On Sunday, May 29, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. EST, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and Saint Photios National Shrine will present the Shrine’s Third Annual Commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople.
The video presentation, hosted by Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, the Hierarchal Proistamenos of the Shrine, is titled, “The Last Emperor of Byzantium – Constantine XI Palaiologos.”
The virtual event is taking place on Facebook.
Besieged by the Ottomans, Constantinople and a few remaining lands of the Roman (Byzantine) Empire was led by the Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos, successor to the founder of the capital over a thousand years earlier, Emperor and Saint Constantine the Great. With the breach of the city walls that had protected the city for over a millennium, the Emperor and defenders consisting of Greeks, Genoans and others were finally vanquished.
The annual commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople is not only a remembrance of the fall of the capital of the Roman Empire on May 29, 1453 by the Ottomans who finally took the “Queen of Cities” established by Saint Constantine the Great some eleven centuries earlier. It is also a celebration of Byzantine culture and the Hellenic culture that sprang from this pivotal event in world history.
In conjunction with the annual commemoration of the Fall of Constantinople, the Saint Photios Greek Orthodox National Shrine held its Second Annual Drawing Competition, which was open to children ages 9-12 of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Participants submitted drawings of the last Byzantine Emperor, successor not only to the great saint whose name he bore, but also to the final dynasty of emperors who, even as their Empire was slowly declining, oversaw a resurgence in ecclesiastical art and theology.
The Winner will be announced on May 29, 2022 during the annual Fall of Constantinople Commemoration of the St. Photios National Shrine.
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos was appointed Hierarch Proistamenos of the Saint Photios Shrine in 2019. For many years he organized and produced a similar commemorative program, unique in the Archdiocese of America, when serving as Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Chicago.
Is The Pappas Post worth $5 a month for all of the content you read? On any given month, we publish dozens of articles that educate, inform, entertain, inspire and enrich thousands who read The Pappas Post. I’m asking those who frequent the site to chip in and help keep the quality of our content high — and free. Click here and start your monthly or annual support today. If you choose to pay (a) $5/month or more or (b) $50/year or more then you will be able to browse our site completely ad-free!
Click here if you would like to subscribe to The Pappas Post Weekly News Update
As war rages in Ukraine, the anniversary of a catastrophic event for the Christian world – specifically
that of the Eastern Orthodox Church – is upon us. That event took place 569 years ago on May 29,
1453. It is an event little noted or remembered in the Western world, yet it almost resulted in the
downfall of Western Civilization. Only the bravery and tenacity of the Orthodox Christians of the
Balkans and a brave and wise Polish king and his cavalry prevented the total fall of Western
Civilization that began that May 29, 1453. That catastrophe, that slaughter, which nearly ended
Western Civilization and did little or nothing for the victorious Muslim Ottoman Turks, still haunts the
In Ukraine the battle is also religious, between Ukrainian Orthodox Christians and the Russian
Orthodox Patriarch. Defending the Ukrainian Orthodox faithful is the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of
The disaster to which I refer is the Fall of Constantinople, “The City” (in Greek “ steen polis” – where the
Turks get “Istanbul”) to the Ottoman Turks. It is only one of two nations’ capitals still occupied by the
conquering enemy. In 1453 it was the Ottoman Turks at Constantinople. In 1974 it was the Turkish
Army’s invasion of Cyprus and part of its capital, Nicosia. Now, the new “Ottoman Emperor” want-to-be, Mr. Erdogan, as well as the new “Russian Czar” want-to-be, Mr. Putin, and the Patriarch of Russia – who wants to be head of all the Eastern Orthodox Churches and have Moscow be considered “The Third Rome” after Rome and Constantinople – are ganging up on the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, which the West ignores.
What has caused the ire of the Russian Patriarch – Putin’s puppet – and Putin himself is the fact that
Patriarch Bartholomew has granted the Ukrainian Orthodox Church its independence, autocephaly,
from the Russian Patriarch. This action gives further fallacy to Putin’s fantasy that Ukraine is not – nor
ever has been -an independent nation.
For Erdogan the goal is to divide and destroy the Orthodox Church because it is the mainstay, the
bulwark, against Turkish dominance and return to the Balkans in strength. And, 569 years after
Constantinople was conquered through slaughter, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch remains resolute in
his small corner of occupied Constantinople.
While not using military force, Erdogan is using economics and threats of more refugees to be
unleashed on the Balkan E.U. nations, specifically Greece. It is his way of destabilizing the region. For
Putin, Erdogan’s actions stir a hornet’s nest in an area well known for inter-ethnic religious wars. The
U.S. and NATO still have troops in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina three decades after NATO’s war
against Serbia. Northern Macedonia has its issues between Muslims and Christians. Kosovo
continues to be unsettled and prone to regional violence and the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from
Kosovo. Bosnia, well, that is one big mess that may soon divide into three. Wouldn’t it be something if
NATO had to worry about its southern borders and stay another three decades?
Westerners, should they even know of the event, must wonder how and why people in the 21st
century would care about something that happened 569 ago. Greeks care because they know that it
presaged nearly 400 years of slavery and subjugation to a brutal and inept, uncaring regime.
Tragically it saw the theft, and blasphemous use, of the greatest cathedral in the Western world at the
time – Hagia Sophia – as a mosque and then turned into a museum. And now, Erdogan has turned it
back into a mosque for political benefit. Finally – one hundred years ago – the ethnic cleansing of Asia
Minor of almost all its Greek and Armenian Christians by the modern Turkish nation began.
Greece now accepts as refugees the same people – the Kurds – that helped Turkey destroy Greek and
Armenian Christian communities in Asia Minor. That’s because the Turks, having removed everyone
else not Turkish from occupied Asia Minor, are now trying to eliminate the Kurdish language and
culture in Turkey and destroy the free Kurds in Kurdistan, Northern Iraq. Erdogan is also now
threatening Swedish and Finnish entry into NATO, at the same time he buys anti-aircraft weapons
from Russia, which will be a security nightmare for NATO air forces.
And someone might inform Mr. Putin that Odessa, in the Crimea, was first Greek, with an ancient
Greek settlement from the middle of the 6th century B.C. and that its name comes from the ancient
Greek city of Odessos. Later Odessa was a place of refuge for the Greeks that survived the slaughter
that came from the conquering of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Eventually it was an
Ottoman Turkish outpost – where they could capture European Christians to be slaves in Harems or
rowers in slave ships – and finally Russian after the Russo-Turkish War in 1792. In 1795 the German
born Russian Czarina, Catherine the Great, established the city using “The Greek Plan”.
The people of Ukraine are suffering, and very soon so many of the world’s food challenged will be
suffering as well, due to a narcissistic megalomaniac who wants to recreate the Russian Empire and a
sort-of sidekick who wants to recreate the Ottoman Empire. Unlike at Constantinople on May 29,
1453, the Western world has finally seen the threat and is reacting and has come to Ukraine’s
defense. Of sorts. How long the West will be willing to continue the cause and when they will perceive
that cost to be too high, only time will tell.
The Ottomans continued successfully until Vienna in 1683. That was the Ottoman high water mark.
The Western Christians – Lutherans and Roman Catholics – had come together to save the West. The
Greek and other Balkan Orthodox Christians were left to suffer until 1821 when Greeks rose up –
again – and gained their freedom. There would be wars between Ottoman Turks and the Russian
Empire which continued until the Crimean War, which Russia lost and which depleted its army. It also
saw Russian naval vessels banned from ports in the Black Sea. A possible outcome for soon to be
defeated Russian forces?
Forgetting or ignoring history can come back and bite one. Putin, Erdogan, and we in the West had
best remember this. And how the Fall of Constantinople 569 years ago still impacts us all.