Early Christianity in Aquincum (Óbuda)

Early Christianity in Aquincum (Óbuda)

From AD 200

The western, Transdanubian region of old Hungary was conquered by the Romans in the 1st century BC and became the province named Pannonia of the Roman Empire—Imperium Romanum. This border province defended the empire from the northeast.

site of Aquincum
View of Buda built on the site of Aquincum.

The Romans established the town of Aquincum on the western bank of the Danube River, which was the eastern frontier of Pannonia and the Roman Empire at the same time. The western side of Budapest, Buda, stands on the site of Aquincum. In AD 106 Pannonia was divided into two regions and Aquincum became the capital of Pannonia Inferior.

Beginning with the reign of Emperor Claudius (AD 41–54), a Roman cavalry unit of 500 men was sent to Aquincum. From AD 89 a legion of 6000 soldiers was stationed permanently in the town.

A military town was built surrounding the legionary fortress , where the families of the legionaries, craftsmen, etc. lived, about 20,000–30,000 residents. A civil town was established 2 km north of the fortress. The town was promoted to the status of municipium around AD 124 during the reign of Emperor Hadrian, and to the status of colonia in AD 194 under Emperor Septimius Severus. From the middle of the 1st century to the end of the 4th century, almost every Roman emperor visited Aquincum.

Museum in Budapest
The ruins of Aquincum and the building of the Aquincum Museum in Budapest.

The ruins of the Roman town of Aquincum can be seen in different places in Buda, but primarily in the Aquincum Museum. Due to continuous archeological excavations and research, new artifacts are continually found.

The residents of Aquincum were polytheists according to the pagan Roman tradition. They built altars and monuments to many “gods”, and offered sacrifices to them.

There’s evidence that Christianity has been present in Aquincum since the 3rd century. Valerius Constantinus—Constantine the Great—, the first Roman emperor to be converted to Christianity, issued the Edict of Milan in AD 313, which guaranteed freedom of religion in the Roman Empire. Christianity was given legal rights and the persecution of Christians ceased. After this edict Christian places of worship were erected in Aquincum, and some of their ruins can still be seen. Christianity in Aquincum continued after the fall of the Western Roman Empire in AD 476, and centuries later the conquering Magyars found Christian communities there.

 

1.These “gods” are mentioned in Aurelius Augustine’s (AD 354–430 ) work, the City of God (De civitate Dei). Augustinus proves how useless and ridiculous pagan polytheism is.

 

The Remains of Early Christian Buildings and Cemeteries in Aquincum

  • Basilica in the civil town. Aquincum Museum, Budapest, 3rd district, 139 Szentendrei St.
  • Funerary chapel surrounded by a cemetery in the civil town. Aquincum Museum, Budapest, 3rd district, 139 Szentendrei St.
  • Funerary chapel (cella trichora). Budapest, 3rd district, intersection of Körte St. and Raktár St.
  • Basilica, a church and convent of the Poor Clares was built over it in the 13th century. Budapest, 3rd district, Vöröskereszt St.
  • Funerary chapel (cella quinquichora), an early medieval Franciscan church and friary was built over it. Budapest, 3rd district, Kiskorona St.
  • Basilica. Budapest, 3rd district, Perc St.
  • Basilica in Contra-Aquincum. Budapest, 5th district, March 15 Square.
  • Part of a cemetery. Budapest, 3rd district, 105 Szentendrei St.
  • Part of a cemetery. Budapest, 3rd district,  Kaszásdûlõ, Raktárrét.
  • Early Christian burial places. Budapest, 3rd district, intersection of Vihar St., Szél St. and Berend St.
  • Part of a cemetery. Budapest, 3rd district, intersection of Bécsi Rd. and Váradi St.
funeralfuneral2
The ruins of an early Christian funerary chapel built around AD 360, the cella trichora, in the military town of Aquincum. Budapest, 3rd district, at the intersection of Körte St. and  Raktár St.

Early Christianity in Pannonia | Early Christianity in Sopianae (Pécs)