Edict of Milan

February 23, 303. The Diocletianic Persecution.

Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against the sect. It was not until the 250s, under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution. After Gallienus‘s accession in 260, these laws went into abeyance. Diocletian‘s assumption of power in 284 did not mark an immediate reversal of imperial inattention to Christianity, but it did herald a gradual shift in official attitudes toward religious minorities. In the first fifteen years of his rule, Diocletian purged the army of Christians, condemned Manicheans to death, and surrounded himself with public opponents of Ch...

The Milan Edict. June 13, 313.

Ever since the fall of the Severan dynasty in 235 AD, rivals for the imperial throne had bid for support by either favouring or persecuting Christians. The previous Edict of Toleration by Galerius had been recently issued by the emperor Galerius from Serdica and was posted at Nicomedia on 30 April 311. By its provisions, the Christians, who had “followed such a caprice and had fallen into such a folly that they would not obey the institutes of antiquity”, were granted an indulgence. Wherefore, for this our indulgence, they ought to pray to their God for our safety, for that of the republic, and for their own, that the commonwealth may continue uninjured on every side, and that they may be able to live securely in their homes. Their confiscated property, however, was not restore...

Christian Persecution – February 23, 303 AD

February 23, 303, saw the celebration of Terminalia in the Roman Empire – the day pagans boasted they would put an end to Christianity. During this festival, because of the encouragement of Galerius Caesar, the emperor Diocletian issued an edict ordering the destruction of the newly built Christian church in Nicomedia. The city prefect went to the church with many officers and assistants and forced open the doors, removed all of the sacred books and burned them, confiscated the treasury, then leveled the building itself, all while Diocletian and Galerius observed. Following this, a general edict was issued for the entire empire, commanding the destruction of all Christian churches and texts, along with naming all Christians as outlaws. In Nicomedia, all Christians were being rounded up and...

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