St. Constantine and the Latin Church

Why is St. Constantine not recognized as a saint by the Latin Church, but recognized, along with his mother, St. Helena, in the Eastern Churches?

It appears he is, with a feast day of May 21st.

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His Edict of Milan in 313 legalized Christians, returned confiscated Church property and established Sunday as a day of worship. He was baptised before his death.

I don’t know the definitive answer, but since he was baptized by an Arian bishop and supported Arius in his later years, it might be right that he hasn’t been declared as a saint in the Latin church.


If Constantine is canonized, Tertullian and Origen should be too.


No way! Tertullian founded his own sect and never came back to the Church. Origen believed that hell would eventually end based on a false reading of Eph. 1:10 (instaraure omnia in Christo). The Church teaches that hell is eternal based on Matt. 25: 31-46. He repented of his errors on his deathbed. However, his errors were condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

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And Constantine was an Arian.

I admit that the case for Tertullian is more extreme than the other two, though.


Whatever issues there are with Constantine’s personal faith/life (and it certainly seems to be filled with contradictory and complex positions), his sainthood in the Byzantine east is based largely on two things - first, the legalization of Christianity, and second, his calling and enforcing of the decrees of the First Ecumenical Council.

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IIRC, he also had his wife and son killed for conspiracy and after their executions found out they were innocent.

This may basically make his canonization possible.

Same as when we venerate Fathers of Ecumenical Councils as a group.

Perhaps his being an Arian is a little overstated. Yes, he was baptized by an Arian bishop. But it seems his number one concern was reestablishing unity in the Church. To do so, he, at various times, favored both sides in the controversy, at times exiling anyone who would not adher to the Nicene Creed, later banishing St Athanasius from his diocese. I have never come across a good account of his baptism. I do not doubt that he was baptized by an Arian bishop, but I would like to see the circumstances of that baptism. Perhaps that was just who was at hand?


If the Eastern Catholic Churches recognise St. Constantine, then the Latin Church does too because both are one!


Afaik, the Latin Church doesn’t recognize Constantine as a saint. (Then again, I could be wrong. :laughing:)

He specifically chose an Arian bishop, Eusebius of Nicomedia, who was also a longstanding priest at the imperial court and was also a relation of Constantine.

I do want to highlight that Arianism was not viewed as contemptuously and negatively at the time of Constantine (both before and after the Council of Nicaea) as it is now. We tend to view Arianism as a strict unitarianism and equate it with Jehovah’s Witnesses and the like, but 4th century Arians worshipped the Son in a way that was largely undifferentiated from Nicene Christians; they also baptized using the Trinitarian formula (see canon 7 of the 2nd Ecumenical Council); and they also thought the Son was like (ὅμοιος homoios) God to the extent that Athanasius portrayed Arians as polytheists.

The immensely negative perceptions of Arianism (at least in Western Christianity) were, I think, largely shaped by later history. A major influence was likely the peculiar Arian theology - probably an actual polytheism - that prevailed among the Goths, who repeatedly invaded the Roman Empire during the 5th and 6th centuries and even governed Rome for a few decades.

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