Theodosius I

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'Theodosius I,; reigned as Roman Emperor from 379 to 395 AD. They played a pivotal role in firmly establishing Nicene Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Their policies and edicts aimed to suppress other religious practices and promote Nicene Christianity led to several instances of violence and confrontations

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Catholicism > Baptism, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Faith, Nicene Christianity, Salvation, Theodosius I

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Catholicism > Theodosius I

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Nicene Christiianty > Catholicism

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Suppression of Paganism: Theodosius enacted several edicts against pagan practices, which had been part of the cultural fabric of the empire for centuries.

Temple Destructions: Several temples across the empire were destroyed or repurposed. The famous Serapeum in Alexandria, a grand temple complex, was notably destroyed in this era, leading to confrontations and violence.

Closing of the Temples: Theodosius ordered the closure of temples, effectively outlawing traditional pagan worship. This met with resistance in many areas, sometimes resulting in violent confrontations between pagans and Christians or between pagans and Roman officials enforcing the edicts.[1]

Statues and Altars: In various cities, the removal of statues or altars dedicated to traditional deities led to local conflicts and upheavals.[2]

Massacre in Thessalonica (390 AD): In response to a local uprising in Thessalonica, which had resulted in the killing of a Roman general, Theodosius ordered a retaliatory massacre. Thousands of Thessalonians were killed in the city's circus. While this event was not directly tied to religious edicts, it gives an idea of the severity with which Theodosius could enforce his decisions. It led to a famous incident where Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, denied Theodosius communion until he performed public penance.[3]

Violence against Heretical Sects: Theodosius did not limit his suppressive policies to paganism. He also targeted Christian groups deemed heretical. Arians, who were once favored under previous emperors, faced persecution. Their churches were often confiscated, and confrontations occasionally resulted in violence.[4]

Jewish Communities: Jewish synagogues were sometimes targeted during Theodosius's reign. In one notable incident, the Bishop of Callinicum ordered the burning of a local synagogue, leading to tensions and conflict.[5]


  1. Cameron, Alan. The Last Pagans of Rome. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011
  2. Parvis, Sara. Marcellus of Ancyra and the Lost Years of the Arian Controversy 325-345. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006
  3. McLynn, Neil B. Ambrose of Milan: Church and Court in a Christian Capital. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.
  4. Williams, Stephen. Theodosius: The Empire at Bay. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994
  5. Goodman, Martin. "Jews and Judaism in the Mediterranean Diaspora from Alexander to Trajan (323 BCE–117 CE)." Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations. New York: Vintage Books, 2007