Author Topic: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More  (Read 3727 times)

James_Gale

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Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« on: July 11, 2020, 11:00:52 PM »
I'm sure that you all have read that Turkey has declared that Hagia Sophia is a mosque once again, after having served as a museum since Attaturk's time.


According to press accounts, the Turkish government considers this is "a milestone in Turkey's rebirth as a powerful, Muslim nation after a century of misguided efforts to imitate the Christian West."  President Erdogan said that "the revival of Hagia Sophia is the harbinger of freedom of Al-Aqsa and the footsteps of Muslims emerging from the era of interregnum." 


Many have expressed dismay, starting with the Greek government.  The WCC and EU also have condemned the move.  I doubt that any of that will matter.


This will obviously not engender an era of good feeling in a region that for two-thousand years has been at the crossroad of cultures and religious practice.

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2020, 11:24:54 PM »
Kyrie eleison x 100 x 4

Prayed but once each year in the holy Orthodox Church, at the conclusion of the procession on the Universal Feast of the Exaltation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross on September better known in these parts as "Holy Cross Day".

https://www.antiochian.org/regulararticle/701

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Statement on the Tragic Conversion of Hagia Sophia from Museum to Mosque

Friday, July 10, 2020

We, the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America,​ protest the decision of the civil courts in Turkey, as well as the clear direction of their government, to re-convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque. As citizens of the United States of America, we implore our government to intervene for the reversal of this decision. Furthermore, we urge the Turkish government to return to the status quo whereby Hagia Sophia remains a museum, respecting both its origins and history.

By contrast, this unilateral action denies the universal vocation of this holy and sacred place. Hagia Sophia belongs to the whole of humanity as a World Heritage Site. Built in 537 AD during the reign of Emperor Justinian, it has been, for more than a millennium, a place of rich cultural and spiritual inspiration for all.

We are particularly concerned about the negative effects such a change will have on religious pluralism in Turkey, as well as on the relations among nations and between faith-based organizations. We call on the international community to invite the Turkish authorities to revise their decision, affording all people the opportunity to continue enjoying the full and rich history and beauty of this outstanding landmark. This unique Christian monument should remain open to all as a sign of co-existence and peace among all peoples of good will.


We are heartsick.

At the conclusion of the Passover Seder Jews exclaim "Next year in Jerusalem!"

At the close of the Divine Liturgy of Great and Glorious Pascha I whisper "Next year in Byzantium!"

Until that blessed Pascha arrives, we continue to sing the Hymn of Justinian (the builder of Hagia Sophia) at every Divine Liturgy:

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Ὁ Μονογενὴς Υἱὸς καὶ Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀθάνατος ὑπάρχων καὶ καταδεξάμενος διὰ τὴν ἡμετέραν σωτηρίαν σαρκωθῆναι ἐκ τῆς ἁγίας Θεοτόκου καὶ ἀειπαρθένου Μαρίας, ἀτρέπτως ἐνανθρωπήσας, σταυρωθείς τε, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας, εἷς ὢν τῆς Ἁγίας Τριάδος, συνδοξαζόμενος τῷ Πατρὶ καὶ τῷ Ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι, σῶσον ἡμᾶς.

Only begotten Son and Logos of God, being immortal, You condescended for our salvation to take flesh from the holy Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary and, without change, became man. Christ, our God, You were crucified and conquered death by death. Being one of the Holy Trinity, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit: Save us.

« Last Edit: July 11, 2020, 11:37:24 PM by J. Thomas Shelley »
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mj4

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2020, 01:03:39 AM »
Very sad. Which Christian Cathedral will be next?

John_Hannah

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2020, 06:37:53 AM »
The Hagia Sofia hasn’t been a Christian Church since 1453.
But as a museum since 1931, it supposedly was a sign of the “modern, secular” state of Turkey, freed from the divisive effect of religious strife.
On three occasions, I have been through that wondrous building in the company of Greek Christians. They spoke very softly to us because guides had to be certified and tell an “approved” history.(I had studied its history befor my first visit.)  No pictures were allowed. Large circular boards with verses from the Koran hung in some of its grand domes. The Brits had helped uncover some of its Magnificent mosaics in the 1930s and they were visible.
That building was the chief church in Christendom for centuries, and after the East/West schism, the Church of Churches for the East.
The Hagia Sofia may be for this humble correspondent the most moving and mystical site I have ever visited.

Indeed. It is the most magnificent church ever built. Having been there I can't imagine anything that could be more impressive. Sad turn of events for sure.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

James_Gale

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2020, 09:37:06 AM »
Pope Francis said today that he is "deeply pained" by the Turkish government's action.


The UAE Culture Minister criticized it as well, saying that the move was made "without any regard to the civilizational value of this historical edifice" that has "served as a bridge connecting different peoples and cementing their bonds."


Muslim religious authorities in Egypt have criticized Erdogan, saying that he "continues to use fatwas as a weapon to install tyranny at home in the name of religion, and to justify his ambitions abroad in the name of an alleged caliphate."


In the short term, though, criticism from the "Christian" West and from antagonists in the Muslim-majority countries may strengthen President Erdogan at home.  Indeed, opposition politicians within Turkey believe that that is the (or at least a) primary motivation underlying the changed use of Hagia Sophia.


Like Pr. Austin, I was deeply moved by my single visit to Hagia Sophia.  Joining one's prayers--even silently--with those offered over 1500 years is humbling and exhilarating.     

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2020, 12:35:58 PM »
A beautifully composed letter, read today in every parish of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America:

https://www.goarch.org/-/the-holy-eparchial-synod-of-the-gree--orthodox-archdiocese-of-america

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THE HOLY EPARCHIAL SYNOD
OF THE GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA

Holy Wisdom, Arise! – Ἁγία Σοφία, Ὀρθοί!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

To the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

We, the Members of the Holy Eparchial Synod of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, under the presidency of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, write to you in the power of the Holy Spirit in these anguished days when the Great Church of Christ, the Patriarchal Cathedral of Holy Wisdom, Ἁγία Σοφία, institutionalized for the past ninety years as a museum and world cultural monument, has been re-converted into a mosque. This egregious and unnecessary action has gravely wounded all Orthodox Christians, indeed all Christians around the world and all people of faith and good will.

As your Shepherds and the guardians of the Faith, we mourn with you. But we all know the truth: Ἁγία Σοφία was built as a Christian Church, the greatest Christian Church for a thousand years, until it became the spoils of war and was converted into a mosque. It was the glory of the civilized Christian world for centuries, an architectural marvel of the transfiguration of terrestrial into the manifestation of the celestial. From its central dome, borne aloft on clouds of light, the Great Church comprised a vision of Heaven on earth, and its Liturgy was the most magnificent the world has ever seen. As the embassy of Saint Vladimir, Prince of Kyiv and All Rus uttered after being present for the Divine Service: “We did not know whether we were on earth or in heaven!” Such is the spiritual intensity of every aspect of the Great Church. Her iconography is a crowning spiritual aesthetic, achieving the vision, the θεωρία of God among humankind. Through the centuries, all who approached Constantinople by sea or land beheld her towering majesty rising above the massive walls that encircled the Queen of Cities. She was a reminder of the triumph of Resurrection over sin and death, and the surety of God’s love and care for His People. She was and indeed still is the very heart of Orthodoxy, for she manifests even now the way to be true co-creators with the Creator of all of a truly Christian culture, civilization, and polity.

Even during the centuries of the Ottoman period, the power of Ἁγία Σοφία, although now used as an Islamic shrine, was unmistakable, and unmistakably Christian. Throughout the Orthodox world the Great Church remained a symbol of the Orthodox Faith of the Ecumenical Councils which bound the far flung Orthodox Peoples together. Even the stunning design of the Church was repeated across the Islamic world in every city and town, as the overwhelming beauty of its presence inspired builders throughout what we now call the Middles East.

But let us make it very clear. For the Orthodox Christian, there is only one Great Church of Christ. There would be many other “Hagia Sophias” built around the world; most notably in Kyiv for the People of Rus, but none dared to imitate the original. She was to stand alone, at the center of the circle of the Orthodox World for all to relate to as do the spokes on a wheel. We are all connected to the Great Church, whether we know and acknowledge this or not.

Therefore, in response to what has happened, we also ask the question posed to the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost: “Τί ποιήσομεν, ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί –Brethren, what then must we do?” (Acts 2:37). First and foremost, we must bend our knees before the Holy Wisdom of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and beseech Him through the intercessions of His Holy Mother to protect the Great Church of Christ that lives on in the person of our Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. We must pray that God will arise and scatter every ill intention that may manifest toward our community of faith and indeed all the religious minorities in Turkey.

And we must arise, beloved Christians. We must arise and speak out for the silent stones of Ἁγία Σοφία. We must go to our Christian neighbors and friends here in this free land of America, and ask for their prayers and their help. We must arise and speak to our elected leaders and demand that they act in conscience and righteousness to protest by every means possible this defiance of the modern sensibility which respects not only diversity, but the status quo that allows for the peaceful and harmonious cohabitation of nations, religions, races, and ethnicities.

We must arise and as the People of God, make our voices heard from Washington State to Washington, DC, and not lose heart, lose faith, or lose courage because, though our struggle may be long, it is not without our ultimate hope. Remember that there is no one alive today who remembers Ἁγία Σοφία as either a Church or a mosque. Everyone knows it as the former of both which was honored as an international monument, on par with the Parthenon and the Pyramids of Egypt. It should be allowed to retain its status quo as a place of encounter for Christians and Muslims, and for all people who desire to behold how faith in God can transform the world.

Therefore, let us arise – as Orthodox Christians, as people of conscience with a righteous cause. Let us make our presence and our voices known. Your every breath expended will add to “a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind” (Acts 2:2) that will sweep across the world carrying our message. Not one of hate but one of love, of decency, of understanding, and of mutual respect.

We will never give up our hope, never give up our faith; and we will never give up our love.

Σοφία, Ὀρθοί!

With paternal love in our Lord Jesus Christ,

†ELPIDOPHOROS, Archbishop of America
and the Holy Eparchial Synod

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Richard Johnson

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2020, 05:01:48 PM »
Yes, sad indeed. I'm grateful to have been able to visit about ten years ago.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2020, 07:26:43 PM »
Where does the phrase "Hagia Sophia" (Holy Wisdom) come from?


I haven't found the adjective, "holy," used with "wisdom" in scriptures.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2020, 07:46:09 PM »
Where does the phrase "Hagia Sophia" (Holy Wisdom) come from?


I haven't found the adjective, "holy," used with "wisdom" in scriptures.

The Great Church predates the life of John of Damascus by a century.  He refers to Christ as the "Wisdom, Word and Power of God" in the Ninth Ode of the Canon of Pascha:

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O great and holiest Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the unending Day of Thy Kingdom.

Western Christians are familiar with the reference to Christ as Wisdom in the first of the "Great O" Antiphons of late Advent.  In Greek the Antiphon is titled "O Sophia..."

But these Antiphons are believed to have emerged in the 8th Century...again, long after the Great Church.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2020, 02:15:09 AM »
Where does the phrase "Hagia Sophia" (Holy Wisdom) come from?


I haven't found the adjective, "holy," used with "wisdom" in scriptures.

The Great Church predates the life of John of Damascus by a century.  He refers to Christ as the "Wisdom, Word and Power of God" in the Ninth Ode of the Canon of Pascha:

Quote
O great and holiest Pascha, Christ! O Wisdom, Word and Power of God! Grant that we may more perfectly partake of Thee in the unending Day of Thy Kingdom.

Western Christians are familiar with the reference to Christ as Wisdom in the first of the "Great O" Antiphons of late Advent.  In Greek the Antiphon is titled "O Sophia..."

But these Antiphons are believed to have emerged in the 8th Century...again, long after the Great Church.


I ask because there is debate, at least in the Western Church, about the personification of Wisdom in Proverbs, Wisdom, and Sirach. Are the reference to the Second Person or the Third Person? It would seem that the East consider her to be the Second Person of the Trinity.

"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2020, 09:08:41 AM »
I was in Hagia Sophia in 1991. It was during the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War and my college roommate and I were among a very precious few Americans (or Westerners or tourists of any kind for that matter) in Istanbul. As with so much travel, I wish I'd known more about all the things I was looking at before I looked at them rather than after.

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2020, 02:13:55 PM »
I'm sure I'm going to say something offensive here, but it is in the purpose of trying to understand.  I get that HS is essentially "The Temple Mount" for Byzantine Catholics.  But my honest question is why does any branch of Christianity have a Temple Mount?

I can walk the streets in Rochester and see large stone cathedrals of every denomination that are no longer used as sacred spaces.  That saddens me in a way.  And it certainly saps a bit of morale.  If they can take one of these grand things built by a people much poorer and turn it into a dance hall/ condos/drug den, then what hope does a much richer group that can barely keep themselves evangelized in a much more humble building have? 

If I was asked the question would I rather have the former great symbol of my faith turning into a museum or a mosque, I think I'd choose mosque.  Better the pious Turk than the condescending western atheist. Is that angst over this more about Greek vs. Turk nationalism, than about Christianity?

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2020, 02:24:58 PM »
There probably is something to the Greek vs. Turk thing involved.  After all, the Greeks were overwhelmed by the Turks who took away their country and their most revered Church.  Makes me wonder what all the "woke folk" would think about that since they're so concerned that Europeans took over America from the indigenous population.  Weren't the Greeks indigenous to Byzantium?

But truthfully, I don't think pious Moslems are better than atheists, they're all enemies of the true God.
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2020, 02:52:52 PM »
One difference here was that the Hagia Sophia was not a large church that over time became too much of a burden as a building for the congregation to keep up and effectively use and so was sold to another group to become a worship center for another religion, dance hall, auction house, or Planned Parenthood office. It wasn't exactly the Holy Mount for Byzantium Christians, it was the mother church, the main cathedral. And it was taken and converted to other use by force and conquest.
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J. Thomas Shelley

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Re: Hagia Sophia--A Mosque Once More
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2020, 03:18:41 PM »
One difference here was that the Hagia Sophia was not a large church that over time became too much of a burden as a building for the congregation to keep up and effectively use and so was sold to another group to become a worship center for another religion, dance hall, auction house, or Planned Parenthood office. It wasn't exactly the Holy Mount for Byzantium Christians, it was the mother church, the main cathedral. And it was taken and converted to other use by force and conquest.

Very well stated.

Surprisingly, the Islamic Society of North America has published a statement today critical not only of the current proposal to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque, but also condemning that same action in the 15th century as being contrary to the Islamic scriptures.

https://www.goarch.org/-/official-statement-isna
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