Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hagia Sophia and Pope Benedict XVI

The Hagia Sophia, or the Church of the Holy Wisdom of God, was the grandest church in all of Christendom until the Muslim Turks sacked Constantinople in AD 1453. This was the end of they Byzantium Empire as the Turkish Muslims raped women, enslaved children, and tortured and murdered Christians during the sack. The Muslims seized the Hagia Sophia from the Orthodox Christians, desecrated the altars, removed the beautiful mosaics, and destroyed the statues that represented saints, angels, and the Holy Trinity. In 1935 Turkish president Ataturk converted the Hagia Sophia Mosque into a museum which it is to this day. Today any tourist can come in and take a tour of the former church. Some of the iconography has been restored but one can still see the desecrations of Muslim script and images all over this grand church. Pope Benedict XVI will be making a tour to this former center of Christianity as part of his visit with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I. There is growing concern, what I call insecurity, among Muslim Turks (99% of all Turks are Muslim) that Pope Benedict XVI will kneel down and pray just as Pope Paul VI did during his visit in 1967. I doubt his Holiness would do this considering the dangerous climate he is in. What I would like to see is that the Turkish government return this wonderful piece of architecture and history back to the Orthodox Church as a sign of peace and respect. This would go a long way in showing to the world that Islam is certainly the religion of peace. Note: the picture of the Hagia Sophia at the top is what this great church looked like before the conquest by the Muslims in AD 1453. To read more about the pope's visit to the Hagia Sophia click here. To learn more about the Hagia Sophia click here. To read more about Patriarch Bartholomew I click here. To learn more about the plight of Orthodox Christians in Turkey click here. UPDATED: To read an excellent article on the Hagia Sophia by the Brussels Journal click here.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was actually there a couple years ago as part of a work assignment, and had the chance to visit this great building. It looks just the same as that picture except for the 4-6 spires that were added around it. I am happy that it is a museum protected by UNESCO World Heritage. It may not mean much, but it's something. Baby steps. Just the fact that it's a grand structure in the heart of Istanbul, brings to mind the true Christian heritage of this city. I only wish that Christian converts weren't persecuted and religious liberties are allowed. It's because of this, I believe, that Turkey is not in the E.U.

I have some great pictures to show of my visit there, if you like.

Mike Ambro

Tito said...

Mike,

That would be awesome!

You playing this Saturday at Brian O'Neals?

Anyways, baby steps indeed. Every little bit helps.

Anonymous said...

well, we were supposed to play baker st. on saturday, but our singer's sick, so we cancelled.

Mike A.

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