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The Lombards adopted Christianity as they entered Italy, also during the 6th century. Conversion of the West and East Germanic tribes sometimes took place "top to bottom", in the sense that missionaries sometimes aimed at converting Germanic nobility first, after which time their societies would begin a gradual process of Christianization that would generally take a matter of centuries, with some traces of earlier beliefs remaining.
In or are also possible he let himself be baptized in Rheims. In most of Britain, the native Britons were already partly Christianized by the time of the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain ; it is not clear how thorough this process had been. However, ecclesiastics of the time such as the British Gildas and later Anglo-Saxon Bede , criticized them for generally refusing to work at all for the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons , in fact many were absorbed into the religion and culture of the new settlers.
The conversion of the Anglo-Saxons was begun at about the same time at the far north and south of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms in two unconnected initiatives.
Irish missionaries led by Saint Columba based in Iona from and elsewhere, converted many Picts. The court of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria , and the Gregorian mission , who landed in , did the same to the Kingdom of Kent. In both cases, and in other kingdoms, the conversion was generally "top down", with the royal family and nobility adopting the new religion first. The Viking invasions of Britain and Ireland destroyed many monasteries and new Viking settlers restored paganism—though of a different variety to the Saxon or classical religions—to areas such as Northumbria and Dublin for a time before their own conversion.
The Germanic peoples underwent gradual Christianization in the course of the Early Middle Ages , resulting in a unique form of Christianity known as Germanic Christianity that was frequently some blend of Arian Christianity and Germanic paganism. The Eastern and Western tribes were the first to convert through various means.
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However, it would not be until the 12th century that the North Germanic peoples had Christianized. In the polytheistic Germanic tradition, it was possible to worship Jesus next to the native gods like Woden and Thor. Before a battle, a pagan military leader might pray to Jesus for victory, instead of Odin, if he expected more help from the Christian God. According to legend, Clovis had prayed thus before a battle against one of the kings of the Alemanni , and had consequently attributed his victory to Jesus.
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The next impulse came from the edge of Europe. Although Ireland had never been part of the Roman Empire, Christianity had come there and developed, largely independently, into Celtic Christianity. The Irish monks had developed a concept of peregrinatio. The territory of Great Moravia was originally evangelized by missionaries coming from the Frankish Empire or Byzantine enclaves in Italy and Dalmatia since the early 8th century and sporadically earlier.
The Church organization in Great Moravia was supervised by the Bavarian clergy until the arrival of the Byzantine missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius in , upon Prince Rastislav 's request. After its establishment under Khan Asparukh in , Bulgaria retained the traditional Bulgar religion Tengriism and the pagan beliefs of the local Slavic population.
In the mid-9th century, Boris I decided to establish Christianity as a state religion in Bulgaria.
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In , he was baptized in the capital Pliska by Byzantine priests. After prolonged negotiations with both Rome and Constantinople, he managed to create an autocephalous Bulgarian Orthodox Church and used the newly created Cyrillic script to make the Bulgarian language the language of the Church.
Christianity was challenged during the rule of his first-born son, Vladimir-Rasate , who decided to return to the old Bulgarian religion. Boris I, who had previously retired to a monastery, led a rebellion against his son and defeated him. At the counsel of Preslav in , his third son, Simeon I who was born after the Christianization, was installed on the throne and the capital was moved from Pliska to Preslav as a symbol of the abolition of the old religion.
Simeon I led a series of wars against the Byzantines to gain official recognition of his Imperial title and the full independence of the Bulgarian Church. As a result of his victories in , the Byzantines finally recognized the Bulgarian Patriarchate. The Serbs were baptised during the reign of Heraclius — by "elders of Rome " according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus in his annals r.
The fleets and land forces of Zahumlje , Travunia and Konavli Serbian Pomorje were sent to fight the Saracens who attacked the town of Ragusa Dubrovnik in , on the immediate request of Basil I , who was asked by the Ragusians for help. The Serbs adopt the Old Slavonic liturgy instead of the Greek. His baptism was followed by the building of churches and the establishment of an ecclesiastical hierarchy. Mieszko saw baptism as a way of strengthening his hold on power, with the active support he could expect from the bishops, as well as a unifying force for the Polish people. Mieszko's action proved highly successful because by the 13th century, Roman Catholicism had become the dominant religion in Poland.
In the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Hungary which was larger than modern day Hungary was Christianized initially by Greek monks sent from Constantinople to convert the pagan Hungarians. Gyula also had his officers and family baptized under the Orthodox confession. His authority as leader of the Hungarian tribal federation was recognized with a crown from Pope Sylvester II.
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King Stephen converted the nomadic barbarian tribes of the Hungarians and induced them to sedentary culture. The conversion of Hungary is said to have been completed by the time of Stephen's death in Soon the Hungarian Kingdom counted with two archbishops and 8 bishops, a defined state structure with province governors that answered to the King.
In the other hand, Saint Stephen opened the frontiers of his Kingdom in to the pilgrims that traveled by land to the Holy Land, and soon this route became extremely popular, being used later in the Crusades. Saint Stephen was the first Hungarian monarch that was elevated to the sanctity for his Christian characteristics and not because he suffered a martyr death. Between the 8th and the 13th century, the area of what now is European Russia , Belarus and Ukraine was settled by the Kievan Rus'. An attempt to Christianize them had already been made in the 9th century, with the Christianization of the Rus' Khaganate.
In the 10th century, around , the efforts were finally successful when Vladimir the Great was baptized at Chersonesos. To commemorate the event, Vladimir built the first stone church of Kievan Rus', called the Church of the Tithes , where his body and the body of his new wife were to repose. Another church was built on top of the hill where pagan statues stood before.
The Christianization of Scandinavia started in the 8th century with the arrival of missionaries in Denmark and it was at least nominally complete by the 12th century, although the Samis remained unconverted until the 18th century. In fact, although the Scandinavians became nominally Christian, it would take considerably longer for actual Christian beliefs to establish themselves among the people.
Thirteenth-century runic inscriptions from the bustling merchant town of Bergen in Norway show little Christian influence, and one of them appeals to a Valkyrie. The Northern Crusades  or "Baltic Crusades"  were crusades undertaken by the Catholic kings of Denmark and Sweden, the German Livonian and Teutonic military orders , and their allies against the pagan peoples of Northern Europe around the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea.
Lithuania and Samogitia were ultimately Christianized from until by the initiative of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila and his cousin Vytautas. Between — the Iberian peninsula had been conquered by Muslims in the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The notorious Spanish Inquisition and Portuguese Inquisition were not installed until and when the Reconquista was already mostly completed.
The expansion of the Catholic Portuguese Empire and Spanish Empire with a significant role played by Catholic missionaries led to the Christianization of the indigenous populations of the Americas such as the Aztecs and Incas. A large number of churches were built. Later waves of colonial expansion such as the Scramble for Africa or the struggle for India , by the Netherlands, Britain, France, Germany and Russia led to Christianization of other native populations across the globe such as the Indigenous peoples of the Americas , Filipinos , Indians and Africans led to the expansion of Christianity eclipsing that of the Roman period and making it a truly global religion.
The colonies which later became the United States were largely colonized by England, and therefore their colonists were predominantly Protestant. Thus Protestantism as a religious force shaped the mind of pre-independence colonial America. By the Census , the total immigration over the approximately year span of colonial existence of the U.
By this time the Roman Catholic church was well established enough to stake a place for itself in the American religious landscape. It was about 15 million strong by Thus, the church adopted a mission to Christianize other cultures. On November 16, , a missionary conference was held in Chicago to mark the transition from becoming a church that received missionary help to a church that sends it.
Attendees included Boston's Archbishop William H. O'Connell and Chicago's Archbishop James Edward Quigley , who called attention to the "new era" into which the church in America now entered. Many Christian churches were built upon sites already consecrated as pagan temples or mithraea , the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva literally Saint Mary above Minerva in Rome being simply the most obvious example, though a period of about years of abandonment intervened between temple and church in this case. Sulpicius Severus , in his Vita of Martin of Tours , a dedicated destroyer of temples and sacred trees, remarks "wherever he destroyed heathen temples , there he used immediately to build either churches or monasteries",  and when Benedict took possession of the site at Monte Cassino , he began by smashing the sculpture of Apollo and the altar that crowned the height.
The British Isles and other areas of northern Europe that were formerly druidic are still densely punctuated by holy wells and holy springs that are now attributed to some saint , often a highly local saint unknown elsewhere; in earlier times many of these were seen as guarded by supernatural forces such as the melusina , and many such pre-Christian holy wells appear to survive as baptistries. Not all pre-Christian holy places were respected enough for them to survive, however, as most ancient European sacred groves , such as the pillar Irminsul , were destroyed by Christianizing forces.
During the Reconquista and the Crusades , the cross served the symbolic function of possession that a flag would occupy today. At the siege of Lisbon in , when a mixed group of Christians took the city, "What great joy and what a great abundance there was of pious tears when, to the praise and honor of God and of the most Holy Virgin Mary the saving cross was placed atop the highest tower to be seen by all as a symbol of the city's subjection.
The historicity of several saints has often been treated sceptically by most academics, either because there is a paucity of historical evidence for them, or due to striking resemblances that they have to pre-Christian deities. In the Roman Catholic Church removed some Christian Saints from its universal calendar and pronounced the historicity of others to be dubious.
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The most prominent amongst these is Saint Eustace , who was extremely popular in earlier times, but whom Laura Hibberd sees as a chimera composed from details of several other Saints. Many of these figures of dubious historicity appear to be based on figures from pre-Christian myth and legend, Saint Sarah , for example, also known as Sarah-la-Kali , is thought by Ronald Lee to be a Christianization of Kali , a Hindu deity.
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The cross is currently the most common symbol of Christianity, and has been for many centuries, coming to prominence during the 4th century to AD. The predecessor of the cross as the main Christian symbol was the labarum , a symbol formed by overlaying the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ in the Greek alphabet.
Constantine I is widely considered to have introduced the symbol into Christianity, but the symbol itself predates this. Although Christian tradition argues that Constantine chose the labarum because he had a vision that led him to convert to Christianity , Constantine's conversion is disputed by some historians, [ citation needed ] who see Constantine's motive for choosing the labarum as political, with him deliberately making his banner one which could be interpreted as supporting either of the two major religions of the Roman Empire at the time.
There are several other connections with Christian tradition relating to this choice of symbol: that it was a reference to the feeding of the multitude ; that it referred to some of the apostles having previously been fishermen; or that the word Christ was pronounced by Jews in a similar way to the Hebrew word for fish though Nuna is the normal Aramaic word for fish, making this seem unlikely. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages.
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