Did you know...
That when Christianity was born, it was the only religion on the planet that had no sacred objects, no sacred persons, and no sacred spaces? The Christian faith was born in homes, out in courtyards, and along roadsides.
When Constantine became emperor of the entire Roman Empire in 324 he began ordering the construction of church buildings. He did so to promote the popularity and acceptance of Christianity, thinking that if the Christians had their own sacred buildings - as did the Jews and the pagans - their faith would be regarded as legitimate. He named his church buildings after the saints - just as the pagans named their temples after gods.
The church edifices built under Constantine were patterned after the model of the basilica. They were wonderful for seating passive and docile crowds to watch a performance. Christian basilicas possessed an elevated platform where the clergy ministered. The platform was usually elevated by several steps. There was also a rail or screen that separated the clergy from the laity. In the center of the building was the altar whereupon the Eucharist was offered. No one but the clergy, who were regarded as "holy men," were allowed to receive the Eucharist within the altar rails.
In front of the altar stood "the bishop's chair" (cathedra - meaning "throne") surrounded by two rows of chairs reserved for the elders. The sermon was preached from the bishop's chair with power and authority resting in the chair. Interestingly, most present-day church buildings have special chairs for the pastor and his staff situated on the platform behind the pulpit (with which the reformers replaced the altar table).
The result of this was that there was a loss of intimacy and open participation. The professional clergy performed the acts of worship while the laity looked on as spectators. The church building demonstrates that the church, whether she wanted it or not, had entered into a close alliance with pagan culture. Church buildings took the place of temples; church endowments replaced temple lands and funds. Under Constantine, tax exempt status was granted for all church property.
Even after he became emperor, Constantine allowed the old pagan institutions to remain as they were. Following his conversion to Christianity, Constantine never did abandon sun worship. In AD 321, Constantine decreed that Sunday would be a day of rest - a legal holiday. It appears that Constantine's intention in doing this was to honor the god Mithras, the Unconquered Sun.
Almost to his dying day, Constantine still functioned as the high priest of paganism. In fact, he retained the title Pontifex Maximus, which means chief of the pagan priests! In the fifteenth century, this same title became the honorific title for the Roman Catholic pope.