Little Denis and the Christian Calendar

Dionysius based his Easter table
on the date of the Incarnation: ab incarnatione domini nostri Jesu Christi. The perennial feast days commemorated the Incarnation of
our Lord, the occasion of our redemption, and the source of our hope.

Arno Borst , The Ordering of Time

For most of the modern world, history begins with the birth of Jesus and every historical event is dated Anno Domini, the "Year of Our Lord." This was not always the case. The first Christians used the Jewish calendar, and early Christian historians employed the Roman system of dating events by the reigns of emperors. Later, some Christians abandoned the Roman system and began to date their calendars from the "Age of Martyrs," a particularly savage period of Christian persecution under Emperor Diocletian (284-305 A.D.). In the sixth century, however, Dionysius Exiguus ("Little Denis"), a Scythian monk, decided to commence the Christian calendar from a more auspicious date - the birth of Jesus. When Little Denis initiated the practice of dating calendars from the "Year of Our Lord," he was formally acknowledging the apparent absurdity which the Christian world had long understood - that, symbolically, if not literally, history begins with the birth of a Galilean peasant.
Canadian Heritage Information Network, The Provincial Museum of Alberta,

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