The Vision of Constantine is an equestrian sculpture by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, located in the Scala Regia by St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Originally commissioned as a free standing work of art within St. Peter's itself, the sculpture was finally unveiled in 1670 as an integral part of the Scala Regia - Bernini's redesigned stairway between St. Peter's Basilica and the Vatican Palace. Unlike other large works by Bernini, art historians have suggested that this work was almost entirely undertaken by him - no other sculptors have been recorded as receiving payment. Bernini's overall fee was 7,000 Roman scudi.
As an early Christian ruler, the figure of Constantine the Great was particularly appealing to later popes, particularly in the seventeenth century. Bernini's sculpture adapted one particular moment of Constantine's life.
Before a battle with the pagan Roman Emperor, Maxentius, Constantine was leading prayers with his army. After a while a cross appeared in the sky, above the sun, shining brightly and with the inscription In Hoc Signo Vinces or '"By this sign, you will conquer"'. The miracle astonished Constantine and his troops and gave them sufficient belief to overwhelm Maxentius at the Battle of Milvian Bridge, after which Constantine made a triumphal entry to Rome, with which he granted religious toleration, thus freeing the Christians from Roman persecution.
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