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February 27: Rome Adopts Christianity

Lawrence Bush
February 27, 2010

250px-Rome-Capitole-StatueConstantinConstantine the Great, emperor of Rome from 306 to 337, was born on this day in 280. Constantine ceased the persecutions of Christianity in the Roman Empire in his Edict of Milan in 313, and built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, on the site that his mother Helena determined was the place of crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. In 325 he convened the Council of Nicaea, at which the Easter holiday was separated from Passover and Sunday was established as the Christian sabbath. Later church councils would prohibit Christians from celebrating Passover with Jews and from receiving holiday gifts from them. Constantine encouraged religious tolerance, but under the Codes of Theodosius (4th to 6th centuries), Jews were steadily turned into second-class citizens.

In hoc signo vinces”— In this sign [the cross], you will conquer.” —Constantine I

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.