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One thousand and seven hundred years ago the 'Constantinian turning-point'

· A congress of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences ·

On Tuesday morning, 17 April, a press conference was held at the Holy See Press Office to present the international study congress: “Constantine the Great. To the roots of Europe”. It was organized by the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences on the 1,700th anniversary of the Battle of Ponte Milvio and the conversion of Constantine. Presenting the Congress  which will be held from 18 to 20 April in various venues (in Vatican City at the Synod Hall and at the Teutonic College, and also at the Pontifical Lateran University) were Fr Bernard Ardura, President of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, Claire Sotinel of the École Française de Rome and the Université de Paris-Créteil, and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of L'Osservatore Romano .

Three days of exchanges among experts on one of the key figures of Western history will serve to make known the situation of studies on a figure who is the focus of increasingly heated historiographical discussion. Starting with the inaugural lecture by Bishop Enrico Dal Covolo, Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University, in which he says that the so-called “Constantinian turning-point”, with its tremendous consequences, “was anticipated by more than a century by the religious policy of Commodus and the Severi”, and identifies the fundamental historic “turning-point”  – which inaugurated the new relations between the Church and the Empire –  “as the Emperor's conversion in 312 and the publication of the so-called   'Edict of Milan' in 313. So it was that one of the most important revolutions that the Church has ever known took place at the beginning of the fourth century. Having been neglected and persecuted in the previous period all of a sudden, as it were, she acquired total freedom, to the point of enjoying ever greater privileges under the “care” and  the “farsighted solicitude” of Constantine and his successors.

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