- Flavius Valerius Constantinus
Son of an imperial Roman officer, Constantius, and Saint Helena, Constantine attended the court of Diocletian and later fought under Galerius, the Eastern Emperor. On the resignation of Diocletian and Maximian in 305, Constantius was made emperor but died in 306, and Constantine was raised to the dignity of Cæsar, by the army in Britain. Maxentius, the tyrannical profligate son Maximian, was proclamed cæsar in Rome. Galerius and Licinius acknowledged Constantine as emperor, and in 311 war broke out between Maxentius and Constantine. With a small army, Constantine invaded Italy. He was victor at Susa, Turin, and Verona. Assured by a vision that he would triumph in the sign of Christ, he marched on Rome and completely defeated Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge, 28 October 312. Shortly after, with his brother-in-law Licinius, he issued the Edict of Milan, granting liberty of worship to the Christians in 313. In 314 the treachery of Licinius in the East led Constantine to attack him at Cibalre, and later at Castra Jarba, but a peace was soon arranged, which lasted for eight years. Licinius then began to persecute the Christians and infringe on Constantine’s rights. The latter routed his army near Chalcedon. Constantine, now sole emperor, transferred his capital to Constantinople, and devoted himself to promoting the moral, economical, and political welfare of the empire. He remained a catechumen till shortly before his death, when he received Baptism. As Pontifex Maximus, although he protected the rights of heathenism, he abolished offensive forms of worship, and suppressed divination and magic. He bestowed many favors on the Church, granting clerics immunity from taxation and military service, allowing the Church the right of inheritance, and removing the legal disabilities attendant on celibacy. He forbade the abduction of young girls, and did much for the welfare of children, women, and slaves. He adorned the churches magnificently, and strictly obeyed the precepts of Christianity.