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Please read the primary source:TRANSLATION OF THE MILAN DECREE. Part I. I, Constantine Augustus,


Please read the primary source: TRANSLATION OF THE MILAN DECREE. Part I. I, Constantine Augustus, and I, Licinius Augustus, at a propitious juncture meeting in Milan, and taking under con sideration the whole range of public interest and safety, have come to the conclusion, that among all matters conducive to the public weal those ought to be settled in the very first place, by which the reverence due to the Deity is safeguarded (to wit) that we give to the Christians as well as to all (others) free per mission to follow the religion which each one chooses, in order that whatever Deity there is on the heavenly throne may be pro pitiated and show itself favorable to ourselves and to all that are under our power. Hence, listening to the demands of both public welfare and sound reason, we have thought it our duty to enact that leave shall be refused to no one whatever who has given his heart either to the teachings of the Christians or to that (other) kind of religion which he himself feels to be the most suitable to him; so that the Supreme Divinity, worshipped by us with full free dom, may be able to show to us in all things its wonted favor and benevolence. The Lordship will therefore take notice of our pleasure that all the restrictions which are contained in former instructions concerning the Christians (super Christianorum nomine) andTHE MILAN DECREE OF A. D. 313 193 which appear to be very ill advised (sinistra) and out of keeping with our clemency, are all and entirely cancelled; and that each and everyone desirous to observe the religion of the Christians may do so without any fear, and without any disadvantage to himself. We thought it our duty to express this to thy Lordship in the plainest terms, so that thou knowest we give to the afore in the plainest terms, so that thou knowest we give to the afore said Christians free and unlimited permission to practice their said Christians free and unlimited permission to practice their religion. Thy Lordship understands, that for the tranquility of our times the same freedom as to religion and observance is likewise expressly and liberally granted to others, so that every one may enjoy the fullest permission to worship what he chooses. We take this step with the intention of preventing the appear ance as if we meant to slight anything deserving of honor or reli gious veneration. Part II. As to the Christians we deem it our duty to issue still another enactment, (namely) concerning the places (build ings) in which they formerly were accustomed to assemble, and about which a well-known rule was laid down in the communica tions sent heretofore to thy Fidelity. Those persons who appear to have bought these identical places either from our treasury or from anybody else shall restore the same to the Christians with out money and without charging any price, setting aside all de ception and delay. Likewise those who have received them as presents shall immediately surrender them to the same Chris tians. If the present owners, however, whether they acquired them by purchase or by gift, shall wish to receive anything (as compensation) from our bounty, let them apply to our represen tative, so that provision may be made for them also by our clem ency. It will be thy duty to see to it that all this property be re turned to the community of the Christians without any procras tination. And since the Christians, as is well known, possessed not only those places where they used to meet, but also others which belonged not to individuals but to them as corporation, that is to the churches, we comprise all these in the aforesaid ordinance (of restitution). And thou wilt cause them to be returned with out hesitancy and without litigation, to the same Christians, that is, to their corporation and communities; observing, however, the above mentioned caution, (to wit) that those who faithful to194 FRANCIS S. BETTEN, S.J. our order restore them without charging any price may expect indemnity from our benevolence. (Conclusion). In all these affairs thou shalt be obliged to yield to the body of the Christians thy most efficacious assist ance, to the end that our ordinance be carried out as speedily as possible, and that at the same time through our clemency care taken of the maintenance of public order. In this way the vine favor towards us, which as expressed above we have experi enced on the most momentous occasions, will forever prosper our future enterprises and the happiness of our people. But in order that the tenor of this our gracious rescript may come to the knowledge of all, thou shalt have copies of it certified by thy signature, posted up everywhere, and shalt promulgate broadcast; so that the firm determination of our clemency may not remain in obscurity.


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