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American Society of Church History

Imperial Church Building and Church-State Relations, A. D. 313-363 Author(s): Gregory T. Armstrong Source: Church History, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Mar., 1967), pp. 3-17 Published by: Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Society of Church History Stable URL: . Accessed: 21/07/2011 16:39
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IMPERIAL CHURCH BUILDING AND CHURCH-STATE RELATIONS, A. D. 313-363* GREGORYT. ARMSTRONG, Assistant Professor of Church History, Vanderbilt Divinity School The study of church-state relations in the age of Constantine may be approached in many ways. Imperial church building is one of these avenues of study and interpretation. Lactantius long ago complained of the building mania of Diocletian and other members of the Tetrarchy.' Eusebius lauded the churches of Constantine as signal proofs of his magnificence and as the discharge of a sacred debt.2 Procopius later condemned the extravagance of Justinian's building programs, although without specifically mentioning churches.3 And many modern writers have taken the churches of Constantine as evidence for both a personal and a public commitment to Christianity.4 Only a few historians, however, have asked whether there was an overriding plan or purpose to this activity, e.g., Glanville Downey has suggested the likelihood of a plan in the case of Justinian.5 Thus arises the question, was the construction of churches the instrument or at least the reflection of an imperial policy toward Christianity? To begin with, one may appropriately inquire under what circumstances the building of churches is likely to be significant. We presuppose, of course, the decisive influence of the patron, i.e., the emperor, in any such enterprise. Thus it could be significant if imperial patronage results in the introduction or promotion of a new or particular style of architecture or if support goes to only one party among several in the church. Again, the extent of patronage -including the geographical distribution, number, and size of churches -could of itself be significant, as could the use of such buildings for state purposes; likewise, the selective choice of sites for new churches. When, as is especially the case for Constantine, all of these circumstances coincide, the inescapable conclusion is that his building of churches is significant. In general we find that the pattern of church building throughout the empire rather than the in*This study has its origins in a paper read in December 1965 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Church History. I am grateful to the libraries of Dumbarton Oaks and Princeton University for their hospitality, and to the American Council of Learned Societies for its support during the preparation of this material. Since this article was completed, Deno J. Geanakoplos, who commented upon my original paper in December, 1965, has published a complementary study, "Church Building and 'Caesaropapism,' A.D. 312-565," in Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies VII (1966), 167-186. 1. Lactantius, De mortibus persecutorum, 7. 2. Eusebius, Laus Constantini, ix. 12-19. 3. Procopius, The Anecdota or Secret History, viii. 7-8; xi. 3; xix. 4-8 (esp. contrast with Emperor Anastasius I); xxvi. 23-24. He takes a different view, of course, in the treatise, Buildings, which was presented to Justinian. 4. E.g., Kurt Aland, "Die religiose Haltung Kaiser Konstantins," Studia Patristica, I, ed. Kurt Aland and F. L. Cross, TU, 63 (Berlin, 1957), 569, 570; Heinz; Kraft, Kaiser Konstantins religiose Entwicklung, Beitrige zur historischen Theologie, 20 (Tiibingen, 1955), pp. 114, 119. 5. Glanville Downey, "Justinian as a Builder," The Art Bulletin, XXXII (1950), 262-266.


dividual church and its design offers the most certain clue to churchstate policies and practice. Other questions follow. What are the probable reasons for an emperor's involvement in such activity? What accounts for the church's apparently easy acceptance of such patronage? How in fact did church and state view each other? Here is the basic question upon which an examination of church buildings may shed new light. Finally, the nature and limits of the evidence for imperial church building are a necessary prolegomenon to this study. The literary evidence, such as the contemporary church historians and the later Byzantine historians, is less than adequate in respect to completeness and reliability, yet it is indispensable for any discussion of the motives underlying the emperors' building programs. By no means all the churches built under imperial patronage are recorded, even by so zealous a biographer as Eusebius.6 Usually only the prominent buildings are noted or the ones especially hallowed by legend. On the other hand, by no means all the churches attributed to the emperors are their constructions. Especially is this true of later works such as the Patria of Pseudo-Codinus.7 Even the attributions of the Liber Pontificalis, which at least in part appear to be based on records contemporary with Constantine, are open to question.8 Helpful for the purpose of determining the patron or donor of a church are inscriptions, but these are sparse and may refer to a church's restoration or embellishment rather than to the actual construction.9 The archaeological evidence offers important testimony to the imperial church buildings, confirming or disproving the literary evidence, but it too is often incomplete or ambiguous. Still another source of evidence or at least of guidance in interpreting the evidence is architectural history, although it often points more to the variety of churches than to meaningful and evolutionary relationships between forms. The long-standing question of the Christian basilica exemplifies this problem.'? In addition to the evidence for the provenance of church buildings, i.e., whether they were built under imperial patronage or not, there are the materials concerned with the emperors' motives and policies and the buildings' uses and significance. Among the more important of these are imperial legislation, liturgical materals, and artistic decoration.
6. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, iii.48, 50. 7. Text in Scriptores originum Constantinopolitanum recensuit Theodorus Preger, II, Bibliotheca . . . Teubneriana (Leipzig, 1907). 8. The Book of the Popes, I (all published), trans. and ed. Louise Ropes Loomis (New York, 1916), xvii, xviii. Le Liber Pontificalis, ed. with intro. and commentary by L[ouis] Duchesne (Paris, 1955), I, cxli-cliv, clxi. On the debate over Eusebius and the Vita Constantini as a trustworthy source, see Friedhelm Winkelmann, "Zur Geschichte des Authentizitatsproblems der Vita Constantini," Klio: Beitrdge zur Alten Geschichte, XL (1962), 187-243. 9. Ernestus Diehl, Inscriptiones Latinae Christianae Veters, 3 vols. (Berlin, 1961), 1752, 1759, 1761, 1763, 1768, 1775, 1779, 1792. 10. For a recent survey see: Noel Duval, "Les origines de Ia basilique chr6tienne: Altat de la d'histoire de I'art, VII (1962), 1-19. question, "L'Information


This study is not, however, devoted to a discussion of the problems of evidence. Its aim is rather to discover and delineate the patterns, the precedents, the motives, and the significance of the imperial churches for the single but complex issue of church-state relations. A. Constantine the Great Constantine has been the object of intensive study since Burckhardt's stimulating biography in 1853, but by no means all the problems have been solved-indeed, quite the contrary. In particular the question of which churches he directed to be built or enlarged has not been treated exhaustively, and a definitive list of genuinely Constantinian sanctuaries remains to be established. " I deal with the possibility of such a list elsewhere and have selected for use here only generally accepted examples.12 For a complete picture of Constantine as a builder it is necessary to keep in mind his civil buildings such as the Basilica of Maxentius in Rome, which he completed, and several of the chief buildings and monuments of Constantinople. Indeed the founding of a new capital city would set him apart from the other emperors, some of whom established new imperial residences but none of whom intended to displace Rome, and it was, of course, a significant indication of Constantine's attitude toward Christianity. "Constantine left Rome as the 'museum' of the great national past, though it was inseparably connected with the deities of Olympus-but, at the same time, he made of his new capital the Rome of the Christian world."18 It is also essential to see Constantine in his historical context. Many emperors were great builders, notably Hadrian, Augustus and Trajan and not far behind them Tiberius, Domitian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius.14 More immediately, the contemporaries of Constantine, Diocletian, Galerius, Maxentius and Licinius, were active in developng the imperial residences at Nicomedia, Spalato, Thessalonica, Milan and Trier. Rodenwaldt in speaking of this late11. Joannes Ciampini, De sacris aedificiis a Constantino magno constructis: Synopsis historica (Rome, 1693), arrived at a total of 58 churches and baptistries and 2 monasteries. An important recent study is Ludwig Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen des Kaisers Konstantin im Lichte des r6mischen Sakralrechts, Arbeitsgemeinschaft fur Forschung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen, Geisteswissenschaften, Heft 117 (Cologne and Opladen, 1964). 12. "Constantine's Churches," scheduled for publication in Gesta, VI (January, 1967), which suggests 23 secure attributions to Constantine as patron and/or founder, 4 attributions to the Constantinian dynasty, 2 probable endowments by Constantine, 11 possible attributions, and 4 poorly attested ones. This catalog includes extensive bibliographical references for each building. See also Richard Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, The Pelican History of Art (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, and Baltimore, 1965), Part Two, "The Fourth Century." 13. A[ndras] Alfoldi, "On the Foundation of Constantinople: A Few Notes," The Journal (1947), 15. Similarly, Kraft, pp. 115-118. of Roman Studies, XxXVll 14. Ramsey MacMullen, "Roman Imperial Building in the Provinces," Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, LXIV (Cambridge, Mass., 1959), 209. Ferdinand Lot, The End of the Ancient World and the Beginnings of the Middle Ages, trans. Philip and Mariette Leon (New York and Evanston, 1961), p. 95, cautions that Constantine did not actually surpass his predecessors of the first and second centuries in expenditures on buildings. Cf. D. S. Robertson, A Handbook of Greek and Roman Architecture, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, Eng., 1964), pp. 213-230, 267-296.


classical period calls their buildings "the latest flowering of Roman architecture." "It is not their mere numbers, but rather the size and boldness of the architectural conceptions in these structures that is remarkable."'15 "The creation of the Christian basilica is only properly appreciated when it is revealed as the most brilliant achievement of the last efflorescence of Roman architecture."'6 Certainly Constantine intended to take part in this architectural flowering and to equal or exceed the monuments of his predecessors, but he did so not simply by erecting grander palaces and civic buildings. Instead, he ushered in a new historical era by founding a score or more of Christian churches. What were the chief church-state issues which this building program illuminates? Fundamental was the very status of the Christian church in the empire, i.e., the extent to which it was or was to become the state religion and to which its bishops were to exercise civil functions. The Arian controversy raised the question of the doctrine and unity of the church and with it of how the state would respond, if at all, to the divisions which were emerging. The Donatist controversy had indeed already raised the same issue for a smaller area of the empire and at an earlier stage in Constantine's development, and it constitutes itself a church-state issue. A corollary issue to the fundamental one of the church's status was the policy followed toward the pagan religions. The general outlines of Constantine's church building program suggest far more than the benevolent toleration of Christianity. They suggest the firm establishment of a necessary civic institution. Constantine founded a Christian capital appropriately furnished with great churches in central locations 17 he invested the landmarks of biblical history with suitable sanctuaries;18he gave old Rome imposing monumental churches, although not in the central city :' he provided generous endowments for these churches and enabled others
15 Gferhart] Rodenwaldt, "The Transition to Late-Classical Art," ch. 16 in The Cambridge Ancient History, XII: The Imperial Crisis and Recovery, A.D. 193-324 (Cambridge, Eng., 1939), 567. 16. Ibid., 569. Note also the comment of E[arl] Baldwin Smith, Architectural Sy'mbolism of Imperial Rome and the Middle Ages (Princeton, 1956), p. 4: "Because it is assumed that the Romans, as we know them in their literature, were too practical a people to be influenced by architectural symbolism, it is not commonly understood how much the Christian desire to make the church an apparent 'Gate of Heaven' and impregnable 'Stronghold,' a 'City of God,' and a replica of God's cosmic dwelling was inspired by the ideas and ceremonies which had long been associated with the towered gateways, triumphal arches, and sacred palaces of the Roman emperors." 17. See Alfoldi; Kraft, pp. 115-118; J. M. C. Toynbee, "Roma and Constantinopolis in Late-Antique Art from 312 to 365," The Journal of Roman Studies, XXXVII (1947), 135-144. 18. Wfilliam] Telfer, "Constantine's Holy Land Plan," Studia Patristica, I (Berlin, 1957), 696-700, and the enumeration in Armstrong, " Constantine 's Churches." 19. Alfoldi, The Conversion of Constantine and Pagan Rome, trans. Harold Mattingly (Oxford, 1948), pp. 50-52: Rene Vielliard, Recherches sur les ,origines de la Rome chr6tienne (Macon, 1941), pp. 47-49; Hans von Schoenebeck, Beitrdge zur Religionspolitik des Maxentius und Constantin, Klio: Beitriige zur alten Geschichte, new series, Beiheft 30 (Leipzig, 1939), pp. 87, 88 (esp. n. 2).


to make gifts and bequests to the Christian church.20 This gesture of support for Christianity went well beyond the general provisions of the so-called Edict of Milan.21 The churches at Rome offer a specific example of how Constantine went about his building projects. They show what may be termed the common pattern of first providing for the administrative needs of the bishop and then of later honoring the holy places. The earliest Constantinian foundation anywhere was the Lateran basilica, begun about A.D. 313 or 314 and built significantly on imperial property, viz., next to the Lateran palace which had been given to the Roman bishop perhaps as early as 312.22 Churches commemorating the martyrs but formally dedicated to Christ, as was the general practice at this time,23include those of St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Lawrence, and Saints Marcellinus and Peter, this last also on imperial property. So far as we know, Constantine did not build or renovate any parish churches or tituli.24 Parish churches were not an imperial responsibility. The building of St. Peter's was significant in that it required the condemnation of a pagan cemetery in current use.25 Here was an unambiguous recognition of Christianity. The location of the new churches away from the central or old city has been variously explained.26 In part these churches were cemeterial
20. Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, xxxiiii (Silvester); I, 170-187. Codex Theodosianus, XVI. ii. 4. See A[rnold] H[ugh] M[artin] Jones, The Later Roman Empire, 284-602: A Social Economic and Administrative Survey, 2 vols. (Norman, Okla., 1964), pp. 90, 96, 109, 894-900. 21. On the Edict of Milan and Constantine's religious legislation in general see Gregory T. Armstrong, "Church and State Relations: The Changes Wrought by Constantine," The Journal of Bible and Religion, XXXII (1964), 3-5. For the significance of the directions to "heighten, enlarge and embellish the houses of prayer" (Eusebius, Vita Constantini, i.42.23-26) see Ludwig Voelkl, "Die konstantinischen Kirchenbauten nach Eusebius," Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana, XXIX (1953), 60-64. 22. Liber Pontificalis, ed. Duchesne, xxxiiii (Silvester). 9-12; I, 172-174. The Lateran basilica is the "Constantinian" basilica. Cf. Alfoldi, Conversion, pp. 51, 52. "a worthy rival by the side of the Capitol;" Friedrich Wilhelm Deichmann, Friihchristliche Kirchen in Rom (Basel, 1948), pp. 13-17, who cites the famous inscription: "Cunctarum caput et mater ecclesiarum; " Andre Piganiol, L'Empereur Constantin (Paris, 1932), pp. 112-114; and Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, pp. 50-52. 23. Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, pp. 31-33; Andre Grabar, Martyrium; Recherches sur le culte des reliques et l'art chretien antique, I: Architecture (Paris, 1946), 210: "C'est la puissance de Dieu que Constantin c6lebre dans les sanctuaires qu'il fixe sur des lieux saints." The same observation applies to St. Peter's and other churches. The inscription on the triumphal arch of the original St. Peter's confirms this fact. "Quod duce te mundus surrexit in astra triumphans,/hanc Constantinus victor tibi condidit aulam." Diehl, ILCV, 1752. Cf. Vacher Burch, Myth and Constantine the Great (London, 1927), p. 150. 24. Constantine did not endow the Titulus Equitii The reference to it in the Liber Pontificalis, xxxiiii.3; I, 170, 171, was not in the first edition but was added later. See Vielliard, Les origines du titre de Saint-Martin aux Monts d Rome, Studi di Antichitd Cristiana, IV (Rome and Paris, 1931), 14-24, 117-120. 25. Toynbee, "The Shrine of St. Peter and Its Setting," The Journal of Roman Studies, XLIII (1953), 1-26; and the bibliography on St. Peter's in Armstrong, "Constantine's Churches." Roman law contained provisions against disturbing the graves of anyone, pagan, Jew or Christian, although other instances of appropriating cemeteries for public buildings are not unknown. 26. See the references in note 19.


churches, necessarily outside the city walls;27 in part they were built on available imperial property also on the outskirts of the city; in part they were located where the Christians lived; in part the old city simply offered no new building sites.28 Nevertheless, a real and understandable element of political pragmatism must have guided Constantine, for Rome was predominantly pagan and the old city was the religious center. The churches in the Holy Land illustrate the selective choice of sites. The Holy Sepulchre and the Eleona on the Mount of Olives at Jerusalem, the Nativity at Bethlehem, and the church at Mamre, commemorate holy places associated with the life of Jesus or his manifestation in a theophany to the patriarchs. With the exception of the Eleona, they also seem to have been the sites of pagan shrines or cults which were destroyed. They are especially associated with two women of the imperial family, Helena and Eutropia, the mother and mother-in-law of Constantine.29 The church at Heliopolis in Phoenicia also belongs in the category of those located on a site where a pagan cult had been eradicated, here at the instance of Eutropia.30 These same imperial ladies were establishing the pattern for pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and from the account of the Bordeaux Pilgrim we can be assured of the existence of these churches as early
as A.D. 333.31

The churches of Contantinople which are customarily associated with Constantine include St. Eirene, Hagia Sophia, and the Holy Apostles. There were certainly others, but the churches dedicated to local martyrs were not the important ones.32 It was the churches dedicated to divine qualities, indeed to the qualities of Christ, which formed a pattern-peace, wisdom-which should be extended to in27. On this important class of churches, see especially: Deichmann and Arnold Tschira, "Das Mausoleum der Kaiserin Helena und die Basilika der Heiligen Marcellinus und Petrus an der Via Labicana vor Rom." Jahrbuch des deutschen archaologischen Instituts, LXXII Cahiers Archeo(1957), 44-110; and Krautheimer, "Mensa-Coemeterium-Martyrium," logiques, XI (1960), 15-40. 28. Ferdinand Gregorovius, Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter, I, 6th ed. (Stuttgart and Berlin, 1922), 24. 29. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, iii.25-43, 51-53. See also J[ohn] W[inter] Crowfoot, Early Churches in Palestine, The Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology of the British Academy, 1937 (London, 1941). 30. Ibid., iii.58. 31. Itinerarium Burdigalense in Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum, XXxlX, ed. P. Geyer (Vienna, 1898), 1-33. 32. E.g., St. Acacius in Heptascalon and perhaps the church of the same name in Karya as well as one of the churches dedicated to the Archangel Michael. The problems of fourthcentury churches in Constantinople are especially difficult, and the evidence defies treatment in the space available here. Especially to be considered is the testimony of Eusebius, Socrates and Sozomen, all of whom would support a fourth century date for the churches named. A useful guide to the subject is R[aymond] Janin, La Geographie eccldsiastique de l'empire bysantin, 1st part: Le siege de Constantinople et patriarcat oecumenique, III: Les 6glises et les monastres (Paris, 1953). Hagia Sophia seems to have been planned and started by Constantine but was completed by Constantius and dedicated in A.D. 360. Cf. A. M. Schneider, "Die vorjustinianische Sophienkirche," Byzantinische Zeitschrift, XXXVL (1936), 77-85; and the references in Armstrong, "Constantine's Churches."


clude the churches of Antioch and Nicomedia-concord and victory.33 These qualities represented the virtues and blessings which Constantine sought for the empire and for himself and which he believed he found in Christianity. Here the imperial ideology expresses itself, the desire for unity, political integration, concord. The Arian controversy, of course, threatened to hinder this promise by creating disunity, but I have discovered no evidence for Constantine's building churches for one party or the other in this dispute as we later find under Constantius. Constantine did deprive such heretical sects as the Novatians, Valentinians, Marcionites, Samosatenes and Montanists of their buildings.34 There is, moreover, one instance in which the emperor had ordered a church built for the Catholics in North Africa. This church at Cirta in Numidia (now the city of Constantine in Algeria) was seized by the Donatists, and so in 330 Constantine bestowed a new piece of land and directed that another basilica be built.35 This act accorded entirely with the earlier correspondence between Constantine and North African officials, both ecclesiastical and civil, and with his anti-Donatist policy and practice.36 It would have required too great an effort to recapture the first church, yet the emperor would not abandon the Catholics even after in 321 substituting a policy of toleration for one of repression.37 Although the Donatists had originally appealed their case to Constantine, it must have become clear that only the Catholic church in North Africa and throughout the empire would have a place for a Christian emperor as its protector. The use of church buildings for state purposes is suggested by the fact that all Constantine's churches are at one time or another called basilicas.88 The point of this observation is that not all were basilicas in the sense of architectural plan or form, but they were official buildings possessing a legal status and function which is comparable to and derivative from that set forth in Constantine's legislation on such matters as the civil-judicial role of bishops and the manu33. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, iii.50; Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica, i.16; ii.8, 16. On the pattern, see Burch, pp. 135-137; Grabar, I, 222-228; Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, p. 32: "Die mit heidnischen Sakralbauten kombinierten Motive der Pietas, Concordia, Pax und Victoria, um nur einige anzufihren, erleben eine Christianisierung durch ihre Verbindung mit den konstantinischen Kirchenbauten.'" The parallel to the Ara Pacis of Augustus has been frequently noted, e.g., Alfoldi, Conversion, p. 114. The church of the Holy Dynamis is poorly attested, but Piganiol, p. 162, and others attribute it to Constantine. 34. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, iii.64, 65. 35. The letter of Constantine to the African bishops, preserved by Optatus, is found in Kraft, pp. 198-200. 36. For a review of this policy with a collection of documents see Kraft, pp. 28-60, 160-201. 37. W. H. C. Frend, The Donatist Church: A Movement of Protest in Roman North Africa (Oxford, 1952), pp. 145-165, esp. 162. 38. Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, pp. 28-31, with references to the Liber Pontificalis, the Bordeaux Pilgrim, and the letters of Constantine in Eusebius' Vita. The term "basilica" is also discussed in two articles by Voelkl, "Die konstantinischen Kirchenbauten nach den literarischen Quellen des Okzidents," and "Die konstantinischen Kirchenbauten nach Eusebius," Rivista di Archeologia Cristiana, XXX (1954), 99-136, and XXlix (1953), 49-66, 187-206.



mission of slaves in the churches.39 Imperal recognition of Christianity brought with it state protection and support on the one hand and new "secular" responsibilities on the other, and the Christian basilica was a significant by-product. The relationship binding together emperor and state with bishop and church and thus with the bishop's church building or cathedral became an official, legal one as well as a practical and, for Eusebius, even a theological one.40 It is therefore not surprising that the emperor provided fitting buildings-architectural settings-for his officials, the bishops.41 Moreover, new and larger buildings suitable for Christian worship were needed because of the rapid growth of the church after the persecutions. They were administrative centers, judicial centers, but also propaganda centers, both by their mere existence and by their magnificence of decoration and construction. They proclaimed for all to see a new order whose importance even the commonest citizen could

The churches at holy places and at martyrs' graves also had their propaganda and religious function. They displayed the emperor's munificence and stature as a patron of the Christian God to a constant stream of pilgrims as well as showing his reverence for the blessed dead. They also promoted Christian unity and universality, the very qualities most appropriate to the empire, by drawing to them inhabitants from all parts of the empire. The church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, in particular, located near the center of the city, was conceived of as the center of the New Jerusalem and of the cosmos and as the very place of salvation.43 The churches that displaced pagan shrines showed another aspect of imperial solicitude for Christian sensibilities and had a parallel in Constantine's legislation on divination and sacrifices.44 (Was Constantine the first Puritan?) It has also been suggested that some imperial churches
were donated in fulfilment of vows, e.g., the church of the Apostles
39. Codex Theodosianus, I.xxvii.l; IV.vii.l; XVI.ii,1, 2, 5, 7. See also Hermann Dorries, Das Selbstzeugnis Kaiser Konstantins, Ab.handlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften in Gottingen, Phil.-hist. Klasse, 3rd series, 34 (Gottingen, 1954); Armstrong, JBR, XXXII, 4, 5; and Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, pp. 29, 30. 40. Eusebius, Laus Constantini, i.6; ii; xviii. Norman H. Baynes "Eusebius and the Christian Empire," Byzantine Studies and Other Essays (London, 1955), pp. 168-172. 41. Voelkl, Der Kaiser Konstantin: Annalen einer Zeitwende (Munich, 1957), 90; idem, RAC, XXX, 136, conclusions 5 and 6; J[ohn] B. Ward Perkins, "Constantine and the Origins of the Christian Basilica," Papers of the British School at Rome, XXII (1954), 77, 78: "The problem that confronted the Christians after the conversion of Constantine was nothing less than the creation of a new monumental architecture to serve the requirements of what, from a banned or barely tolerated cult, suddenly, in the course of a very few years, found itself an official state religion." 42. On the symbolism and propaganda function of ecclesiastical architecture: Smith; Kraft, pp. 114, 119 ("Symbole fur das Zunkunftsreich, das von Konstantin herbeigefiihrt wird"); von Schoenebeck, p. v; Aland, p. 569. 43. Grabar, I, 212, 235-239, deals at length with this idea. The church was the her6on to the founder of the city, Christ, the king of the New Jerusalem. There is a striking parallel to the Church of the Apostles near the geographical center of Constantinople. See n. 46. 44. Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, 40-43; Dorries; Armstrong, JBR, XXXII, 3-5.



on the Appian Way in thanks for the victory of the Milvian Bridge.45 Such donations would represent less an aspect of church-state relations than a correspondence to the many churches and oratories provided by private donors throughout this same period. The imperial mausoleum or church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople,46together with the mausolea of Helena and Constantina in Rome, stood in a pre-Christian tradition of mausolea-Hadrian, Galerius, Diocletian. It transformed the tradition but did not break with it. Constantine was the hero, the founder of the city, the equal and in some sense surpasser of the apostles, but he was not deity.47 All these kinds of church buildings and many of the motivations behind them have been categorized by Ludwig Voelkl and related to the practices of the Roman sacral law.48 The pattern which emerges is striking. Constantine seems to have followed each provision of the leges templortum-date of foundation, name of the founder and of the Pontifex Maximus, formula of dedication, description of the property, its decoration and sacred vessels, name of the deity, forms and times of sacrifice, endowments, and consecrating prayer. Finally, it must be noted that the varied forms of Constantinian architecture had a wide influence. The basilica, in its architectural sense, became especially popular in the West.49 Its spread, together with that of the centralized martyria forms in the East, suggests some sort of imperial initiative or central planning, and Eusebius has preserved correspondence which shows direct imperial oversight for new buildings.50 Moreover, in several cities the chief church was built adjacent to the imperial residence, e.g., Constantinople and Antioch, and would thus tend to proclaim the alliance of state and church.51 It is also necessary to consider that in Con45. Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, 39, 40, although the archaeological evidence suggests an Rivista di attribution to Constans. Cf. Antonio Ferrua, "Lavori a S. Sebastiano," Archeologia Cristiana, XXXVII (1961), 203-236. 46. On the Apostles' Church there is a large body of literature; see the references in Downey, "The Builder of the Original Church of the Apostles at Constantinople: a Contribution to the Criticism of the Vita Constantini Attributed to Eusebius," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, VI (Cambridge, Mass., 1951), 53-80, and Krautheimer, "Zu Konstantins Apostelkirche Mullus: Festschrift Theodor Klauser, Jahrbuch fiir Antike und in Konstantinopel," Christentum, suppl. vol. I, ed. Alfred Stuiber and Alfred Hermann (Miinster in Westphalia, 1964), pp. 224-229. 47. I follow the conclusions of Krautheimer and others who seem to be in general agreement against those such as Downey who deny the church's Constantinian origin or such as Cf. Aland, "Der Abbau August Heisenberg who affirm a motive of self-deification. des Herrscherkultes im Zeitalter Konstantins," Kirchengeschichtliche Entwiirfe (Giitersloh, 1960), p. 256, who observes that the church conducts a Christian funeral for Constantine without the participation of the army and Constantius. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, iv. 71. 48. Voelkl, Die Kirchenstiftungen, pp. 47, 48, for conclusions 49. Ward Perkins, p. 88; Jack Finegan, Light from the Ancient Past: The Archaeological Background of Judaism and Christianity, 2nd ed. (Princeton, 1959), pp. 506-508. 50. Eusebius, Vita Constantini, iii.25-40; Ward Perkins, p. 85, 87; Krautheimer, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, pp. 42, 43, 45, 46; Grabar I, 24. Krautheimer in a paper given at the Seventh International Congress for Christian Archaeology in September, has suggested that the emperor was 1965, "Die Kirchengriindungen Konstantins," responsible for the foundation, financing, and endowment of new churches but not directly for design. Local traditions are evident in the variety of architectural forms. 51. There is a parallel here to the buildings of Diocletian and Galerius. Grabar, I, 219-228.



stantine's day few if any pagan buildings were converted directly into churches although pagan temples were stripped of their idols and plundered for marble and other materials.52 Taken together, the evidence just reviewed suggests that Constantine did in fact promote particular forms of church architecture, display extensive patronage, support on occasion one party rather than another in the church, anticipate the use of church buildings for state purposes, and choose church sites selectively. He did so in order to exalt the Christian bishops and their seats of office, to favor loyal Christian forces and promote orthodoxy, to honor the places associated with Christ and his witnesses, to promote Christian piety and mission, to provide suitable places for Christian worship, to acknowledge publicly the lordship of Christ, and in all this to range himself with the apostles as a witness and servant of Christ.53 To these religio-political concerns must be added admittedly the more profane ones of ambition, lust for building, and propaganda for his dynasty, but the religious motives are too prominent to be subordinated. Even the glorification of the imperial power and dynasty was understood in terms of a divine mission or providence, and the satisfaction of the imperial ego was bound up with a concept of divine right. From the point of view of the church it must have seemed to many, as it did to Eusebius, that the kingdom had arrived, and there were few, if any second thoughts until Constantine's last years or the reign of his sons.54 Certainly the change in status from a persecuted community to the most favored cult was one not easily spurned. Although the decades prior to Diocletian's persecution had been peaceful and prosperous ones for the Christians, with Constantine a reconciliation between the church and the world was inaugurated whose consequences may be seen even today. No better sign of this new accommodation to the world, and above all to the state, exists than the church buildings, those monuments of historical permanence and of worldly prominence. Here the transformation from an eschatologically oriented fellowship of the elect to a this-worldly institution for the mediation of salvation and for good works reached its culmination. Everywhere we have seen churches commemorating historical events-those of Jesus in the Holy Land and those of the martyrs elsewhere-, and these events could now be integrated into the history of the empire. Eventually not only Constantine but also Augustus would be admitted to the company of Christian heroes.
52. Eusebius, Vita Crnstantini, ii.56, 60; iii.1, 54-56, 58; Laus Constantini, viii.4-9. Sozomen, Historia Ecclesiastica, ii.5. The sons of Constantine went much farther. 53. As Eusebius in fact recognized, Laus Constantini, ix.17, 19; xviii. 54. Eusebius, Laus Constantini, iii and x. On church and state in this whole period see Berkhof, Kirche und Kaiser: Eine Untersuchung der byzantinischen und der theoim vierten Jahrhundert, trans. Gottfried W. Locher (Zolkratischen Staatsauffasmg likon-Zurich, 1947); esp. the do ut des concept.



The state and its patronage could thus be accepted not merely as a happy accident of fate but as the result of the divine plan. For the church as much as for Constantine the promises of the Gospel were being realized. Looked at again from the side of the state, the evidence of the church buildings confirms the view, often argued on other grounds, that for Constantine the well-being of the empire rested upon the church, especially upon the unity of the church which he dramatized in so many aspects of his building program. For Constantine as the vicegerent of God, there was no sharp line between church and state. The empire was or was becoming in his eyes the divine kingdom on earth, and he had a divine commission to assist, even to direct, this course of events.55 Only in this light, I believe, is the vast expenditure and display in behalf of Christianity adequately understood. B. The Sons of Constantine It is convenient but not entirely justifiable to draw a line between the church building program of Constantine and the continuation of imperial activity in the erecton of churches under his sons. There was no sharp architectural break, and the church's need for buildings was hardly diminished. Except for Rome and a few other large cities, the bishops and congregations only gradually accumulated the resources to build on their own.56 Meanwhile the church was growing rapidly, its liturgy and ceremonies were being elaborated,57 pilgrimages and the martyr cult were enjoying wide-spread popularity. In addition, monasticism and new charitable institutions, such as the the orphanages and hospitals of Basil of Caesarea, required new and different kinds of buildings, although we cannot deal with them here. More importantly, the sons of Constantine were increasingly involved in church affairs so that the degree of this involvement rather than the status of the church became the chief church-state issue. Christianity was to be the state religion.58 We know that Constantius completed several of his father's projects, most notably the church of Hagia Sophia, and modified or
55. Especially relevant here is the concept of the episoopos ton ektos which should include a responsibility for building churches. On this term, see W[illiam] Seston, "Constantine The Journal of Roman Studies, &XXV11l (1947), 125-131; Friedrich as a 'Bishop'," "Eusebius als Verfasser der 'Vita Constantini'," Rheinisches Museum Vittinghoff, fur Philologie, new series, XCVI (1953), 365-370; J[ohannes] Straub, "Kaiser Konstantin als episcopos ton ektos," Studia Patristica, I (Berlin, 1957), 678-695; Winkelmann, 236-239. 56. See the discussion of church finances in Jones, pp. 894-905. 57. See the relevant chapters of Gregory Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy (London, 1960), pp. 303-433. 58. Jean Moreau, "Constantius II, Constans," Jahrbuch fiir Antike und Christentum, II (1959), 167, 168, 180, 181; more generally Hans Lietn.mann, A History of the Early Church, Vol. III: From Constantine to Julian, trans. Bertram Lee Woolf (London, 1953), pp. 181-235.



added on to others.59 Constans had a part in finishing the church of St. Peter in Rome.60 Some of the edifices both in Rome and Constantinople attributed by tradition to Constantine seem to have been in fact the work of his sons.61 In addition, however, Constantius undertook new projects in Egypt62-perhaps the first imperial churches there-and in Ephesus.63 The most famous sites, such as those in the Holy Land, had by and large already received church buildings under Constantine, but the opportunities for renovation or enlargement were considerable.64 In this fashion as well as by erecting new martyr shrines, Constantius and Constans displayed their piety and their concern for the sacred places of the Christian church. However genuine the piety, the sanctuaries were always also propaganda and thus good politics, and they continued to promote Christian unity as meeting places for pilgrims from all parts of the empire. Constantius displayed the direction of his ecclesiastical policy quite openly during the Arian controversy in the frequent seizures of churches, in the eviction of bishops, most notably Athanasius, and of congregations, and in the installation of new Arian bishops. On
59. Hlagia Sophia was dedicated on February 15, 360, although Millet has suggested that part of the original building collapsed and was rebuilt on two occasions in the fourth century. Socrates, ii.6, 16, 43; Sozomen, iv.26; Moreau, 176; Gabriel Millet, "Sainte Sophie avant Justinien,'" Orientalia Christiana Periodica, XIII (1947), 599-602. Constantius had a role in the church of the Holy Apostles although its exact nature is debated. See the referenes in note 46 and Socrates, ii.38; Sozomen, iv.21; Procopius, Buildings, i.4.19. The Great or Octagon Church of Concord in Antioch was completed and dedicated in 341. Socrates, ii.8; Moreau, 176; Downey, A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleecus to the Arab Conquest (Princeton, 1961), pp. 342, 343. Modifications or additions wrele made on the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Kenneth John Conant and Dorwney, "The Original Buildings at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem," Speculuz'm, XXXI (1956), 1-48; Ejnar Dyggve, "La question du Saint-S6pulcre a l'6poque constanActes 1du Ve Congres international d'etudes byzantines, II (Paris, 1951), tillienne," 111-123; Hughes Vincent and F. -M. Abel, Jerusalem: Recherches de topographie, d'archeologie et d'histoire, Vol. II: Jerusalem nouvelle (Paris, 1914-26), pp. 89-217. 60. Possibly Constantius too may have been involved. Deichnmann, Friihchristliche Kirchen, p. 21; Moreau, 176. 61. E.g., the Church of the Apostles on the Via Appia, St. Agnes and the mausoleum of Constantina (S. Costanza) at Rome. Krautheimer, Corpus Basilicarum Christianarum Romae, I (Rome, 1937), 34, 35; Deichmann, Friihchristliche Kirchen, 24, 25; Ferrua. Certainly a few of the martyr churches in Constantinople are from Constantius. See the reference in note 32, esp. Janin. 62. The Caesareum or Great Church at Alexandria, probably intended for the Arian bishop George but occupied by Athanasius on April 19, 352, and the crypt church at the shrine of St. Menas. Moreau, 176; Athanasius, Apologia ad Constantiun, 14; Socrates, vii.15; Ward Perkins, "The Shrine of St. Menas in the Maryfvt," Papers of the British School at Rome, XVII (London, 1949), 26-71; Martin Krause, "Die Menasstadt," Koptische Kunst: Christenturn am Nil (Essen, 1963), pp. 65-70; Helmut Schlager, "Die neuen Grabungen in Abu Mena," Christentu.n am Nil, ed. Klaus Wessel (Recklinghausen, 1964), pp. 158-170. 63. Imperial patronage of the great episcopal church in Ephesus built about this time is thus far merely presumptive. Franz Miltner, Ephesos: Stadt der Artemnis und des Johannes (Vienna, 1958), pp. 91-95. 64. Cf. on the Holy Sepulchre, Conant, and Erik Wistrand, Konstasttiis Kirche am Heiligen Grab in Jerusalem nach den ailtester literarischen Zeugnissen, Acta Universitatis Gotoburgensis, LVIII (1952: 1). For a discussion of the descriptions in Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures, see Cyril of Jerqusalem andc Nemesius of Emesa, ed. William Telfer, Library of Christian Classics, IV (Philadelphia, 1955), 43-54.



occasion the burning of churches resulted.65 The control of church property became an important issue in almost every city, and the emperor used his power to take or to build as a means of promoting the Arian cause. The protracted schism in Antioch is probably the best known example.66 The historian Socrates shows that it was not only the parties to the Arian controversy who experienced the imperial influence over property; the Novatians in Constantinople also held or lost their edifices by imperial decision.67 The Marcarian persecution of the Donatists in North Africa under Constans employed among other inducements money for the decoration of churches, and only under Julian did the Donatists repossess their basilicas.68 Thus in all parts of the empire, certain parties or factions were favored or penalized by the imperial assignment of buildings. Apparently no major architectual changes were required when sanctuaries changed hands, but it would be interesting to know if the decoration was altered. Both Constantius and Constans were involved in church building projects, if not in extensive building programs, and they used imperial patronage of churches as a political and propaganda instrument. The church and its bishops continued to receive privileges, and the emperors showed strong interest in the extension of Christianity and in providing suitable places of worship.69 These buildings were also good works and a manifestation of the outstanding imperial virtue, philainthropia.70 At the same time, many pagan temples were closed but remained under state protection as public monuments despite repeated mob attacks on them.71 Besides it was not yet politic to deal too harshly with the pagan population, especially in the West as the change in Constantius' attitude after his Rome visit in 356 illustrates.72 The emperors were necessarily concerned for the unity of the empire and looked to the church to promote this unity. Still the pro-Arian policy of Constantius did as much as anything else to raise questions in the minds of the bishops about the emperor's role in the church and to render substantial unity impossible. This factor together with the renewed external challenges to the empire in the period, A.D. 337-361, tended to make the building of new churches less extensive and less significant for church-state relations than in
65. Socrates, ii.12, 13; Sozomen, iii.7; Athlanasius, Historia Arianorum, passim; general accounts of the politico-ecclesiastical development may be found in Lietzmann, III, 181-235; Moreau, 170-175. 66. Downey, Antioch, pp. 355-373. 67. Socrates, ii.38; Sozomen, iv.20. 68. Frend, The Donatist Church, pp. 177-188; Moreau, 175, 182, 183. 69. Moreau, 167-168. 70. Downey, "Philanthropia in Religion and Statecraft in the Fourth Century after Christ," Historia:Zeitschrift fir alte Geschichte, IV (1955), 199-208. 71. Codex Theodosiannus, XVI.x.2-5; Libanius, Orationes, lxii.8. See also Jones, pp. 113, 114. 72. Moreau, 168-170, 180, 181. Constantius did, however, remove the Altar of Victory from the Senate House. Cf. Ambrose, Epistle 18.



the preceding 25 years. Nonetheless, it was an on-going imperial function serving definite ends. C. Julian the Apostate The brief reign of Julian places in clearer perspective the work of the Christian emperors, for Julian also carried out a building program, not as extensive but as significant as Constantine's or later Justinian's. Indeed he was in many respects the counterpart of Constantine, attempting not so much to turn the clock back as to establish a new ideology-Hellenism. "Julian set out to found what has been called a 'pagan church'."" Like Constantine he committed himself to a universal religion which would unify the empire.74 He therefore sought to revive worship at the pagan temples and to restore the pagan properties confiscated by the Christians. The law of June 29, 362, required Christians to pay for the rebuilding of temples, and although done in the name of equity and toleration, it was a severe blow to the status and pride of the Christian church.75 In the words of Gibbon, "the most effectual instrument of oppression with which they were armed was the law that obliged the Christians to make full and ample satisfaction for the temples which they had destroyed under the preceding reign."76 Often it meant removing a church or martyr chapel first. The selective choice of sites for new temples was also a feature of Julian's policy. He set up a shrine for Mithras in his palace and was in effect the grandmaster of this cult, and he erected several temples in Constantinople. His most conspicuous building project, however, was the proposal to rebuild the Jewish temple at Jerusalem.77 We may believe that he desired to overshadow the church of the Holy the Sepulchre and thus to detract fromn resurrection of Christ.78There for favoring the Jews in this fashion. He seems were several reasons to have pursued the idea of promoting national gods as a part of the syncretistic state religion, and he found the temple worship of the Jews more akin to the sacrificial rites of paganism than to Christian worship. The pagan historian, Ammianus Marcellinus, as well as the church historian, give an account of the signs and portents that accompanied the unsuccessful attempt at rebuilding.7"
73. Downey, "Julian and Justinian and the Unity of Faith and Culture," Church History, XXVIII (1959), 342. E.g., Julian, Epistles 22 and 41. 74. The Cambridge Medieval History, ed. H. M. Gwatkin and J. P. Whitney, Vol. I: The Christian Ronlan Empire and the Foundation of the Teutonic Kingdoms (Cambridge, Eng., 1964 repr.) p. 111; Downey, Church History, XXVIII, 343: "Julian's intense belief in the essential unity of faith and culture is illustrated by his famous edict on Christian teachers. " 75. Joseph Bidez, La Vie de l'Empereur Julien (Paris, 1930), pp. 230-231. 76. Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. William Smith (Boston, 1854), III, 165; ch. xxiii. 77. Socrates, iii.20; Sozomen, v. 22. 78. Gibbon, III, 158; ch. xxiii. 79. Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae, xxiii.1.2, 3.



Julian at the same time extended privileges to his friends, directed state funds to the support of priests and temples, and revoked all previous subsidies for the churches. While not closing many churches as such, he allowed the Donatists in North Africa to reoccupy their basilicas, and that party showed a rapid recovery.8 Likewise, he ordered the Catholic bishop, Eleusius, to rebuild at his own expense a church belonging to the Novatians at Cyzicus which had been destroyed by an earlier bishop.81 In another case he permitted the Novatians to rebuild a church in Constantinople which had been demolished by Constantius.82 In Antioch he commanded the Great Church to be closed after the temple of Apollo in adjacent Daphne had burned to the ground, and it was here that he demanded the removal of the martyr-saint Babylas from the sacred grove into the city.83 The shrine of St. Babylas had in fact been provided by Julian's elder brother, Gallus, and the removal of the relics was the occasion for a Christian festival. Apparently, Julian did not take any action on the possession of the Old Church at Antioch by the Nicene bishop, Meletius, and the Great Church by the Arian, Euzoius.84 Although he did not build on the scale of Constantine and would never have been so extravagant with state funds as his uncle, Julian did, nonetheless, have a building program, and he used temple building as an instrument of state policy to promote his conception of a state "church" and to disestablish and suppress the Christian church. The analogy to Constantine and his sons-and to later Christian Roman emperors as well-is both striking and instructive. These emperors all attempted to shore up the collapsing structure of society with the monuments of a universal ideology. Only the substance of the ideology, not the methods and aims, differs, and it, not as much as might commonly be assumed.
80. 81. 82. 83. 84. Frend, p. 168. Socrates, iii.ll. Socrates, ii.38; Sozomen, iv.20. Socrates, iii.18; Sozomen, v. 19. Dovwney, Antioch, p. 396; Walther Eltester, "Die Kirchen Antiochias im IV. Jahrhundert, Zeitschrift fiir die neutest(amentiche Wissenchaft, XXVI (1937), 274, 275.

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