In the early period of the Roman Empire, treatment of Christians was harsh. They were persecuted and martyred for their faith.
Christians in Rome
Rome was a pagan city, and many Roman leaders felt threatened by Christianity. Christians were discriminated against in society, and those who refused to recant their beliefs often lost their rights and properties. Churches and bibles were burned, and Christians were forbidden from meeting together. Those of the Christian faith were blamed whenever Rome faced a drought or other catastrophe because people believed that their faith insulted the Roman gods.
Nero and the Christians
Perhaps one of the most brutal time periods of Christian persecution occurred under Emperor Nero. Following the fire that consumed most of the city, Nero placed the blame on Christians. He had them arrested and tortured until they confessed. The Roman people turned firmly against Christians, and this began a period where they were put to death publicly in the forum for entertainment. Christian believers were thrown to wild animals, set on fire and crucified.
Edict of Milan
When Constantine I became emperor, the Edict of Milan was issued. The proclamation established permanent religious tolerance for Christianity and marked a turn in the fate of Christians in the Roman Empire. The edict further stated that meeting places and property were to be returned, marking a shift in Roman culture that would have lasting implications.