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However, there were strands within Christianity dating back to the time of the apostles that emphasized asceticism, celibacy, poverty or moral perfection. Fasting was an accepted discipline in the early church. It became customary for older widows to remain single and devote themselves to prayer and church work. Celibacy was lauded as a higher calling by not only St. Paul, but also The Shepherd of Hermas and the Marcionites. In 305, a synod in Spain required celibacy of bishops. By then, the custom had already been established that members of the clergy should not marry or (if widowed) remarry after ordination.





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