PATRISTICS IN ENGLISH HOMEPAGE
CONSTANTINE THE GREAT
LETTERS, BOOK 1 (In Chronological Order)
Edited By Rev. Daniel R. Jennings

(313AD) First letter of Constantine and Licinius to Anulinus.
Synopsis: Restores goods to the Catholic Christians; written about the same time as the edict of toleration,
according to Ceillier.

Greeting to thee, our most esteemed Anulinus. It is the custom of our benevolence, most esteemed Anulinus, to will
that those things which belong of right to another should not only be left unmolested, but should also be restored.
Wherefore it is our will that when thou receivest this letter, if any such things belonged to the Catholic Church of the-
Christians, in any city or other place, but are now held by citizens or by any others, thou shalt cause them to be
restored immediately to the said churches. For we have already determined that those things which these same.
churches formerly possessed shall be restored to them. Since therefore thy devotedness perceives that this
command of ours is most explicit, do thou make haste to restore to them, as quickly as possible, everything which
formerly belonged to the said churches,-whether gardens or buildings or whatever they may be -- that we may learn
that thou hast obeyed this decree of ours most carefully. Farewell, our most esteemed and beloved Anulinus.
(Presererved In Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History 10:5)

(313AD) Second Letter of Constantine to Anulinus.
Synopsis: Orders that the Catholic clergy be free from public service, that they might not be disturbed in their
worship of God.

Greeting to thee, our most esteemed Anulinus. Since it appears from many circumstances that when that religion is
despised, in which is preserved the chief reverence for the most holy celestial Power, great dangers are brought
upon public affairs; but that when legally adopted and observed it affords the most signal prosperity to the Roman
name and remarkable felicity to all the affairs of men, through the divine beneficence -- it has seemed good to me,
most esteemed Anulinus, that those men who give their services with due sanctity and with constant observance of
this law, to the worship of the divine religion, should receive recompense for their labors. Wherefore it is my will that
those within the province entrusted to thee, in the catholic Church, over which Caecilianus presides, who give their
services to this holy religion, and who are commonly called clergymen, be entirely exempted from all public duties,
that they may not by any error or sacrilegious negligence be drawn away from the service due to the Deity, but may
devote themselves without any hindrance to their own law. For it seems that when they show greatest reverence to
the Deity, the greatest benefits accrue to the state. Farewell, our most esteemed and beloved Anulinus.
(Presererved
In Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History 10:7)

(313AD) Letter of Constantine to Cæcilianus, bishop of Carthage.
Synopsis: Presents money—three thousand purses (folles)—to be distributed according to direction of Hosius.

Since it is our pleasure that something should be granted in all the provinces of Africa and Numidia and Mauritania to
certain ministers of the legitimate and most holy catholic religion, to defray their expenses, I have written to Ursus, the
illustrious finance minister of Africa, and have directed him to make provision to pay to thy firmness three thousand
folles. Do thou therefore, when thou hast received the above sum of money, command that it be distributed among all
those mentioned above, according to the briefs sent to thee by Hosius. But if thou shouldst find that anything is
wanting for the fulfillment of this purpose of mine in regard to all of them, thou shalt demand without hesitation from
Heracleides, our treasurer, whatever thou findest to be necessary. For I commanded him when he was present that if
thy firmness should ask him for any money, he should see to it that it be paid without delay. And since I have learned
that some men of unsettled mind wish to turn the people from the most holy and catholic Church by a certain method
of shameful corruption, do thou know that I gave command to Anulinus, the proconsul, and also to Patricius, vicar of
the prefects, when they were present, that they should give proper attention not only to other matters but also above
all to this, and that they should not overlook such a thing when it happened. Wherefore if thou shouldst see any such
men continuing in this madness, do thou without delay go to the above-mentioned judges and report the matter to
them; that they may correct them as I commanded them when they were present. The divinity of the great God
preserve thee for many years.
(Presererved In Eusebius of Caesarea’s Church History 10:6)

(313AD) Letter of Constantine to Melchiades (or Miltiades).
Synopsis: Having received various letters from Anulinus regarding Cæcilian and the Donatists, he summons a
council at Rome to consider the matter.

Constantine Augustus to Miltiades, bishop of Rome, and to Marcus. Since many such communications have been
sent to me by Anu-linus, the most illustrious proconsul of Africa, in which it is said that Caecilianus, bishop of the city
of Carthage, has been accused by some of his colleagues in Africa, in many matters; and since it seems to me a very
serious thing that in those provinces which Divine Providence has freely entrusted to my devotedness, and in which
there is a great population, the multitude are found following the baser course, and dividing, as it were, into two
parties, and the bishops are at variance -- it has seemed good to me that Caecilianus himself, with ten of the bishops
that appear to accuse him, and with ten others whom he may consider necessary for his defense, should sail to
Rome, that there, in the presence of yourselves and of Retecius and Maternus and Marinus, your colleagues, whom I
have commanded to hasten to Rome for this purpose, he may be heard, as you may understand to be in accordance
with the most holy law. But in order that you may be enabled to have most perfect knowledge of all these things, I
have subjoined to my letter copies of the documents sent to me by Anulinus, and have sent them to your above-
mentioned colleagues. When your firmness has read these, you will consider in what way the above-mentioned case
may be most accurately investigated and justly decided. For it does not escape your diligence that I have such
reverence for the legitimate Catholic Church that I do not wish you to leave schism or division in any place. May the
divinity of the great God preserve you, most honored sirs, for many years.
(Presererved In Eusebius of Caesarea’s
Church History 10. 5)

(314AD) Letter of Constantine to Ablavius (or Ælafius).
Synopsis: The result of the council at Rome not having proved final, he summons the Council of Arles.

Already some time back, since it was brought to my knowledge that many persons in our dominion of Africa had
begun to separate from one another with mad fury, and had brought purposeless accusations against each other
about the keeping of the most holy Catholic Law, I thought it well, in order to settle this quarrel, that Caecilian the
Bishop of Carthage, against whom especially they all often petitioned me, should go to the City of Rome, and that
some of those who had deemed fit to bring certain charges against him, should appear as well. I also ordered some
Bishops from the Gauls to proceed to our above-mentioned City of Rome, that, by the integrity of their lives and
praiseworthy manner of living, together with seven Bishops of the same Communion, and the Bishop of the City of
Rome, and their assessors, they might give due attention to the questions which had been raised. Now they brought
to my knowledge, by the written Acts of their meeting, all that had been done in their presence, affirming also by word
of mouth that their judgement was based upon equity, and declaring that not Caecilian, but those who brought
charges against him, were guilty----so that, after giving their judgement, they forbade the latter to go back to Africa.3
Wherefore, in consequence of all this I once hoped that, in accordance with the probable issue of events, a fitting
end had been made to all the seditions and contentions of every kind which had been suddenly called into being by
the other party. But after I had read your letters, which you had deemed it your duty to send to Nicasius and the rest,
about the crafty pretext of these men, I recognised clearly that they would not place before their eyes either
considerations of their own salvation, or (what is of more importance) the reverence which is due to Almighty God----
for they are persisting in a line of action which not merely leads to their shame and disgrace, but also gives an
opportunity of detraction to those who are known to turn their minds away from the keeping of the most holy Catholic
Law. I write thus because----and this is a thing which it is well that you should know----some have come from these
men, asserting that the above-mentioned Caecilian is deemed not to be worthy of the worship of our most holy
religion, and in answer to my reply that they were making an empty boast (since the affair had been terminated in the
City of Rome by competent men of the highest character, who were Bishops), they thought fit to answer with
persistent obstinacy that the whole case had not been heard, but that these Bishops had shut themselves up
somewhere and given the judgement as was most convenient to themselves. Wherefore, since I perceived that these
numerous and important affairs were being pertinaciously delayed by discussions, so that it appeared that no end
could be made of them without both Caecilian and three of those who are making a schism against him coming to the
town of Arles, for the judgement of those who are opposed to Caecilian, and are bound to accept him as Bishop, I
have deemed it well to impose upon your care to provide, as soon as you receive this letter of mine, that the above-
mentioned Caecilian with some of those whom he himself shall choose----and also some from the provinces of
Byzacium, Tripolis, the Numidias and the Mauritanias, and each of the provinces, (and these must bring a certain
number of their clergy  whom they shall choose)----and also some of those who have made a schism against
Caecilian (public conveyance being provided  through Africa and Mauritania) shall travel thence by a short course to
Spain. In the same way  you shall provide in Spain each Bishop with a single right of conveyance so that they may all
arrive at the above-mentioned place by August 1; furthermore you will be pleased to convey to them without delay
that it is their duty to provide, before they depart, for suitable discipline in their absence, in order that no sedition or
contention of disputing parties may arise----a thing which would be the greatest disgrace. As to the rest, after the
matter has been fully inquired into, let it be brought to an end. For when they shall all have come together, those
things which are now known to be subjects of contention should with reason receive a timely conclusion, and be
forthwith finished and arranged. I confess to your Lordship, since I am well aware that you also are a worshipper of
the most High God, that I consider it by no means right that contentions and altercations of this kind should be hidden
from me, by which, perchance, God may be moved not only against the human race, but also against me myself, to
whose care, by His heavenly Decree, He has entrusted the direction of all human affairs, and may in His wrath
provide otherwise than heretofore. For then shall I be able to remain truly and most fully without anxiety, and may
always hope for all most prosperous and excellent things from the ever-ready kindness of the most powerful God,
when I shall know that all, bound together in brotherly concord, adore the most holy God with the worship of the
Catholic religion, that is His due.
(Preserved in Optatus of Milevis’ Against The Donatists).

(314AD) Letter of Constantine to Chrestus (Crescentius), bishop of Syracuse.
Synopsis: Invites to the Council of Arles.

Constantine Augustus to Chrestus, bishop of Syracuse. When some began wickedly and perversely to disagree
among themselves in regard to the holy worship and celestial power and Catholic doctrine, wishing to put an end to
such disputes among them, I formerly gave command that certain bishops should be sent from Gaul, and that the
opposing parties who were contending persistently and incessantly with each other, should be summoned from
Africa; that in their presence, and in the presence of the bishop of Rome, the matter which appeared to be causing
the disturbance might be examined and decided with all care. But since, as it happens, some, forgetful both of their
own salvation and of the reverence due to the most holy religion, do not even yet bring hostilities to an end, and are
unwilling to conform to the judgment already passed, and assert that those who expressed their opinions and
decisions were few, or that they had been too hasty and precipitate in giving judgment, before all the things which
ought to have been accurately investigated had been examined -- on account of all this it has happened that those
very ones who ought to hold brotherly and harmonious relations toward each other, are shamefully, or rather
abominably, divided among themselves, and give occasion for ridicule to those men whose souls are aliens to this
most holy religion. Wherefore it has seemed necessary to me to provide that this dissension, which ought to have
ceased after the judgment had been already given by their own voluntary agreement, should now, if possible, be
brought to an end by the presence of many. Since, therefore, we have commanded a number of bishops from a great
many different places to assemble in the city of Arles, before the kalends of August, we have thought proper to write
to thee also that thou shouldst secure from the most illustrious La-tronianus, corrector of Sicily, a public vehicle, and
that thou shouldst take with thee two others of the second rank whom thou thyself shalt choose, together with three
servants who may serve you on the way, and betake thyself to the above-mentioned place before the appointed day;
that by thy firmness, and by the wise unanimity and harmony of the others present, this dispute, which has
disgracefully continued until the present time, in consequence of certain shameful strifes, after all has been heard
which those have to say who are now at variance with one another, and whom we have likewise commanded to be
present, may be settled in accordance with the proper faith, and that brotherly harmony, though it be but gradually,
may be restored. May the Almighty God preserve thee in health for many years.
(Preserved in Eusebius of
Caesarea's Church History 10. 5)

(314AD) Letter of Constantine to the Bishops after the Council of Arles.
Synopsis: Contains gratulations, reprobations of obstinate schismatists, and exhortations to patience with such
obstinateness. It is full of religious expressions, and if genuine, is a most interesting exhibition of Constantine’s
religious position at this time, but it looks suspicious, and probably is not genuine.

Constantine Augustus, to his dearest brothers, the Catholic Bishops, Health! The everlasting and worshipful, the
incomprehensible kindness of our God by no means allows the weakness of men to wander for too long a time in the
darkness. Nor does it suffer the perverse wills of some to come to such a pass as not to give them anew by its most
splendid light a saving passage, opening the way so that they may be converted to the rule of justice. I have indeed
experienced this by many examples. I can also describe it from myself. For in me of old there were things that were
far from right, nor did I think that the power of God saw anything of what I carried amongst the secrets of my heart.
Surely this ought to have brought me a just retribution, flowing over with all evils. But Almighty God, who sitteth in the
watchtower of Heaven, hath bestowed upon me gifts which I deserved not. Of a truth, those things which of His
Heavenly kindness He has granted to me, His servant, can neither be told nor counted. On this account, O most holy
Bishops of Christ the Saviour, my dearest brothers, I indeed rejoice; yes, in a special way do I rejoice, that at length,
after you have held a most impartial inquiry, you have recalled to a better hope and fortune those whom the
wickedness of the devil seemed by his wretched persuasion to have turned away from the most noble light of the
Catholic Law. Oh, truly triumphant Providence of Christ the Saviour, to come to the rescue of those who, already
falling away from the truth, and in a certain manner taking up arms against it, had joined themselves to the Gentiles!
For, if even now they will consent with pure faith to make their obedience to the most holy Law, they will be able to
understand how great a provision has been made for them by the Will of God. And this, my most holy brothers, I
hoped might be found even in those in whom the greatest hardness of heart has been engendered. But your right
judgement has not been of any avail to them, nor has the merciful God made an entrance into their dispositions. In
truth, not undeservedly has the mercy of Christ departed far from those men, in whom it is as clear as the sun of
noon-day, that they are of such a character, as to be seen to be shut off even from the care of Heaven, since so
great a madness still holds them captive, and with unbelievable arrogance they persuade themselves of things which
cannot lawfully be either spoken or heard----departing from the right judgement that was given, from which, as
through the provision of Heaven I have learnt they are appealing to my judgement----Oh, what force has the
wickedness which even yet is persevering in their breasts!
How often have they been crushed already by myself in a reply, which, by their most shameless approaches to me,
they have deservedly brought upon themselves. Surely, if they had kept this before their eyes, they would never
have ventured on this appeal of theirs. They ask judgement from me, who am myself waiting for the judgement of
Christ. For I declare----as is true----that the judgement of Bishops ought to be looked upon as if the Lord Himself
were sitting in Judgement. For it is not lawful for them  to think or to judge in any other way, excepting as they have
been taught by the teaching of Christ. Why then, as I have said with truth, do wicked men seek the devil's services?
They search after worldly things, deserting those which are heavenly. Oh, mad daring of their rage! They have made
an appeal, as is done in the lawsuits of the pagans. For pagans are accustomed sometimes to escape from the lower
courts where justice may be obtained speedily, and through the authority of higher tribunals to have recourse to an
appeal. What of those shirkers of the law who refuse the judgement of Heaven, and have thought fit to ask for mine?
Do they thus think of Christ the Saviour? Behold, they are now 'Betrayers.' Behold, without any need for disputatious
examination, of their own accord they have themselves betrayed their wicked deeds. How can they, who have leapt
savagely upon God Himself, feel as men should feel?
But, my dearest Brothers, although this wickedness has been discovered in them, nevertheless do you, who follow
the way of the Lord the Saviour, show patience, and still give them a choice to choose what they may think well. And
if you see that they persevere in the same courses, do you go your way, and return to your own Sees, and remember
me, that our Saviour may always have mercy on me. But I have directed my men to bring these wicked deceivers of
religion to my court that they may live there, and there survey for themselves what is worse than death. I have also
sent a suitable letter to the prefect who is my viceroy in Africa, enjoining him, that, as often as he finds any instances
of this madness, he is to send the guilty, forthwith, to my court, lest any longer, beneath so great a shining of our
God, such things be done by them, as may provoke the greatest anger of the Heavenly Providence.
May Almighty God keep you safe, my dearest Brothers, through the ages, in answer to my prayers and yours.  
(Preserved in Optatus of Milevis’ Against The Donatists).

(314AD) Letter of Constantine and Licinius to Probianus, the Proconsul of Africa.
Synopsis: Orders that the Donatist Ingentius be brought to his court. One text adds Maximianus or Maximus in place
of Maximus as epithet of Constantine.

The Emperors Flavius Constantinus, Maximus Caesar, and Valerius Licinius Caesar, to Probianus, proconsul of
Africa:
Your predecessor AElianus, who acted as substitute for Verus, the superintendent of the prefects, when that most
excellent magistrate was by severe illness laid aside in that part of Africa which is under our sway, considered it, and
most justly, to be his duty, amongst other things, to bring again under his investigation and decision the matter of
Caecilianus, or rather the odium which seems to have been stirred up against that bishop of the Catholic Church.
Wherefore, having ordered the compearance of Superius, centurion, Caecilianus, magistrate of Aptunga, and
Saturninus, the ex-president of police, and his successor in the office, Calibius the younger, and Solon, an official
belonging to Aptunga, he heard the testimony of these witnesses i' the result of which was, that whereas objection
had been taken to Caecilianus on the ground of his ordination to the office of bishop by Felix, against whom it
seemed that the charge of surrendering and burning the sacred books had been made, the innocence of Felix in this
matter was clearly established. Moreover, when Maximus affirmed that Ingentius, a decurion of the town of Ziqua, had
forged a letter of the ex-magistrate Caecilianus, we found, on examining the Acts which were before us, that this.
same Ingentius had been put on the rack for that offense, and that the infliction of torture on him was not, as alleged,
on the ground of his affirming that he was a decurion of Ziqua. Wherefore we desire you to send under a suitable
guard to the court of Augustus Constantine the said Ingentius, that in the presence and hearing of those who are
now pleading in this case, and who day after day persist in their complaints, it may be made manifest and fully known
that they labour in vain to excite odium against the bishop Caecilianus, and to clamour violently against him. This, we
hope, will bring the people to desist, as they should do, from such contentions, and to devote themselves with
becoming reverence to their religious duties, undistracted by dissension among themselves.
(Preserved in Augustine
of Hippo’s Epistle 88:4 and also in Contr. Cresc. (43 [1861] 540)

(314 or 315AD) Letter of Constantine to the Donatist Bishops.
Synopsis: As the Donatists were not yet satisfied, he summons them to meet Cæcilian, and promises if they convict
him in one particular, it shall be as if in all.

A few days ago I determined that, in accordance with your demand, you should go back to Africa, so that there the
whole case, which you think lies against Caecilian, should be tried by friends of mine whom I had chosen, and reach
a fitting conclusion. However, whilst I was thinking it over for a long time, and duly turning the matter over in my mind,
I deemed it best, rather than this----since I know that some of your party are full of turbulence and obstinately refuse
to regard the right judgement and the statement of the complete truth, and that for this reason it would perhaps
happen, that if the case were tried in Africa it would be determined, not as is fitting, and as the demands of truth
require, but that through your exceedingly great obstinacy something might easily result which would both be
displeasing to God in Heaven, and also would be exceedingly detrimental to my good reputation, which I desire
always to preserve undiminished----that Caecilian should preferably come here, as was first settled. Thus, as I have
said, I have determined, and I believe that, in compliance with my letter, he will soon arrive. But I promise you, that if,
in his presence, you prove by your evidence anything against him concerning even one accusation or evil deed, I will
regard this the same as though all your charges were seen to be proved.
May Almighty God grant us perpetual safety!
(Preserved in Optatus of Milevis’ Against The Donatists)

(315AD) Letter of Constantine to Celsus.
Synopsis: In reply to letter mentioning disturbances of the Donatists, he hints that he expects to go shortly to Africa
and settle things summarily.

The latest despatches from your Lordship have informed me how Menalius, a man whom madness long ago took
hold of, and the others who have departed from the truth of God, and given themselves over to a most shameful
error, persevere in their course. You tell me in your letter, my well-beloved Brother, that you have obeyed my order
with regard to the seditious in accordance with their deserts, and have placed a check upon the tumult which they
were preparing. And now that they were contemplating wicked deeds has become manifest from the fact that, when I
had determined to inquire most fully between them and Caecilian, concerning the various charges which they brought
against him, they did their best to withdraw from my presence by taking to flight.  By this most disgraceful deed they
acknowledged that they were hastening to return to the things which they both had done previously and are now
persisting in doing. But (since it is certain that no one ever gains an unmixed advantage from his own misdeeds, even
though punishment may be delayed for a little while), I have thought well to command your Lordship that in the
meantime you should leave them alone, and understand that we must temporise with them.
But after you have read this letter, you should make it plain both to Caecilian and to them, that when by the Divine
Goodness I come to Africa, I shall render it most clear to all, both to Caecilian, and to those who are acting against
him, by reading a perfectly plain judgement, as to what and what kind of worship is to be given to the Supreme God,
and with what manner of service He is pleased. Also, by diligent examination, I shall acquaint myself to the full with the
things which at the present time some persons fancy they can keep dark through the allurements of their ignorant
minds, and shall drag them into the light. Those same persons who now stir up the people in such a war as to bring it
about that the supreme God is not worshipped with the veneration that is His due, I shall destroy and dash in pieces.
And since it is sufficiently clear that no one may hope to obtain the honours of a martyr with that kind [of Martyrdom]
which is seen to be foreign to the truth of religion, and is altogether unbecoming, I shall without any delay cause
those men whom I shall ascertain to have acted against that which is right and against religion itself, and whom I shall
discover to have been guilty of violence in their worship, to undergo the destruction which they have deserved by
their madness and reckless obstinacy.
Wherefore, let them also know for certain what they ought to do to secure full credence after they have invoked their
own salvation, since I am going most diligently to search into the things which concern not merely the people, but also
those clerics who are in the first places, and shall pass judgement in accordance with that which is most clearly in the
interests of truth and religion. I shall also make these persons see what worship and what kind of worship is to be
given to the Divinity, for by no means do I believe that I can in any way escape the greatest guilt otherwise than by
refusing to close my eyes to that which is wicked. What can be done by me more in accordance with my constant
practice, and the very office of a Prince, than, after having driven away errors and destroyed all rash opinions, to
bring it about that all men should show forth true religion and simplicity in concord, and to render to Almighty God the
worship which is His due?  
(Preserved in Optatus of Milevis’ Against The Donatists)

(315AD) Fragment of a Letter of Constantine to Eumalius Vicarius.
Synopsis: An extract of six lines, in which he says Cæcilianus was entirely innocent.

NEEDED (Preserved in Augustine of Hippo’s Contr. Crest. 3. 71 [ed. Migne 43 [1861] 541; also Op. Const. 491–2])

(316 or 317AD) Letter of Constantine to the bishops and people of Africa.
Synopsis: He has tried every way to settle the Donatist disturbances in vain, and now leaves them to God and
advises patience.

Constantine Augustus to all the Bishops in Africa and to the people of the Catholic Church. You know right well that,
as Faith required, so far as Prudence permitted, as much as a single-minded intention could prevail, I have
endeavoured by every effort of kindly government to secure that, in accordance with the prescriptions of our law, the
Peace of the most holy Brotherhood, whose grace the supreme God has poured into the hearts of His servants,
should, through complete concord, be preserved secure. 'But whereas the provisions that we have made have not
prevailed to subdue the obstinate violence of crime, which has been implanted in the breasts of certain men----few
though they be----and whereas some favour is still shown to this wickedness of theirs, so that they would not on any
account suffer a place in which they were proud to have sinned to be extorted from them, we must see to it, that as all
this evil affects a few, it may be, through the mercy of Almighty God, mitigated for the people. For we ought to hope
for a remedy, from that source to which all good desires and deeds are referred. But, until the Heavenly medicine
shows itself, our designs must be moderated so far as to act with patience, and whatever in their insolence they
attempt or carry out, in accordance with their habitual wantonness----all this we must endure with the strength which
comes from tranquillity. In no way let wrong be returned to wrong, for it is the mark of a fool to snatch at that
vengeance which we ought to leave to God, especially since our faith ought to lead us to trust that whatever we may
endure from the madness of men of this kind, will avail before God for the grace of martyrdom. For what is it, to
overcome in this world in the Name of God, excepting to endure with an unshaken heart the untamed savagery of
men who harass the people of the Law of Peace? But, if you will give yourselves loyally to this affair, you will speedily
bring it about that, by the favour of God on high, these men, who are making themselves the standard-bearers of this
most miserable strife, may all come to recognise, as their laws or customs fall into decay, that they ought not, through
the persuasion of a few, to give themselves over to perish in everlasting death, when they might, through the grace
of repentance, be made whole again, having corrected their errors, for everlasting life.
Fare you well, by your common prayer, for ever, by God's favour, dearest brethren.
(Preserved in Optatus of Milevis’ Against The Donatist)

(323AD) First Letter of Constantine to Eusebius.
Synopsis: Empowers the repairing, enlarging of old, and building of new churches.

VICTOR CONSTANTINUS, MAXIMUS AUGUSTUS, to Eusebius. "Forasmuch as the unholy and willful rule of tyranny
has persecuted the servants of our Saviour until this present time, I believe and have fully satisfied myself, best
beloved brother, that the buildings belonging to all the churches have either become ruinous through actual neglect,
or have received inadequate attention from the dread of the violent spirit of the times. "But now, that liberty is
restored, and that serpent driven from the administration of public affairs by the providence of the Supreme God, and
our instrumentality, we trust that all can see the efficacy of the Divine power, and that they who through fear of
persecution or through unbelief have fallen into any errors, will now acknowledge the true God, and adopt in future
that course of life which is according to truth and rectitude. With respect, therefore, to the churches over which you
yourself preside, as well as the bishops, presbyters, and deacons of other churches with whom you are acquainted,
do you admonish all to be zealous in their attention to the buildings of the churches, and either to repair or enlarge
those which at present exist, or, in cases of necessity, to erect new ones. "We also empower you, and the others
through you, to demand what is needful for the work, both from the provincial governors and from the Praetorian
Praefect. For they have received instructions to be most diligent in obedience to your Holiness's orders. God
preserve you, beloved brother.
(Preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Life of Constantine 2:46, Theodoret’s
Ecclesiastical History 1:14, and Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical History 1:9)

(323AD) Law of Constantine respecting piety toward God and the Christian Religion
sent to the Provinces of Palestine.
Synopsis: This long edict, addressed to the inhabitants of Palestine, contains an exposition of the prosperity which
attends the righteous and the adversity which comes to the wicked, followed by edict for the restitution of confiscated
property, the recall of exiles, and various other rectifications of injustices. This is the copy, “or letter,” sent to the
heathen population of the empire.

Constantine To The Inhabitants Of Palestine
VICTOR CONSTANTINUS, MAXIMUS AUGUSTUS to the inhabitants of the province of Palestine. "To all who entertain
just and sound sentiments respecting the character of the Supreme Being, it has long been most clearly evident, and
beyond the possibility of doubt, how vast a difference there has ever been between those who maintain a careful
observance of the hallowed duties of the Christian religion, and those who treat this religion with hostility or contempt.
But at this present time, we may see by still more manifest proofs, and still more decisive instances, both how
unreasonable it were to question this truth, and how mighty is the power of the Supreme God: since it appears that
they who faithfully observe His holy laws, and shrink from the transgression of His commandments, are rewarded with
abundant blessings, and are endued with well-grounded hope as well as ample power for the accomplishment of their
undertakings. On the other hand, they who have cherished impious sentiments have experienced results
corresponding to their evil choice. For how is it to be expected that any blessing would be obtained by one who
neither desired to acknowledge nor duly to worship that God who is the source of all blessing? Indeed, facts
themselves are a confirmation of what I say. "FOR certainly any one who will mentally retrace the course of events
from the earliest period down to the present time, and will reflect on what has occurred in past ages, will find that all
who have made justice and probity the basis of their conduct, have not only carried their undertakings to a
successful issue, but have gathered, as it were, a store of sweet fruit as the produce of this pleasant root. Again,
whoever observes the career of those who have been bold in the practice of oppression or injustice; who have either
directed their senseless fury against God himself, or have conceived no kindly feelings towards their fellow-men, but
have dared to afflict them with exile, disgrace, confiscation, massacre, or other miseries of the like kind, and all this
without any sense of compunction, or wish to direct thoughts to a better course, will find that such men have received
a recompense proportioned to their crimes. And these are results which might naturally and reasonably be expected
to ensue? "For whoever have addressed themselves with integrity of purpose to any course of action, keeping the
fear of God continually before their thoughts, and preserving an unwavering faith in him, without allowing present
fears or dangers to outweigh their hope of future blessings--such persons, though for a season they may have
experienced painful trials, have borne their afflictions lightly, being supported by the belief of greater rewards in store
for them; and their character has acquired a brighter luster in proportion to the severity of their past sufferrings. With
regard, on the other hand, to those who have either dishonorably slighted the principles of justice, or refused to
acknowledge the Supreme God themselves, and yet have dared to subject others who have faithfully maintained his
worship to the most cruel insults and punishments; who have failed equally to recognize their own wretchedness in
oppressing others on such grounds, and the happiness and blessing of those who preserved their devotion to God
even in the midst of such sufferings: with regard, I say, to such men, many a time have their armies been
slaughtered, many a time have they been put to flight; and their warlike preparations have ended in total ruin and
defeat. "From the causes I have described, grievous wars arose, and destructive devastations. Hence followed a
scarcity of the common necessaries of life, and a crowd of consequent miseries: hence, too, the authors of these
impieties have either met a disastrous death of extreme suffering, or have dragged out an ignominious existence,
and confessed it to be worse than death itself, thus receiving as it were a measure of punishment proportioned to the
heinousness of their crimes. For each experienced a degree of calamity according to the blind fury with which he had
been led to combat, and as he thought, defeat the Divine will: so that they not only felt the pressure of the ills of this
present life, but were tormented also by a most lively apprehension of punishment in the future world. "AND now, with
such a mass of impiety oppressing the human race, and the commonwealth in danger of being utterly destroyed, as if
by the agency of some pestilential disease, and therefore needing powerful and effectual aid; what was the relief,
and what the remedy which the Divinity devised for these evils? (And by Divinity is meant the one who is alone and
truly God, the possessor of almighty and eternal power: and surely it cannot be deemed arrogance in one who has
received benefits from God, to acknowledge them in the loftiest terms of praise.) I myself, then, was the instrument
whose services He chose, and esteemed suited for the accomplishment of his will. Accordingly, beginning at the
remote Britannic ocean, and the regions where, according to the law of nature, the sun sinks beneath the horizon,
through the aid of divine power I banished and utterly removed every form of evil which prevailed, in the hope that
the human race, enlightened through my instrumentality, might be recalled to a due observance of the holy laws of
God, and at the same time our most blessed faith might prosper under the guidance of his almighty hand. "I said,
under the guidance of his hand; for I would desire never to be forgetful of the gratitude due to his grace. Believing,
therefore, that this most excellent service had been confided to me as a special gift, I proceeded as far as the
regions of the East, which, being under the pressure of severer calamities, seemed to demand still more effectual
remedies at my hands. At the same time I am most certainly persuaded that I myself owe my life, my every breath, in
short, my very inmost and secret thoughts, entirely to the favor of the Supreme God. Now I am well aware that they
who are sincere in the pursuit of the heavenly hope, and have fixed this hope in heaven itself as the peculiar and
predominant principle of their lives, have no need to depend on human favor, but rather have enjoyed higher honors
in proportion as they have separated themselves from the inferior and evil things of this earthly existence.
Nevertheless I deem it incumbent on me to remove at once and most completely from all such persons the hard
necessities laid upon them for a season, and the unjust inflictions under which they have suffered, though free from
any guilt or just liability. For it would be strange indeed, that the fortitude and constancy of soul displayed by such
men should be fully apparent during the reign of those whose first object it was to persecute them on account of their
devotion to God, and yet that the glory of their character should not be more bright and blessed, under the
administration of a prince who is His servant. "LET all therefore who have exchanged their country for a foreign land,
because they would not abandon that reverence and faith toward God to which they had devoted themselves with
their whole hearts, and have in consequence at different times been subject to the cruel sentence of the courts;
together with any who have been enrolled in the registers of the public courts though in time past exempt from such
office let these, I say, now render thanks to God the Liberator of all, in that they are restored to their hereditary
property, and their wonted tranquility. Let those also who have been despoiled of their goods, and have hitherto
passed a wretched existence, mourning under the loss of all that they possessed, once more be restored to their
former homes, their families, and estates, and receive with joy the bountiful kindness of God. "FURTHERMORE, it is
our command that all those who have been detained in the islands against their will should receive the benefit of this
present provision; in order that they who will now have been surrounded by rugged mountains and the encircling
barrier of the ocean, being now set free from that gloomy and desolate solitude, may fulfill their fondest wish by
revisiting their dearest friends. Those, too, who have prolonged a miserable life in the midst of abject and wretched
squalor, welcoming their restoration as an unlooked-for gain, and discarding henceforth all anxious thoughts, may
pass their lives with us in freedom from all fear. For that any one could live in a state of fear under our government,
when we boast and believe ourselves to be the servants of God, would surely be a thing most extraordinary even to
hear of, and quite incredible; and our mission is to rectify the errors of the others. "AGAIN, with regard to those who
have been condemned either to the grievous labor of the mines, or to service in the public works, let them enjoy the
sweets of leisure in place of these long-continued toils, and henceforth lead a far easier life, and more accordant with
the wishes of their hearts, exchanging the incessant hardships of their tasks for quiet relaxation. And if any have
forfeited the common privilege of liberty, or have unhappily suffered dishonor, let them hasten back every one to the
country of his nativity, and resume with becoming joy their former positions in society, from which they have been as
it were separated by long residence abroad. "ONCE more, with respect to those who had previously been preferred
to any military distinction, of which they were afterwards deprived, for the cruel and unjust reason that they chose
rather to acknowledge their allegiance to God than to retain the rank they held; we leave them perfect liberty of
choice, either to occupy their former stations, should they be content again to engage in military service, or after an
honorable discharge, to live in undisturbed tranquility. For it is fair and consistent that men who have displayed such
magnanimity and fortitude in meeting the perils to which they have been exposed, should be allowed the choice
either of enjoying peaceful leisure, or resuming their former rank. "LASTLY, if any have wrongfully been deprived of
the privileges of noble lineage, and subjected to a judicial sentence which has consigned them to the women's
apartments and to the linen making, there to undergo a cruel and miserable labor, or reduced them to servitude for
the benefit of the public treasury, without any exemption on the ground of superior birth; let such persons, resuming
the honors they had previously enjoyed, and their proper dignities, henceforward exult in the blessings of liberty, and
lead a glad life. Let the free man, too, by some injustice and inhumanity, or even madness, made a slave, who has
felt the sudden transition from liberty to bondage, and oftentimes bewailed his unwonted labors, return to his family
once more a free man in virtue of this our ordinance, and seek those employments which befit a state of freedom;
and let him dismiss from his remembrance those services which he found so oppressive, and which so ill became his
condition. Nor must we omit to notice those estates of which individuals have been deprived on various pretenses.
For if any of those who have engaged with dauntless and resolute determination in the noble and divine conflict of
martyrdom have also been stripped of their fortunes; or if the same has been the lot of the confessors, who have won
for themselves the hope of eternal treasures; or if the loss of property has befallen those who were driven from their
native land because they would not yield to the persecutors, and betray their faith; lastly, if any who have escaped
the sentence of death have yet been despoiled of their worldly goods; we ordain that the inheritances of all such
persons be transferred to their nearest kindred. And whereas the laws expressly assign this right to those most
nearly related, it will be easy to ascertain to whom these inheritances severally belong. And it is evidently reasonable
that the succession in these cases should belong to those who would have stood in the place of nearest affinity, had
the deceased experienced a natural death. "But should there be no surviving relation to succeed in due course to
the property of those above-mentioned, I mean the martyrs, or confessors, or those who for some such cause have
been banished from their native land; in such cases we ordain that the church locally nearest in each instance shall
succeed to the inheritance. And surely it will be no wrong to the departed that that church should be their heir, for
whose sake they have endured every extremity of suffering. We think it necessary to add this also, that in case any
of the above-mentioned persons have donated any part of their property in the way of free gift, possession of such
property shall be assured, as is reasonable, to those who have thus received it. "AND that there may be no obscurity
in this our ordinance, but every one may readily apprehend its requirements, let all men hereby know that if they are
now maintaining themselves in possession of a piece of land, or a house, or garden, or anything else which had
appertained to the before-mentioned persons, it will be good and advantageous for them to acknowledge the fact,
and make restitution with the least possible delay. On the other hand, although it should appear that some individuals
have reaped abundant profits from this unjust possession, we do not consider that justice demands the restitution of
such profits. They must, however, declare explicitly what amount of benefit they have thus derived, and from what
sources, and entreat our pardon for this offense; in order that their past covetousness may in some measure be
atoned for, and that the Supreme God may accept this compensation as a token of contrition, and be pleased
graciously to pardon the sin. "BUT it is possible that those who have become masters of such property (if it be right
or possible to allow them such a title) will assure us by way of apology for their conduct, that it was not in their power
to abstain from this appropriation at a time when a spectacle of misery in all its forms everywhere met the view; when
men were cruelly driven from their homes, slaughtered without mercy, thrust forth without remorse: when the
confiscation of the property of innocent persons was a common thing, and when persecutions and property seizures
were unceasing. If any defend their conduct by such reasons as these, and still persist in their avaricious temper,
they shall be made sensible that such a course will bring punishment on themselves, and all the more because this
correction of evil is the very characteristic of our service to the Supreme God. So that it will henceforth be dangerous
to retain what dire necessity may in time past have compelled men to take; especially because it is in any case
incumbent on us to discourage covetous desires, both by persuasion, and by warning examples. "Nor shall the
treasury itself, should it have any of the things we have spoken of, be permitted to keep them; but, without venturing
as it were to raise its voice against the holy churches, it shall justly relinquish in their favor what it has for a time
unjustly retained. We ordain, therefore, that all things whatsoever which shall appear righteously to belong to the
churches, whether the property consist of houses or fields and gardens, or whatever the nature of it may be, shall be
restored in their full value and integrity, and with undiminished right of possession. "Again, with respect to those
places which are honored in being the depositories of the remains of martyrs, and continue to be memorials of their
glorious departure; how can we doubt that they rightly belong to the churches, or refrain from issuing our injunction
to that effect? For surely there can be no better liberality, no labor more pleasing or profitable, than to be thus
employed under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, in order that those things which have been appropriated on false
pretenses by unjust and wicked men, may be restored, as justice demands, and once more secured to the holy
churches. "AND since it would be wrong in a provision intended to include all cases, to pass over those who have
either procured any such property by right of purchase from the treasury, or have retained it when conveyed to them
in the form of a gift; let all who have thus rashly indulged their insatiable thirst of gain be assured that, although by
daring to make such purchases they have done all in their power to alienate our clemency from themselves, they
shall nevertheless not fail of obtaining it, so far as is possible and consistent with propriety in each case. So much
then is determined. "AND now, since it appears by the clearest and most convincing evidence, that the miseries which
erewhile oppressed the entire human race are now banished from every part of the world, through the power of
Almighty God, and at the same time the counsel and aid which he is pleased on many occasions to administer
through our agency; it remains for all, both individually and unitedly, to observe and seriously consider how great this
power and how efficacious this grace are, which have annihilated and utterly destroyed this generation, as I may call
them, of most wicked and evil men; have restored joy to the good, and diffused it over all countries; and now
guarantee the fullest authority both to honor the Divine law as it should be honored, with all reverence, and pay due
observance to those who have dedicated themselves to the service of that law. These rising as from some dark
abyss and, with an enlightened knowledge of the present course of events, will henceforward render to its precepts
that becoming reverence and honor which are consistent with their pious character. Let this ordinance be published
in our Eastern provinces.
(Preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Life of Constantine 2:24–42 with an abstract in
Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History 1:8)

(324AD) Constantine’s edict to the people of the eastern provinces concerning the
error of polytheism, etc.
Synopsis: This letter, written in Latin and translated by Eusebius, begins with “some general remarks on virtue and
vice,” touches on the persecutions and the fate of the persecutors, expresses the wish that all would become
Christians, praises God, and exhorts concord.

"VICTOR CONSTANTINUS, MAXIMUS AUGUSTUS, to the people of the Eastern provinces.
"Whatever is comprehended under the sovereign (1) laws of nature, seems to convey to all men an adequate idea of
the forethought and intelligence of the divine order. Nor can any, whose minds are directed in the true path of
knowledge to the attainment of that end, entertain a doubt that the just perceptions of sound l reason, as well as
those of the natural vision itself, through the sole influence of genuine virtue, lead to the knowledge of God.
Accordingly no wise man will ever be surprised when he sees the mass of mankind influenced by opposite
sentiments. For the beauty of virtue would be useless (2) and unperceived, did not vice display in contrast with it the
course of perversity and folly. Hence it is that the one is crowned with reward, while the most high God is himself the
administrator of judgment to the other.
"And now I will endeavor to lay before you all as explicitly as possible, the nature of my own hopes of future
happiness.
(Preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Life of Constantine 2:48)