In A.D. 70 (nearly forty years after the death of Christ), and again in A.D. 135, serious Jewish revolts were put down amid much bloodshed. In reaction, Roman hatred of everything Jewish became intense. Soon after this second Jewish rebellion, Emperor Hadrian issued an edict, strictly prohibiting the observance of the Seventh-day Sabbath. But, fortunately, imperial decrees tended to be short-lived, and Christians scattered throughout the Empire generally disregarded it. However, in the city of Rome itself, the capital of the empire, matters were different.
Anicetus, the local bishop (religious leader) of the Christian church in the city of Rome (men would today call him the "pope") , demanded that all of the Christians everywhere keep holy the first day of the week instead of the true Bible Sabbath, which was on the Seventh day of the week. At the risk of his life, the aged Polycarp of Smyrna (a close friend of the Apostle John before his death about 100 A.D.) traveled all the way to Rome to protest this apostasy. This was about the year 155 A.D. Anicetus, the Roman bishop, listened to what he had to say but refused to change his position. Polycarp returned home and was martyred the next year.