I was unprepared for the magnificent splendour of St Sophia when I visited the Cathedral a few years ago in 1987. On entering the Basilica without looking to either left or right I made straight for the centre of the building. My gaze was directed upwards and I marvelled at the splendour that poured down from above. An overwhelming sense of awe almost reduced me to tears.
Dome of Agia Sophia

A sea of translucent glory pours forth from high in the roof of the vast rotunda. The giant cupola, which must weigh megatons, is totally without any sense of weight or heaviness.

The expansiveness of light and space, perfect proportions and harmony give the worshipper an experience of God’s infinity.
When Prince Vladimir of Russia sent messengers to Constantinople as part of his programme of comparing the different religions, they returned full of ecstasy and joy.
They reported of how when they were participating in the Liturgy at St Sophia they no longer knew whether they were on earth or in heaven.
The current building was originally constructed as a church between A.D. 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. It was in fact the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site (the previous two had both been destroyed by riots).
The great Church, even in its present devasted and reduced state, still manifests the presence of the Triune God revealed in Jesus Christ.



In 1453, Constantinople was conquored by the Ottoman Turks and Sultan Mehmed II ordered the building to be converted into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels were removed, and many of the mosaics were eventually plastered over. The Islamic features – such as the mihrab, the minbar , and the four minarets outside – were added over the course of its history under the Ottomans. It remained as a mosque until 1935, when it was converted into a museum by the Republic of Turkey.

I experienced a great sadness whilst wandering around the great Basilica. Its former magnificence reduced and given over to an alien faith. But the Glory hasn’t been diminished. The original intentions of those who built Hagia Sophia continues to witness to the Holy Wisdom of Christ Jesus. Umilenie - Loving Kindness