Archbishop to hold service on ‘day of mourning’ at Athens cathedral


Archbishop of Greece Ieronymos is to hold a service on Friday at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown Plaka to coincide with the official inauguration of the former Greek Orthodox church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as a mosque with the reading of Muslim prayers.

The Greek Archbishop has condemned the conversion of the 6th century World Heritage site, which was a museum since 1934, saying that the reading of Muslim prayers there on Friday “is a day of mourning and suffering for all Orthodoxy, Christianity and all Hellenism.”

Friday’s service at the Athens Metropolitan Cathedral will start at 8 p.m.

The status of Hagia Sophia was changed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on July 10 in a move that was widely condemned in Greece and internationally, with Pope Francis saying he was “pained” by the decision.

Erdogan has hit back at criticism saying that the issue is a domestic matter.

Hagia Sophia was built during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and became the most significant Christian church in all Christendom for almost a thousand years, before its conversion into a mosque by the Ottoman Turks in the wake of their conquest of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul).

It was turned into a museum in 1934 by the secular founder of modern Turkey Kemal Ataturk.