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

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Smorgasbord Reblog – The Spear of Destiny by Paul Andruss


I am delighted as always to share a post from our Writer in Residence Paul Andruss from his own site.. As usual Paul takes a seemingly cast in stone event and takes it apart to reveal what is more like to be the truth… Today the story of the centurian that pierced the side of Christ’s side at the time of the crucifixation.. There are many stories attached to the event and to the man… let’s find out more.

The Spear of Destiny by Paul Andruss

Hapsburg Lance (By Weltliche Schatzkammer Wien: source- Wikipedia)

John’s Gospel records during the crucifixion, a Roman centurion pierced Christ’s side with his spear causing blood and water to spill out of the wound. The centurion is unnamed, but tradition claims he was called Longinus. Early Christians believed he was the same centurion who saw the empty tomb after the resurrection and cried out, “Truly this man is the son of God!”

Some centuries later, Longinus had become a saint and his legend had grown. A book of saints from the 1200s, called ‘The Golden Legend’, says Longinus was blind. His sight was restored when his eyes were splashed by the blood from the wound he made in Christ’s side.

Like the story of the man, the legend of the spear had also grown. It was now called the Holy Lance or the Spear of Destiny, because some claimed it had the power to make its bearer invincible, at the price of his death and failure should he ever lose it.

A spear was first recorded by Antoninus of Piacenza in his account of a pilgrimage to the holy places of Jerusalem in around 570. In the basilica of Mount Zion he saw ‘the crown of thorns with which Our Lord was crowned and the lance with which he was struck in the side’.

The relic remained in Jerusalem until the city was sacked in 615 AD by Persian King Chosroes II. Before this, the tip of the lance was broken off and smuggled to Constantinople where it was kept with the crown of thorns in Justinian’s famous church, the Hagia Sophia.

There is some debate as to when the Crown of Thorns arrived in Constantinople. It was seen in Jerusalem in 870 by a monk called Bernard and thought to have found its way to Byzantium in 1060. At some point the rest of the Spear of Destiny also found its way to Constantinople, maybe sometime in the 800s.

Legend has it Charlemagne, 8th century King of the Franks and the first Holy Roman Emperor, crowned by the Pope, had the spear. He was supposed to have carried it into 47 battles against the Moorish invaders from Spain and died as soon as he lost the relic. Historical records dispute the legend. Unless there was a second spear doing the rounds- which is highly likely given the brisk trade in holy relics. More authentic stories say the Spear of Destiny remained in Constantinople.

Read the rest of this compelling post: http://www.paul-andruss.com/the-spear-of-destiny/

Thomas the Rhymer Finn Mac Cool

To read all of Paul’s posts for Smorgasbord and also from his archive head over to this link: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Smorgasbord Reblog – Rubicon by Paul Andruss


As always Paul Andruss can be relied on to turn something we take for granted into gold… for example most of us have heard the expression ‘Crossing the Rubicon’ and thought little of it.  However, once you read the story behind the expression… you will think a little more carefully before making that journey!

Crossing the Rubicon (Unknown)

You would be forgiven for thinking Rubicon is a bit like Comic-con, but for people who love jewellery. It isn’t.

The Rubicon was a shallow meandering river in North Italy that ran along Ancient Rome’s boundary. To prevent trouble, the Senate decreed no general could bring his legions across such borders into Roman territory.

Over a decade Julius Caesar made a fortune subduing Gaul. He slaughtered countless people, enslaved the rest and carted off everything that wasn’t nailed down. Due to some pretty fancy footwork he also made sure the plebs in Rome knew what a hero he was. (And we think self-promotion started with Facebook and Twitter!)

With Caesar’s governorship of Gaul ending, he wanted his due reward. Being elected Consul was the ultimate accolade in Roman politics. But while the people loved their dashing hero, the Senate, seething with jealousy, plotted to arrest Caesar for treason.

Caesar knew he was safe in Gaul with his legions. The Senate didn’t have anyone with the balls to seize him in front of his soldiers. And once Consul, he would also be immune from prosecution.

But , here was the rub…

Read the rest of this illuminating post that cautions against crossing the Rubicon: http://www.paul-andruss.com/rubicon/

Thomas the Rhymer

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