Faithful Heroes: Constantine, spread Christianity throughout Empire

 

Constantine the Great is credited with bringing Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, which spread throughout much of the known world at the time.

When Jesus was crucified, the Roman empire ruled a large portion of the then known world, including the Holy Land {where Jesus lived}.

Marble statue of Constantine

Historians say the first recorded official persecution of Christians on behalf of the Roman Empire was in AD 64. Peter and Paul are believed to have been martyred during this time.

The persecutions continued for two and a half centuries. The Great Persecution occurred between 303-311, when Christian buildings and homes were torn down and all sacred books and relics were burned. Christians were arrested, tortured and put to death.

In 312 AD, Constantine became Caesar over the western half of the Roman Empire. He became emperor of the entire empire in 324.

Most historians believe, are they are not certain, that Constantine was exposed to Christianity from his mother, Helena.

Constantine mosaic by Hagia Sophia circa 1000AD

Historians are uncertain of how Constantine came to be a Christian and a believer.

In 312, he fought in the Battle of Milvian Bridge in the name of the Christian faith. The night before the battle Constantine is said to have had a dream which is described as, “he saw the sun—the object of his own worship—overlain by the figure of a cross. Beneath it was inscribed the simple message in hoc signo vinces, which translates as “In this sign, prevail.” Constantine needed no further persuasion. The next morning he ordered his men to paint crosses upon their shields. They then marched into war, accordingly, as “Christian soldiers.”

In 313, Constantine and Licinius, wrote the Edict of Milan which stated “that it was proper that the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared best,” thereby granting tolerance to all religions, including Christianity.” This ceased the persecutions that has been taking place.

This Edict reaffirmed the importance of religious worship within the empire.

Statue of Constantine in England

This was a turning point in the early Christian church.

After passing the edict, Constantine became a patron of the Christian church and supported the church financially. He had numerous basilicas built, granted privileges to the clergy, endowed the church with land and wealth,promoted Christians to high ranking offices,passed edicts or laws favoring the Christians and helped Christians in a variety of other ways such as confiscating property, etc.

Between 324-330, he built a new imperial capital named Constantinople. The city overtly displayed Christian architecture, churches and relics.

In 325, he was summoned to solve a dispute of the First Council of Nicaean, as attempts were made by Christians to define the orthodoxy of the entire Christian church.

In 331, Constantine commissioned to have fifty Bibles delivered to the Church of Constantinople. He also strove to ensure that God was properly worshiped.

In May 337, Constantine was baptized into Christianity. He died on May 22, 337 at the age of sixty-five. He was buried at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople.

Due to his work as a patron of the church and a Christian emperor, Constantine is revered by the Orthodox and Catholic churches as a saint and given the title of Constantine the Great.

For ending persecution, spreading Christianity throughout the empire, Constantine is one of our faithful heroes.

 

 

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