Today marks the 561st anniversary, according to the new calendar, of the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks and thus ushering in of centuries of persecution and martyrdom for thousands of Orthodox Christians under the Turkish Yoke.
Greeks and Latins alike, crowded into the great church to pray together for their deliverance. Common fear and common danger worked more of a wonder than all the councils of the church. Orthodox bishops, priests and monks who had loudly protested that they would never again set foot in their cathedral until it had been purged of the Roman pollution, now came to the altar to join their Catholic brethren in the holy liturgy.
Among the celebrants was Cardinal Isidore, whom many of the faithful had branded a traitor and a heretic. The Emperor Constantine came to pray and to ask forgiveness and remission of his sins from every bishop present before receiving communion at the altar. The priest who gave him the sacrament cannot have known that he was administering the last rites to the last Christian Emperor of the Romans.
The last Roman Emperor, the Blessed Great Martyr Constantine XI (Paleologos) died defending the imperial city and the Great Church. Blessed Constantine, and all the New-Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke, pray to God for us.