Here on one of the doors of Milan Cathedral at the central Piazza del Duomo, on the left panel, you will see a depiction of a seated Emperor Constantine the Great, holding a document in his hand, and next to the human figures is some of the text of that document he is holding. The document here is the famous 313 AD Edict of Milan, that – instead of persecuting Christians – finally legitimized Christianity in the Empire; drafted and promulgated by the Emperor who would go on to become the very first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire.
Did you know there was one earlier Roman Emperor in 286 AD – who was the first to formally divide the Eastern Empire from the Western – made Milan, not Rome, the capital of the Western Empire.
After subsequent turmoil in the Empire, one warring Roman leader, Constantine, in 312 AD, crossed from Gaul (in France) and subdued Milan, then marched on Rome to unify the Empire.
Prior to the decisive Battle of Milvian Bridge, just outside the limits of Rome, Constantine had a moment of epiphany and saw a certain symbol of Jesus Christ in the sky. He then commanded that his soldiers bear this symbol on their shields, and the next day they won the battle and marched victorious into Rome.
The next year in Milan, Constantine issued the Edict of Milan.
For the symbol that Constantine saw in the sky above Rome and other details of this history of Milan, click to see how “The Edict of Milan, changed the history of Christianity and Europe forever, written in the capital of the Western Roman Empire, by the eventual first Christian Emperor, Constantine the Great“.
Constantine would soon after become a Christian himself, although he is said to have only been baptized on his deathbed by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia.
Subsequently, his newly designated capital of the Empire, Constantinople, would bear his name – which survives to this day as Istanbul. Within several decades after the passing of Constantine, Christianity would become the official state religion of the Roman Empire.