Firewalkers honor Saint Constantine in mystery-shrouded, centuries-old rituals

Sotirios Gkaintatzis danced across burning coals, his stomping bare feet raising sparks and puffs of smoke as he held aloft an icon of Saints Constantine and Helen.

Gkaintatzis is the leader of a group of "anastenaria" - the devotees of St. Constantine who celebrate these centuries-old rites in a smattering of small villages near Thessaloniki, in northeastern Greece.

The king who didn’t know how he lost the throne

The first time I ever spoke with former king Constantine was shortly after the publication of my book "The Rape of Greek Democracy: The American Factor" in 1997. The phone rang and I heard a deep voice say: "Good evening. This is the king." It took me a moment to realize who it was exactly, but that call was the first of many conversations about history over the course of many years to come.

Funeral procession of former king held in Athens amid tight security

The funeral procession of former King of Greece Constantine II will be held at the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens followed by a private burial at the cemetery of the former royal estate of Tatoi, north of the Greek capital Monday. His body will lie at rest in Saint Eleftherios chapel next to the Cathedral ahead of the funeral service.

Tight security put in place as royals arrive

The operational plan of the Hellenic Police (ELAS) was finalized at the weekend for the security measures on Monday, the day of the funeral of the former king Constantine. 

Police officers of all specialties were already on duty on Sunday in the center of the capital as the first representatives of royal families arrived in Athens to attend the Monday service. 

The end of the monarchy

Would the referendum for abolishing the monarchy had been held if Constantine had returned to Greece before Konstantinos Karamanlis after the fall of the junta? And if it had, would the king have lost for certain? No one knows.