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“Eusebius of Caesarea - Constantine's vision in the heavens In This Sign Conquer - original Greek Text with English translation”
Vita Constantini, 1. 26-31
Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Greek (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the NPNF series.
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TEXTS & TRANSLATIONS
History of the Church
Andrew Louth ed.
Cameron and Hall
W. J. Ferrar
Eusebii Pamphili Evangelicae Praeparations, Tomus I (Greek Edition)
Notley and Safrai
Eusebius, Christianity and Judaism
Harold W. Attridge
Constantine and Eusebius
Eusebius of Caesarea Against Paganism
Christ as Mediator: A Study of the Theologies of Eusebius of Caesarea,
Marcellus of Ancyra, and Athanasius of Alexandria
26. While, therefore, he regarded the entire world as one immense body, and perceived that the head of it all, the royal city of the Roman empire, was bowed down by the weight of a tyrannous oppression; at first he had left the task of liberation to those who governed the other divisions of the empire, as being his superiors in point of age. But when none of these proved able to afford relief, and those who had attempted it had experienced a disastrous termination of their enterprise, he said that life was without enjoyment to him as long as he saw the imperial city thus afflicted, and prepared himself for the overthrowal of the tyranny.
27. Being convinced, however, that he needed some more powerful aid than his military forces could afford him, on account of the wicked and magical enchantments which were so diligently practiced by the tyrant, he sought Divine assistance, deeming the possession of arms and a numerous soldiery of secondary importance, but believing the co-operating power of Deity invincible and not to be shaken. He considered, therefore, on what God he might rely for protection and assistance. While engaged in this enquiry, the thought occurred to him, that, of the many emperors who had preceded him, those who had rested their hopes in a multitude of gods, and served them with sacrifices and offerings, had in the first place been deceived by flattering predictions, and oracles which promised them all prosperity, and at last had met with an unhappy end, while not one of their gods had stood by to warn them of the impending wrath of heaven; while one alone who had pursued an entirely opposite course, who had condemned their error, and honored the one Supreme God during his whole life, had found him to be the Saviour and Protector of his empire, and the Giver of every good thing. Reflecting on this, and well weighing the fact that they who had trusted in many gods had also fallen by manifold forms of death, without leaving behind them either family or offspring, stock, name, or memorial among men: while the God of his father had given to him, on the other hand, manifestations of his power and very many tokens: and considering farther that those who had already taken arms against the tyrant, and had marched to the battle-field under the protection of a multitude of gods, had met with a dishonorable end (for one of them had shamefully retreated from the contest without a blow, and the other, being slain in the midst of his own troops, became, as it were, the mere sport of death); reviewing, I say, all these considerations, he judged it to be folly indeed to join in the idle worship of those who were no gods, and, after such convincing evidence, to err from the truth; and therefore felt it incumbent on him to honor his father’s God alone.
28. Accordingly he called on him with earnest prayer and supplications that he would reveal to him who he was, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven, the account of which it might have been hard to believe had it been related by any other person. But since the victorious emperor himself long afterwards declared it to the writer of this history, when he was honored with his acquaintance and society, and confirmed his statement by an oath, who could hesitate to accredit the relation, especially since the testimony of after-time has established its truth? He said that about noon, when the day was already beginning to decline, 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.
29. He said, moreover, that he doubted within himself what the import of this apparition could be. And while he continued to ponder and reason on its meaning, night suddenly came on; then in his sleep the Christ of God appeared to him with the same sign which he had seen in the heavens, and commanded him to make a likeness of that sign which he had seen in the heavens, and to use it as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies.
30. At dawn of day he arose, and communicated the marvel to his friends: and then, calling together the workers in gold and precious stones, he sat in the midst of them, and described to them the figure of the sign he had seen, bidding them represent it in gold and precious stones. And this representation I myself have had an opportunity of seeing.
31. Now it was made in the following manner. A
long spear, overlaid with gold, formed the figure of the cross by means of a
transverse bar laid over it. On the top of the whole was fixed a wreath of gold
and precious stones; and within this, the symbol of the Saviour’s name, two
letters indicating the name of Christ by means of its initial characters, the
letter P being intersected by X in its centre: and these letters the emperor was
in the habit of wearing on his helmet at a later period. From the cross-bar of
the spear was suspended a cloth, a royal piece, covered with a profuse
embroidery of most brilliant precious stones; and which, being also richly
interlaced with gold, presented an indescribable degree of beauty to the
beholder. This banner was of a square form, and the upright staff, whose lower
section was of great length, bore a golden half-length portrait of the pious
emperor and his children on its upper part, beneath the trophy of the cross, and
immediately above the embroidered banner. The emperor constantly made use of
this sign of salvation as a safeguard against every adverse and hostile power,
and commanded that others similar to it should be carried at the head of all his
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Vita Constantini, 1. 26-29
Life of Constantine, 1, 26-29
Sign in the heavens
In this sign conquer
Migne Greek Text
Patrologiae Graecae Cursus Completus
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