HAGIA SOPHIA – Back in the Day

[A painting] depicting Hagia Sophia, in the twelfth century, during an Orthodox Liturgy, purportedly during a visit by King Richard the I, Coeur de Lion (the Lionhearted). This is a rare glimpse of this Mother Church of Christianity, which was completed in the early sixth century (537) on the site of two earlier Churches dedicated to Holy Wisdom. It was the largest Church in Christendom for nearly a thousand years.

Almost all of the modern pictures and photographs of the Church depict it as a mosque, into which it was transformed after the Islamic conquest of Constantinople in the fifteenth century. It was also taken by the Latins for a short period of several decades, after the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade in the thirteenth century.

Thanks to Archbishop Chrysostomos of Etna (pic and text), who adds:

A number of you have asked me in the past for a depiction such as this, so I am very pleased, at last, to provide it. I am only sorry that I do not yet have any further information about the painting itself. I cannot call the present occupiers of the edifice, now a museum, exactly knowledgeable about, or forthcoming with, accurate information about the Great Church’s Christian past.

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