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A year-long celebration marking 1,700 years since the Roman Empire granted Christians religious freedom will start on January 17 in the Serbian city of Nis, where Roman emperor Constantine the Great was born.
The whole year of 2013 in Nis will be dedicated to the Edict of Milan, a proclamation giving Christianity equal status with other religions in the Roman Empire, led at the time by Constantine the Great.
Nis will thus join the cities of Milan (Italy), York (United Kingdom) and Treves (France) as the key cultural heritage sites connected to Constantine, Rome’s first Christian emperor.
On the opening day of the celebrations a concert of spiritual music performed by the choir of Sretenjski Monastery from Russia will be held at the National Theatre in Nis in the presence of Serbian Patriarch Irinej and President Tomislav Nikolic.
Festivities will last until the end of October 2013 and will include both Catholic and Orthodox liturgies, cultural events, lectures and scientific seminars.
The cultural programme includes concerts of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Verdi’s opera ‘Aida’, performed by the Belgrade Philharmonic, plus a play, ‘Constantine: Angel’s Mark’, to be staged by Belgrade’s National Theatre.
The Edict of Milan, which was issued in 313AD, will be discussed by scientists as well as students and schoolchildren. On June 3rd, known in the Orthodox Church calendar as the Day of the Holy Emperor Constantine, awards for tolerance will be presented.
Constantine’s residence, Mediana, and the Ottoman ‘Skull Tower’ (Celekula), as well as the fortress that dominates the old town of Nis, will feature among the highlights for the growing number of tourists expected in the city.
It’s expected that more than 100,000 believers will join the liturgy due to be held by the Catholic Church on September 21st. Because of the large numbers, the organisers are considering whether it might be possible to hold it on the runway of Nis’s Constantine the Great Airport.
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