Marian Emanoil Păun, The family of the Holy Emperor Constantine the Great and the relationship with Christianity in the light of modern sources and historiography

Mitropolia Olteniei Publishing House, Craiova, 2020ISBN: 978-606-731-089-4

In the six chapters, following the direction of modern historiography and keeping the testimony of the sources, we set out to explain, historically, the imperial event of the year 306 of the Saint Emperor Constantine the Great, namely: to stop the persecutions in his provinces. As we well know, the Great Persecution of Christians and the Church was initiated at Nicomedia in 303 by the emperors Diocletian and Galerius. It would officially end in the year 311 on the strenght of the Edict of Galerius, forced by the terrible illness he had acquired.

On this line, our research focused on the analysis of those references, direct or indirect, that the old sources – Christian and pagan – have kept. But then, the effort of modern researchers to argue for the existence of a Christian family environment since Naissus has been received with confidence and historical curiosity. His religious heritage was not only rich, but also effective, for at the end of the fourth century the Saint Emperor Theodosius the Great decided that the Christian religion should become the state religion throughout the empire. Basically, the Roman world had definitively positioned itself on the Christian trajectory opened at the beginning of the century by Saint Constantine’s family. In other words, it was the family of the Saint Emperor Constantine the Great who first gave the pagan, multiethnic and multi-religious Roman Empire Christian leadership.

Certainly, the wonderful event of October 28, 312 was one of the decisive events of the Constantinian government, given that it is the first theophany that this great Roman ruler deserved.

The beginning of the year 313 seemed to be the moment of placing the empire on a Christian trajectory, being for the first time when under its leadership the Roman emperors had agreed to promote a pro-Christian policy. Not only the Roman imperial ideology, but also Christianity urged peace, understanding between people and tolerance.

Although the bibliography on Emperor Constantine the Great is very rich, one thing seemed to require special attention: almost all monographs and studies talk about „Constantine the Great”, „Emperor Constantine”, „Great Constantine”, „Constantine – Christian Emperor”, and so on. However, we set out to consider the Saint Emperor within the Christian family – parents, relatives, sons and descendants up to Theodosius the Great, not alone.

The Saint Emperor Constantine the Great is honored by the Orthodox Church together with his mother – The Saint Empress Helen, and through her, the Church honored all members of the family who proved to be Christian faith. The Constantinian family showed Christians a feeling they had never experienced before — the awareness that they belonged to a privileged religious community of the imperial power, that the emperor thought their faith good and useful for the all.