Battlefield vision leads to Christian kingdom
By Leila Pitchford-English
June 07, 2013
Almost 1,700 years ago, an event happened that led to Christianity as the Western world knows it.
On Oct. 28, 312, Constantine (280-337) fought in a battle at a bridge just outside Rome.
Constantine was headed toward Rome with an army of 40,000 soldiers to face Maxentius, who had a much larger army. They were fighting to control the Western world.
Several versions of the story exist, but in general, they say that before the battle at Milvian Bridge, Constantine had a vision of a bright cross in the sky.
He saw the words, “in hoc signo vinces, ” “By this sign conquer.”
He felt it was an omen from the true God.
Because of the vision, Constantine had his soldiers put crosses known as chi rhos on their shields. The army routed their larger opponent.
This battle helped Constantine reinforce his power over a divided Roman Empire, which he determined to make a Christian state.
He went on to create the foundations of Christianity in the Western world.
His first step was to issue orders to tolerate the Christian church, which had been persecuted since Nero in the year 64.
He didn’t make Christianity the official religion of Rome, but he built places for Christians to worship.
He called for and presided over the first general council outside of the Bible, the Council of Nicea in 325. This council established orthodox thought about the Trinity.
Despite his belief in Christianity, Constantine was not baptized until his deathbed because he feared he would sin.
Christianity became the state religion in 381.
One website, http://www.christianitysite.com/MilvianBridgeDay.htm, proposes that Oct. 28 be observed as Milvian Bridge Day as a time to reflect, discuss and debate for “Greater understanding of the relationship between religions and culture with a specific focus on the Christian experience.”
Send ideas to Leila Pitchford-English, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.