Page:Historical Works of Venerable Bede vol. 2.djvu/250

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178
THE MINOR HISTORICAL WORKS

the water, which, if the mounds were to be broken down by the neglect of the guardians, would not irrigate, but inundate and destroy the lands beneath. The Egyptians who inhabit the plains over the canals, make their houses by laying transverse planks thereon.

 

 

CHAPTER XX.

OF CONSTANTINOPLE, AND THE CHURCH THEREIN WHICH CONTAINS OUR LORD'S CROSS.

Constantinople and church of St. Sophia. Constantinople is bounded on all sides except the north by the sea, which extends from the great sea to the walls of the city, sixty thousand paces, and grom the walls to the mouths of the Danube, forty thousand. The circuit of the walls, which are angular, according to the line of sea, is about twelve thousand paces. Constantine was at first disposed to build it in Cilicia, near the sea which separates Europe and Asia, but on acertain night all the iron tools were carried away, and, when men were sent to fetch them, they were found on the European side: for there it was the will of God that it should be built. In this city is a church of wonderful workmanship, called the church of Saint Sophia, built up from its foundation of a circular shape, domed in, and surrounded by three walls. It is supported to a great height on columns and arches, and has in its inmost part, on the north side, a large and beautiful closet, wherein is wooden chest with a wooden lid, containing three pieces of our Lord's cross, that is to say, the long timber cut in two, and the transverse part of the same holy cross. These pieces are exhibited for the adoration of the people three times only in the year, namely, on the day of our Lord's supper, the day of the preparation, and on the Holy Sabbath. On the first of these, the chest, which