An Overview of Black History

Compiled & Edited by Phillip True, Jr.

11. Africans in the Roman Empire

Many people are not aware of the African influence on the Roman Empire, and the Roman Church. Christianity had become the "State" religion in Rome, African spirituality was completely suppressed and the "Isis Sect" (Osiris, the Father; Horus, the Son; Isis, the Mother of the Son) was no longer practiced openly.

As Christianity came into focus, three African Popes emerged in church history, Pope Victor I; Pope Militiades; and Pope Gelasius. Pope Victor I, came to power in 168 A.D., at a time when the date of Easter was very controversial. The fact that Easter Day is always celebrated on a Sunday is due to the decision of Pope Victor I, the fourteenth in line after Saint Peter. The second African pope was Militiades, a Black priest who was elected the thirty-seventh pope in 311 A.D. Militiades was the first pope to have an official residence. It was under Pope Militiades' reign that Constantine was converted to Christianity. A split came about in the church after Constantine began intervening in church affairs. Militiades died in 314 A.D. and was the last pope to be buried in the famous Catacombs.

The third African pope was Gelasius, who was born in Rome to African parents. He received a superior education. In his youth, Gelasius was a member of the Roman clergy. As pope Gelasius arranged several rules for the clergy, including allowing the use of wine at the Holy Communion.

Galasius has been recognized as one of the most vigorous, resourceful popes in the 5th Century. His writings and sermons have been quoted down through the ages. Gelasius composed many hymns. He also arranged a standard Mass book. Gelasius died in 496 A.D.

It has been said that Rome fell because she threw her doors too wide open by permitting Africans to become State and Church dignitaries. The reality of the fall of Rome is that Roman power weakened when the strength and efficiency of the Roman army deteriorated. The prevailing thought about Africans has been that it was only through the colonizing and Christianizing of Africans that they could hope to become civilized. The facts contained in the records of history, which may be examined, prove that Africans had highly developed civilized nations long before Europe or the Christian church was born. The church today, for example, continues to observe ancient Egyptian (African) practices without their knowledge.

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