Feast Day : December 10 (January 10 in fourth century)
Also known as: Melchiades
The Roman see was vacant for some time after the banishment of Pope St. Eusebius, probably due to the ongoing controversy over whether Christians who had lapsed under persecutions should be allowed to return to the Church without doing penitence. Miltiades, a Roman priest of African descent, was elevated to the papacy on July 2, 311. In October 312, Emperor Maxentius was defeated by Constantine the Great, who had experienced a vision that told him he would conquer in the sign of the Christ. Although he was not to accept baptism until his deathbed, Constantine thereafter supported the Christians in any way he could. In 313, he signed the Edict of Milan with Emperors Galerius and Licinius, putting an end to the persecution of Chris- tians in the Roman Empire. He gave Miltiades the right to receive back all buildings and possessions that had been confiscated during the persecutions, and granted to the Church tracts of land in and around Rome on which to build new houses of worship. Either to Miltiades or to his successor, Pope St. Sylvester I, he also gave the Lateran Palace, which then became the pope’s residence and the seat of the central administration of the Roman Church. Miltiades died on January 10 or 11, 314, and was buried in the Catacomb of St. Callistus, afterward being venerated as a saint.