Serbian patriarch invites all to Edict of Milan celebrations

BELGRADE -- Serbian Patriarch Irinej has invited all believers and people of good will to join in the final part of the marking of the 17 centuries of the Edict of Milan.

An exhibition in Niš to mark the anniversary, 'The birth of Christianity in Roman provinces in the territory of Serbia' (Beta, file)
An exhibition in Niš to mark the anniversary, 'The birth of Christianity in Roman provinces in the territory of Serbia' (Beta, file)

The closing ceremony is scheduled to take place in Niš on Sunday, when heads of Orthodox Churches of other countries will hold a liturgy.

"A great privilege has been bestowed upon our Church that the central ceremony of the entire Christianity be in our city, Niš, because (Roman) Emperor Constantine was born in it," Patriarch Irinej told Tanjug ahead of the gathering that the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) qualified as the greatest in its history.

The Edict that Emperor Constantine issued gave the Christianity the freedom or right to freely preach, Patriarch Irinej said.

This great event was a turning point in the history of mankind, as the European culture based on the truths of Christianity developed on its foundations, the patriarch said.

Irinej announced that representatives of all Orthodox Churches, other Christian Churches and communities, and culture officials from the entire Christian world will gather on that occasion.

Bishop of Bačka Irinej, a spokesman for the SPC, announced that two holy objects will be on display at the Cathedral of St. Emperor Constantine and Empress Helena in Niš - a part of the holy cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified and a hand of St. John The Baptist.

According to the schedule that was published by the SPC, a ceremonial welcome will be organized at St. Archangel Michael's Cathedral in Belgrade on Saturday for high priests, among which Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Rus', and Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem are expected.