ferguson and Occupy absolutely terrified the world’s super-rich, and now they’re buying airstrips and farms in remote locations to escape to.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which was held between January 21-24, over 2,500 leaders in the fields of business, international politics, academia and journalism met to discuss ...
|More News » |