You are along the route: IN HOC SIGNO VINCES. CONSTANTINE CHRISTIAN EMPEROR
We suggest that you follow this itinerary on the weekend, as you will find all the recommended places open. From Monday to Friday the catacombs of St. Peter and St. Marcellinus are open only upon request; the other places to be visited.
At about midday, when the day begins to draw to a close, he is said to have seen with his own eyes a luminous trophy in the form of a cross in the middle of the sky, blocking out the sun, with a saying written next to it: “You will win with this!”.
Thus, an apparition in the sky indicated the road to victory for Constantine. On 28 October 312, after having the shields of all his army marked with the symbol of Christ, Constantine overcame his rival Maxentius, just north of Rome, despite being strongly outnumbered.
The miraculous message was also the wining premise for the conversion of the Emperor and the famous Edict of Milan of 313, which proclaimed freedom of worship and ended persecution.
Rome thus began its slow transformation from the Pagan capital to a Christian city.
Without intervening in the monumental centre of the city, Constantine built the immense basilica of St. John Lateran in a more peripheral area, as a continuation of the new luxurious Imperial palace, where his mother Helen presided over the fate of the city in his stead. Helen herself, after a journey to the Holy Land, gave the residence a religious fulcrum, in the chapel built to keep custody of the sacred relics of the cross.
On the urge of Constantine and his family, a crown of new Christian buildings, still among the most venerated, came to surround Rome. From the great basilicas outside the walls (such as St. Sebastian, St Paul’s, St. Peter’s, Sant’Agnese and San Lorenzo) to the Lateran and the Imperial palace, the embrace of the new religion enveloped the city, preserving for now, perhaps out of respect for the majority Pagan population, the ancient monumental centre, where the great triumphal arch dedicated to the Emperor and his miraculous victory, stood proud.