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Constantine, Christianity, talismanic emblem


Most scholars now accept the reality and sincerity of Constantine's conversion to Christianity during his military campaign against Maxentius for control of Rome in A.D. 312—provided that "conversion" is understood in terms of the superstitious religious environment of the times. The ancient pagan and Christian sources that described the campaign all agreed that the war was waged in an atmosphere of intense religious fervor, even superstitiosa maleficia as one source described it, and that each commander appealed to divine power for aid against his enemy. Christian accounts of the campaign reported that Constantine turned to the Christian God at this time, and adopted the use of a Christian talismanic symbol for his soldiers' weapons that successfully invoked the aid and power of this new divine patron for his troops and drove off the hostile demons and pagan deities supporting his enemy's forces. The emperor's victory behind a Christian sign at the climactic Battle of the Mulvian Bridge convinced him that he had found the one and only true God, governor of the cosmos and repository of true power. Thereafter, he worshipped only the Christian Divinity.