ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

St. Constantine the Great, Equal to the Apostles

Updated on July 10, 2012

A Holy Icon of St. Constantine

Constantine, Catholic Saint

Constantine the Great is quite well known to anybody who has taken a High School World History class. He is known to history as the first Emperor of the Byzantine Empire. Constantine is famous among secular historians for creating the city of Constantinople on the site of the former Greek town of Byzantium, moving the capital of his empire from Rome to the new city.

A good history class would be remiss if they also do not mention Constantine's Edict of Milan. Issued in 313, Constantine's Edict extended religious tolerance throughout his empire; the immediate effect of this was to end major persecutions of Christians.

A bit less widely known but still frequently taught in school is Constantine's supposed conversion to Christianity. According to legend, Before the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 against the rebel Maxentius Constantine either saw an omen in the sky before the battle (a Chi-Ro, the famous PX symbol of Christianity), or otherwise saw a vision of Christ in a dream the night before the battle. In any case, he told his soldiers to mark their labarums (military standards) with the Chi-Ro. His men won the battle, and Constantine became a Christian (he did not get baptized quite that quickly, however).

This is all well known. But there is a reason that Constantine is revered as a Saint by both Byzantine Rite Catholics (who are in communion with the Pope and just as fully Catholic as Latin Rite Catholics) and the Orthodox Church. Besides the Edict of Milan, which ended Christian persecutions throughout the Empire, Constantine also called for and presided over the famous First Council of Nicaea.

In the early 300s the first of many prominent schisms was cracking at the foundations of the Church-the Arian Heresy. This heresy, started by a bishop named Arius, questioned the divinity of Christ. Arius claimed that Jesus was a created being who was not equal to the Father in divinity; he was a god, but not the one true God like the Father. He wanted Jesus's Mother Mary to be named not Theotokos, the God-bearer, but Christotokos, the Christ-bearer. The heresy was extremely divisive, and Constantine called for a council to resolve the issue in 325, as it was dividing the Empire. He presided over the Council; it is still, however, considered valid amongst Catholics, as it was ratified by the Pope.

The Council ruled in favor of St. Athanasius the Great, Arius's opponent, and the Arian heresy was declared heretical; Constantine himself, however, appeared undecided on the issue and never came down hard on the Arians, allowing them to survive for several more years under his reign. Nevertheless, the First Council of Nicaea was considered a valid council by the Emperor and was instrumental in the establishment of orthodox Christianity.

Constantine also gave extensive grants of land and property to the Church, including the building of the famed Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Christian Bishops were allowed to take aggressive stances that other cult leaders did not dare to make, even the famously rebellious Jews; clearly the Christians were confident that they had Constantine's favor.

Despite all of his apparently pro-Christian leanings, Constantine was not baptised until he was on his death bed. His baptism was done by the Arian Bishop Eusebius of Nicodemia; despite being taken in by the Arian heresy, the Bishop had the ability to administer a valid baptism, as does even an atheist in the worst of circumstances, and his baptism is considered to be valid by the Church.

Some Christian historians question Constantine's faith in light of his reputation for great cruelty; specifically, he had his wife and eldest son executed, and his opponent in battle was strangled to death despite Constantine's public promises to the contrary. However, the execution of his wife and son was in fact not an extreme action; his wife tried to seduce his eldest son (he was her stepson) and when he resisted, accused him of rape; Constantine had the son executed for the rape and, when he learned the truth, executed his wife for treason. As for Licinius, his opponent in battle, he was also the Emperor of the Eastern portion of the Roman Empire. For awhile he ruled with Constantine, but after some time his cruelty became too extreme for Constantine to handle, and so he had him deposed through battle. His execution may have been necessary to maintain order.

In the end, though, it must be remembered that a proclamation of Sainthood only designates, ultimately, that it can be said with assurance that a particular person is experiencing the Beatific Vision of God in Heaven; since Constantine was baptised on his deathbed, it can be reasonably assumed due to that simple fact alone that Constantine the Great is also a Saint. He made many contributions to the Church thanks to his generous property and land grants and his huge role in settling the Arian heresy has earned him the title of Equal to the Apostles. His feast day is on May 21, the day before his death.

If you enjoyed this hub, also see:


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)