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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia means Holy Wisdom and this church was built by Justinian in 532 AD and took him only 5 years to build.  It replaced two earlier churches one built by Constantine the second by Theodosius II and was destroyed in a riot in 532....which by the way led to the death of almost 30,000 people....big riot. 

Here's a shout out to all you math teachers:  Justinian appointed to mathmaticians to make his dream come alive. For perspective: The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, could fit under the dome of the Hagia Sophia!  The statue of liberty could do jumping jacks underneath it.  This is spectacular!  Three painful reminders of the past as I walked throughout this magnificent church built to the wisdom of God:  the horror of the iconoclast movement in the church when from 730-840 the depiction of human images was outlawed in the church for fear that the 'icons' would become idols and drive people away from the heart of Christianity.  The earliest work of the first artists were undoubtedly destroyed.  The second painful reminder is that Western Christians during the 4th crusade sacked constantinople and pilfered this amazing church of some of it's greatest treasures.  A despicable chapter in Christian history when fellow Christian form the west killed their cousins from the east for gold and treasure.  The third pain is the fact that most of the Chrisian art was white washed over or plastered over when Constantinople fell to the Ottoman's and this great church became a mosque.  The reminders are everywhere that in 1453 until 1934 this was a Muslim place of worship.  In 1934 it was made a museum by Ataturk and some of the original mosiacs from the church have been restored. Including the beautiful mosiac of Madona and Child above the chancel.   I read from John 14 and sang a hymn to myself.   All around you notice where symbols of the cross have been erased, broken off or crudely scrapped away.   All being said, what a marvelous church--it almost bankrupt the Byzantine empire to build it....but it stands the test of time.  Some pictures:

under the great dome

Madonna and child found under the plaster
on the dome above the altar

mosaic of Jesus Mary and John the baptist
brought back from behind the plaster

the cross has been destroyed...but you know it's
still there. 

looking up from the floor

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