Is Christianity really paganism

Emperor between paganism and Christianity

Exhibition about Emperor Constantine

By Thomas Edwin Migge

By changing its image, Rimini also tries to attract those interested in culture as tourists. A new exhibition at Castel Sismondo now presents one of the most famous and controversial Roman emperors, a man from the turn of the century: Emperor Constantine.

It is said to have been quite lush at his court. The nobility dressed in costly oriental garments and there were eunuchs in abundance. It was they who pulled up the heavy brocade curtain behind which the magnificently decorated emperor was enthroned. A curtain that symbolically separated him, the godlike, from common people, should make this separation clear. Whenever the emperor wanted to announce something publicly, this ceremony was carried out. According to contemporary sources, incense streamed out of golden vessels, and all those present fell on their stomachs.

Emperor Constantine the Great celebrated himself at the height of his power. A power that began in a battle on the Ponte Milvio in Rome. At this bridge Constantine defeated his rival Maxentius at the end of October 312 and became ruler of the Roman Empire. The Lord of Constantine was much smaller than Maxentius'. The day before this battle, it was October 27th, a "signum" appeared on the horizon for Constantine in the evening: Constantine recognized the two Greek letters X and P, the initials of Christ's name. This so-called Christogram, which later became the Constantinian monogram, was affixed by the military leader to the protective shields of his soldiers. It became his banner in that battle. A voice is said to have whispered to Constantine before the battle "in hoc signo victor eris", in this sign you will win. Constantine triumphed and since then has promoted the Christian faith in his vast empire, explains the historian Augusto Fraschetti, who helped organize the great Constantine exhibition in Rimini:

"Remains and finds of weapons and helmets on which this symbol can be seen in the exhibition remind of this battle, which was under the sign of the Christogram. Immediately after Constantine's victory and his conversion to Christianity, it was a good thing for many of the emperor's followers It is important to have a Christogram affixed to their helmets as a sign that they too are making themselves strong for the new faith. "

For the first time ever, an attempt is being made to retell the varied life of this contradicting emperor in the form of an exhibition. The exhibition in Rimini offers a fascinating spectrum of artistic, military, architectural and religious objects from the time of Emperor Constantine. After his epochal victory at Ponte Milvio, Constantine had the famous Edict of Milan written in 313, which made Christianity a legitimate religion. But he was not baptized until the hour of his death in 337. Augusto Fraschetti:

"This is an important aspect, because even if he only converted to Christianity in the hour of death and turned away from his paganism, he promoted the new faith. In a way as if he had already been a Christian. But at the same time he surrounded himself with pagan advisers and did not close the pantheon in Rome with its multitude of pagan gods. And yet he had great basilicas built in important places. "

In the year of the Edict of Milan in 313, the emperor began the construction of San Salvatore in Laterano in Rome and the St. Peter's Church on the Vatican Hill. The ruler had Christian buildings built in all of Italy as well as in Jerusalem. Among its civil buildings, the most fascinating city on the Bosporus that bore his name: Constantinople, today's Istanbul, the second Rome. Here Constantine developed the imperial cult that elevated the ruler to a quasi-divine position. He gave himself the title "Isapostolo", in German: like the apostles, and had it immortalized on coins, mosaics and in paintings. At the same time he had coins minted that also glorified him as the pagan sun god. The exhibition in Rimini makes it clear that Constantine moved between Christianity and paganism throughout his life. Even though he fought the Arians and issued an edict against them in Nicaea in 325, he did not choose to close pagan temples. The exhibition also features Arian art. Among them is a very rare bronze plaque depicting the twofold Christ: as a human being and as God - a vision of the Son of God, according to Augusto Fraschetti, typical for the Arians and fought by Constantine:

"The exhibition offers beautiful early Christian objects that were probably used at the imperial court or in the basilicas built by Constantine. For example, several silver eucharistic beakers, which are among the oldest cult objects of this kind. With Constantine's openness to Christianity, that changes
Art: Artists now presented Christian themes more and more often and used the style of their time for it. "

The sarcophagi exhibited in Rimini no longer show ancient gods and heroes but Jesus and his disciples and biblical figures. The artisans replaced the pagan figures with Christian ones, the other motifs were retained. The same applied to all other genres of art, from mosaics to frescoes. The Konstantinschau also introduces the dark side of the first Christian emperor. The "apostle-like" did not shy away from taking brutal revenge in the old Roman manner: so he had his first-born son Crispo murdered. He was said to have had a relationship with his stepmother Flavia. Although Constantine is said to have loved this young woman very much, he had her locked up in a Turkish bath, where she died of the heat.