Between history and legend

Battaglia ponte Milvio. Visione della croce. Raffaello. Sala di Costantino. Musei VaticaniSt. Constantine Emperor. Constantine the Great, first Christian emperor of Rome, was born at Nish in Illyria, today’s Nis, Albania in the year 280 and died in Nicomedia, in modern Turkey, in 337.

His father Costantius Chlorox was a senior army officer, who became ruler of the Roman Empire in 305,  following the abdication of Diocletian. In consequence of the death of Constantius, which took place the following year, Constantine was proclaimed emperor by his army. This choice was disputed by other generals, who started a long series of civil wars, which ended in 312 with the defeat of the Emperor of the last of his rivals, Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge on the outskirts of Rome.

Milvian Bridge, at the time, was located on the outskirts of Rome. Countless legends are developed around this battle, named after the place where it was over.

The battle lasted several days and note the importance it had in history. Constantine,Visione della croce. Sala di Costantino, Musei Vaticani, Raffaello following a vision, he was convinced he had won the victory over Maxentius by the grace of the Christian god. The conversion of Constantine marks the victory of Christianity over paganism.

Eusebius wrote: “A great sign appeared in heaven … when the sun began to decline, he saw with his own eyes in the sky, higher than the sun, the trophy of a cross of light on which were traced the words IN HOC SIGNO Vices . Was filled with amazement and with him his army. “(Eus. VC 37-40)

Christ would appear in a dream, “urging Constantine to put that symbol on the shields of soldiers with those heavenly signs of God and then begin the battle. He did so in this way and turning on itself and bending the upper tip of the Greek letter X (chi), marked the shields with the abbreviation of the word Chrestos (Christ)” (Lact., 16-17) and that with this were Victores (Adm. XXV, 6, 3, ND VII).

Donazione di Costantino. Raffaello. Sala di Costantino. Musei VaticaniThe next morning, Constantine ordered, not only was inserted the monogram of the initials of Christ in greek (XP) on the shields of the soldiers, who incidentally wore the sun, but even that was created the Labarum, the banner, which was changed upon the ‘ Roman eagle of Jupiter, and which all the soldiers were supposed to refer.

With the victory, Constantine became the undisputed ruler of the Roman Empire, and Licinius reigned over that of the East. In 323 Constantine attacked and defeated Licinius and also from that time until his death in 337, was the only ruler of the entire Roman Empire.

In 313, was issued Constantine’s edict in Milan, with whom he decreed valid in all respects the Christian religion in addition to forms of paganism have already been distributed in the population of the empire. In consequence of this edict there was the returning of possessions ecclesiastical community previously confiscated during periods of persecution. They were also adopted policies to encourage the spread. Constantine was the proponent of the transformation of Christianity from a small persecuted sect to one of Europe’s most important religions.

Empress Helena. We have limited biographical data about Flavia Julia Helena,Icona ortodossa con SantElena e suo figlio Costantino il Grande e la vera croceConstantine’s mother and Constantius Chlorox’wife. According to the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, she became a Christian after conversion of her son, who was very close. She is celebrated by the Catholic Church that the Orthodox Church under the name of Empress Helena. The figure of Helen in the Christian tradition is linked to his alleged discovery of the cross of Christ, during a trip to Palestine, 327-328, described by Eusebius. Together with the Cross were found also three nails, which were given as a gift to Constantine, one was forged in a bite of his horse, the other was embedded in the Iron Crown, kept in the cathedral of Monza. During the pilgrimage she performed acts of Christian piety and built several churches.

The Empress died in 328 or 329 and was buried in the mausoleum of Helena, at the Church of Saints Peter and Marcellinus. The sarcophagus, preserved in the Vatican Museums, portrays the military issues and why you think it was originally intended for the child. St. Helena is considered the protector of manufacturers of nails and needles, perhaps because it was deemed discoverer of those served by the crucifixion, she was cited for lost items, again because of the miraculous recovery of the instruments of the Passion in Russia flax seed in his feast day, so long as her hair grow.

The iconography, especially the eastern one, often depicts Constantine and St. Helena with the two sides of the Cross, in memory of the merits of the two Saints, Constantine granted religious freedom to Christians, Helena found the True Cross.

Papa Silvestro ISt. Sylvester. Sylvester I, pope, was for twenty years bishop of Rome (314-335). He lived the era of transformation of pagan Rome to Christian Rome, between the last persecutions and the era of peace inaugurated by the Emperor Constantine. Pope Sylvester I organized the Roman church life, and, thanks also to the political and financial support of the Emperor Constantine, ordered the construction of the first major basilicas. The Liber Pontificialis – the book of the Popes is an important source for the history of the early Middle Ages – said that Sylvester was to pray Constantine found the basilica of St. Peter on the Vatican hill above an existing temple of Apollo, buried the body of Apostle in a sarcophagus. They were responsible for the construction of two other major basilicas in Rome: that of St. Paul on the Via Ostiense and one in honor of St. John. The Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 was held under his pontificate. Legend has it that Sylvester has named Constantine, but historical sources indicate that the emperor received the sacrament in the vicinity of Kocaeli to the work of Eusebius, bishop of that city.

Legend tell that the pontiff was given by Constantine the “Donate”, later revealed as aDonazione di Roma. Raffaello. Sala di Costantino. Musei Vaticanihoax, in exchange for the cure leprosy. Renzo Di Mario writes in his book Portraits Sabines “left Rome, where raging devastating imperial persecution, took refuge in the ruins of a temple of Apollo, on top of Mount Soratte. While a dark and stormy night, he watched in prayer, he saw, in the direction of the Sabine mountains, an intense glow, just below the heights where the sun was about to emerge. In the meantime, the storm gradually vanished, the flash of the sun grew more and more. The saint understood that God wanted to draw his attention to those peaks wooded and went away in the direction of Mount Tancia. Arrived on the scene after driving about twenty miles, he learned that just appeared on the site where the light was a cave which was lying in the middle of a large stalactite, worshiped as a god Sabine influential. Sylvester strove to convert immediately the guards, destroyed the idol and put in place an altar dedicated to St. Michael, the holy of the heights. “Well, so far the sentences in the book by Di Mario. The same Dante in Canto XXVI of the Inferno reminded the legend that Constantine cured on Mount Soratte in exchange for the cure of leprosy, gave to the pope the surrounding lands.

Battesimo di Costantino. Raffaello. Sala di Costantino. Musei VaticaniThe Depositio episcoporum of 354, dates on December 31, his burial in the cemetery of Priscilla on Via Salaria. And December 31 is celebrated on his feast day, and night, called New Year’s Eve, the world celebrates the transition from the old to the new year, following ways, traditions and customs, the eastern church celebrates on January 2.

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