No. 258 (2020)

The nunnery of St. Andrew in Krisei[1] in Istanbul Khodja Muṣṭafā Mosque or Sünbül Efendi Mosque: a photographic, historical and bibliographical context

No. 258 (2020)

By Maria Vaiou


The east end of the church

The building is situated within the Koca Mustafa Paşa Külliyesi in Ali Fakih Mahallesi in the Fatih district. Northwest of the monastery of the Peribleptos The monastery was built by Arcadia (400–44) sister of emperor Theodosius II (d. 450), in honor of St. Andrew, founder of the church of Constantinople; the building was also called also Phodophylion. The monastery was later

converted into a nunnery. In 792 St. Philaretos of Paphlagonia bought a grave in the convent named he Krisis where he was buried and his wife too later. At a later date the nunnery was re-dedicated to St. Andrew of Crete (BHG 113), a contemporary of St. Stephen the Younger, who suffered a martyr’s death in 766, during the Iconoclast crisis, in the reign of the emperor Constantine V (741–75). It is in this church that Andrew of Crete (d.740) was buried. The Byzantine hagiographer Symeon Metaphrastes (d. 987) who wrote theLife of St. Andrew’, says that his bodywas deposited in a holy place named Krisei’. The church contains many ornamentations which date to the 6th century. In the Iconoclast controversy it sided with the iconodules and suffered damages. Restored and embellished by the emperor Basil I (867–86). Shortly after 1284 the princess Theodora Palaiologina Kantakouzene Raoulaina (d. 1300), the niece of the emperor Michael VIII (1259–82), renovated the church and restored the convent and the damages caused by the Latins during the Latin occupation. She built a shrine to commemorate the patr. Arsenius Autoreianus (d. 1273)[1] and his remains were transferred there from St. Sophia. Maximus Planoudes (d. 1305) wrote three epigrams for the church. The monastery underwent an eclipse during the Latin occupation. Empress Theodora Palaiologina (1240–1303) restored the monastery and renewed the church between ca. 1282‒9. In 1289 she offered the retired patr. George/Gregory Cyprus (1283‒9) an apartment in the monastery Aristina, which was close to the monastery of St. Andrew. Possessed a library, probably a foundation of Theodora’s. She obtained from her cousin emperor Andronicus II (1282–1328), the permission to depose the remains of patr. Arsenius in the monastery. Mentioned in patr. Acts of 1371 and 1400. Mentioned by Stephen, and the anonymous Russian. The monastery continued to function after the Turkish conquest. The church of the nunnery existed until 1489 when, in the reign of the sultan Beyazit II (1481–1512) , the grand vizier Koca Mustafa Paşa (d. 1512) converted the monastic complex into a mosque in 1486-90 known to this day by his name. The establishment of a tekke has had a huge role in the spreading of Halveti branch[2] of Sufi Islam in Istanbul. A külliye was formed by building dervish lodgings, a kitchen, an elementary school, a medrese and a bath around the converted Byzantine monastery.The final restoration works on the Tekkesi were done by the sultan Maḥmūd II (d. 1838) and Serasker Rıza Paşa (d.1920). The Archaeological Museum of Istanbul preserves a door frame from the entrance to the Byzantine monastery. In old times a chain hanging from an old cypress tree within the monastery’s enclosure was associated with a procedure in the administration of justice. Later tradition relates many instances of this peculiar way of passing judgement by the automatic lowering and raising of the chain. This form of judgement originated in Byzantium and explains the name of the locality (Krisis = judgment).

  1. G. Paspates, Byzantinai Meletai Topographikai kai Historikai (Konstantinoupolis, 1877), 318‒20; E. A. Grosvenor, Constantinople (Boston, 1899). ii, 464‒8; Janin, Les églises et les monastères de Constantinople byzantine, 2nd ed. (Paris, 1969), 28–31; idem, ‘Le couvents secondaires de Psamathia,’ EO 33 (1933), 326 – 31; Skyl., 136; T. Mathews, The Byzantine churches of Istanbul. A photographic survey (Penn State, 1976), 3‒14; G. Majeska, Russian Travelers to Constantinople in the fourteenth and fifteenth ceturies (Washington, 1984), 314‒5, n. 7, 331‒3; A. M.Talbot, ‘Building activity in Constantinople under Andronikos II: the role of women patrons in the construction and restoration of monasteries’, in N. Necipoglu (ed.),Byzantine Constantinople, Monuments, topography and everyday life (Leiden, 2001), 337‒8; eadem, ‘Bluestocking nuns: intellectual Life in the convents of late Byzantium’, in HUS 7 (1983), 604‒ 18, 611; P. Hatlie, The monks and monasteries of Constantinople, ca. 350850 (Cambridge, 2007), 458 (for period 430‒530); EPLBHC. ’Andrew of Crete, St.’, 1, 236‒7; ‘Vita of Andrew in Krisi (BHG 111)’, AASS, Oct. VIII (Paris, 1853), 135‒42; (BHG 112), PG 115, 1109‒28; J. Pargoire, ‘Constantinople. Saint-André de Crisis’, EO 13 (1910), 84‒6; A. van Millingen, Byzantine churches in Constantinople. Their history and architecture (London, 1912), 106‒21; A. Mordtmann, Equisse topographique de Constantinople (Lille, 1892), 114, 135; E. Mamboury, Constantinople, Guide Touristique (Istanbul, 1925), 223‒4; J. Ebersolt–A. Thiers, Les eglises, de Constantinople (Paris, 1913), 75‒89; S. Eyice, ‘Remarques sur deux anciennes églises byzantines: Koca Mustafa Pasa camii’, in Actes du Ixe CEB Thessalonike 1953 (Athens, 1954), i, 184‒90; idem, ‘Istanbul’ da Koca Mustafa Pasa camii ve Osmanli Türk mimarisindeki yeri’, TD 8 (1953), 153‒82; idem, Istanbul Petit guide à travers les monuments byzantins et turcs (Istanbul, 1955), 92‒3; M.-F. Auzépy, ‘La carrière d’ André de Crète’, BZ 88 (1995), 1‒12; J. Freely-A. S. Çakmak, Byzantine Monuments of İstanbul (Cambridge, 2004), 259‒64; S. Kırımtayıf, Converted Byzantine churches in İstanbul. Their transformation into mosques and masjids (İstanbul, 2001), 35‒40; N. Köseoğlu, ‘Sünbül Efendiyi Ziyaret’, TTOKB 135 (April 1935), 11‒7; Öz, Tahsin, Istanbul Camileri (Ankara, 1987), 92; N. Necipoglu, ‘Byzantine monasteries and monastic property in Thessalonike and Constantinople during the period of Ottoman conquests. (Late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries)’, JOS 15 (1995), 123-35, 132‒3; D. Nicol, The Byzantine Lady, ten portraits: 1250‒1500 (New York, 1994), 40; on the life, see G. da Costa-Louillet, ‘Saints de Constantinople’, B 24 (1954), 179–263, 214‒6, n.2; on the homilies of Andrew of Crete, see M. F Auzépy, L’ hagiographie et l’ Iconoclasme Byzantin: Le cas de la Vie d’ Étienne le Jeune (Aldershot, 1999),131‒44; J. Haldon, Byzantium in the iconoclast era c. 680850: A history (Cambridge, 2011), 206; F. Miklosich–J. Müller, Acta et diplomata Graeca Mediiaevi Acta Patriarchatus Constantinopolitani 13151402, vols 2 (Aalen, 1968), II, no 654 (June, 1401); J. Darrouzès, Les regestes des actes du patriarcat de Constantinople. I/5: Les regestes de 1310 à 1376. I/6: Les regestes de 1377 à 1410. I/7: Les regestes de 1410 à 1453. (Paris, 1977‒91), Reg. 1377 a 1410, N. 3073, 3107, 3215, 3257; Reg. 1310 a 1376, N. 2574; V. Kidonopoulos, Bauten in Konstantinopel 12041328 (Wiesbaden, 1994), 9‒10; D. Krausmüller, ‘The identity, the cult and the hagiographical dossier of Andrew in Crisei’, RSBN 43 (2006), 57‒86; S. Eyice, ‘Istanbul’da Koca Mustafa Pasa Cami’i ve onun osmanli-türk mimarisindeki yeri (Die Moschee des Kodscha Mustafa Pasche in Istanbul und ihr Platz in der osmanischtürkischen Architektur)’, Tarih Dergisi 5 (1953), 153‒82; A. M. Talbot, ‘Agricultural properties in Palaiologan Constantinople’, in A. Berger et al. (eds.), Koinotaton Doron: Das späte Byzanz zwischen Machtlosigkeit und kultureller Blüte (12041461) (Berlin, Boston, 2016), 185‒96, 188‒9; E. Mitsiou, ‘Die Netzwerke einer kulturellen Begegnung: byzantinische und lateinische Klöster in Konstantinopel im 13. und 14. Jahrhundert’, in L. Lieb, K. Oschema, J. Heil (eds.), Abrahams Erbe: Konkurrenz, Konflikt und Koexistenz der Religionen im Europäischen Mittelalter (Berlin, 2015).

[1] D. M. Nicol, The Byzantine family of Kantakouzenos (Cantacuzenus) , ca. 1100–1460: A Genealogical and Prosopographical Study (Washington DC, 1968), 17 n. 8.

[2] J. J. Curry, The transformation of Muslim mystical thought  in the Ottoman empire. The rise of the Halveti Order, 1350–1650 (Edinburgh, 2010).

[1] R. Janin, Constantinople byzantine. Développement urbain et répertoire topographique (Paris, 1964), 375.