The persecuted Christians of the Roman Empire adopted a strange symbol to represent themselves: the Cross. The cross was the torture device used to kill Jesus. Maybe it was a way of saying they knew they might be put to death for worshiping Christ, and accepted that possibility.
We’re zipping ahead to ad 304—the Roman Empire was enduring a civil war. Emperor Constantine and Emperor Licinius were at it. It looked like Licinius had all the military advantage. But Constantine had a dream the night before the big decisive battle: the dream told him to fight under the banner of Christ. Constantine must’ve dreamed in Latin, so the takeaway message was: ‘In hoc signo vinces’—‘In this sign you will conquer.’ He had his soldiers paint crosses on their shields and they won the battle and the war. After that, Constantine decreed that all religions would be permitted in the Roman Empire and no one would be punished for worshiping Christ.
Here’s a very good read:
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