Venerable Parasceva the New

Saint Paraskeva the New was born into a pious family, living during the eleventh century in the village of Epivato, between Silistra and Constantinople. Her older brother Euthymius became a monk, and later he was consecrated as Bishop of Matidia. One day, while attending the divine services, the words of the Lord pierced her heart like an arrow, «If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself» (Mt. 16:24). From that time she began to distribute her clothing to the needy, for which reason she endured much grief from her family.

Upon the death of her parents, the saint was tonsured into monasticism at the age of fifteen. She withdrew to the Jordanian desert where she lived the ascetic life until she reached the age of twenty-five. An angel of the Lord ordered her to return to her homeland, so she stayed at Epivato for two years.

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The Siege of Constantinople (1453), according to Nicolo Barbaro

The diary of Nicolo Barbaro is perhaps the most detailed and accurate eyewitness account of the siege and fall of Constantinople. Nicolo was a surgeon by profession, and a member of one of the patrician families of Venice. His account often focuses on the activities of his fellow Venetians, sometimes to the detriment of the Greeks and Genoese who were also defending the city. The work is written like a diary, with daily entries. Naval affairs are also prominent in this account. The portion republished below starts after Nicolo discusses the events leading up to the siege and the preparations made by the defenders to fortify the city.

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On the twenty-fifth of May at the hour of Vespers, another tunnel was discovered in the same area of the Calegaria near the first tunnels. It was a strong one and might have been very dangerous indeed, because they had put props underneath a piece of the wall, and when they set fire to their tunnel it would have collapsed, and after this the Turks would quite certainly have been able to get into the city and take it without difficulty. This was the last tunnel which they dug, and…

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The Magnificence of Constantinople Even In 1436

Created in 1422 by Cristoforo Buondelmonti, this is the oldest surviving map of Constantinople and the only one that predates the Ottoman conquest

Bessarion writes to Theodoros II Palaiologos the following about Constantinople in 1436, which was seventeen years before its fall to the Ottomans:

On the one side you will see the abundance and fineness of holy things, even more abundant than they are fine, and even better than they are abundant. On another side you will see the walls and towers and the defense circuit of the city, whose measure and strength no one can wonder enough at, and on yet another the brilliance of the cities houses and the overwhelming pride in public show.

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St Photios, patriarch of Constantinople (+ 891)

St Photios, along with St Mark of Ephesus and St Gregory Palamas, is counted as one of the Three Pillars of Orthodoxy, who stood against Latinizing influences on the Orthodox Church.

He was born in Constantinople in 810, son of pious parents belonging to one of the prominent families of the City. Both his parents were martyred during the Iconoclast persecution, leaving their son an example of adherence to the True Faith even unto death. He received a superb education, and was widely considered the single most learned person of his time. He was elevated to the Patriarchal throne in 858, after being raised through all the degrees of the priesthood in six days.

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Landmark ruling in Turkey Buyukada orphanage returned to the Orthodox Patriarchate

A landmark ruling by a court of law in Turkey, the first of its kind: Buyukada district court of following the ruling of the Court of human rights in Strasbourg, has handed over the Buyukada orphanage to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul. The court has informed the «Fanar» that orders have been given for the final return of the building, located on the ‘Island of the Princes’ to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. It also ordered that the land be registered to the “Rum Patrikanesi” (The Patriarchate of the Rum, as Orthodox Christians are called in Turkey), recognizing its de facto legal status. It should also be noted that with this ruling, the Buyukada court overturns a previous decision of 27 June 2005, with which, and at the request of the Directorate of Religious Foundations, all property rights to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople over the orphanage were removed.

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The Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos

This feast of the Protection of the Theotokos is neither one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church nor is it a commemoration of any events in the earthly lives of our Lord or His Mother. So why does the Orthodox Church here in twenty-first-century North America keep this feast?

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Ground Zero mosque…

As sympathetic as I am toward opponents of the proposed Ground Zero mosque, I don’t think they realize how fortunate they are to be able to voice their opinions.

Eastern Christians have never had such luxury. The former cradle of Christianity is now filled with mosques. Many were originally our churches, and were taken as spoils of conquest. Consider Hagia Sophia, the Church of Holy Wisdom. Built in the seventh century, this magnificent temple was later visited by emissaries of the Russian Prince Vladimir, a pagan seeking a new faith. “We knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth,” the delegates reported, adding, “we know only that God dwells there among men.” Hagia Sophia was the Patriarch of Constantinople’s cathedral for a thousand years, until 1453. Then, after generations of effort, the Turks sacked the capital, extinguishing Eastern Christendom’s temporal glory and throwing millions of Orthodox Christians into centuries of darkness.

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