Pope Benedict XVI’s fourth encyclical will be released in the first half of 2013, timed to coincide with the Year of Faith.

“The Pope is preparing a new encyclical on the subject of faith, to be published in the first half of next year, during the Year of Faith,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the Register this morning.

The encyclical will be the Pope’s fourth; he has already written two encyclicals on the other two theological virtues of hope and charity. In 2006, he published Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love), followed by Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope) in 2007. Both were also related to his third “social” encyclical, Caritas in Veritate(Charity in Truth), published in 2009.

The new encyclical will also coincide well with some major landmark anniversaries in the life of the Church: the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the 1,700th anniversary of the Battle of Milvian Bridge.

At the battle, Emperor Constantine and his men had a vision of the Chi-Rho, one of the earliest symbols of Christ, with the words “Under this sign you will conquer.” His victory heralded the beginning of Christian civilization in the West.

All these anniversaries took place in October this year.

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