Vatican City – Joint issue with Italy – 1700th Anniversary of the Edict of Milan
The Edict of Milan established freedom of worship and marked an end to religious persecution by recognizing the right to profess one’s own faith. The declaration was issued in 313 AD in Milan, where Costantia, daughter of Constantine (emperor of the west) married Licinius (emperor of the east). From the beginning, the Christians would not participate in the imperial cult which claimed the divine status of the Roman emperors.
For this reason, the Christians were opposed by the political and religious authorities. The Christian martyrs, the faithful who gave their lives for the faith, are eternal witnesses to the ferociousness of this persecution. In modern times, the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (UN, 1945) and the “Declaration Dignitatis humanae” (Second Vatican Council, 1965), have solemnly established the right to religious freedom. Despite these developments religious persecution has become again, even in recent times, a serious global problem. Since the theme of religious freedom is still current, celebrations to mark the 1700th anniversary of the “Edict of Milan” can offer a moment for reﬂection and help create awareness on how profession of religious faith can be an expression of adherence to truth, only if “voluntary and personal”, since external coercion represents the antithesis of the divine message. The philatelic issue for this occasion consists of a series of three postal values and a mini sheet, the latest in a joint issue with Italy, depicting scenes of Constantine and Pope Sylvester I taken from the recently restored 13th century frescoes in the Oratory of Saint Sylvester at the Santi Quattro Coronati Basilica in Rome.