"Digging Into The Birth of Christmas"
by Ariel David,
The Associated Press
ROME - The church where the tradition of celebrating
Christmas on Dec. 25 may have begun was built near
a pagan shrine as part of an effort to spread Christianity,
a leading Italian scholar says.
Italian archaeologists last month unveiled
an underground grotto that they believe ancient Romans
revered as the place where a wolf nursed Rome's
legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.
A few feet from the grotto, or "Lupercale,"
the Emperor Constantine built the Basilica of St. Anastasia,
where some believe Christmas was first celebrated on Dec. 25.
Constantine ended the frequent waves of anti-Christian
persecutions in the Roman empire by making Christianity
a lawful religion in 313. He played a key roll in
unifying the beliefs and practices of the
early followers of Jesus.
In 325, he convened the Council of Nicaea,
which fixed the dates of important Christian festivals.
It opted to mark Christmas, then celebrated at
varying dates, on Dec. 25 to coincide with the Roman festival
celebrating the birth of the sun god, Andrea Carandini,
a professor of archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza University,
told reporters Friday. The Basilica of St. Anastasia
was built as soon as a year after the Nicaean Council.
It probably was where Christmas was first marked on Dec. 25,
part of broader efforts to link pagan practices to
Christian celebrations in the early days of the
new religion, Carandini said.
"The church was built to Christianize these
pagan places of worship," he said. "It was normal
to put a church near these places
to try to 'save' them."
Rome's archaeological superintendent Angelo Bottini,
who did not take part in Carandini's research,
said that hypothesis was "evocative and coherent"
and "helps us understand the mechanisms of the passage
from paganism to Christianity."
Bottini and Carandini both said future digs
could bolster the link between the shrine and the church
if structures belonging to the "Lupercale" are found
directly below the basilica.
The "Lupercale" shrine - named after the "lupa,"
Latin for she-wolf - is 52 feet below the ground.
From THE URANTIA BOOK
Part IV, 122, 8
The Birth of Jesus
All that night Mary was restless so that neither of them slept much. By the break of day the pangs of childbirth were well in evidence, and at noon, August 21, 7 B.C., with the help and kind ministrations of women fellow travelers, Mary was delivered of a male child. Jesus of Nazareth was born into the world, was wrapped in the clothes which Mary had brought along for such a possible contingency, and laid in a near-by manger.
In just the same manner as all babies before that day and since have come into the world, the promised child was born; and on the eighth day, according to the Jewish practice, he was circumcised and formally named Joshua (Jesus).
The next day after the birth of Jesus, Joseph made his enrollment. Meeting a man they had talked with two nights previously at Jericho, Joseph was taken by him to a well-to-do friend who had a room at the inn, and who said he would gladly exchange quarters with the Nazareth couple. That afternoon they moved up to the inn, where they lived for almost three weeks until they found lodgings in the home of a distant relative of Joseph.
The second day after the birth of Jesus, Mary sent word to Elizabeth that her child had come and received word in return inviting Joseph up to Jerusalem to talk over all their affairs with Zacharias. The following week Joseph went to Jerusalem to confer with Zacharias. Both Zacharias and Elizabeth had become possessed with the sincere conviction that Jesus was indeed to become the Jewish deliverer, the Messiah, and that their son John was to be his chief of aides, his right-hand man of destiny. And since Mary held these same ideas, it was not difficult to prevail upon Joseph to remain in Bethlehem, the City of David, so that Jesus might grow up to become the successor of David on the throne of all Israel. Accordingly, they remained in Bethlehem more than a year, Joseph meantime working some at his carpenter’s trade.
At the noontide birth of Jesus the seraphim of Urantia, assembled under their directors, did sing anthems of glory over the Bethlehem manger, but these utterances of praise were not heard by human ears. No shepherds nor any other mortal creatures came to pay homage to the babe of Bethlehem until the day of the arrival of certain priests from Ur, who were sent down from Jerusalem by Zacharias.
Christmas children, is not a date,
it is a state of mind.
Mary Ellen Chase
American Author & Educator
He who has not Christmas in his heart,
will never find it under a tree.
Roy L. Smith
.I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year.
The character Ebenezer Scrooge in
A CHRISTMAS CAROL