554 years ago today

The New Rome fell. Go read Paul Cella’s moving account of the fall of Byzantium.

One thing he wrote is particularly apt in this age of schism upon schism:

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.

Only when all material hope was lost did East and West reconcile. In the heat of battle, in the midst of struggle, petty divisions (and some not-so-petty ones) have a way of disappearing. I wonder if it will take more serious persecution again for us to realize that what we share–the Christian faith–outweighs disputes over the procession of the Holy Spirit, the charism of the Pope, or the nature of Original Sin.


1 Response to “554 years ago today”

  1. 1 Richard Barrett June 6, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    An honest, detailed historical epic on the fall of Constantinople–done on the scale of Gladiator or something like that–could potentially be one of the most captivating films ever made. It could also potentially be one of the most reviled films ever made–I’m guessing the honesty wouldn’t go over well in today’s politically correct world.


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