These frescoes adorned the oldest extant Christian house church

When imagining church buildings, our thoughts naturally move towards medieval flying buttresses or Byzantine domes. The early Church, however, had no such grand architecture to mesmerize the faithful. In fact, Christian persecution at the dawn of the first millennium forced most to worship in secret. This is when the traditional house church thrived. 

A house church is a private residence that has been modified to serve as a place of worship. The roots of this tradition go all the way back to The Acts of the Apostles, where (in Acts 1:13) Jesus’ disciples gathered in the Cenacle, or “Upper Room,” of a house. These were the first churches in the world and they were pivotal to the spread of Christianity.

House churches fostered rich and devout communities who treated one another like family. Even after the Edict of Milan brought about widespread tolerance of Christianity in 313, many house churches remained active for years.

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