Constantinople – the symbol of Christian greatness and a message of repentance

Today the crown of the earthly kingdom has been surrendered by the King of all cities, succumbed to torment the city of the Mother of God, Constantine’s treasure, is purified by fire and a garland shining with glory from the hands of the Creator of the centuries receives this home of saints and beloved city

(extract from the Divine Service for the Fall of Constantinople)

Emperor Constantine marks with his spear the new boundaries of his splendid capital city of Byzantium, by Roger Payne.

Most probably, no other city, since the beginning of history till present day, has left such a strong impact on human civilization as the “King of All Cities”, the City founded by the Emperor Equal to the Apostles, Saint Constantine the Great – Constantinople. For more than eleven centuries, this so-called “The City of Saints”, “Christian Praise, Orthodox Glory”, “Light of the World” and “Joy of the Whole World “, has been the centre of a sublime Christian society, which has grown on the ancient ground and embodied within itself the  Eastern and Western cultures, enabling them with the faith of Christ and offering wonderful spiritual fruits – theology, worship, philosophy, science, art.

“The fatal siege of the city in 1453 AD” Church of Moldovita, Romania.

But, by God’s dispensation, due to the sins and disagreements between the Orthodox, which, unfortunately, is present even today, the magnificent capital of the Eastern Roman Empire – Byzantium, fell into the hands of the Ottomans. This tragic reality is still a powerful reminder to the Christians of today, inspiring mutual repentance and inviting them to unite in the spirit of Christ’s love.

Today, on the occasion of 567 years since the fall of Constantinople, our brothers of St. John the Forerunner – Bigorski Monastery, prayed for all those who laid down their lives defending the sacred Orthodox Faith, those who to this day have been slaughtered as innocent sheep for the Truth, triumphantly witnessing with their own blood the Logos of God, Who says, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).  These words are being confirmed over and over again, and the centuries have shown that Christ’s Church is the greatest Martyr, always crucified, equally to her Head – Christ. Even today, numerous are Christians, especially those in the Middle East, who, according to Christ’s testimony: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24), humbly bear their cross of martyrdom and innocently suffer for the true Revelation of God. But vain are the efforts of all the enemies of the Orthodox Church because the Church has always been and will remain till the end of the ages the only Light in this world, a treasury of God’s secrets, a keeper of Divine Truth.  And to the end, it will exclaim with a triumphant voice: “God is with us! Understand, O people, and obey because God is with us!”

One of the contemporary confessors and martyrs for the God-revealed Truth, witness to the invincibility of Christ’s Church is our Holy Father, St Luke Voyno-Yasenetsky, Archbishop of Simferopol and of the Crimea, whose memory we also celebrate today.  There is a wonderful documentary about his miraculous Life that you can watch on our web page under the category ‘documentaries’.

Here is the text of the psalm for which the melody was created:

O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance;

thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.

The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven,

 the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth.

Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.

We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.

How long, Lord? wilt thou be angry forever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee,

and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name.

O remember not against us former iniquities:

let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us.