When Constantine became the first Christian leader of the Roman Empire in the 4th century, his vast territory was populated by a hodgepodge of beliefs and religions.

Within his own young religion, there was also dissent, with one major question threatening to cleave the popular cult — as it was at the time — into warring factions: Was Jesus divine, and how?

It’s hard to imagine riots in the streets, pamphlet wars and vicious rhetoric spawned by such a question, but that was the nature of things in A.D. 325, when Constantine was forced to take action to quell the controversy.

Supporters on both sides scrawled graffiti on town walls in defiance while bishops from across the empire entered into a war of words as the controversy simmered to a head in 324.

Fearing unrest in his otherwise peaceful territory, Constantine summoned the bishops to his lake house in Nicea on June 19, 325.

Advertisements