Church of the Holy Apostles

Istanbul, Turkey

Church of the Holy Apostles

The Church of the Holy Apostles (Greek: ß╝Ź╬│╬╣╬┐╬╣ ß╝ł¤Ç¤î¤â¤ä╬┐╬╗╬┐╬╣, Agioi Apostoloi; Turkish: Havariyyun Kilisesi), also known as the Imperial Poly├índreion (imperial cemetery), was a Greek Eastern Orthodox church in Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. The first structure dates to the 4th century, though future emperors would add to and improve upon it. It was second in size and importance only to the Hagia Sophia among the great churches of the capital. When Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the Holy Apostles briefly became the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church. Three years later the edifice, which was in a dilapidated state, was abandoned by the Patriarch, and the patriarchate was moved to the Pammakaristos Church. In 1461, the church of the Holy Apostles was demolished by the Ottomans to make way for the Fatih Mosque.

The original church of the Holy Apostles was dedicated in about 330 by Constantine the Great, the founder of Constantinople, the new capital of the Roman Empire. The church was unfinished when Constantine died in 337, and it was brought to completion by his son and successor Constantius II, who buried his father's remains there. The church was dedicated to the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and it was the Emperor's intention to gather relics of all the Apostles in the church. For this undertaking, only relics of Saint Andrew, Saint Luke and Saint Timothy (the latter two not strictly apostles) were acquired, and in later centuries it came to be assumed that the church was dedicated to these three only.

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