The Church of the Holy Apostles of Constantinople (AD 330)
In 330, Constantine the Great initiated the building of the Church of the Holy Apostles dedicated to the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. His ultimate intention was to gather the physical remains of the twelve and place them inside the church.
The Church of the Holy Apostles was unfinished at Constantine’s death in 337, but was completed by his son Constantius II. The Church of the Holy Apostles was second in size and importance only to the Church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) among Constantinople’s great churches.
The original Church of the Holy Apostle was built in a cross shape, which was a major development in Christian architecture. During the 300s and 400s, numerous cross-shaped churches were built imitating the Church of the Holy Apostles.
Emperor Justinian rebuilt the cross-shaped church with five domes. It was dedicated on June 29, 550. Many bishops and emperors have been buried (or their physical remains were placed) in the church, including the apostle Andrew, Luke, Timothy, Constantine the Great, John Chrysostom, and Justinian. In 1204, the Roman Catholic crusaders stole the gold and gems found in the church’s sarcophagi. After the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II turned the Church of the Holy Apostles into the Fatih Mosque (Mosque of the Conqueror), which today contains his tomb.