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Emperor Constantine. Pious Christian or Clever Pragmatist?

When he came to power, emperor Constantine returned the property of the Christians, but he did not feel ready to become a Christian. During all this time, he showed his deification to Mars by minting coins, and then he chose devotion to Apollo. In 312, Constantine chose the Christian faith but still retained the “Pontifex Maximus” position to continue his religious rule. 

Constantine the Great was a Roman emperor who ruled from 306 t 337. Beginning in 324, he ruled as emperor alone, until then being a tetrarchic ruler. The military policy pursued by Emperor Constantine, but also the religious and economic policy, helped him to reunite the remnants of a weakened and divided Roman empire.

The Edict of Milan (313) did not establish Christianity as the state religion but only proclaimed tolerance towards Christians. It demanded the return of all confiscated property to them, deeds that led to the cessation of all persecution of this faith.

Biography of Emperor Constantine

Full name:Gaius Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus
Date of birth:0280 AD
Year of death:0337 AD
The thread of life:57 years old
Place of birth:Naissus, Moesia
Father's name:Constantinus I
Mother's name:Helena
Physical appearance:slender, imposing, attractive and always with a serious look
Summary of life:His mother, Elena, had been a simple innkeeper. His father, Constantius Chlorus, was an outstanding Roman general. Gradually, but relentlessly, the ambitious Constantine converted from a pagan mindset (worshipping the god Mars or Apollo) to a belief in Christus victor.
Life lessons:Seeking religious peace in the Empire, he hosted the Church's first ecumenical synod at Nicaea (325), which was called to resolve the most difficult Christological dispute of late antiquity.
Life accomplishments: Constantine the Great is known for legalising Christianity and founding the new capital, Constantinople. The details of his secular activity have not been sufficiently presented or dealt with by historians.
Death cause:Natural causes.

Who is Constantine in the Bible?

Through the mystery of baptism, Constantine the Great received both forgiveness for ancestral sin and for sins committed until baptism.

The Bible presents Emperor Constantine as an “equal of the Apostles.” Emperor Constantine is celebrated on May 21 with his mother, Helen, in both Orthodox and Greek Catholic churches for all his efforts to support the Christian Church.

Emperor Constantine chose a religion that had previously been renounced and directed it on a path that resulted in the formation of Christianity.

What was emperor Constantin famous for?

Constantine the Great’s main goal was to ensure the empire’s stability. For this, he made several military expeditions against the German rebel camps, thus proving his military advantage by defeating enemies stationed on the other side of the Rhine.

Constantine I became known throughout history through the Edict of Milan, which he promulgated in 313. It transformed Christianity into a permitted religion and other faiths already existing in the empire. Another deed by which Emperor Constantine is known is the convening of the First Ecumenical Council in 325, where the first form of the Creed was finalized, and the establishment of the first calculation rule for Easter.

In 321, Constantine the Great chose Sunday as the general day of rest in the empire, a day on which Romanian soldiers could also participate in services.

What did St Helen do with Constantine?

Empress Elena was born in the province of Bithynia. In 293, at the order of Diocletian, Constantius Chlorus divorced her. Elena refuses to remarry, avoids public opinion, and stays close to her son, Constantine I.

Empress Helen and Emperor Constantine experienced divine revelations throughout their lives together; Helen always cared for Constantine. The day before the battle against Maxentius, he saw in the sky, at noon, a cross inscribed “in hoc signo vinces,” which meant that by that sign he would overcome, and at night in a dream, the Savior appeared to him asking to place the Holy Cross on the flags of the soldiers. Thus, he emerges victorious after obeying this commandment.

Empress Helen discovered the cross of Christ’s crucifixion on Mount Golgotha. After touching the Cross, he rose again. Empress Helena built several churches, including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and Emperor Constantine founded the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople, where he was buried.

Key Verse related to Emperor Constantine

„At the same time, the situation of Christians in the Empire would change completely. Without any intervention in this regard from Constantine. He proclaimed the recognition of Christianity as a religion. And gave Christians the right to assemble, provided they did not disturb public order;

Instead, Christians had a duty to pray to their god for the prosperity of the emperor and the Roman state. The explanation for the issuance of this proclamation is surprising if we consider that before 311, Galerius had severely persecuted Christians. Weary of so many seemingly futile persecutions against Christians.

However, the actual edict of tolerance is that of Galerius. And the tradition that persists in transferring its merit to the so-called – improperly, as we shall see – “Edict of Milan” is not in line with reality.”

Paul Lemerle, History of Byzantium

emperor constantine

What was Constantine’s original religion?

The fact that Emperor Constantine had not adhered to Christianity, even after the Edict of Milan, was thus a choice in favor of Christianity. Thus the emperor, keeping the pagan religion, managed to maintain control of the paganism of the empire.

Although the original religion of Emperor Constantine was paganism, he supported Christianity throughout his reign. He was eventually chosen to the Christian faith through his baptism. A few days before his death in May 337, in which he renounced paganism.

Emperor Constantine’s visions of divine power strengthened his confidence in Christianity. And the proof of this fact is the decree that transformed the Christian religion, which was permanently persecuted, into a belief allowed in the Roman Empire.

Why did Constantine split the Roman Empire?

After numerous power struggles in which Constantine emerged victorious, territorial and administrative unity was restored.

Thus, according to sources, Constantine split the Roman Empire because Christians could not come along with the pagans. And he considered this option to be the best for his people. He became the founder of the Eastern Christian Roman Empire and, at the same time, of Byzantium or New Rome, then called Constantinople, which today is the famous Istanbul.

The integrity of the Empire was restored only for a time during the reign of Constantine because after his death, the election of a co-emperor was systemic.

Primary Takeaways

  1. Emperor Constantine was the leader who stopped the persecution of Christians and made Christianity a permissive religion in the Roman Empire.
  2. Constantine and his mother, Helen, discovered various miracles of God.
  3. Constantine the Great changed his religion a few days before he died doing his baptism.


In conclusion, due to the deeds they put into practice, making their mark on the Christian religion, Constantine and his mother, Helen, are still celebrated today in the Christian churches of the world.


  • Potter, D. (2012). Constantine the emperor. Oxford University Press.
  • Pohlsander, H. A. (2002). Emperor Constantine. Routledge.
  • Bardill, J. (2012). Constantine was the divine emperor of the Christian Golden Age. Cambridge University Press.
  • Grant, M. (2011). Emperor Constantine. Hachette UK.
  • MacMullen, R. (2014). Constantine. Routledge.