“All life is liturgy. All words are creeds. All times are
Sabbaths. All places are churches. But we all have attention deficit
disorder; we are forgetful. And unless we see God in special places and
times, we will forget to see Him in any place and time.”
The Hagia Sophia, whose name means “holy wisdom,” is a domed monument originally built as a cathedral in Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the sixth century CE.
With the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia became a mosque and was renamed Aya Sofya Camii.
Hagia Sophia was converted into a museum in 1935 by the first President of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Only Patheon in Rome has slightly bigger dome than the dome of Hagia Sophia in the world.
The Alter, the bells, sacrificial vessels and iconostasis were all removed when the church was converted into a mosque.
The vast interior is wholly free of suggestion of ponderous load, and its effect is that of a weightless golden shell that seems to possess a miraculous inherent stability.
A variety of ornate mosaics were added over the centuries by each emperor after Justinian I. They included imperial portraits, images of the imperial family, different emperors, saints, images of Christ and Virgin
Mary with Jesus as a child.
The powerful Doge Enrico Dandolo, the
chief magistrate of the Republic of Venice who was over 90 years old
and blind, led the Latin Christians on a siege of Constantinople. The city and the church were sacked and desecrated, many golden mosaics were taken back to Italy, and Dandolo was buried at Hagia Sophia after his
death in 1205 CE.
I love this painting because it is so full. The church is filled with people who are huddled close to one another, clustering around the candles and the iconostasis. There is reverence in the way they stand. There are expressions of eagerness and peace among their faces. There is a strong sense of community and reverence for this holy place.
Let us cluster in our love for God and neighbor in and outside of the church.
Iconostasis door. Central door in the 17th century iconostasis of Suzdal’s Nativity Cathedral. Among the icon-painters was Grigory Zinovyev, one of the tsar’s most gifted artists. The iconostasis separates the nave from the sanctuary