The Roman hunted early Christians as criminals since they refused to worship Roman gods and that was against the law. Christian went into hiding because they were wanted for questioning about anti-government activity. If they were arrested and found guilty, they would be thrown to the lions.
A secret sign was agreed upon: a drawing of a fish.
Even though Christianity was illegal and there was severe punishment of anyone caught attending a Christian meeting, the new religion grew rapidly. Christians were always trying to convert people.
Christianity attracted many poor Roman converts for two reasons. First, Christianity promised that if you lived your life well you went to heaven when you died. In the Roman religion, only the gods could live in heaven. Second, all Christians were considered equal to every other Christian. There was no nobility or higher caste.
Things changed in 313 CE, when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and made Christianity legal. After a short time, Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome. Later, it became law that citizens of Rome must be Christian.
Source: The Rise of Christianity in Ancient Rome
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