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“The Edict of Milan”
Dated 313 and Giving Christians
freedom of worship
as found in Lactantius Liber de Mortibus Persecutorum, XLVIII
also the Greek translation found in Eusebius HE. 10. 5
Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the ANF series.
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John R. Curran
D. George Kousoulas
Jeremy M. Schott
Raymond Van Dam
Geoffrey de Ste Croix
G. W. Bowersock
Robin Lane Fox
When we, Constantine and Licinius,
emperors, had an interview at Milan, and conferred together with respect to
the good and security of the commonweal, it seemed to us that, amongst those
things that are profitable to mankind in general, the reverence paid to the
Divinity merited our first and chief attention, and that it was proper that
the Christians and all others should have liberty to follow that mode of
religion which to each of them appeared best; so that that God, who is
seated in heaven, might be benign and propitious to us, and to every one
under our government. And therefore we judged it a salutary measure, and one
highly consonant to right reason, that no man should be denied leave of
attaching himself to the rites of the Christians, or to whatever other
religion his mind directed him, that thus the supreme Divinity, to whose
worship we freely devote ourselves, might continue to vouchsafe His favour
and beneficence to us. And accordingly we give you to know that, without
regard to any provisos in our former orders to you concerning the
Christians, all who choose that religion are to be permitted, freely and
absolutely, to remain in it, and not to be disturbed any ways, or molested.
And we thought fit to be thus special in the things committed to your
charge, that you might understand that the indulgence which we have granted
in matters of religion to the Christians is ample and unconditional; and
perceive at the same time that the open and free exercise of their
respective religions is granted to all others, as well as to the Christians.
For it befits the well-ordered state and the tranquillity of our times that
each individual be allowed, according to his own choice, to worship the
Divinity; and we mean not to derogate aught from the honour due to any
religion or its votaries. Moreover, with respect to the Christians, we
formerly gave certain orders concerning the places appropriated for their
religious assemblies; but now we will that all persons who have purchased
such places, either from our exchequer or from any one else, do restore them
to the Christians, without money demanded or price claimed, and that this be
performed peremptorily and unambiguously; and we will also, that they who
have obtained any right to such places by form of gift do forthwith restore
them to the Christians: reserving always to such persons, who have either
purchased for a price, or gratuitously acquired them, to make application to
the judge of the district, if they look on themselves as entitled to any
equivalent from our beneficence.
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Latin text of Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan in Latin
Edict of Milan in Greek
Christian Freedom to Worship
Rights given to Christians by Constantine
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