Constantine and Justinian
Constantine and Justinian - two names to conjure with if ever there were!
Christian emperors of the earlier Byzantine centuries. Constantine the Great, of
course, the founder of the Christianized Byzantine Empire and of its fabulous
capital - Constantinople, standing to the left of an enthroned Mary holding the
Child, and presenting her with the first major church built in his new capital -
the one used to consecrate and dedicate the city, The Church of the Holy Peace -
Hagia Eirene, still standing today 1670 years later. On her right stands that
other great Emperor and builder, Justinian, whom we must thank for the other
magnificent Istanbul edifice - The Hagia Sophia - the Church of the Holy Wisdom.
We must also thank him for at least two magnificent churches in the Holy Land -
The present Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem (although it, too, was
originally Constantine's), still recognizably his, in spite of changes by the
Crusaders and repairs throughout the years; and the Nea Theotokos, The New
Mother of God, considered to be the largest church ever built in the middle east
but of which virtually nothing today remains except part of the apses,
re-discovered during building excavations in the seventies at the southern end
of the Cardus Maximus in Jerusalem.
This mosaic is taken from the
south lunette leading into the narthex. I spent more than 5 hours alone in the
Hagia Sophia, to say nothing of other Byzantine relics in Istanbul, unable to
tear myself away from the magnificent building or the spectacle of historical
figures from across the centuries parading before my eyes from the walls of the
The Byzantine Empire