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Donation of Constantine

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Definition:   The popular title of a forged document  alleging that Emperor Constantine bestowed upon Pope Sylvester and his successors primacy over the Church, all the privileges of the Roman Senate, and ownership of Rome, the Papal States of Italy, and “the western regions” (France, Spain, Britain, and ultimately the Americas). Forged around the eighth century, the Donation was used by at least 10 popes to justify temporal and religious power and privileges. The document was exposed as a forgery by Lorenzo Valla in a book written about 1440. The Donation and other forgeries led to the formation of the Office of Inquisition, whereby secular authorities were made to do the bidding of the Church in opposing “heretics.”

 Discussion: As a consequence of the Donation, Pope Alexander VI in 1493 granted all undiscovered lands to the King of Spain. This was changed when the explorers of Portugal infringed on this domain. The Pope redrew a line which brought Brazil under Portuguese rule. The papacy even benefited monetarily when in 1929 the concordat with Mussolini reimbursed the Pope for the loss of the Papal States (1870). The Papacy, as usurper of both the temporal power of the State and the spiritual authority of Jesus, used this counterfeit document to consolidate temporal rule (Rev. 17:17-18).

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