Mother Ximenes' Handbook for Grade School Nuns features a section on things Catholic students should know, one fact of which is that a priest is living in the walls of Hagia Sophia Church in Istanbul, Turkey (Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies; 107).
Readers and fans of John's work probably would associate Hagia Sophia with his later book, The Trolley to Yesterday (1989), but John mentions the historical building here, too. More so, he touches upon a forgotten legend here.
Author/historian David Read writes that the legend of the disappearing priests is probably the best known of the stories to come out of the siege of Constantinople in 1453. "Sir Steven Runciman, among others, mentions it in The Fall of Constantinople 1453, and his notes point to the chronicles of Georgios Phrantzes, Michael Critobulus and Leonard of Chios as sources for the legend. The Sultan is supposed to have ordered his masons to break open the wall into which the priest or priests had disappeared, but they could not break it down. Neither did the Byzantine masons, whom the Sultan had thereupon summoned, have any success either."
Chalk that up as another in a series of historical trivia Bellairs came across in his own readings that he went on to share with us. And apparently he felt it something all Catholic students should know, as seen in chapter 11 of Saint Fidgeta. Other things these students should be aware of are the length of the equator, the perils of uranium and the ouija board, and that the mother of Saint Louis IX of France would rather have seen her son "fry in hell than ever commit a mortal sin."
Now that's we've completed our run-down of Fidgeta chapters have you determined your favorite? Be sure to cast your vote on our polls page. Cheers!