Commemorated on May 29
On this date in 1453, Constantinople, the capital city of the
Christian world, was sacked by the forces of Sultan Mehmet (Mohammed) II,
bringing it under Turkish rule, where it remains to this day.
Constantine XII, the last Byzantine Emperor, died defending the city. Sources
are sharply divided as to whether he is to be counted as a Christian Martyr. The
designation "Blessed Constantine", above, is from the St Herman
Calendar, whose compilers cite Russian martyrologies which list him as a
saint. However, the Prologue cites the fall of
Constantinople while pointedly omitting any praise of Constantine. He accepted
(and never publicly renounced) the false "union" of Florence, and so is counted
by some as a heretic. Many Orthodox Christians, including many of the people of
Constantinople, saw the city's fall as divine retribution for the Empire's
acceptance of the union.
Before his death the Emperor donned soldier's armor and helped to man the
ramparts of the City; his body was never found. Though various legends abound,
the most likely explanation is that he died with many other defenders and was
cast with them into a common grave.