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Mithra was a character who was worshipped as a Good Shepherd, the Way, the Truth and the Light, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Messiah and a solar deity. A religion in his name was founded in the 6th century BCE. Mithraism was one of the most popular religions in the Roman Empire, especially among soldiers and civil servants. It was the leading rival of Christianity. Much like Jesus, Mithra was believed to have been born of a virgin on the 25th December. He was visited by shepherds and by Magi. He traveled through the countryside, taught, and performed miracles with his twelve disciples[?]. He cast out devils, returned sight to the blind, healed the lame and so on. Symbols associated with Mithra were a lion and a lamb. He held a last supper, was killed and buried in a rock tomb. He rose again three days later, at the time of the spring equinox, circa 21st March. Later he ascended into heaven. Mithraism celebrated the anniversary of his resurrection, similar to the Christian Easter. They held services on Sunday. Rituals included a Eucharist and six other sacraments that corresponded to later Christian rituals. Some individuals who are skeptical about stories of Jesus' life suspect that Christianity may have appropriated many details of Mithraism in order to make their religion more acceptable to Pagans. St. Augustine even stated that the priests of Mithra worshipped the same God as he did.

Also see: mithraism

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