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The Significance of York for Early Christianity

December 20, 2010

Last week we took a trip south to see the historic town of York. One of the interesting things about the city is that it has been around since AD 71 when the Romans established a fort there housing several thousand troops. The ruins of the fort  can be seen in the crypt beneath the medieval minster, since the minster was built on top of the Roman site. One of the artifacts contained in the crypt is a small bit of pottery with a chi-rho etched on it, an early symbol abbreviating the name Jesus Christ. Thus, there was a Christianity community here during the Roman period, though we don’t know much about it. Still, York is a significant place, for it was here in the year AD 306 that Constantine was elevated to the purple. His father Constantius I died that year, and as a result Constantine’s soldiers proclaimed him the new emperor. Constantine eventually became the first Christian emperor, and ended the persecutions of Christians within the Roman Empire. Just beside the minster is a (modern) statue of Constantine commemorating the event of 306. And in the crypt of the church are the ruins of a couple of ancient statues of Constantine from the period. Here is a picture of the minster, built during the middle ages:
























And here is a picture of Constantine’s statue:

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