|The Fall of Constantinople - 1453|
|Written by Sherry|
|Tuesday, 29 May 2007 13:25|
Today is the 554th anniversary of the fall of Constantinople to the Turks and Paul J. Cella III pays homage here.
As he points out, at that moment, the centuries of bitterness between Greek and Latin Christians simply evaporated:
A mass was said at Holy Wisdom on Monday, May 28; at last, in this final hour, Catholic and Orthodox joined together in worship of the Risen Lord. Greeks who had sworn oaths never to darken the doors of a church contaminated by Romish heretics heard liturgy next to Italians who had declared the Orthodox more loathsome than the infidel Turk. There, in that last agony of the Roman Empire, Christendom was unified, and the Church breathed with both her lungs. There, in the person of the ragged remnants of Constantinople's defenders, the sons of the Church Universal joined in true fellowship. There, in this greatest of tragedies, and only at the bitter end, was a true Christian brotherhood of Greece and Rome.
The lineaments of the Emperor's final speech are known to us. John Julius Norwich gives us perhaps the most moving construal:
He spoke first to his Greek subjects, telling them that there were four great causes for which a man should be ready to die: his faith, his country, his family and his sovereign. They must now be prepared to give their lives for all four. He for his part would willingly sacrifice his own for his faith, his city and his people. They were a great and noble people, the descendents of the heroes of ancient Greece and Rome, and he had no doubt that they would prove themselves worthy of their forefathers in the defense of their city, in which the infidel Sultan wished to seat his false prophet on the throne of Jesus Christ. Turning to the Italians, he thanked them for all that they had done and assured them of his love and trust in the dangers that lay ahead. They and the Greeks were now one people, united in God; with his help they would be victorious. Finally he walked slowly round the room, speaking to each man in turn and begging forgiveness if he ever caused him any offense.
Why must we wait for the bitter end to embrace our brothers and sisters?