Dictionary/Ecclesiastical/Donation of Constantine
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Donation (Pretended ) of Constantine. A document, under the Pontificate of Sylvester (314-335), which purports to be the instrument of the donation, granted to the Bishop of Rome, besides certain marks and insignia of honor, such as the tiara, the lorum, and imperial robes, also the temporal sovereignty over Rome and the provinces, towns, and castles of all Italy. The document probably originated in France, in the ninth century, and was possibly intended for the Greeks, by whom the coronation of Charlemagne as emperor was ill received. The assertion that it was fabricated in the interest of the Papacy is without foundation. Up to the twelfth century, the document was never found to have been made use of in Rome, or referred to by the Popes, although its authenticity was then universally admitted. While the document is proved to be a forgery, yet, it is certain that Constantine bestowed large possessions on the bishops of Rome. The Roman See has never looked upon the apocryphal document as its strongest bulwark; the Popes place upon entirely different grounds the foundation of the papal prerogatives and the powers exercised by the Apostolic See.