The Church is the mystical body of Christ. In Scripture, Jesus says “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Mt 18.20)
So the Church doesn’t strictly need special buildings, because the Church is the people. Nonetheless, from early on, Christians dedicated buildings for their communal worship to God. Most of these early churches are long lost to history, yet a few from the first few centuries still remain, at least in some condition.
[See also: 6 of the Oldest Images of Our Lord Jesus Christ]
Here is a picture of the oldest known church that’s still standing (at least partially):
This might not seem like much, but wait ’til you see what they found inside.
Located in Dura-Europos, Syria, its known today simply as the “Dura-Europos house church.” Its believed to have been built around A.D. 229 as a house and started being used as a church between A.D. 233 and 256. This means that it’s around 1782 years old.
As you can see from the picture, only a few walls are left. It was excavated in the early 20th century, and scientists found some pretty interesting things.
First off, they found fragments of scrolls with Eucharistic prayers that are related to the text of the Didache (an early, extra-biblical Christian text dated to the 1st century).
But most amazing, the church had incredible frescoes in the area used as a baptistry (where they would do baptisms). These are some of the oldest Christian images in the world.
You can click on any image to see it full size.
This one is a depiction of the Gospel story of the healing of the paralytic:
Here’s Christ and Peter walking on water:
Here is Christ as the good shepherd:
The Samaritan woman at the well:
And the women at the tomb:
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