Originating in either India or Persia, the cult of Mithras found welcome in Rome by the first century BCE, and even became a popular cult among the legions and emperors of the Roman Empire. The deity at the center of the cult was a bull-slaying god of light, but Mithras worship grew and adapted into a perfect imperial organization. At the cult’s greatest, most evolved form, Mithras was known as Sol Invictus, the Undying Sun. Constantine the Great, before converting to Christianity, was a life-long adherent of Sol Invictus, leading to wariness about the origin of his personally-named weekday, Sunday.
- Mithras was supposedly born on December 25th, the same day Christians celebrate Jesus’ birthday.
- The mythology of Mithras claims that he, like Jesus, was born from a mortal woman.
- The cult of Mithras held a regular ceremonial meal of bread and water, similar to the Eucharist of bread and wine (or grape juice) used by Christian churches. Also like the Eucharist, the meal of the cult of Mithras also represented blood and body, though theirs was in reference to the bull-slaying myth of their deity.