As Hagia Sophia opens as mosque, the Orthodox observe day of mourning

As Muslims chant prayers from Istanbul’s famed Hagia Sophia for the first time 86 years on Friday morning, Orthodox Christians worldwide will recite a hymn of lamentation for what they see as a major blow to interreligious coexistence, Crux reports.

“Our response to the outrage that is being performed today can only come through prayer,” Metropolitan Agathangelos of Fanari, General Director of the Apostolic Ministry of the Church of Greece, said in a statement last week.

“Just as our ancestors and Fathers turned to the Most Holy Theotokos, the Warrior General of our Nation, each time the enemies besieged the walls of (Constantinople), so now we must also recourse there to ask the Virgin Mary with peace in our souls to liberate the temple of the Holy Wisdom of God from all dangers,” he said.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has said it will join the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America “in offering our prayers for the restoration of Hagia Sophia as a place of prayer and reflection for all peoples.”

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree July 10 converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Hagia Sophia was built in 537 under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I as the cathedral of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. After the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453, the basilica was converted into a mosque. Under the Ottomans, architects added minarets and buttresses to preserve the building, but the mosaics showing Christian imagery were whitewashed and covered.

In 1934, under a secularist Turkish government, the mosque was turned into a museum. Some mosaics were uncovered, including depictions of Christ, the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, Justinian I, and Zoe Porhyrogenita. It was declared a World Heritage Site under UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, in 1985.

As a mosque, the mosaics in Hagia Sophia will have to be covered during prayers, as well as the seraph figures located in the dome.

Show More
Back to top button