Skip to comments.The Edict of Milan (1700 anniversary)
Posted on 06/19/2013 5:10:26 AM PDT by annalex
Constantine Augustus and Licinius Augustus
When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I Licinius Augustus fortunately met near Mediolanum (Milan), and were considering everything that pertained to the public welfare and security, we thought -, among other things which we saw would be for the good of many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence of the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the Christians and others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred; whence any Divinity whatsoever in the seat of the heavens may be propitious and kindly disposed to us and all who are placed under our rule And thus by this wholesome counsel and most upright provision we thought to arrange that no one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion which he should think best for himself, so that the Supreme Deity, to whose worship we freely yield our hearts) may show in all things His usual favor and benevolence. Therefore, your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship. When you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases ; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion.
Moreover, in the case of the Christians especially we esteemed it best to order that if it happens anyone heretofore has bought from our treasury from anyone whatsoever, those places where they were previously accustomed to assemble, concerning which a certain decree had been made and a letter sent to you officially, the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any claim of recompense and without any kind of fraud or deception, Those, moreover, who have obtained the same by gift, are likewise to return them at once to the Christians. Besides, both those who have purchased and those who have secured them by gift, are to appeal to the vicar if they seek any recompense from our bounty, that they may be cared for through our clemency,. All this property ought to be delivered at once to the community of the Christians through your intercession, and without delay. And since these Christians are known to have possessed not only those places in which they were accustomed to assemble, but also other property, namely the churches, belonging to them as a corporation and not as individuals, all these things which we have included under the above law, you will order to be restored, without any hesitation or controversy at all, to these Christians, that is to say to the corporations and their conventicles: providing, of course, that the above arrangements be followed so that those who return the same without payment, as we have said, may hope for an indemnity from our bounty. In all these circumstances you ought to tender your most efficacious intervention to the community of the Christians, that our command may be carried into effect as quickly as possible, whereby, moreover, through our clemency, public order may be secured. Let this be done so that, as we have said above, Divine favor towards us, which, under the most important circumstances we have already experienced, may, for all time, preserve and prosper our successes together with the good of the state. Moreover, in order that the statement of this decree of our good will may come to the notice of all, this rescript, published by your decree, shall be announced everywhere and brought to the knowledge of all, so that the decree of this, our benevolence, cannot be concealed.
from Lactantius, De Mort. Pers., ch. 48. opera, ed. 0. F. Fritzsche, II, p 288 sq. (Bibl Patr. Ecc. Lat. XI).
Both texts translated in University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?]), Vol 4:, 1, pp. 28-30
I fixed a few typos. A-x
Nothing against you; I am trying to make a strict policy of dealing only with the topic of the thread. I have been pulled into way to may tangential topics lately.
Next you are going to make the claim that Jesus really meant it when he said “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”.
Who was Your Worship that the letter seemed to be addressing, and who was the Vicar?
It appears that the rulers confiscated the property from the Christians and then either gave it to others as a gift or sold it to others.
It had to be taken away from the ones who had it and given back to the Christians.
It is only natural that these people, at least the ones who paid for it would have been cheated, not by the Christians but by the people who had stolen it from them then sold it.
If these people wanted their money back they had to take it up with the Vicar, since the Christians had nothing to do with it, my question is who was the Vicar and is he the top figure who was in on the theft of the property to begin with? other wise why would they have to go to him.
Maybe i read it wrong, or maybe i assume wrong but it puts a lot of questions into my feeble mind.
There was a meeting between Constantine and Licinius in 313 in Milan, and a little later the emperor Licinius issued an edict of toleration in Nicomedia. Constantine had already been favoring the Christians since his victory over Maxentius in October 312--so the Christians in the western half of the empire did not need an edict of toleration by that point. There was no "Edict of Milan."
There are two books in the New Testament which appear to be letters written by St. Peter but not all scholars agree that they were written by the Apostle Peter. Putting the name of a revered figure on a piece of writing was a common practice (many say that is the case with the book of Daniel in the Old Testament). There are stylistic differences between the two letters. I think some critics would put II Peter after A.D. 100.
Pftt...you obviously don’t know how to read the early church fathers correctly... < /sarc >
Of course. Both episcopacy and priesthood (presbytery) are mentioned in the New Testament a number of times, and St. Ignatius of Antioch, around AD 100, already describes the modern understanding of the episcopacy.
Yup. He meant it. Cuz the Bible tells me so.
The vicar generally refers to Christian clergy, but I cannot say for sure.
Constantine does not seem to be identified as a Christian.
Not in this document, but that is understandable that in this context he only needs to be identified as Western Emperor. However, it si also true that St. Constantine did not become Christian till on his deathbed, as he had been advised not to get baptized while he was still in charge of armies, etc. (Wiki)
Thank you. No one has made any claims of St. Constantine to be impeccable all his life; most people aren’t.
The vicar generally refers to Christian clergy, but I cannot say for sure.
In the thread it looks to me like Both Your Worship and the Vicar are not among the Christian Church, but could be mistaken.
your Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the rescripts formerly given to you officiallyToday, the style "your Worship" is reserved for judges, but it could also be addressed to a bishop. It seems that the letter is supposed to please "his Worship" as it removes the "conditions" imposed on him previously. That the letter is not an official document we can see in the qualifier "officially" attached to the "rescripts" but not to the letter. So, from this letter it is not clear who "his Worship" is, but the composition of the letter makes me think that he is the one notified that the restrictions on his religion are removed, and so he is a high-ranking Christian clergy.
As to the "vicar", here is the context:
appeal to the vicar if they seek any recompense from our bounty
I think it proves that the "vicar" is a government official since he appears in charge of the Emperors' "bounty", that is, the treasury. Further, it would be logical if the appeals in this situation be handled by someone other than the Christian beneficiary of the Edict.
I did not want to abuse the esteemed participants in my new ping list with this thread, that had every potential to become a religious war; but the thread turned out irenic and it is a historical matter of relevance to all conservatives, so here you are.
You don’t say.
Some historical background—in AD 303, just ten years earlier, the emperor Diocletian launched a campaign to wipe out Christianity and revive the old Roman religion. As a result, churches throughout the Roman Empire were destroyed, Christians were jailed and killed and their property was seized.
Diocletian is someone liberals should love, a Christophobe who instituted progressive taxation and price controls.
As a general proposition, while this is the form in which the Edict survives, it is not a form of a government decree, but rather an open letter. It is evident here:
We thought it fit to commend these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship.
But i can also see it as you said and can except that until i see more proof otherwise.
I believe in the context of this edict, the vicar was a local representative of Constantine,
Thanks for helping me clear that up.
I finally checked with the Latin original. It turns out, the translation "your Worship" is inaccurate: the original said "Dicationem tuam ... Dicatio tua", which is then "your Reverence", a form of address of a priest rather than a judge. Compare:
As a title: tua dicatio, your Reverence, Cod. Theod. 11, 30, 1; Lact. Mort. pers. 48 al.
Ah. The left is always the left. Thank you.
I finally checked with the Latin original. It turns out, the translation “your Worship” is inaccurate: the original said “Dicationem tuam ... Dicatio tua”, which is then “your Reverence”, a form of address of a priest rather than a judge