Justin Martyr was a Christian catechist living in Rome who was martyred, along with several of his students, in the mid-second century. His First Apology, written in the style of a classical speech of defense, was addressed to the household of the non-Christian Emperor Antoninus Pius, defending the new faith and arguing for their conversion to Christianity.
The Didache probably represents the type of small Christian group that met in the region of Syria, perhaps outside of the city of Antioch. By the fifth century, this hilly countryside was dotted with small churches and baptistries, but in the late first century, there were probably no buildings specifically designated as churches. Christianity was still a proscribed religion, and the Christians of a village or rural area gathered after work. Although they did not necessarily meet in secret, they certainly did not publicize their gathering loudly.
Ancient sources reveal that a tradition of daily prayer at stated hours developed quite early in the history of the church. The practice of assembling for these times of daily prayer was derived in part from Jewish custom and is mentioned in the New Testament. Christian daily prayer evolved into two forms: monastic prayer, practiced by members of separated communities (originally of laypeople), and cathedral prayer, for which members of the local congregations would assemble with their bishop and other leaders. Daily prayer included the recitation of psalms and hymns, with congregational responses. Some elements in historic Christian liturgies seem to have originated in the practice of daily prayer.
The practice of the church year, which has developed over centuries in the Roman Catholic tradition, underwent major revision as a result of the Second Vatican Council. The changes were designed to recover the primacy of the “paschal mystery” of Christ’s death and resurrection in both of the major cycles, the Christological and the sanctoral.