Edict of Milan

An edict issued in 313 by the Emperors Constantine and Licinius, granting toleration to the Christians. Coming after more than two centuries of intermittent persecutions many of which were marked with special cruelty and ferocity, and in which the issue was between the Church and the absolute State, the edict meant much more than toleration; it was really an authoritative recognition of Christianity. It has come to be recognized as such in history. Though issued conjointly with Licinius, it was really the work of Constantine. Out of gratitude to the God of the Christians, Who, he believed, gave him the unexpected victory over the tyrant Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge (312), and because, no doubt, he recognized in Christianity the moral force to save the civilization of the empire, Constantine bestowed full freedom on the Church.