In the first few centuries Christians were not allowed to celebrate their faith publicly and were forced to "keep holy the Sabbath" at home.
While Christianity is most commonly associated with large and beautiful churches where the liturgy is celebrated on a regular basis, in the beginning it was a much different story.
Christians were minorities during first few centuries and were persecuted by nearly everyone else. Furthermore, they did not have the resources to erect large, grandiose churches. Instead, they kept the faith and gathered together in private homes.
The Catholic Encyclopediaaffirms “that the first places set apart for Christian worship were rooms in private dwellings is admitted on all hands … the statement itself hardly needs proof.”
Evidence for this is even found in the New Testament, especially in the Acts of the Apostles.
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. (Acts 2:46)
It is believed that St. Paul’s letters are addressed to gatherings of Christians who met at each other’s houses for worship.
The churches of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Prisca together with the church at their house send you many greetings in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 16:19)
These gatherings were typically held in larger homes, but these homes could only accommodate around 40-50 people. This means that these “churches” were rather small and the local pastors ministered to the needs of only a handful of families.
However, once Christianity was no longer under persecution, the growing Church needed to build much bigger buildings to house all of the worshipers. Private homes were no longer needed and Mass could be celebrated openly without any threat.
Interestingly, this was not an isolated incident, and whenever Christianity could not be practiced in public, it would be passed down primarily in the home, surviving countless trials.
In all circumstances, God provides and sustains us, giving us the strength to endure anything.