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Sunday, March 27, 2005

Urbi et Orbi

Until I went to Rome, I never qutie understood the reason why the Pope's message is for the City and the World. The answer is of course St John in Latern -- the world's first Christain basilica and the basicilica that all otehrs are based on. It was built on land from Constantine's family way back in the 4th century.

Constantine was the Roman empreror who leagalized Christainity. He was the child of a Roman emperor and a tavern wench, Helena. It was Helena who was Christain and who advised Constantine to favour the Christains in Rome. Thereis a question ofnwhether the cross he saw was simply good public relations or not. Her story is truly remarkable -- a single mother who changed the course of an empire.

She was also responsible for bringing many of the hly relics such as piece ofthe true Cross, and Pilate's stairs to Rome. Some relics as the crib one can have doubts about, but others she was probably able to trace due the Roman's obsessive record keeping.

It is also easy to forget what risks the early Christains took, and how the relkigion grew until it well behoovedthe Empreror to become Christain rather than send Christains to meet their death. Sometimes it seems if the early part of the Christain experience is overlooked in favour of the medieval or later experience. And yet it is that growth in the first three centuries of the religion that testifies to power of the message.

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