The Apostles spread out to different countries in order to carry out Christ’s command to teach. They baptised, preached and ruled in various countries to which they were sent. They appointed bishops and priests to rule and minister to the faithful.
They persevered, in spite of sufferings and persecutions, until finally they sealed their faith by martyrdom. Peter and Paul were especially interested in the conversion of the Roman Empire, the most powerful empire of ancient days.
The morals of the Romans were really corrupt; the evil was spreading from the Imperial City of Rome throughout the huge Empire. In Rome alone some 30,000 different “gods” and “goddesses” were worshipped, many of them because of their immorality. The union of the pagan religion and the Empire was so close that to attack it was to be considered a traitor to Rome. For this reason, the full force of the Empire was set against the new religion of the Christians. But the Fisherman did not falter: Peter battled with all his might. He and Paul were both martyred; but others rose to continue the battle for Christ, which lasted for nearly 300 years.
Persecution followed persecution, ten main ones, altogether. The most vicious were those under Nero (64-68) and Diocletian (303-305). Diocletian’s persecution condemned some two million Christians to death. But the more they were persecuted, the faster they increased. Tertullian says: “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christianity.”
At last, in 313 A.D., the banners of Christianity were flung out in victory – peace was granted by the Edict of Milan. Later, Constantine the Great made Christianity the State religion (324 A. D.). He was led to do this when he conquered in battle after seeing a luminous cross in the sky, accompanied by the words: In hoc signo vinces (In this sign you will conquer). His holy mother, Saint Helena, also had a great influence on his conversion.