The spread of early Christianity was not rapid, yet in just a few hundred years it grew from a small, often persecuted sect to the dominant western religion. Widespread preaching from apostles such as Paul (it is said he covered 10,000 miles in 30 years) allowed Christian teachings to be heard by many; the poor and desperate were particularly receptive to the Christian promise of eternal life. Yet Christians faced persecution, most notably under Nero in 64 CE after the Great Fire of Rome. The spread of the Christian message, however, did not waver and much of the persecution was short-lived and isolated. As the faith grew, the Christian church became more organized and a turning point came when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 CE. Free worship was tolerated and there was a general shift towards a Christian Roman Empire.
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