Monday, December 11, 2006

Petition for the Church of Holy Wisdom in Constantinople

A PETITION to the European Union to restore the Hagia Sophia to Christendom as a condition for Turkey to enter the EU is found here:
Hagia Sophia is not a public building that changed ownership with the conquest of a war. Hagia Sophia is a place of God, Christendom’s grandest place of worship for over 900 years, and arguably the most perfect and beautiful church that has been erected by any Christian people. The splendour of its overall effect, its “paradise-like” beauty and architectural brilliance were often comprehensible only in terms of repeated divine intervention.

The magnificence, spirituality and prestige of the Great Church led to its being appropriated as an imperial and religious symbol by the Ottoman sultans. The church of Christ was possessed and converted into a mosque, until it was decreed a museum. During this long time, it has been subjected to more than its fair share of abuse and denigration.

Hagia Sophia, an essential element of Christianity, a second Jerusalem, the most revolutionary and daring church conceived in Christendom, has been turned into a museum considerably impaired by the loss of all its Christian furnishings and much of its original setting and atmosphere. At present it is part of an increasingly elaborate area of monuments, museums, and rug and souvenir shops. The Great Church, transformed into a monument/museum without life…The conquest of war does not and cannot change its spiritual nature into a civil-cultural-secular institution. For as long as the injustice done to the soul of Hagia Sophia is ignored and forgotten Christianity cannot be whole. Hagia Sophia’s reason for existing is vitally important to restoring religious integrity.

It is a disgrace and disrespect to a religion and God when holy places are unwillingly turned purely into tourist attractions. How would the Muslims feel if one of their holiest places was turned into a museum for tourists by a conquering power?

With its conversion into a museum in 1934, Hagia Sophia was frozen in some past age, vaguely Byzantine. Directed by the then historicist paradigm that saw the past as unchanging, Hagia Sophia was also understood through the aesthetic of the great museum, that is, aloof and imposing. Both traits were useful to a Turkish government that wanted to break with the Ottoman era that lasted until after World War I. The church of Heavenly Wisdom became thus what the official Turkish act of secularisation called a “unique architectural monument of art” and hence was valued more for its age, art and historical value than for its practical and religious use.
found at Catholic Church Conservation.


  1. Instead of using Hagia Sophia as a bargaining tool with the Turks, perhaps it would be better to use it as a bargaining tool with the schismatic and heretical Orthodox Churches so that they may return to unity and faithfulness in Christ's One True Church. Let us never forget that Constantinople, and thus Hagia Sophia, fell to the infidels because the Orthodox rejected Christian unity in 1054 AD.