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Colosseum: Good News and "Bad" PDF Print E-mail
Apr 08, 2013 at 01:37 PM

ImageFor those of you who will be coming to Rome this summer, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that starting on May 2, the Colosseum will be lit at night again and will be open most evenings until 22 45. Furthermore, starting next week there will be what may prove to be an extremely interesting exhibition, that dedicated to the Emperor Constantine and his 4th century legalization of Christianity. The "bad" news is that sometime this spring, scaffolding will be going up on parts of the Colosseum's exterior. This may be "bad" news for people visiting Rome for the first time. But in reality it is good news since it means that the reconstruction that is to be financed largely by Diego della Valle, the founder and owner of Tod's, will finally be getting under way.

The Colosseum is still Rome's most popular tourist site, except for the Vatican which in theory is not part of the city. On Waster Suday alone, there were 17 054 visitors to what was originally called the Flavian Amphitheatre since it was built by the emperors of the Flavian dynasty (Vespasian, Titus and Domitian, 69 A.D. to 96 A.D.) in an area that previously had been occupied by the artificial lake that Nero had incorporated into his extravagant Domus Aurea or Golden House.

ImageOn April 15, an exhibition entitled "Constantine 313" will open in one of the Coloseum's four arcades, celebrating the so-called Edict of Milan signed by Constantine, who then controlled the western part of the Roman Empire and Licinius, then (bit soon to be defeated) ruler of the Balkans. The two met in Milan and, among other things, agreed to treat the Christians benevolently. Constantine is believed to have converted to Christianity at some point, probably following his victory against his brother-in-law at the Milvian Bridge in Rome in 312, although he reportedly was not baptized until much later, sometime before his death in 337.

His mother, Helena, was already a Christian, something which no doubt influenced him although history tells us that for many years after the edict he also continued to sacrifice to and honor the gods and goddesses of Rome. The exhibit will include more than 200 stone reliefs, statues and other artifacts testifying to the importance of his reign to the rise of Christianity. Prior to the edict, Christians in Rome had been severely persecuted and often, from Saint Peter on, murdered and martyred.

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