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December 7, 2019

Consecration of the Church of the Theotokos in Kouratoros

Balaban Aga Mosque

The Synaxarion of Constantinople has for commemoration on December 7th the consecration of the Church of the Theotokos in the Kouratoros (Curator) district of Constantinople, near the Taurus Forum. According to the Patria, the foundation of the Church of the Theotokos in the Kouratoros is ascribed to Verina, the consort of Emperor Leo I the Thracian (457-474). Two other churches dedicated to the Theotokos, Blachernae and Chalkoprateia, were also built under the patronage of Verina. Along with the Martyrium of Karpos and Papylos, the Church of the Theotokos in the Kouratoros was built to resemble the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and was therefore circular. Enshrined within this church were the sacred relics of Saint Lazarus the friend of Christ together with his sisters Mary and Martha, which were translated to the Monastery of Saint Lazarus under Emperor Leo VI the Wise in 900. Some believe the present Balaban Aga Mosque is the Church of the Theotokos in the Kouratoros, because it stands in the area where the church is said to have stood, but the mosque is hexagonal and likely was just a monastery library or a building for some other use during Roman times probably associated with the Church of the Theotokos in the Kouratoros.