Providential Examples in History - First Millennium

“History may be said to be the summation of the actions of man in time. Miracles are God’s sovereign interventions into our three dimensional world, in which this historical process has been, ever since the creation of man, realizing itself. History has a destination, even if we cannot discern it at once, and God is working in history even if his ways are difficult or impossible to recognize. But since history consists of the acts of man and miracles are the acts of God, it may be asked how the two can be brought together, and, how it is possible to probe the influence that miracles have had on the historical process of mankind. …”

— Zsolt Aradi (1908-1968) Hungarian Author and Historian

First Millennium - First 500 years

Constantine - In this sign conquer - 312 AD

Constantine  – In 312 A.D., “Constantine was on his march against Maxentius, who had declared war against him, and was in Rome with an army much superior in numbers. The emperor [Constantine] had marched from Rhine, through Gaul, and was going to Rome by way of Verona. He passed the Alp, and was marching with part of his army toward Rome, when, a little before midday, he and those with him saw a bright cross of light in the clouds.” What they saw was a “flaming cross in the sky, and beneath it were the words, in Greek, “In this sign conquer.” He thereupon embraced Christianity.”  “In the night following, Christ appeared to him in his sleep. He had a cross in his hand, and commanded Constantine to have a standard made of it. Next morning the emperor gave orders for such a standard to be made, and called it the Labarum. It was a gilt pole with a cross-bar. The top of the pole was surmounted with a gold crown, set with precious stones, and in the midst a crown were two Greek letters, Chi and Ro (x, p)… From the cross-bar hung a purple veil, strangled and dazzling; the emperor selected fifty of his best men to carry and guard this banner.” He also had the soldiers paint the symbol of a cross on their shields. …

The surrender of Verona was the consequence. In spite of the overwhelming numbers of his enemy (an estimated 100,000 in Maxentius’ army against 20,000 in Constantine’s army) the emperor confidently marched forward to Rome. A vision had assured him that he should conquer in the sign of the Christ, and his warriors carried Christ’s monogram on their shields, though the majority of them were pagans. The opposing forces met near the bridge over the Tiber called the Milvian Bridge, and here Maxentius’ troops suffered a complete defeat, the tyrant himself losing his life in the Tiber (28 October, 312).  ….

If mankind ever needed a sign from God blessing the spread of Christianity, and the Gospel, they were given one on May 7th of 351. Shortly after Cyril had been installed as Archbishop of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, a luminous cross appeared in the sky over Jerusalem. “About nine in the morning, a vast luminous body, in the form of a cross, appeared in the heavens, just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy Mount of Olivet (about two miles). This was not seen by one or two persons only, but by the whole city, and it continued for several hours, the light from it being more brilliant than that of the sun.” The sign in the sky was a miracle for all to see. It drove Jews, Pagans and Christians alike to churches in praise of Jesus Christ. The luminous cross over Jerusalem was taken as sign by those at the time of God’s approval of the spreading Gospel and expanding Christendom. As St Cyril wrote in his letter to Emperor Constantine, the cross in the sky was “being seen not by one or two only, but manifest with perfect clarity to the whole multitude of the city; not, as one might suppose, rushing swiftly past in fancy, but seen openly above the earth many hours in plain sight, and overcoming the beams of the sun with its dazzling rays.” “The whole city found in this phenomenon the truth of Christian doctrine, to which the heavens bore visible witness.”  

“So swiftly runs the word of God that though in several thousand years God was not known except among the Jews, now within the space of a few years, His word is concealed neither from the Indians in the East nor from the Britain’s in the West.”

— Arnobius of Sicca (284-305) writing from Bethlehem in 378 A.D.

Rebuilding of the Temple - 331-363 AD

Such were the bishop’s words: and on the night following, a mighty earthquake tore up the stones of the old foundations of the temple and dispersed them all together with the adjacent edifices. Terror consequently possessed the Jews on account of the event; and the report of it brought many to the spot who resided at a great distance: when therefore a vast multitude was assembled, another prodigy took place. Fire came down from heaven and consumed all the builders’ tools: so that the flames were seen preying upon mallets, irons to smooth and polish stones, saws, hatchets, adzes, in short all the various implements which the workmen had procured as necessary for the undertaking; and the fire continued burning among these for a whole day. The Jews indeed were in the greatest possible alarm, and unwillingly confessed Christ, calling him God: yet they did not do his will; but influenced by inveterate prepossessions they still clung to Judaism. Even a third miracle which afterwards happened failed to lead them to a belief of the truth. For the next night luminous impressions of a cross appeared imprinted on their garments, which at daybreak they in vain attempted to rub or wash out ..

The Blood Miracle of Saint Januarius (Gennaro) 305 AD- A miracle of the Church that is still occuring today

The liquefaction (becoming liquid) of the blood of St Januarius (Gennaro) is an extraordinary miracle of the Church that has been occurring up to 18 times each year for the past 600 years. It is only one of a number of blood miracles that have taken place, and in the case of St Januarius-Gennaro and others, are still taking place with blood that was collected soon after the death of certain martyrs.

Cross in the Sky over Jerusalem - 351 AD

St. Cyril wrote a letter known today as the Letter to the Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great, describing the miracle in vivid detail and making it clear that the miracle was a sign from God.  The letter reads:

“On the nones [or 7th] of May, about the Terce hour [or nine in the morning], a vast luminous body, in the form of a Cross, appeared in the sky just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy Mount of Olives, seen not only by one or two persons, but clearly and evidently by the whole city. This was not, as may be thought, a momentary transient phenomenon: for it continued several hours visible to our eyes, and brighter than the sun, the light of which would have eclipsed it, had not this been stronger.

“The whole city, struck with a reverential fear tempered with joy, ran immediately to the church, young and old, Christians and heathens, citizens and strangers, all with one voice giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the worker of miracles; finding by experience the truth of the Christian doctrine, to which Heaven bears witness.”

First Millennium - Second 500 years

Saint James the Moors Slayer saved Spain 714 AD

By the year 714, Spain had been nearly conquered by the Moslem invaders. One of the most pivotal battles was the battle of Clavijo, fought in 834 AD. The night before the battle, Ramiro I of Leon is said to have had a dream of Saint James, who said that he would join them in battle the next day. The battle cry for Spain was “St James, we will reconquer Spain” and that he did. Witnessed by many, Saint James appeared on a white horse brandishing sword. So devastating was the battle, it is said that over 60,000 Moslems were left dead on the battle field. The supernatural assistance helped the Spanish in driving back the Moslems from Christian territory. Saint James [Santiago] became known as the “Moor-slayer” for his assistance in saving Christianity in Spain [Europe]. Saint James as Spain’s patron Saint, would appear in battle on a number occasions on the side of Spain in Europe, and later in South America.

The Gospel that James brought to Spain years earlier had dispersed throughout Spain and other parts of Europe. At the appointed time, it would be brought to New Spain [the Americas] under protection of Saint James and the Virgin Mary. The Spanish explorers and missionaries in reverence and gratitude to the divine hand that had saved them on numerous occasions from enslavement and destruction from the Moslems invaders would take the Gospel by boat to the New World.

“St. James the Moorslayer, one of the most valiant saints and knights the world ever had … has been given by God to Spain for its patron and protection.”

— Don Quixote Cervantes (1605, 1615), Character from an early historical novel