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  Hagia Eirene Church

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Hagia Eirene Church
Theophanes, Codinus and other historians attribute the founding of the church of Hagia Eirene to Constantine the Great. The historian Socrates, however, mentions that an earlier small church was rebuilt larger by the Emperor, who named it Hagia Eirene. From Constantine to Justinian this church was considered as the most important one in Constantinople. A source of later date, the "Life of St. Stephen the Younger", written in 808, records that the Second Ecumenical Council, which in 381 condemned Macedonius the Pneumatomachian and proclaimed the dogma of the consubstantiality of the Holy Trinity, was held in Hagia Eirene.
The church of Hagia Eirene shared the fate of the famous church of Hagia Sophia. Besides, both stood within the same precincts, to the east of the Emperor s Sacred Palace, and were in effect separated by the building of the benevolent institution known as Hospice of Samsom The "narrative" of the construction of Hagia Sophia mentions that Bishop Nectarius (381-397) was forced to transfer his see to Hagia Eirene and stay there, when in 397 the Arians burned the roof of Hagia Sophia. Before long, in September 404, the angry mob of Christians protesting against the second banishment of John Chrysostom burned the whole building to the ground. Until 415, when Hagia Sophia was rebuilt, Hagia Eirene was the see of the Bishop of Constantinople.
Gutted by fire during the Nika revolt, the church of Hagia Eirene was rebuilt by Justinian. Its size was such that, as recorded by the historian Procopius, Constantinople had no churches larger than the Hagia Eirene and the Hagia Sophia. In 564 a new fire destroyed the atrium and the narthex, which were immediately restored. In 738 the church was severely damaged by an earth-quake and restored. In 867 the Patriarch Ignatius convoked in this church a council against his opponent Photius. It is also known that the Ecumenical Patriarch officiated here except on the occasion of great celebrations and ceremonies attended by the Emperor, when he conducted the Liturgy at Hagia Sophia. Hence, most of the chroniclers and historians of the time refer to Hagia Eirene as "the Patriarchate".
The church of Hagia Eirene was never converted into a mosque. Since, however, it stood within the enclosure of the Saray and next to the barracks of the Janissaries it served for a long time as an arsenal. In 1846 it became a Museum of Antiquities and in 1874 a Military Museum. In 1946 the collections of armaments were removed and archaeological excavations were begun. Remains of two ancient temples, dedicated to Apollo and Aphrodite, have been discovered within and around the church.
In its present condition the monument is assignable to the age of Justinian. In fact, the column capitals have preserved the monograms of Justinian and Theodora. The plan is that of a basilica with dome, i.e. of the well-known transitional type after the model of Hagia Sophia.

The synthronon has survived along the semicircular wall of the apse. The atrium was drastically altered at times, but its basic lay-out is that of the 8th century. To the west there are some Turkish constructions. The decorations of later date on the exterior of the north entrance and an idyllic 19th century scenery painted in the narthex are also Turkish .
Scant remains of wall mosaics are visible at places, particularly on the triumphal arch. while the far end of the diakonikon has preserved a wall painting of two saints with ruined faces.
On the half-dome of the apse, the clear outline of a large cross on a three-stepped base has survived from the Iconoclast period. Two inscriptions with verses from the Psalms of David on the triumphal arch are probably of the 6th century.
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