For better or for worse, Christianity has been perhaps the most dominant cultural force of the last two millennia. However, this wasn’t always the case. For the first three hundred years of its existence, Christianity was merely a fringe sect of Judaism, often persecuted by the Roman Empire. However, this all changed when Emperor Constantine had his vision of the cross On October 27, 312 CE.
October 27 was the day before the Battle of Milvain Bridge, a bloody battle that Constantine’s army was to fight against the army of Emperor Maxentius, a rival for the disputed Emperorship. According to the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, Constantine received two related visions that day. First, while marching with his army in the afternoon, he believed he saw a holy cross in the sky, floating above the sun, with the Greek words “Εν Τούτῳ Νίκα” (“In this sign, [you shall] conquer.”) beneath it. More than likely, this was a combination of a solar halo and pareidolia, the same phenomenon that leads one to see faces in clouds. Later that evening, Constantine dreamt that he had been visited by the Christian God who instructed that if Constantine painted the Chi-Rho (the first two letters of the Greek spelling of Christ) on his army’s shields, he would be victorious.
The morning of the battle, Constantine followed the vision’s advice and he won a decided victory. His enemy Maxentius was dead and he was the uncontested Emperor of the Roman Empire. Constantine would gradually convert to Christianity, although he was not baptized until shortly before his death, and in February of 313 he issued the Edict of Milan which decriminalized Christianity, allowing to church to spread its gospel openly for the first time.
In honor of Constantine’s vision of the cross in the sky, let’s drink a Southern Cross. This fizzy highball is a kissing cousin of the Between The Sheets that uses lemon juice in lieu of lime juice and adds lemon-lime soda.
- 1 ounce Light Rum
- 1 ounce Brandy
- 3/4 ounce lime juice
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 ounce Cointreau
- Lemon-lime soda
Shake all ingredients, except the soda, with ice. Pour into an ice filled highball glass and then top off with lemon-lime soda.
Tomorrow: The darkest day in American drinking history.