(Friday Church News Notes, December 28, 2007, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143) - The following is excerpted from an Associated Press article "First December 25 Xmas Tied to Pagan Shrine," dated Dec. 22, 2007: "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. ... In 325, Constantine 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.'" CONCLUDING NOTE FROM BROTHER CLOUD: I have visited Rome three times and on each occasion I have been more strongly impressed by the fact that Roman Catholicism is Christianized paganism. See part 4 of our report "In the Footsteps of Bible Translators" -- http://www.wayoflife.org/fbns/in-thefootsteps-bibletrans/Page-4.htm. The Protestants kept too many of Rome's practices, and Baptists have adopted too many things from the Protestants. If someone wants to meditate on Jesus' birth at this time of the year, that is their business as far as I am concerned, but we must not deceive ourselves by thinking that Christmas is a biblical institution. It has far more to do with Romanism and paganism than biblicism. One thing wise Christians can do with Christmas is use it as an evangelistic opportunity. It is a great opportunity to explain who Jesus is and why He came.