I.: The Battle of Milvian Bridge — Outside of Rome, Italy — 28 OCT 312

•June 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Three years after the collapse of the Tetrarchy — the four-headed banner of leadership in Rome — two of its members meet on the field of battle on October 28, 312. Emperor Constantine, who has spent the last three years consolidating his power base and eliminating his competition (chiefly the other members of the Tetrarchy), has brought his 100,000-man strong army to the gates of Rome to square off against Emperor Maxentius and his home garrison of 75,000-120,000 men.

The day before the battle, Constantine spoke of a vision in which God told him to have his men adorn their shields with the sign of the cross. If they did this, they would find victory in battle. Constantine did so and at the end of the day on the 28th, Maxentius was dead — drowned while trying to swim across the Tiber — and Constantine was the sole ruler of Rome.

His battlefield conversion to Christianity almost instantly changed its status from undesirable cult to major cultural force, culminating in this time in the founding of the Byzantine Empire and the Orthodox Church.

References:

1. “Battle of the Milvian Bridge – Constantine at the Battle of Milvian Bridge.” Military History – Warfare through the Ages – Battles and Conflicts – Weapons of War – Military Leaders in History. 13 June 2009 <http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswarsto1000/p/milvianbridge.htm>.

1: Baptistery of the Arians (Exterior) — Ravenna, Italy — c. 493-526

•June 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Creator: Unknown

Name: Baptistery of the Arians (Exterior)

Location: Ravenna, Italy

Date Created: c. 493-526

Period: Early Christian

Notes: None

Baptistery of the Arians (Exterior)

Baptistery of the Arians (Exterior)

References:

2: Baptistery of the Arians (Dome Mosaic) — Ravenna, Italy — c. 493-526

•June 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Creator: Unknown

Name: Baptistery of the Arians (Dome Mosaic)

Location: Ravenna, Italy

Date Created: c. 493-526

Period: Early Christian

Notes: None

Baptistery of the Arians (Dome Mosaic)

Baptistery of the Arians (Dome Mosaic)

References:

3: Throne of Archbishop Maximianus — Ravenna, Italy — c. 543-553

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Creator: Unknown

Name: Throne of Archbishop Maximianus

Location: Ravenna, Italy

Date Created: c. 543-553

Period: Byzantine

Notes: None

7: Throne of Archbishop Maximianus -- Ravenna, Italy -- c. 543-553

7: Throne of Archbishop Maximianus -- Ravenna, Italy -- c. 543-553


References:

II.: Muhammad (pbuh) Receives His First Revelation from the Archangel Jibril (Gabriel) — Mount Hira, Saudi Arabia — Ramadan, 610

•June 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Early in his adult life in Makkah (Mecca), Muhammad (s) became disgusted with the idolatrous daughters of, and intercessors for, Allah that had blasphemed the Kaaba for centuries with their presence, for the Makkans professed the belief that Abraham constructed the Kaaba for the worship of the One God who is without peer or partner, who neither beget nor was beget. However, a vast majority of them tacitly permitted the idols to persist in the shrine. A small group of dissidents existed who were called the Hunafa (meaning “those who turn away [from idol worship]”), and Muhammad (s) was one of these.

The Hunafa made a habit of removing themselves from the spiritually tainted environment of Makkah so that they could meditate upon the purity of truth of the teachings of Ibrahim (Abraham) and his son, their progenitor, Ismail (Ishmael).

As was his way, Muhammad (s) spirited himself away annually during the month of Ramadan to a cave on Mount Hira, near Makkah. In his fortieth year, while meditating upon the teachings of Ibrahim and Ismail, a voice reached him in his cave and implored him to “Read!”, to which Muhammad (s) truthfully claimed illiteracy. Twice more did this voice implore him to “Read!”, and after the third rebuttal, Jibril (Gabriel) reveals himself to Muhammad (s) and says:

“Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth.
Createth man from a clot.
Read: And it is thy Lord the Most Bountiful
Who teacheth by the pen,
Teacheth man that which he knew not.”

This was the first revelation given to Muhammad (s), who was proclaimed by Jibril to be the Final Prophet of Allah. This revelation, as well as the others to be delived to Muhammad (s) by Jibril until his death in 632, were compiled into a book called the Qur’an, which is believed by Muslims to be the pure and unimpeachable word of Allah.

***

Things were incredibly tough for Muhammad (s) in the years after his revelations. In fact, he and his companion Abu Bakr had to flee to Yahtrib (Medina) in 622 to dodge an assassination attempt. This flight is known as the “Hijra” (migration), and it marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. At the time of the Hijra, there were fewer than a thousand adherents to Islam.. Seven years later, though, the Prophet returned to Makkah with a force of 10,000 Muslims at his back with the intent of cleansing the Kaaba and making it a fitting shrine to Allah. He also granted forgiveness to the population, despite having been made to flee due to persecution, violence, and fear for one’s life.

At this point, Islam began to spread like a wildfire, and within a year of his return to Makkah, much of Arabia had accepted the teachings of Muhammad (s). Today, one out of every five people in the world follow his teachings.

References:

4: Ardagh Chalice — Ireland — c. 8th century

•June 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Creator: Unknown

Name: Ardagh Chalice

Location: Unknown

Date Created: c. 8th century

Style: Early Medieval (Hiberno-Saxon)

Notes: The provenance of the piece is unknown; its name comes from having been unearthed in 1868 adjacent to the village of Ardagh in Limerick County, Ireland.

Ardagh Chalice

Ardagh Chalice -- Ireland -- c. 8th century

References:

5: St. Cyriakus — Genrode, Germany — 961-973

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Creator: Unknown

Name: St. Cyriakus

Location: Genrode, Germany

Date Created: 961-973

Period: Early Medieval (Ottonian)

Notes: None

St. Cyriakus -- Genrode, Germany -- 961-973

St. Cyriakus -- Genrode, Germany -- 961-973

References:

1. “MDG309.” The Department of Art History. 14 June 2009 <http://arthist.cla.umn.edu/aict/html/medieval/MDG/MDG309.html>.