The unluckiest church on earth
A British archaeologist has uncovered what is probably the unluckiest church in the world. The church was
wrecked by two earthquakes, a flood, and a landslide - all of which happened while it was still being
It later became an opium den and after it was abandoned most of the remains were washed
into the sea.
St Phocas' Church was founded on what is now a clifftop at the Turkish city of
Sinop, on the shores of the Black Sea, because this is where its patron saint was martyred.
site was discovered when the Sinop museum found pieces of late Roman mosaic washed up at the coastal
village of Chiftlik in the mid-1990s.
Dr Stephen Hill, from the University of Warwick, was asked
to investigate by the museum and he found not just a mosaic, but the site of a large, previously unknown
4th century church.
"It will survive into next year but its long-term future is not good. It
probably won't see too many more Friday 13ths," he said.
The church's founder, St Phocas, the
patron saint of gardeners and sailors, was a Christian hermit who dug his own grave the day before he was
martyred by Roman soldiers in the 2nd century AD.
3 Jan 2003