Writer in Residence – The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) Part Two by Paul Andruss

Today part two of the story of The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) from Paul Andruss.  As with any legend, there is usually some variations on the origins and plenty of embellishments by later historians, that need to be resolved. Paul takes on the task and unravels the stories to reveal the probable truth behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor.. and his mother Helena.

Part one can be found here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/writer-in-residence-the-thirteenth-apostle-and-his-mum-by-paul-andruss/

The Thirteenth Apostle – Constantine the Great by Paul Andruss.

Statue of Constantine the Great at York (source: schoolworkhelper)

If Constantine’s attitude to religion was ambiguous, the same could not be said for his choice of Byzantium, which he renamed Constantinople. Rome had long been abandoned by the emperors. It was too out of the way for armies constantly on the move. Plus emperors were usually upstarts. The ancient snobbish Roman nobility had a far stronger claim. Better to leave them squabbling among themselves as they would over the Papacy all through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Byzantium was a perfect choice. Already a thousand years old it was in the heart of Rome’s richest provinces and close to the Rome’s traditional enemy, the Persian Empire. It straddled the continents of Europe and Asia and was an easily defensible peninsula with a deep natural harbour controlling trade between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Although we think of this period as the beginning of the Byzantine Empire, its inhabitants always referred to themselves as Romanoi.

Constantine set about making it the glory of the world, the new Rome and the Mother of Cities. Its modern name Istanbul originated from a Medieval Greek phrase meaning ‘in THE CITY’, for as the largest metropolis in the classical world for a millennium it needed no other name.

Leaving nothing to chance Constantine consulted pagan soothsayers to determine an auspicious day to mark out his new city with the tip of his spear. The limit of the city walls enclosed an area more than five times greater than the existing town of Byzantium. With no doubt his entourage paling, Constantine announced he wanted it complete for his silver jubilee, a year and a half hence.

At the heart of the city was the Milion, the milestone from which distances all over the empire were measured. Within the surrounding structure, of four triumphal arches supporting a cupola, he placed the true cross recently sent from Jerusalem. To the east rose his first great church, still standing today, dedicated to the Holy Peace of God or the Hagia Eirene (St Irene). Ironic really considering the Empress Irene, some four centuries later blinded, imprisoned and then murdered her son to retain power.

Constantine’s Church of Hagia Eirene (Source: the history hub)
By his Imperial Palace Constantine built a chariot racing track, the Hippodrome. He decorated it with the ancient bronze serpent column from the shrine of the Oracle at Delphi, the most sacred place in the pagan world. And it did not stop there. Every city in the empire had its statues and artworks looted to beautify the new capital.
 Serpent Column reconstructed from public domain photos (Wikipedia – Andruss)

Hippodrome of Constantinople 1727 showing the Blue Mosque, Serpent Column & Obelisk of Theodosius (Aubry de la Mottraye. Source: Wikipedia)

From the Egyptian holy city of Heliopolis came a 100 foot high porphyry column. It stood on a twenty foot high marble base that held the pot of oil Mary Magdalene used to anoint Jesus, the baskets from the miracle of loaves and fishes, the hatchet Noah used to build the ark, and the Palladium, an ancient wooden statue of Athena that Aeneas had brought from the burning ruins of Troy: it was the most sacred object in ancient Rome. Topping this remarkable confection stood a statue of Constantine dressed as Sol Invictus.

Constantine Column (1912) reconstructed with original sketch (Photos in Public domain Wikipedia- Andruss)

In 337 AD, Constantine died after a reign of 31 years. His was the longest reign since the original Emperor Augustus three centuries before. He was placed in a gold coffin draped in purple and lay in state in his palace for three and a half months.

Constantine had planned his funeral down to the last detail. He was carried in procession around his beloved city; his funeral cortege headed by his son and heir with an army in full battle dress. Then came the gold coffin flanked by spearmen and infantry and after followed by the court and citizens in deepest mourning.

Constantine was laid to rest in his gorgeous new Church of the Holy Apostles. The interior was richly inlaid with coloured marble, while the outside was clad in polished brass and adorned with gold, to reflect the sun and dazzle the beholder. The emperor was put in a huge ornate tomb in the centre flanked on each side by 6 sarcophagi each containing the relics of one of Christ’s apostles, scoured from the four corners of the earth.

In life Constantine revelled in the title he had awarded himself ‘Equal of the Apostles’, in death the position and grandeur of this tomb seemed to suggest that rather than an equal, he was, in fact, their superior.

Two hundred years later Constantine’s Church of the Holy Apostles was entirely remodelled by the Emperor Justinian. It stood until it was looted by crusaders in the fourth Crusade. Today not a trace remains of Constantine’s tomb or the surrounding sarcophagi of the apostles.

Sic transit Gloria mundi. (So passes worldly glory.)

My foot!

Colossus of Constantine fragments in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, (source: LegionXXIV)

©Paul Andruss

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is a modest but very talented author and he has two books currently available. Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

I have read and reviewed Thomas the Rhymer earlier in the year, and here is the link to download the epub version of the books for FREE.

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

Paul also has a pdf file available and you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.

You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options at this link. http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

It would be amazing if you do download and enjoy the book as much as I did. If so then it would be great if you could put a review on Amazon by adding in a sentence at the beginning – Disclaimer: I was gifted with a copy of this book from the author..  Or you can leave a review on Facebook and tag Paul in the post by using his full name Paul George Boylan.

Finn Mac Cool

Paul’s second books is Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally

37 thoughts on “Writer in Residence – The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) Part Two by Paul Andruss

  1. Pingback: The Thirteenth Apostle Part Two by Paul Andruss – The Militant Negro™

    • Hi Robbie, over preserving the body. There are a number of things.
      Firstly he might have lain in state inside a sealed coffin in which case no preservation was necessary. This is the simplest explanation and probably the most logical. Otherwise it would have been mentioned Constantine was laid to rest inside a coffin with a window (the Romans had glass) so that his miraculously preserved remains could be viewed. This was not mentioned.
      The incorruptibility of saints’ was a big thing because it showed their sanctity & Constantine would have been a prime candidate. According to the Vatican his mother’s remains have been preserved as a mummy: The remains were recently loaned to Athens where they caused a lot of excitement.
      The Egyptian techniques of mummification never really died out. That involved pickling the body in salt, or even baking hot sand after removing the internal organs, to remove moisture.
      The ancient Persians embalmed using honey which would act as an antibacterial and also help dry out the body: but there was probably more to it than just that: probably hot sand again or smoke. Darius the Great was so preserved for some 200 years and visited by the Persian Kings until his tomb was looted by Alexander the Great.
      The body cavity might have been stuffed with Naptha to dry and preserve it: a crude oil based product used in mothballs originally but no longer because it is carcinogenic. A couple of hundred years later the Greeks invented Greek Fire used with great success on enemies fleets: a flammable liquid they fired from siphons. It burned on water. It probably contained Naphta and other stuff. (The recipe was a state secret).
      Once the body was stable and the skin washed and ‘disinfected’ perhaps by smoking (like a kipper or a ham) then a portrait would be moulded over the face using encaustic wax. It is basically boiling wax which is coloured with pigments. Roman religion had an element of ancestor worship and death masks were taken and hung in the house so the ancestors watched over you. 2nd & 3 Century beautifully preserved life- like portraits still exist from Christian (Roman) Egypt and show what artists could do with this technique. Egypt of course was part of the Roman then Byzantium Empire until the rise of Islam some 250 years later.
      Hope that helps. Px

      I think. Mummification from

      Liked by 3 people

      • After that Vegetarian is a wise choice… just nothing pickled like gerkins. Loved your comment on embalming no longer being needed due to the high levels of preservatives. it would not surprise me!!! PXXXXX

        Liked by 2 people

      • Commenting late, Paul, but I am AMAZED at how much you have researched (and know) about the ancients. Is this all background research for an upcoming book? From reading the comments it seems that you have done a lot of this research by visiting the places you write about. I am impressed (and jealous – lol).

        I agree with Robbie about the loss due to looting (aka human GREED) – but what’s even sadder to me are the losses to vandalism and the deliberate destruction during wartime.

        I love your posts – you add so much to my knowledge base, in arenas I wouldn’t otherwise know much of anything at all. Thank you SO much! (Enjoy the quirky brand of humor you sneak in here and there a bunch too.) 🙂
        (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
        ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
        “It takes a village to educate a world!”

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating post, Paul. The complete disappearance of his tomb made me think of the folly of ego and world conquest… dust to dust in the end. And Empress Irene? Wow, she was something else. I can’t even imagine that story. The lust for power has a long history of ruthlessness, it seems. Have a great weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Shey. Byzantium is such a fascinating empire. We really do not give it enough consideration. It actually lasted longer than the Empire based in Rome, although they would have said it was the same one…Lasting from about 325 to about 1450 and withstanding some pretty perfidious stuff by the Venetians and the crusaders until it fell to the Ottomans using the newly introduced Cannon. I have been to Istanbul and seen the cannon ball holes in the city walls alongside the Bosphorus. In fact maybe I should just change the the name of my blog to Sailing to Byzantium – there are more than enough posts to last a couple of lifetimes!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Brigid, the problem with treasure is that is is valuable therefore a lot of exquisite art was melted down to be stamped into coins to pay the mercenaries who looted Constantinople. The Brass horses from the Hippodrome and a lot of other treasures were looted by the Venetians (they adorn St Marks) after they came up with a plan to drop the crusaders (4th Crusade) off in Christian Constantinople to loot and pillage there instead of the Holy Land (in the hands of the Muslims and the original target).
      The city because a Crusader state for some 50 years before the Byzantium took back control – lasting for another century.
      If you can go then go, it is a stunning city. The place to stay is the Sutlanamhet area which is basically the old imperial palace. You are between the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and the Top Kapi Palace. It is magical – we sat in a Tea garden(Cay Bahcesi) next to the Top kapi (literally Ball Door) overlooking the Bosphorus drinking turkish tea (fab stuff) for a Lira a glass (about 10p now). We stayed in a mid price hotel and there was a window at the end of the corridor looking out on St Irene and Hagia (the G is silent so it is Hi-ya) Sophia (Sacred Knowledge). The Istanbulians are lovely people. If you do go give me a shout and I will give you some tips about cheap ways to see places. Like a Bosphorus ferry instead of an expensive day trip and using the trams. Px

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Fascinating post, Paul. I saved it until the end of the day so I could read it without any distractions. I really enjoyed it and have also enjoyed reading the comments and conversation which followed. That Empress Irene sounds even worse than my stepmonster!
    I’ve visited Istanbul once but only for a couple of days and although we packed in as much as we could I really want to go back some day.
    Our arrival in the city was very strange. We checked into our hotel and as we turned to go through the lobby towards our room the people watching television all stared at us. One finally asked, “You are British?” When we said we were he said, “Oh, so, so sorry.” We didn’t know what he was talking about until we looked at the television which was broadcasting news of the London Tube bombing. As we’d been travelling all day we knew nothing about it. Now, whenever I hear anythign about that event, my find flies off to Istanbul – the two are inextricably linked for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am sorry Mary but you are wrong- every Byzantine scholar I consulted over this post categorically said your stepmother was worse! it is funny how events like that stay in our memories and define paces for us. Px

      Liked by 1 person

    • By either side Tina!!! This was mainly due to Constantine being in absolute control and the Christian churches being divided even quite locally: hence the Nicene Council – which is talked up but didn’t achieve the peace he hoped between warring factions.
      I think in our post Christian world (don’t know if that is either fair or accurate) we see the social impact of the religion as all pervading because in Europe (and the US) Christianity triumphed across the board. But it didn’t happen all at once. There were incremental steps as Christianity slowly absorbed pagan traditions. Part of the reason why it suited rulers to unite people under the banner of a common religion was the thousand years of war between the Ottoman Empire and Europe and then as that started to fade came the rise Papacy and the Reformation ( this is really the time when witchcraft was seriously persecuted: by both Catholics and Protestants) and the beginnings of national identity. As that settled there came the political rise of the super powers: United States and the British and European Empires- by that time Christianity had largely won in the West after 1700 years (That’s a real crude overview).
      The Victorian Era attempted to complete the social and political christianisation of society: they were much more aware of social control and scared of revolution. But before that (as we all know and still today we have various beliefs surviving even with a christian veneer) many christian and pagan ceremonies ran side by side by the simple expedient of converting the gods to saints.
      In the 1100s in Byzantium (700 years later) pagan and christian ceremonies happily co-existed in the Imperial Court as the Emperor not the patriarch was still the true leader of the orthodox church. In education the emphasis was still on the Classical myth and pagan philosophers. Basic education consisted of learning the whole of Homer by heart. One Emperor used to set obscure questions from Greek and Roman Mythology and promote those who could answer them!

      (Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I really like Byzantium don’t I why couldn’t I have wasted my youth playing pool like someone normal!!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Why? Because your thirst for knowledge would not be denied! And that’s a good thing. You’re a walking encyclopedia on, oh, so many subjects ~ subjects that pique our interest, educate, and thoroughly entertain. We would not want a pool shark in lieu of a scholar 🙂
        It’s fascinating how those in power, to this day, continue to attempt merging church and state, knowing full well history has proved, time and again, that it doesn’t work. The Council of Nicaea is also a fascinating phenomenon. Most Christians are unaware that the bible was created for this purpose, and centuries after the death of Christ.
        See what I mean? Your posts are thought-provoking. I’d much rather this than playing pool ~ the fact that I’m not very good at it, aside 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – ABBA, Constantine The Great and Brown Rice! | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  5. Pingback: Writing Links…11/20/17 – Where Genres Collide

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