I just came across an article on AsiaNews that’s disturbing to me: “Persistent rumors suggest Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque” (Aug 30 2013). It confirmed my worst fears that one of the greatest churches in world –after the 4 central basilicas in Rome, a few others– may be returned to the Muslims for worship.
Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was built as a Christian church, known as the great church, in 537. And, it was the seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople until the Ottomans oppressed the Christians.
In 1453, Hagia Sophia along with other Christian churches, were confiscated and turned into mosques. When Mustafa Atatürk, in 1923, founded the secular state of Turkey,Hagia Sophia mosque became a museum.
From the Muslim side, the Hagia Sophia is a symbol of Islamic conquest of Christianity and it’s in their best interest to reassert themselves by taking the museum back as a place of muslim worship. If the rumors are true, this building will be a central symbol of the caliphate that is expected to formed.
Disclaimer: I want the former cathedral returned to the Christians. The church ought to be a Christian temple. I advocate the praying of the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom at what would be the central altar. If not, then I will concede Patriarch Bartholomew’s view: Hagia Sophia to remain a museum.
Some people report that in 2006 a small room was made available to the staff of the museum for Christian or Muslin prayer. In 2013, the minarets ring out the call for Islamic prayer. The camel’s nose is creeping.
God help us.
The Reuters news agency, and several other agencies are reporting, though not the Holy See as yet, that Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in Syria killed Jesuit Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, 59, who was kidnapped on 29 July. But there is NO definitive evidence this news is certain.
What we do know is that Pope Francis mentioned his name at Mass on the feast of Saint Ignatius of Loyola on 31 July.
For the past 30 thirty years Father Dall’Oglio has been leading a religious and cultural life at the Monastery of Saint Moses (Deir Mar Musa). The Monastery and its community was known to be an interfaith center devoted to Muslim-Christian friendship. Rebuilding this 6th century but abandoned monastery was Father’s and his small community’s attempt at preserving Syrian Christian establishments. One of the stunning pieces of Syrian religious patrimony Dall’Oglio preserved was an 11th century fresco of the Last Judgment.
Father Dall’Oglio was ordained as a Syrian Catholic priest; he spoke Arabic and studied Islamic theology and philosophy. His doctoral studies and writing at the Gregorian University concentrated on the virtue of hope in Islam.
Father was expelled from Syria in 2012, though he would sneak back into the country from time-to-time.
More recently his voice has been heard in calling for the deposition of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and some Islamist rebel groups.
Today the Church has 802 new saints, 800 of them are the martyrs of Otranto. This group of canonized were martyrs while you may say that Laura Montoya (aka, Lupita) and Maria Guadalupe García Zavala were “ordinary saints.” These are the first canonizations done by Pope Francis.
What catches our eyes that in one swoop 800 are recognized as martyr saints. Their history tells us that Ottoman soldiers invaded a Christian village town in 1480; the villagers were killed for refusing to convert to Islam, in fact, beheaded because they refused to renounce their Catholic faith.
The wall of skulls of the martyrs of Oltranto (note the picture) displayed prominently in Otranto Cathedral (Apulia region of Italy). These are the human remains, the relics of holy men and women; our new intercessors before the throne of Grace.
The year was 1480 and the fateful day when a fleet of 70 to 200 Ottoman Turks ships reached the city of Otranto, then part of the Kingdom of Naples. The Turkish forces were led by Gedik Ahmed Pasha.
July 28 marks the beginning of the Ottoman wars (1453-1683) in Europe; Mohammed II had invader and conquered Constantinople just 28 years earlier. On August 12, 800 people of Otranto, Antonio Primaldo and his companions were taken to the hill of Minerva, now called the Hill of the Martyrs, and slaughtered for being faithful to Jesus Christ and His Church.
The Church’s precess of investigating the circumstances and holiness of these people began in 1539 and end on 14 December 1771 with the beatification of the people of Oranto by Pope Clement XIV. Benedict XVI issued a decree on 6 July 2007, stating that out of hatred for the faith these Catholics were killed. Therefore, certifying that martyrdom happened and therefore saints.
The Pope homily is here:
In this seventh Sunday of Easter we are gathered to celebrate with joy a feast of holiness. Thanks be to God who has made His glory – the glory of Love – to shine on the Martyrs of Otranto, on Mother Laura Montoya and María Guadalupe García Zavala. I greet all of you who have come to this celebration – from Italy, Colombia, Mexico, from other countries – and I thank you! Let us look on the new saints in the light of the Word of God proclaimed: a Word that invited us to be faithful to Christ, even unto martyrdom; a word that recalled to us the urgency and the beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; a word that spoke to us about the witness of charity, without which even martyrdom and mission lose their Christian savor.
Yousef Nadarkhani, 33, is a Christian; he’s never practiced Islam, the faith of his family. He converted Christianity at the age of 19. A court ruled that he’s guilty of apostasy but he’s also being accused of security charges, running a brothel, being a rapist and being a Zionist. And now he faces death.