The Vision at the Bridge
Posted under The Rectory Bulletin | Church History
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)
1,708 ago, to this day, a young man had a vision. He was leading a great army, one of the greatest assembled at that time, and was awaiting the battle which would surely take place the next day. He had come a long way from York, where he had been proclaimed Emperor six years before, and was now positioned with his troops by the River Tiber in Rome. Opposite him was a man who also had the title Emperor, and had long plotted his death. At that stage, the Roman Empire was vast and so the rule had been split East and West with Emperors for each. And also junior Emperors who would succeed them. It was a recipe for trouble.
So Constantine waited near the Milvian Bridge, and had a vision. No Christian himself, Constantine was startled to see a cross of light above the sun and with it the words “in this (sign) conquer”. He wasn’t sure what it meant. That night, as he slept at the eve of battle, in a dream it was explained to him that he was to fight under the sign of Christ.
So it was that the following day Constantine was victorious, and gained total control of the Western Roman Empire. The following year, the Edict of Milan was issued jointly by Constantine and the Eastern Emperor, Licinius. Christianity was now formally recognised by the Roman state, and permitted as a ‘legal’ religion. Constantine became a key promoter of Christianity.
By the end of the century, Christianity had been adopted as the official religion of the Empire and the stage was set for the faith to dominate in the West. All this started this day in 312, as a young man had a vision by a bridge.