By Catholic Digest Staff
Feaast Day: January 10
A native of North Africa, Miltiades was elected pope in 311, the year the Edict of Galerius ended decades of hostility and persecution of Christians. Due to a previous emperor, Diocletain, Christian holy sites and places of worship had been destroyed, their sacred texts seized under pain of death, and Christians were forced to sacrifice to the pagan gods or face brutal martyrdom. Several thousand died for their beliefs, particularly under the reign of ruthless Maximian. However, the Christian faith could not be extinguished, and Galerius’ edict proved that the policy of violence and persecution had failed. Elected at the pinnacle of this dramatic change, St. Miltiades became a representative of the thousands who died during the bloody era, despite not perishing from a martyr’s death himself. Only two years later St. Constantine became the emperor, fully embracing Christianity after his military victory at the battle of the Milvian Bridge. Miltiades died in 314, leaving the Church flourishing in numbers and beginning to form its new identity with the Empire.