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November 26, 2018

Commemoration of the Consecration of the Church of Saint George in Kyparission

Sketch of the church from 1877.

On November 11th the Orthodox Church commemorates the Church of Saint George in Kyparission. According to the Patmian Codex 266, the consecration of this church took place on April 24th. It is not known in what year this took place.

The Church of Saint George in Kyparission was located in the Psamatheia quarter of Constantinople, otherwise known as Ypsomatheion, and which today is called Samatya, located along the Marmara Sea, in the southwestern side of Constantinople. In 383, the first monastic institution was established in Constantinople, at Psamatheia, at that time still outside the walled city.

The church was associated with the Roman public servant and historian Michael Attaleiates, who had his family tomb there. Attaleiates probably died around 1080, shortly before the beginning of the Komnenian era. He was outlived by his son Theodore, who died sometime before 1085. Their bodies, along with those of the judge's two wives, Irene and Sophia, were put to rest on the grounds of the Church of Saint George in Kyparission. This was the area where the family's Constantinopolitan estates were likely clustered, close to the monastery of Christ Panoikteirmon, of which the Attaleiatai were patrons.

In the Synaxarion of Constantinople, we are informed that the Holy Martyrs Zenonos, Zeno and Christopher were celebrated in this church.

It is known as Kyparission, which means Cypresses, because there used to be a large cypress tree in the courtyard of the church, but it went down in flames along with the church in 1782. Patriarch Konstantios (1830-1834) rebuilt the church and planted a new cypress tree.

One may still visit the Church of Saint George (Aya Yorgi Kiparisa Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi, or Samatya Aya Yorgi Rum Ortodoks Kilisesi), which today, after two fires and extensive reconstruction, bears no resemblance to the church of Attaleiates' day. Though it has no parishioners, the Ecumenical Patriarch celebrates the Divine Liturgy there once a year.