Tag Archives: Istanbul

The Walls of Constantinople

There is an excellent video on the walls of Constantinople, explaining how and why the walls were built. It includes reconstructions of what the walls would have looked like and how they were a defense of the city. This Walking the Walls post now has the video posted. Take a look at the post to see what the walls look like today, then to the bottom of the post to see the video.

Chora Church: Four Gospel Hymnographers

More frescoes from Chora, in Istanbul.

The Four Hymnographers are seated in the pendentives below the dome. These are Byzantine poets noted for their hymns honoring the Virgin [224-227].

John of Damascus, in the northeast pendentive, is the most famous, a theologian active in the eighth century. He is identified by his turban and is depicted writing the Idiomela for the funeral service.

Kosmas the Poet, in the southeast pendentive, a student of John of Damascus, who is shown with an uninscribed book in his lap.

Joseph the Poet, in the southwest pendentive, holding a scroll on which he writes his Canon for the Akathistos Hymn, an addition to the most important Byzantine hymn honoring the Virgin. The verses connect Joseph to the Old Testament scenes depicted below him.

Theophanes Graptos, in the northwest pendentive, a ninth-century writer who was a monk at the Chora. He is shown writing verses from the funeral service, which refer to the adjacent scene of Jacob’s Ladder and to the role of the Virgin in salvation. Read more.

In this pendentive is Saint John of Damascus. He is clad in Oriental costumes.

Enjoy this chant of the Paschal Canon of Saint John:

Istanbul-091735 Istanbul-091744


Chora Church, in Istanbul

The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora is now a museum in the Fatih district of Istanbul. It is rich in mosaics.

This mosaic is over the doorway of the inner narthex. The Greek inscription reads: Jesus Christ, the Land of the Living. Jesus holds the scripture in his left hand and blesses us with his right hand.

To the left of Jesus is Theodore Metochites in his oriental garments. Theodore completed the construction all the church endowed it with its frescoes and mosaics.

Commemorate All Souls’ Day with the Fauré Requiem

Fresco depicting the harrowing of hell. From the Chora Church in Istanbul.

Fresco depicting the harrowing of hell. From the Chora Church in Istanbul.

You are invited to the Fauré Requiem, free and open to the public. Come be spiritually uplifted by this beautiful piece of music, sung in remembrance of those who have gone before us. On All Saints’ Day, Sunday November 1st at 4 pm.  Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Norfolk, Virginia, Princess Ann Road at Upper Stockley Gardens.

Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Te decet hymnus Deus, in Sion,
et tibi reddetur votum in Ierusalem.
Exaudi orationem meam;
ad te omnis caro veniet.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine,
et lux perpetua luceat eis.
Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
A hymn becomes you, O God, in Zion,
and to you shall a vow be repaid in Jerusalem.
Hear my prayer;
to you shall all flesh come.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

Performance with Robert Shaw conducting the Atlanta Symphony and chorus.

Little Hagia Sophia

Istanbul-025425Little Hagia Sophia. This church was formerly the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus.

The church of Saints Sergius and Baccchus marks the first of the city’s harbors on the Marmara Sea.

Istanbul-025750No interior decoration remains. Notice how the orentation of worship changed. When it was a church the priest and people faced the east, that is, ad orientem when they prayed; the altar is the center of the apse. However Muslims pray facing Mecca so the prayer niche faces Mecca and is to the right.


Wonderful byzantine capitals.




The Studion

This monastery was the most important monastery in Constantinople. The monks were referred to as studites. The way of life in this monastery modeled the monastic discipline at Mount Athos.

The most famous monk was Theodore the Student who fostered academic study and spiritual reflection. The monastery was also a center for religious poetry and hymns written for the Orthodox. Unfortunately very little remains of this very important monastic complex.





Hagia Irene: I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life

Hagia Irene is the oldest church in Istanbul. Emperor Constantine dedicated it to the Holy Peace of God in the 4th century.

The first Council of Constantinople was held here where the third part of the creed professing the faith in the divinity of the Holy Spirit was proclaimed.

This is the apse where the altar stood.

The Muslims never turned it into a mosque. However all the mosaics and frescoes are gone.

The words of the creed: I believe in the Holy Spirit. …..continued to be present to my mind as I reconstructed the lively debate that these walls witnessed in hammering out the orthodox doctrine of the Catholic faith.

At the time of the conquest in 1453 Mehmet turned it into an armoury.

A simple cross from the Byzantine iconoclastic period still dominates the apse.


The capitals are plain but striking with a simple cross.


There was recycling from ancient temples in fact it is built over an ancient temple. The building was restored in 1978 and today it is a concert hall for classical music.