Reclaim Hagia Sophia

Jul 18, 2020 by

by Declan Leary, Crisis Magazine:

The world’s most famous church goes up in flames. Some look on in shock and anguish. Some are quietly cheered to watch it go, some not so quietly. Some are too busy to notice—there is a great deal else going on these days. As the fire licks the building’s crest, the terrified, the hopeful, and the previously distracted all look on and wonder: will the church survive?

It is a familiar scene. But it is not Paris in 2019. It is Constantinople, 532. The outcome this time is less providential: a church is reduced to ash. After the riots are cleared–some things, alas, are always with us—the Emperor Justinian is resolved that a new cathedral must rise in its place. The work that follows is enormous. For the project, ten thousand laborers are brought on, which is one of every 50 people in this, the largest city in the world. If we limit our sample to working-age men, it may be as many as one in 15.

Construction is done remarkably fast. The new church is consecrated not six years after breaking ground at the just-burned ruins of the old cathedral. It is a marvel. Solid geometry and intricate design incarnate our —our hope—that the glory of Rome has not been lost. It is at once an image of the City of God and an image of the city here, with each stone having been laid by hand.

In August of 553 an earthquake shakes the church. On December 14, four years later, another cracks the dome. On May 7 of the following year, old men who built the dome when they were young men watched it fall to yet another earthquake. Few will live to see it raised again, but nine years later a new generation can be proud that they, too, put their hands to what their fathers built. (A lesson may be gleaned from the fact that repair took longer than the initial task.)

Read here

Read also: Christians everywhere should be concerned about Hagia Sofia’s conversion to a mosque by David Robertson, Christian Today

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