Monday, February 22, 2010

Constantine & Christianity




Constanine was the son of Constantius. Constantius had a position of authority under Maximian before succeeding him as Augustus in 305.

Constantius died a year after assuming power, in 306, which sparked conflict over who would succeed him.

Constantine had the support of his father's army but handed it over to Severus, who was under his father during his reign.

Maximian's son, Maxentius challenged opposed Constantine by declaring himself emperor and defeating the army under Severus' control in 306 and 307.

In 311 Maxentius declared war on Constantine, trying to defeat him for good and claim power over Rome.

In the spring of 312 Constantine led his forces toward Rome to combat Maxentius, seeking to claim power over Rome. He arrived in Rome in October.

Constantine's Vision

According to tradition, on the day before the two armies were about to meet for battle on October 27, Constantine saw a vision.

Constantine's vision instructed him to fight in the name of Christ, with his soldiers' sheilds bearing the sign of Christ. The symbol was either a cross or a laberum, an intersection of the chi (X) and rho (P), the letters of Christ.

Christian author Lactantius, writing several years after the battle, described, “Constantine was directed in a dream to cause the heavenly sign to be delineated on the shields of his soldiers, and so to proceed to battle. He did as he had been commanded, and he marked on their shields the letter Χ, with a perpendicular line drawn through it and turned round thus at the top, being the cipher of Christ. Having this sign (ΧР), his troops stood to arms.”

The author Eusebius, a Constantine apologist, also described the event in “Life of Constantine,” which he wrote after Constantine’s death in 337. According to Eusebius, Constantine saw a vision of a cross rather than the letters of Christ.

“He saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in the heavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS. At this sight he himself was struck with amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed the miracle,” wrote Eusebius.

The following day, Constantine’s outnumbered forces defeated Maxentius’ forces, which tried to retreat over the Tiber River on a pontoon bridge. In the chaos of the retreat, the bridge collapsed, leaving only the too-narrow Milvian Bridge as a route to escape. Maxentius and many of his men would drown or be trampled to death in the escape. Constantine rode into Rome with the head of Maxentius.

“There, at around the age of twenty-four, Constantine was hailed as emperor, of the western half of the empire,” writes historian Frank E. Smitha. “He was hailed as a man of boldness and a man favored and guided by the gods.”

Constantine Legalizes Christianity

Christians in the Roman Empire had been persecuted by several Roman emperors in the first, second and third centuries, dating back to Nero in 64 A.D. In the early fourth century, Diocletian and Galerius made Christianity illegal, and called for the burning of churches and torture of Christians who refused to recant.

Constantine’s rise to power marks a turning point in the history of Christianity. “Constantine can rightfully claim the title of Great, for he turned the history of the world into a new course and made Christianity, which until then had suffered bloody persecution, the religion of the State,” writes the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Constantine did not immediately make a full conversion to Christianity, however. He retained many of his pagan beliefs and customs.

He converted on his deathbed.

He ordered the toleration of Christians in the Edict of Milan of 313.

He also granted powers and funding to Christian bishops, allowing them to build churches, restore pilgrimage sites, and spread a unified belief structure.

Council of Nicea

In 325, Constantine hosted the Council of Nicea, the first ever Ecumenical council, to settle a dispute primarily between Alexander and Arius over whether Jesus was as divine as God. Constantine oversaw a compromise, called the Nicene Creed, that said Jesus was of the same substance as God.

“The emperor then exiled Arius, an act that, while manifesting a solidarity of church and state, underscored the importance of secular patronage in ecclesiastical affairs,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Spread of Christianity in Roman Empire

Christianity spread slowly over the next two centuries.

Only one emperor, Julian in the 360's, tried to oppress it.

By the end of the fourth century Christianity was the dominant religion in the Roman Empire.

Source of Information:

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Milan Itinerary

Day 1:

I will arrive in the great international city of Milan in the afternoon. I will check into the Hotel Spadari al Duomo first thing. The average price a night of this hotel is $332. The top reason I have for selecting this hotel is it's ideal location in the heart of Milan, just a stone's throw from the Duomo and the Galleria. This hotel has conistently great reviews, I've read satisfied customers talk about the friendly and helpful staff, the cleanliness of the hotel, and the good breakfast offered.


I will spend the afternoon at the Duomo, right near my hotel.


The Duomo, the Cathedral of Milan, is the center of tourist activity in Milan. I will explore the activity and then I will catch an elevator up to the roof and walk around. From the roof I'll get a great view of the city. Also from the roof I'll be able to get a close look at the city’s symbol - the golden Madoninna, or little Madonna, who sits atop the Duomo’s tallest spire.


In the evening I will eat at the famous Savini restaurant, right near the Duomo and my hotel. This restaurant is reputed as Milan's finest. A perfect way to conclude a great day. In a addition to great food this restaurant is decorated impeccibly with period pieces, creating a sophistacated dining experience.

After dinner I will head to my hotel for the night.

Day 2.

After breakfast at the hotel I will head over to the the Scala Theater. In the morning I will check out the Scala Theater museum, which has art and costumes, as well as information on the history of the theater. After I am done with perusing the museum, I will head to lunch before catching a show at the theater in the afternoon. For luch I will eat Antica Hostaria della Lanterna. This restaurant is located a little ways from the Scala Theater but not too far. They have excellent local cuisine and the price is very reasonable for the quaility of service and food I have read, the price range is $15-$35.

After my lunch excursion I will head back to the Scala Theatre to catch a show. At the conlusion of my afternoon I will head in the evening to the Ristorante L'Assassino restaurant. This restaurant is located in the center city and for the location of the restaurant the and quality of this food the price is reasonable I have read from reviews. This restaurant is right behind the cathedral and boasts authentic Tuscan food. I have read you can't go wrong with the one.

After dinner I will make the short walk back to my hotel for the night.

Day 3.

This day after breakfast I will head to the metro and catch a ride to the Cairoli Castello stop to visit the Sforza Castle.


The Sforza Castle was build in the 15th century by Francesco Sforza. This castle used to me the seat and residence of the ruling family of Milan. It now houses several of Milan's art collections. On piece of art that is noteworthy is the surviving ceiling painting by Leonardo DaVinci in the Sala Delle Asse. Also this castle houses Michealangelo's last sculpture, his Rondanini Pietà which he died while working on, along with other very significant works of art.


I plan on staying a good part of the day there because I like to take my time looking at art and the other collections full of interesting artifacts. I will take a break for lunch and grab some concessions available at the castle, concessions cost 10 Euros.

After my day at the Sforza Castle, I will catch the metro back to the section of the city where my hotel is and eat dinner at the nearby Cantine della Vetra. THis restaurant has top italian-french cuisine. It is a tad bit expensive but reviewers say that the food is excellent.

After dinner I will head to my hotel and rest for my last day in Milan.

Day 4.

I will arise and eat breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast I will walk to the Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is famed for housing Leonardo Da Vinici's famous fresco of the Last Supper.


After spending the morning and early afternoon at The Santa Maria delle Grazie, I will eat lunch at Le Cantine di Milano, right near the Duomo. Lunch is about 13 Euros. This restaurant uses fresh quality ingredients and it's menu consists of dishes which combine innovation and tradition. Also live music is played. A great way to conclude my stay in Milan!


After lunch I will head back to my hotel to check out and make my way to my next adventure.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Venice Itinerary

Day 1.

Arrive in Venice and check into the hotel Abbazia. After unpacking I will stroll over to the nearby St. Mark's square to clear my head from the long flight. I will eat at the Antico Martini which is nearby St. Mark's square. This restaurant has a reputation for being one of the most romantic in Venice. After dinner I will liesurely make my way back to my hotel, prepare myself for the next day and rest after my long trip.

Day 2.

I will rise, prepare myself for the day and eat breakfast at the hotel. I will make my way again to Saint Mark's square, because the previous night was only a little taste, drawing me back. I will spend my morning perusing the many sights of the square, chase pigeons and go to Mass. I will check out Saint Mark's Basilica. After that I will eat lunch at Al Giardinetto da Severino, right in St. Mark's square. This restaurant is relatively less expensive that the one I splurged on last night, is friendly and intimate and has been run by the same family for half a century.


After lunch I will head to Doge's Palace, located on St. Mark's square. Doge's Palace dates back to before Reniassance times and contains many priceless artwork inside, including the largest oil painting in the world; Tintoretto’s “Paradise”.

I will eat dinner at the pricey Ristorante Cantina Canaletto, near St. Mark's square. This restaurant will be a welcome break from the hourdes of tourists, or so I've read.

After dinner I will take my time working myself back to my hotel and retire for the evening.


Day 3.

I will arise and eat breakfast in my hotel. I will head to the Rialto Bridge, dating from the 1500's and was as socially significant now as it is today as a town meeting place. There are many shops lining both sides and I will spend much of the morning and early afternoon perusing the many sights to behold here and take it in. This bridge was the first bridge to span the grand canal. I will eat lunch at the nearby San Lio Restaurant, and enjoy a seafood dish.


In the evening I will take a tour by gondola. After my gondola ride I will eat dinner at Le Bistrot de Venise, in the heart of Venice near St. Mark's square.


After dinner I will make my way to my hotel, taking my time and undwinding for the day, taking in all I have experienced thus far.

Day 4.

My last day in Venice! In the morning, after eating breakfast at the hotel I will head over to St. Mark's square and from there take the free boat to Murano, located north of Venice, famous for it's hand blown glass. After checking out the attractions there I will take thevaporetto back to St. Mark's Square, and eat lunch at the Carpaccio restaurant.


After lunch I will head back to my hotel to check out, and head to my next destination; Milan!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stop 1: Venice- Where to stay.

I am excited to embark on my Italian adventure! My first stop will be in Venice, the city built on stilts. Here are a few places where I am considering to stay while I am there.

The first place I'm looking at is the San Clemente Palace Hotel. This gem of a hotel is worth the price of approximately 316 USD a night. Hey, this may be my only time in Venice so I may as well live it up. This hotel has excellent guest ratings. It boasts it's own island, on which there used to be a monastery and a lunatic asylum. Such an interesting history will only add to the magic. This hotel is a cut above many because of it's privacy and peacefulness. The charm of the island has been preserved and enhanced through this hotel.


The second place I'm interested in is the Hotel Campiello, in the heart of Venice. While not quite as luxurious as the San Clemente Palace Hotel, this hotel appears to be of very good quality. It's location is ideal, very close to St. Mark's Square and near the water busses. The location is what attracts me most to this hotel. I've found a room available for 110 Euros, which translates into $150 USD.


The third place I may stay is the Hotel Abbazia. This charmer is set in an old abbey. It has been restored to preserve it's beauty. This hotel appears to me because it seems laid back and I've read that the staff is very accessible if you'd like to chat with them and be inriched with their wealth of local knowledge. The hotel is only 100 metres from Santa Lucia Station. Water bus transportation is available nearby. I appreciate the intimacy of this hotel, only 50 rooms. Also what appeals to me is being able to eat breakfast in the peaceful garden. I found a room for 150 Euros, that is about 206 USD. A great value, what deal!


I'm sure any of these option would be a great experience, I just need to decide which one I'm most inclined to.