Constantine And Christianity

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Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, or Constantine, is commonly referred to as the fist Christian emperor of the Roman Empire and as the defender of Christianity. Such grand titles are not necessarily due for the reasons that people commonly think of them today.

The first clear instance where Christianity is seen in Constantine's life is during his campaign against Maxentius. In the spring of 311, when Constantine was marching to Rome to battle against Maxentius, he saw a vision in the sky, a bright cross along with the words "by this sign conquer." Later that night, he had a dream in which God told him to use that sign as a safeguard to use in all of his future battles. Constantine awoke and immediately ordered his troops to inscribe the chi-rho, the sign he saw – a combination of the Greek letters chi and rho, onto their shields (Constantine Converts to Christianity 312). Some historians have deemed it more appropriate to consider Constantine a patron of Christianity at this point rather than a convert as it appears that he is using it as a means to conquer and attributes his success to it rather being convicted and committed to Jesus Christ as a true Christian should (Legitimization Under Constantine). Meanwhile, at the same time that Constantine is having holy visions and dreams, Maxentius sought guidance and confirmation from pagan oracles and found a prophecy declaring the "the enemy of the Romans would parish." Emboldened by this prophecy, he left the defensive position of Rome and met Constantine at Milvian Bridge. Constantine was victorious despite having an army about a third of the size of Maxentius'. It is said that Maxentius' army became confused and scattered during the battle. Maxentius was drive...

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...nyone's prerogative. One thing is for certain – the Christian world would not be what it is today without the presence of Constantine the Great to influence its direction about seventeen hundred years ago.


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