The Lost Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople

One of the most noteworthy of the lost churches of Constantinople is the Church of the Holy Apostles.  In this particular instance, the fate of the Holy Apostles had less to do with the Ottoman conquest of the city, and instead suffered a similar fate to that of the old Constantinian basilica of St. Peter's: dilapidation.

The original church was constructed in the fourth century and after the conquest of the city in the fifteenth century, for a brief time it, rather than Hagia Sophia, became the seat of the Archbishop of Constantinople, being the second largest and most important basilica in the city. However, that arrangement only lasted a few years before it finally had to be abandoned before it was finally demolished by the Ottomans to make way for a new structure. 

As mentioned, the original structure was dated to A.D. 330, having been initially constructed under the patronage of the Emperor Constantine, however it remained incomplete by his death seven years later, and was finally completed under his son and successor, Constantinius II who buried Constantine within it. The emperor had intended to gather relics of all twelve of the apostles within this church though that plan never materialized. 

By the time of the Emperor Justinian in the sixth century, the original Constantinian church made way for a new construction on the same site under the same dedication to the Holy Apostles. This church was dedicated in A.D. 550 and the relics of Constantine, St. Luke, St. Andrew and St. Timothy were re-installed within, along with a mausoleum for Justinian and his family.  Eventually further relics would be added, including the purported column of Christ's flagellation, the relics of St John Chrysostom (one time Archbishop of Constantinople) as well as other fathers, saints and martyrs and many emperors and  patriarchs were buried here.

The plan of Justinian's church came in the form of a cross surmounted by five domes. 

A model attempting to reconstruct the exterior of the Church of the Holy Apostles

An illumination from the 10th century Menologion of Basil II showing the relics of St. Luke with the Church of the Holy Apostles seen behind. 

The contemporary sixth century historian Procopius (+565) describes the church as being of a cross plan lined by columns and that "at about the middle, there was set aside a place which may not be entered by those who may not celebrate the mysteries; this with good reason they call the 'sanctuary.'"

A theoretical reconstruction of the interior of Holy Apostles by Dr. Nikolaos Karydis (Source)

The Church of the Holy Apostles stood for another 700 years as the second most important church in the Eastern Roman imperial capital in one of the busiest parts of the city. Regrettably in the thirteenth century, the church was subject to plundering by some of the armies of the Fourth Crusade and by the 1300's the church was starting to fall into decay, finally being demolished by the Ottoman's in 1462.

Various important churches in Christendom took Holy Apostles as their model, including St. Mark's Basilica in Venice. 

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