When we, Constantine and Licinius, emperors, had an interview at Milan, and
conferred together with respect to the good and security of the commonweal,
it seemed to us that, amongst those things that are profitable to mankind
in general, the reverence paid to the Divinity merited our first and chief
attention, and that it was proper that the Christians and all others should
have liberty to follow that mode of religion which to each of them appeared
best; so that that God, who is seated in heaven, might be benign and
propitious to us, and to every one under our government.
And therefore we judged it a salutary measure, and one highly consonant to
right reason, that no man should be denied leave of attaching himself to the
rites of the Christians, or to whatever other religion his mind directed him,
that thus the supreme Divinity, to whose worship we freely devote ourselves,
might continue to vouchsafe His favour and beneficence to us.
And accordingly we give you to know that, without regard to any provisos in
our former orders to you concerning the Christians, all who choose that
religion are to be permitted, freely and absolutely, to remain in it, and not
to be disturbed any ways, or molested.
And we thought fit to be thus special in the things committed to your charge,
that you might understand that the indulgence which we have granted in matters
of religion to the Christians is ample and unconditional; and perceive at the
same time that the open and free exercise of their respective religions is
granted to all others, as well as to the Christians. For it befits the
well-ordered state and the tranquillity of our times that each individual be
allowed, according to his own choice, to worship the Divinity; and we mean not
to derogate aught from the honour due to any religion or its votaries.
Moreover, with respect to the Christians, we formerly gave certain orders
concerning the places appropriated for their religious assemblies; but now
we will that all persons who have purchased such places, either from our
exchequer or from any one else, do restore them to the Christians, without
money demanded or price claimed, and that this be performed peremptorily and
unambiguously; and we will also, that they who have obtained any right to
such places by form of gift do forthwith restore them to the Christians:
reserving always to such persons, who have either purchased for a price, or
gratuitously acquired them, to make application to the judge of the district,
if they look on themselves as entitled to any equivalent from our beneficence.
All those places are, by your intervention, to be immediately restored to the
Christians. And because it appears that, besides the places appropriated to
religious worship, the Christians did possess other places, which belonged
not to individuals, but to their society in general, that is, to their
churches, we comprehend all such within the regulation aforesaid, and we will
that you cause them all to be restored to the society or churches, and that
without hesitation or controversy: Provided always, that the persons making
restitution without a price paid shall be at liberty to seek indemnification
from our bounty.
In furthering all which things for the behoof of the Christians, you are to
use your utmost diligence, to the end that our orders be speedily obeyed, and
our gracious purpose in securing the public tranquillity promoted.
So shall that divine favour which, in affairs of the mightiest importance, as we
have already experienced, continue to give success to us, and in our successors
make the commonwealth happy. And that the tenor of this our gracious ordinance
may be made known unto all, we will that you cause it by your authority to be