was the first Christian Emperor of the Roman Empire
from 306 - 337 AD. He began construction on the city of Byzantium
, later to become known as Constantinople
, the capital of the Eastern Empire
. One of Constantine's orders during the construction of the city and the Church was the creation of a communion
table of unparallelled beauty and splendour.
The merchants of the city were called upon to supply large amounts of gold and precious gems. The gold was melted down and poured into a die to cast the table. While the gold was still molten, the rubies, emeralds, and other precious gems were crushed into powder and added to the molten mixture. The result was a table of immense beauty and value. Even at that time, the table was priceless.
The table remained in the city and was later moved into the Church of Hagia Sophia, where it remained for a long stretch. During the Fourth Crusade, (The Crusade that went completely wrong), the city of Constantinople was under seige, and eventually sacked by rogue Christian Crusaders. These Crusaders were excommunicated by the Pope earlier for their deeds, and were effectively the tools of greedy Venetian merchants.
During the Seige, Hagia Sophia was pillaged, and many relics were stolen and sent back to Italy. The table was removed from the Church and put on board a Venetian ship. However, on the voyage through the Mediterannean, the ship sank, and the precious cargo was never found.
To this day, the priceless table was never recovered. Who knows, maybe it has disintegrated by now, but nonetheless, human greed has managed to destroy one of the most incredible relics ever known.