Rorate Caeli

1700th Anniversary of the Edict of Milan
Address by Pope Saint Pius X to the faithful gathered in Rome
on its 1600th anniversary

On the 1700th anniversary of the glorious recognition in Milan of the rights of the Church by Constantine the Great throughout the Empire, we are honored to provide a first online English translation of the address given on this occasion exactly one century ago by the Holy Successor of Saint Peter, Saint Pius X, in the Eternal City, soon before the end of his resplendent pontificate dedicated to the restoration of all things in Christ.


Address of the Holy Father
to the faithful gathered in Rome 
on the occasion of the sixteen hundredth Anniversary
of the Promulgation of the Edict by Constantine

Sunday, February 23, 1913

The Liberator on the eve of the Battle of the Milvian Bridge 
(Bernini, Vatican Basilica)

Your presence, beloved children, fills Us with great joy, as all over the Catholic world we are commemorating the sixteen hundredth anniversary of acknowledging the guardianship of freedom, which Jesus Christ gave to His Church. So, it was quite right that to give proof of their joy and devotion to the Chair of Peter, the uncorrupted children of those who tasted the fruits of that salutary Edict, would be among the first to rejoice. 

Thus let Us exult with you, since with this act you are revealing the spirit which is alive in you, as well as your vow which goes back to the time when the Church was granted the power of enjoying that freedom essential to the fruitful exercise of Her ministry for the good of souls and society. We thank Divine Providence for calling Constantine from the darkness of the Gentiles to erect temples and altars to that Religion which his predecessors had tried to exterminate for three centuries. He returned the property stolen from the Christians and granted Christianity full religious liberation. 

Now, amidst so much progress in civilization and in so much light in the sciences, we must reclaim that freedom for the Church, even from Christian Governments, which they themselves recognize or should recognize and which is essential in continuing the Church’s supernatural action on earth.

The Liberator presents Constantinople to the Mother of God 
(Sancta Sophia, Constantinople)
The Church, this great religious society of men, who live in the same faith and in the same love under the guidance of the Supreme Pontiff, has a higher purpose distinct from that of civil societies, which aim at attaining temporal prosperity here on earth, while She has the goal of perfecting souls for eternity. The Church is a kingdom, which has no other Lord but God Himself, and has a very lofty mission which surpasses all limits and makes of all peoples of every tongue and nation one great family. Therefore, it cannot even be supposed that the kingdom of the soul is subject to that of the body; that eternity becomes an instrument of time, that God Himself becomes a slave to Man.

Jesus Christ, in fact, the Eternal Son of the Father, to Whom all power in Heaven and Earth was given, impressed this mission on the Apostles, the first ministers of the Church: “As the Father hath sent me, I also send you.” (Jn XX,21) – Going therefore; teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days even to the consummation of the world.” (Mt XXVIII, 19-20)

So the Church has the mission from God Himself to teach, and His Word must be made known to everyone, without obstacles which may hold It back, and also without impositions which may restrain It. Since Christ did not say: your word be directed to the poor, the ignorant, the multitudes - but to all, without distinction, because in the spiritual order you are above all the sovereigns of the earth

 The Church has the mission of governing souls and administering the Sacraments; and since no one for no reason whatever can claim to enter the Sanctuary, She has the duty to rise up against those who claim to invade Her ground with arbitrary interference or unjust encroachments. The Church has the mission of teaching the observance of precepts and exhorting the practice of the evangelical counsels. Woe to those who would teach the contrary thus bringing disorder and confusion to society! The Church has a right to ownership, since it is a society of men and not angels and needs the material goods given to Her through the piety of the faithful. She safeguards legitimate ownership for the accomplishment of the duties of Her ministers, for the exterior exercise of worship, for the construction of churches and for works of charity, entrusted to Her in order that She may live and perpetuate until the end of time.

And such rights are so sacred, that the Church has always had the duty to sustain and defend them, knowing well that if She gave in an inch to the demands of Her enemies, She would not be obeying the mandate received from Heaven and would fall into apostasy. So history points to a series of protests and claims by the Church against those who wanted to render Her a slave. The first words by Peter and the other Apostles to Judaism were: “We ought to obey God, rather than men.” (Acts V, 29). These sublime words were always repeated by their successors and will be repeated until the end of time, perhaps even being confirmed in a baptism of blood.

And of this our adversaries themselves are persuaded, and repeat continuously that every sort of freedom exists under the shadow of their banners. But, in reality, freedom  –or rather  license  – is for everyone, but not for the Church
The Liberator and his holy Mother

Freedom for everyone to profess their own faith and to manifest their own systems; but not for the Catholic, who, as such, is marked for persecutions and mockery as well as discouraged and deprived of those offices of which he has the sacred right. 

Freedom to teach; but subject to the monopoly of Governments, who permit the propagation and the defense of every system and of every kind of error in schools. They even prohibit the study of the Catechism to the children. 

Freedom of the press, and thus freedom to the most irascible journalism which dishonorably insinuates other forms of government into laws, in order to rouse the mob to revolt, to ferment hate and hostility, to impede the welfare of the workers and the tranquil lives of citizens through strikes and to revile the most sacred things and the most venerated people. By contrast, Catholic journalism, which defends the rights of the Church and champions the principles of truth and justice, must be put under surveillance, recalled to duty and is indicated as antagonistic towards free institutions as well as an enemy of the state. 

Freedom to carry out the most rowdy public demonstrations to all of the most subversive associations is granted, but Catholic processions are not allowed out of the church, as they provoke the rival parties, upset public order and disturb peaceful citizens. 

Freedom of ministries for all, schismatics and dissidents, but not for Catholics.

Freedom of ownership for all, but not for the Church and for Religious Orders, whose properties are tampered with and given to lay institutions by Governments.

This then, as you well know, is the freedom that the Church enjoys even in Catholic countries! And so We are right then to comfort Ourselves with you fighting for Her in the field of action which up until now is conceded to us. So, courage, beloved children; the more the Church is opposed from every part, the more the false maxims of error and moral perversion infect the air from their pestiferous miasma, the more merit will be acquired by you before God, if you will make every effort to avoid contagion and will not be diverted from your convictions in remaining faithful to the Church. And with your firmness you will work for a fruitful apostolate in persuading adversaries and dissidents that freedom for the Church will provide admirably towards the well-being and tranquility of the people, since in the exercise of the Magisterium divinely entrusted to Her, She will conserve intact and in vigor the principles of truth and justice, on which every order is based and from which springs forth peace, honesty and all culture. In this fight, difficulties, molestations and fatigue will certainly abound, but do not lose heart, because in this battle the Lord will sustain you, bringing you abundant assistance and divine favors.

Such be the pledge of Our Apostolic Benediction, which from the depths of Our heart We impart to you and all your loved ones. We bless the objects you are carrying, with all the indulgences attached and We grant to Parish Priests, Superiors of Institutes and Confessors of Religious Communities, the faculty of imparting, the Apostolic Benediction with a Plenary Indulgence to all those who have confessed and received Holy Communion. Benedictio Dei Omnipotentis Patris + et Filii + et Spiritus + Sancti descendat super vos, et maneat semper.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]


  1. Francis in Ma8:25 PM

    Wow! Clear, precise and prophetic are these words from Pope St. Pius X. If only the post-conciliar popes would speak and write with as much zeal and clarity to uphold the traditional and orthodox Catholic faith as the pre-conciliar popes did. Perhaps if they did Holy Mother Church wouldn't be in the quagmire she's been in for the last fifty years (and yes, I know the pre-conciliar Church wasn't without its problems too, but nothing like the last fifty years with regards to the crisis of the faith through the ambiguity, relativism and modernism brought on by Vatican II, its "spirit" and its adherents in the clergy and laity.) St. Pius X pray for us and the Church.

  2. Jason C.8:27 PM

    So Vatican II didn't cause all these problems regretfully enumerated by St. Pius X?

  3. No, Vatican II caused the Church to celebrate these problems in the name of "dialogue with the man of today". Or perhaps the "Virtual Vatican II".

  4. Oh how I long to hear words like "pestiferous" again from the mouth of the Holy Father.

  5. Wow indeed. My thoughts seem to echo what was already said so well by Francis of Ma.

    Thanks for posting this, New Catholic.

  6. Common Sense9:15 PM

    Wow! What a great and saintly Pontiff. Lord, God, please cleanse the Holy Church from the modernist infection!

  7. Spoken with clarity and Charity, like a saint!

    The Church most definitely, without a shadow of doubt, needs a Pope of this holiness and clear thought, right now!

  8. Here is the official website of the 1700th anniversary. The Roman Pontfiff was not invited to the events, but I suppose that is a moot point now.

  9. Gladius12:56 AM

    "a Pope of this holiness and clear thought"

    Is it the man or has the Holy Spirit been removed from the Vatican? St Paul lays it out in 2 Thess 2, "Until He who restrains is taken away". After 1960 things took a drastic turn in the Church and it started at the top.


    Amazing! Good old fashioned Catolicism with no loss of nerve at the top! Sadly, what St Pius could not have foreseen in his wildest nightmares is the church's sexual scandals which have been exposed over the last 20 years or so. One must admit that in the eyes of the casual observer these scandals have hugely damaged Holy Mother Church and her reputation, and one can see why they question her God-given rights in light of what's been going on. Faithful Catholics must be very annoyed that vast amounts of money (money we have all given over the years; money our parents and grandparents gave) have been used to pay damages to people abused by priests. I pray this vile period will now be behind us; and that we get a new Pope who is strong and determined.

  11. SisterEarthyHermeneutica3:27 AM


    He sounds like a real MEANIE! He forgot to be PASTORAL! So JUDGMENTAL! Where's the NUANCE?!?! How dare he not dispense the MEDICINE OF MERCY!!!

    John XXIII taught us how to LOVE! SNIFF the flowers!!


  12. Thank you, RC for this awesome Apostolic Letter. It is so inspiring and so wonderful to hear the Truth spoken of in such a straightforward and clear-cut manner. What is also so glaring is the recent Popes don't speak so. Their writings have always been in some amorphous wording and phraseology so as to gloss over what they are not saying. What is also evident is the recent Popes are always trying to defend the Second Vatican Council. In just about everything they write about they are mentioning the Council. What is the reason for that? Is it in the gist of mentioning something often enough it will believed as the truth?

    Pray God gives us Pius XIII... or a strong right-minded Pope whatever he'll call himself.

  13. This is something quite positive! The Holy Father has changed a few things with the Mass of Inauguration for the succeeding Pope, and he's changed it for the better.

    This might be a wonderful "See Ya" by the Holy Father. God bless him!

  14. Clinton R.8:37 AM

    Oh, the clarity and precision of such a holy pontiff! How I pray for a pope such as St. Pope Pius X. Enough of having a 'dialogue' with the world. The world doesn't care what the Church has to say. The world only wishes to see the Church bend to its will. St. Pope Pius X, ora pro nobis. +JMJ+

  15. J.G. Ratkaj11:07 AM

    May the coming pontiff be equipped with apostolic zeal of Papa Sarto.

  16. Francis in Ma2:02 PM

    Matt said..."What is also evident is the recent Popes are always trying to defend the Second Vatican Council. In just about everything they write about they are mentioning the Council. What is the reason for that"?

    In my opinion, the reasons many in the conciliar church defend the Second Vatican Council instead of the traditional and orthodox tenets of the faith is because they want to seem "hip", "flexible", "modern",
    and "open" to the 1960's vision of the world, which they still adhere to (eg that all religions are basically the same and have truth in them, that modern man knows what's right and wrong and doesn't need the Church telling him what's right and wrong, the promotion of social justice etc.) Yet I think also that many of them can't admit that they screwed up when it came to the pastoral and modernist tenets espoused at the Council which linger to this day. Hopefully the next pope will do less "dialogue with the world" to be hip and cool and dialogue with the world to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church outside of which there is no salvation.

  17. But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare his virtues, who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

    Thanks be to Our Triune God that He caused me to be born in The Camp of The Saints hidden in the Hills of beautiful Vermont and where love of Liberty is Bred in the Bones to such an extent that a great man like , Alexander Solzhenitsyn, recognised it as such and chose to grace us with his presence by choosing to live amongst us.

    Washington D.C. is but my nominal Capital of my nominal native country and while there is no dearth of Patriotism - love of the land of my birth - in my being, there is aught a hint of Nationalism; that is, I love the land of my Birth, and my Kith and Kin, and Blood and Soil, and Christian Brothers and Sisters, but the bastids in Washington who have lain waste to this country and to all that is Good and True and Beautiful, I have no use for them.They are Liars and Traitors of the First Order.

    I give thanks to My Lord and Saviour , Jesus, that He caused be to born in The Camp of The Saints hidden in the Hills of beautiful Vermont .Had I not been born into a Nation within this Nation, I would, by now, be totally lost because no Nation, and especially this Nation, can long survive if it does not offer public Worship to the One, Living, and True God.

    ALL Catholics are born into a Holy Nation within whatever natural nation they were born into but who are the Teachers in the Catholic Church who learn us such things?

    Well, you won't find them in America where, since Bishops like Gibbons and Ireland, Americanism reigns supreme.

    Just become an autodidact and study the great Saint Popes - especially Pope Saint Pius X - and ignore the modernists who, long-ago surrendered to Religious Liberty and Americanism

  18. Speaking on Constantine,why doesn't the latin church honor him as a saint as the eastern churches do?

  19. backtothefuture,
    Just a guess, but the story you might hear is that it is because he moved the capital from Old Rome to his New Rome. The center moved away, along with resources and population; so that when Rome was overrun and deteriorated, blame could be directed to Constantine for moving away.
    What goes unsaid, because it doesn't fit the agenda of the storytellers who spin this tale, is that Old Rome was well on its way down years before Constantine. I don't think Diocletian, for example, ever stepped foot in the old capital, or if he did it was not often and not for very long.
    But this line helped Charlemagne and the Franks create division within the undivided Church of the first millenium, stoking enmity with the East.

  20. Robert3:08 AM

    One reason the Church did not canonize Constantine is that he had (based on questionable evidence) both his wife Fausta and son put to death for treason. Not quite saint material (his support for the Church notwithstanding).


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