August 16, 2018

Commemoration of the Great Earthquake at Constantinople on August 16, 542

On this day (August 16) we commemorate our compassionate assailing in the days of old, of the fearsome threat of an earthquake, from which the All-Compassionate God, in whom is all our hope, redeemed us.


Do thou cease the fear in our thoughts,
Regarding O Master the shaking, of the foundations of the earth.

On August 16, 542 an earthquake caused considerable damage in Constantinople: churches and houses collapsed and the wall was damaged, particularly in the area around the Golden Gate. The spear fell from the statue of Constantine, and apparently the hand of the statue of Xerolophus fell off too. Many people were killed and there was a state of general panic.

The sole primary source for this earthquake is Theophanes (222), who wrote:

6034: And on the 16th of August in the same indiction, the 5th, there was a great earthquake in Constantinople, and churches and houses and the wall fell, especially the part of the wall around the Golden Gate. And also the spare which the statue in the Forum of Constantine holds, fell down, and the right hand of the statue of Xerolophus. And many people died and there was great fear.